2 Ways To Retain Church Visitors In The New Year
By: Brian Dunks January 20, 2016
It’s called the “new year” for a reason. A new year means a fresh start and a new beginning. It means the possibility of change, setting goals, and acting on those objectives with determination and repetition that will lead to long term, positive habits. And this applies to church staffs, too.
In the church, the new year opens up an amazing opportunity to reach people who are in a new search for peace, purpose, and a place to belong. Sadly, many churches miss out on the “first-of-the-year” window because they are not prepared for the new people who will attend in the first few weeks or months of the year. Churches tend to put all their efforts into “end-of-the-year” Christmas services, programs, and efforts. These are usually complete by the end of December, and from there everything goes into slow motion until after the holidays.
Church attendees at the start of the year tend to experience services that seem somewhat thrown together, like a scaled-back music worship team or an untimely sermon on giving. Every church leader and church staff should understand that the first of the year is a huge open door to reach both those outside the faith and those making a news year’s resolution to actively attend church.
Here are two keys to making the most of the new attendees in the new year.
1. Plan accordingly.
Christmas services are an incredible opportunity to reach many new people that may not otherwise be coming to church. However, these services demand tons of preparation and can wear the staff thin with multiple responsibilities. These services also attract large crowds, but unless a church is intentional in promoting the excitement and opportunity of the new year, most of these people do not return until the next holiday.
Focusing on the new year attendees who want to build consistency in their attendance and desire an opportunity to serve will increase regular attendance and ministry growth. Start by using gatherings leading up to the new year as a way to promote a new sermon series to start the year, new groups that will begin, and new opportunities to serve, etc. This will create an expectation and excitement that will give new people a reason to start the year right and keep coming.
2. Push excellence.
Whenever people attend church, they expect their experience to be well-planned, worth their time, and done in an excellent manner, even during the first full weekend of the year. Amongst all of the new year's resolutions and people "starting strong," there is a level of excellence that is expected of the church as well.
I’ve heard all of the reasons why beginning of the year services don't always go so well. “We weren’t able to schedule rehearsal,” “We put so much into the Christmas celebrations,” “Most of the staff just got back from vacation,” “We’ll be ready to roll next week after we’ve had a week in the office.” But newcomers don’t know these things. Make sure you’re diligently planning well in advance to have a great service and ensure all the bases are covered.
New people will remember if their first few services at your church are a positive or negative experience. Circle the first few Sundays of the year on the calendar, and make sure a full staff is present. Plan a worship experience that is meaningful and memorable. Present a powerful message that is clear and applicable to life. This is a prime time to move people toward groups and mission opportunities.
What are some other ways to engage attendees in the new year?
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