How to Gain Greater Impact During the Fall Season as a Church

And just like that… school will be back in session! And believe it or not, back to school means back to church for many families. As a church, this means another great opportunity to reach more people, make more impact, and build momentum.

First of all, over the years we’ve observed there is a cultural inclination to return to church (or start going) when school starts. Why? Perhaps there is a little guilt for checking out during the summer, or a renewed focus on being a better parent, or maybe it’s because of all the great student and children’s programming the church did through the summer!

Whatever the reason, people are more open to coming to church so you better be prepared to capitalize on this opportunity.

Before I get to a few questions you need to be asking in this season, let me just say that consistently delivering a solid ministry plan over time helps build momentum. And this should be one element of that plan.

So, assuming all your internal ministry strategies are firing, what do you need to be thinking about to drive greater attendance and impact this fall?

Here are a few questions to consider:

1. Who is our target audience?

Many churches struggle with knowing the bullseye when it comes to reaching their community. Out of fear of leaving someone out, they try to reach every demographic. However, good marketers will tell you if you try to reach everyone, you will reach no one.

Our research on donor generations (published by Giving USA Foundation) shows that millennials are the demographic that is attending in person, serving more, and are more generous than any other generation. They are your future, and you need to be good at connecting with them if you want to see growth and momentum.

As a recommendation, take time to evaluate how your online and in-person experience is reflecting the millennial demographic. This means not only visually connecting online and in person, but also connecting through your content. Are you answering the questions they are asking about life, family, and making personal impact on the world

2. Will people find our church?

When someone searches “church near me” or is scrolling their social media feed, will you have a noticeable presence? Or when they search on YouTube, will your church content be populated?

To help ensure you can answer “yes” to these questions, we recommend investing in optimizing your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and creating a digital advertising campaign. The digital metrics you can pull are valuable in monitoring the effectiveness of your outreach and will provide insight into the number of people you have made aware of your church.

And by the way, while you are at it, make sure your landing page is optimized to effectively connect new people to next steps. Here’s a guide.

3. What is our welcome plan?

Welcoming people is so much more than the standard “welcome” segment in a worship service. Think about it in terms of hospitality and entertaining guests in your home. It is taking the time to let people know you see them, have prepared for them, and thought about their needs and questions.

A great exercise to walk through is to think about all the touch points a new person will experience. From the first click online to becoming a devoted follower of Jesus, what/how are you communicating to them along the way? This will focus you on key essentials: your online presence, your guest services, signage around campus, the cleanliness and presentation or your facilities, security of the children’s facilities, length of your service, sermon impact, follow-up plans for guests, etc. Taking the time to think through the touch points will increase your ability to connect and ultimately create more life-change stories.

4. Have we connected with our summer families?

You poured a lot of time and resources into summer camps, VBS, and other children/student activities. God blessed, kids’ lives were changed, and they all had a ton of fun. And the parents heard all about it. Now is a great time to make personal connections with the families that are not currently part of your church.

Make sure these moms and dads are informed about ongoing ministries for kids. Texts and emails pointing then to relevant information are appreciated by parents, but don’t forget the personal touch. Take time to personally call them, write them, and/or email them and share your commitment as a church to partner with them to raise great kids. And don’t forget to share your appreciation for allowing their kids to participate in church events. Finally, invite them to attend a weekend service to experience a worship service themselves. Who knows, maybe this fall they will show up.

5. What are people wrestling with this time of year?

All too often, people show up at church to find a worship experience and sermon that is answering questions they are not asking. This time of year, people are often dealing with a lot, so throw them a lifeline to manage the issues that are in front of them from a biblical perspective.

Life can get crazy when school starts, so think about talking about stress/anxiety, relationships, parenting, work/life balance, and other very real issues. Couple this with next steps to find community that will help them navigate these challenges of life.

We know that ministry can be a lot of work, but the reward is worth it. We are praying for you and are here to serve you however we can.


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