Every church in their right mind wants to reach more people, right? And every small church talks about increasing their Good News output, right again? Plus, small churches wouldn’t mind growing a little in numbers, correct? (Though I swear some churches act like none of these are anywhere near their missional radar, but I digress.)
So be smart. You can accomplish all three goals by keeping this trend in mind: People participating in your fall outreach event might just make a decision to come back to your church on Christmas Eve. Or not. Its up to your church.
Here’s what I mean. This is church Fall Festival season. Between now and the end of October, you won’t be able to drive 5 miles without seeing a church-sponsored sign for pumpkin patches, corn mazes, Trunk & Treat’s, fall carnivals, costume parades, Heavenly Home events, and even some church haunted houses. (Whatever floats your church’s theological boat).
Intentionality is the key. First thing? Advertise outside of your normal church box. People can’t attend what they don’t know about. Posters, social media, banners, signs, etc., still work! Next step is to plan on making a GREAT impression on guests who will run through the church’s hallowed halls, hide among the pumpkins or walk around your cemetery.
Ideas to get them to visit again after your fall event:
- Setup an adult coffee café in the corner of the patch where outgoing members gab with new parents who are watching their kids run around on a sugar-high.
- Have a drawing for cool stuff to get both adult and student contact info. Then FOLLOW UP with Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Easter invites.
- Utilize a registration system for children so you gather data and safety info.
- Take family/kid pictures and mail them back with a handwritten note.
- Have a quality flyer ready to handout about your holiday family-friendly activities. Don’t make it too preachy or overdone. Be sure to include that you will have childcare available at your Christmas Eve service (and then well, have it available).
- If they look hungry, feed them. Make sure everything is accessible. They’re cold? Have jackets ready.
Here are ideas to ensure new families don’t return:
- Hangout in cliques of just your friends from the church.
- Be tight and controlling about kids running around. Yell even a little.
- Don’t talk to new people beyond your hello.
- Tell inside jokes and stories.
- Be judgmental about life-style, clothing choices, costuming, etc.
- Ignore the physical needs of your guests.
We all know many people only go to church at Christmas and Easter (and even Easter attendance is going by the wayside) so we have to make the most of what’s in our bag of tricks n treats. You got this, small church friends.