Over the next few days many churches will be having some sort of halloween alternative. I started this week asking the question, “Does a Crowd Equal Success?” Yesterday I shared some thoughts on how to make your even more Gospel focused. As we all make those last minute preparations for what is the biggest event of the year for many of us, I want to share one more thought.
Success is in the follow-up.
This one event is easier to draw a crowd than perhaps any other we do. For this one night the community is looking for us to give them a reason to come to our church. If we are not careful we can look at the crowd that attends and consider the event a success. This excitement quickly wears off as we get to Sunday and few, if any, of the people that attended the event come for church. Our discouragement can grow over the coming weeks as we tally up the how much money was spend, how much work was done and how little return we see.
Be encouraged. Before we look at how to improve the “return” let me take a moment to encourage you. Paul said, “I planted and Apollos watered, but GOD provides the increase.” There are times when we are sowers. There are times when we are waterers. There are times when we are harvesters. Harvesting is fun and very rewarding. But, it doesn’t happen without sowing or watering. So, even if you don’t FEEL the return know that if you shared the gospel and the Word of God, then you have done well.
So, how do I get them to church? Well, first let me say that some of them simply are not going to come. That being said we have to remember that nothing happens by coincident. The people that attended were there because God wanted them there. Still, we can not assume that simply because they were at the event that they will take the open invitation to then attend church. It is what happens AFTER the event that will bring most of the people to church.
Follow-up is key. What is your plan for follow-up? How are you going to thank your guests for attending and how are you going to invite them to attend church? If you don’t have a plan, take heart, it’s not too late. Talk to your leadership and some key members of your team. Put together a plan. My recommendation would be that you shoot for putting your plan into action on Monday. There are any number of options. Here are some things that we are doing:
- Door prize: The winner is to be notified by mail. This helps us to get accurate mailing addresses. We can then use these addresses to send thank you and invitations to our guests.
- Photo booth: We have a photographer coming for a Photo Booth. The pictures will be emailed after the event. This encourages people to give us accurate email addresses.
- Sunday Door prize: At your event tell people that you will be giving away a special prize the following Sunday, but you have to be in attendance to win. I have a friend that is giving away a popular video game console.
- Phone calls: Early in my minister I HATED making these kinds of phone calls. I felt like a telemarketer and everybody hates telemarketers. But,I later realized that these people have already shown an interest in our “product” simply by showing up. This is not a cold-call. We have to remember that it is God who calls people to Himself. So, if God is calling someone then they will be open to the phone call. If He is not, then we have lost nothing by calling them. After all, as a friend once told me, “you can’t push them further into hell.”
At the end of the day the exact method you chose will depend on your culture, resources, and abilities. The point is YOU HAVE TO FOLLOW UP. It is this next step that will take many people from casual event guests to church attendance. But, without it many will not come back. While there is no guarantee that follow-up will bring any specific person to your church, are you willing to run the risk that follow-up is the thing that WILL bring some of them back?Matt Norman
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