On Monday, I dropped my son Joshua off for his first day of Middle School Band Camp. It is not quite time for back to school, but it is getting close.
Back to school time can be an important time in the life of the church. Many churches see their largest attendance increase in the time surrounding the beginning of the school year. After the “summer slump,” some people get back in the routine and include the church in their weekly schedule. Other people who have moved into the area during the summer months begin seriously looking for a faith community. Individuals and families who have been away from church for some time may commit to getting back to church as the new school year begins. There is also the opportunity for people who have never regularly attended church to seek a relationship with a church.
So, with all that, is your church ready for back to school? Here is a checklist of things to think about to help your church prepare for the potential increase in attendance and first-time visitors. If you are already planning a back-to-school push, this might give you some more ideas. If not, this is a good place to start.
1. Consider planning a “Back To School” Sunday.
Take this opportunity to invite your own members to get back to church while also inviting new individuals and families to visit. A “Back to School” Sunday can be right before or right after the official first day of school in your community.
There are a number of resources available to help you plan for such a Sunday and include things like a “Blessing of the Backpacks” and prayers for teachers and students. Check out some of the resources provided by Discipleship Ministries:
2. Encourage your members to invite people to your “Back to School” Sunday.
This time of year creates some natural opportunities to meet new people and invite them to church. As a parent of elementary school and middle school kids, I can’t tell you the number of new people I meet at the beginning of the school year. Between “Meet the Teacher Night,” meetings for band parents, and other activities, I meet a lot of new people, many who are new to the area.
3. Give your members resources to help them invite.
Make bulletin inserts, post cards, or other print pieces that members can take with them and give to people they meet. It can make the invitation super low-stress.
“Have you found a church home yet?”
“No, well my church is having a “Back to School” Sunday. We are going to bless all the kid’s backpacks and pray for the students and teachers, here is all the info if you want to check it out.”
4. Use social media to get the word out.
And don’t just post the information on your Facebook page. Create graphics and encourage your members to share them on their own pages.
To help with this, I have a video showing how you can easily create Facebook graphics using the free service, Canva. Check it out here.
5. Make sure your website is ready.
It is 2017. People now look for churches online. Even if your members invite people they meet, those people are likely to check out your church online before they visit in person.
Elsewhere on the blog, I have some resources to help you review your website.
You probably need to paint your church. Thoughts on lazy websites.
This is a good time to make sure your website is up to date and looks good. This may be the first impression and may be the only impression you make on a potential visitor.
What Can Churches Learn from Expedia.com?
It is our hope that people who visit our church’s website will eventually visit our church. This post gives you a lens through which to look at your website to see if it is designed to help move people from website visitors to church visitors.
Barriers to visiting a church
This presents another lens through which to look at your website. What are the common barriers that keep people from taking that step of visiting for the first time? Your website has the potential to lower or eliminate those barriers.
Can you find your church on Google Maps?
If someone decides to visit your church, there is a decent chance that they will ask Google to show them how to get there. If your church doesn’t show up on Google Maps, someone might just decide to go somewhere else.
6. Make sure your church is ready.
I tend to limit my advice to the technical realm. However, after you review your website, you really ought to take a look around your church. Does it need some paint? Is it time for a spring (or summer) cleaning? Invite someone who doesn’t attend your church to look around and tell you what they see. This would also be a great time for some greeter and usher training to make sure that first-time guests receive a warm welcome.
This one goes without saying but a reminder never hurts. It is God’s prevenient grace the ultimately draws people into a relationship with God and God’s church. Pray that this grace may be powerfully active drawing people to begin or renew their relationship with Jesus Christ.