OK, so the crowds aren’t exactly Easter size. But unless it was truly a horrendous experience, you can bet there will be more than a few people coming back to visit you again. It’s important to keep in mind that while, yes, there are those Catholics who “religiously” show up only on Easter and Christmas, some of those same people may just be the ones on the cusp of a spiritual breakthrough. Honor those giving church another try and resist the urge to revert to business as usual. Here are 4 simple steps to retain the crowd and keep returning visitors engaged.
- A Simple Word of Welcome.
“Welcome back to all those who joined us on Easter.” It doesn’t need to be complicated or dramatic (in fact, please not). But a simple word of welcome lets returning visitors know (as well as the regulars in your pews, who are quick to forget) that they actually do matter more than one Sunday a year. It’s the small gestures that build a culture that cares about the unchurched.
- A Simple Message
You made the extra effort to make your Easter homily a little more simple and accessible to your visitors. But what about this weekend, and the next? Recalling a point you made in your Easter message creates a small sense of continuity and “being in the loop” (and if you’re trying out a message series this is automatically included). We make the mistake of overcomplicating what the unchurched are looking for. Share something about the Gospel they can understand and apply, and let that sink in before getting too deep over their heads. Actually, that applies to the rest of us as well.
- A Simple Sacrifice
While Lent is over, small acts of self-sacrifice are in order this Easter, like taking the least coveted parking spot or pew to leave room for guests. At Nativity, partly out of necessity, we started a shuttle service from a near-by parking lot, and encourage our ministers to park there. This frees up parking space for seasonal visitors. What can you do to make sure there are available spots and seats for guests? It probably involves some simple sacrifices. Make them.
- A Simple Review of Your Values
Everyone who serves at Nativity commits to upholding our ministry values and standards. Excellence is a habit, not an all-out one-weekend thing. Your goal is not to get returning guests to sign up or make any big commitments the second time they’re with you, but continue to offer great hospitality and service week in and week out. When something clicks down the road, they may consider returning the service than someone once offered to them.
For more ideas, check out vanderbloemen.com