4 “Tricks” To Boost Your Church’s Attendance Overnight
Let me first say that a church's success should not be defined by the number of people that show up on Sunday but instead by how many lives are changed through Christ's redeeming love. However, what I am about to suggest is that there are several opportunities to improve your church's guest experience which can lead to growth and, ultimately, lives being changed.
That being said, growing a church numerically can be tough and that while numbers aren’t everything, they are important. They indicate a vibrancy and an attractional quality that Jesus had. Pastors have tried nearly everything to get people to show up on Sunday, from sleeping on the roof of the church to being sealed in a box for four days. Boosting church attendance is built on a multitude of things, but here are a few “tricks” or intentional changes you can make that will help people step through the doors and want to come back.
1. Revamp Your Website
I cannot overstate this one. Your website is:
A) Your new stained glass window. It should be beautiful and tell a piece of your story. It should make people think “Wow, this church cares what people think about them and about who Jesus is.”
B) Your open door. Your website is your invitation for people to peer inside to see who’s speaking, what the music is like, and to see welcoming people.
C) Your church bell. Your website should let people know its time for the Sunday service. Put your contact information (address, phone, email) on the first page along with your service times.
D) Your marquee. Your website hopefully doesn’t have those cheesy sayings on it, but it should give some impression of your church’s personality. Unless your church has its own theme song, I don’t suggest having music on your website.
Investing some time and money into a quality website will speak volumes about who you are as a church and it will help you boost your church’s attendance.
2. Focus on First Impressions
While visiting with a church recently, I noticed one of the associate pastors was the most outgoing person on staff, possibly in the whole church. This pastor knew every name and shook every hand that came in the door. People were waiting in a line to talk to her, just because of how caring and outgoing she was.
Who is the staff person, ministry leader or volunteer at your church who makes the best first impression? Why not free them up before and after service times to connect with new comers? Find these individuals in each of the demographics that are attending your church (i.e. parents, young professionals, youth, senior adults, etc.) and have them engage with new comers in a warm and inviting way. A handshake and a “Welcome! We’re glad you are here!” can make all the difference in the world to someone visiting.
Bonus tip: Make sure your signage is easy to see and helps people find their way. If they don’t know where to go within the church, they might walk right back out!
3. Update Your Children’s Facilities
Ok. It’s time to get real. It is time to paint over that Noah’s Ark mural from 1982. I’m not saying that you have to remodel the building, though it may help, but a fresh coat of paint and some new lighting could be a start. Parents research meticulously when selecting new schools for their kids, and they are going to be just as selective when visiting churches for the first time.
Parents expect the best for their kids, so make sure your Children’s Ministry staff and volunteers are smiling, inviting, and helpful during the check-in process. An outdated children’s ministry can be a deal-breaker for families who otherwise might show up on Sunday.
4. Cupcakes for Everyone
When is the last time your congregation has walked out of church with something other than the bulletin or candle on Christmas Eve? Churches who do things out-of-the-box get more attention. On Father’s Day, a church here in Houston gave every dad a non-alcoholic beer. Was it funny? Yes. Was it different? Yes. Did the dads (and everyone else) feel like they were a part of something special? Absolutely! Come up with something simple and meaningful that your congregation will be blessed by.
Something as simple as improving the quality/selection of coffee can also generate a boost in church attendance. Our client Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City is known for their delicious coffee. There are several coffee stations set up in the main foyer of the church, which fosters community among guests as they come and go between services. If your coffee isn’t free, make sure you are serving top quality coffee or bring in a local roaster. If it is free, it should still be tasty. Remember that while you are preaching they are going to be sipping either something really good or something cold and gross. As an espresso addict, I’m not above a church trying to win my affections by appealing to my stomach. You shouldn’t be either.
Each one of these things is a minor shift that doesn’t involve the music, the preaching, or really anything from the stage. All of those things are crucially important, of course. However, if you spend time on the little things that affect church-goers, you’ll be surprised by the response.
What are some other “tricks” or quick fixes you’ve seen that have improved your church experience and as a result boosted your church’s attendance?