When you were younger, did you ever do the hand motions and say the rhyme, “Here is the church. Here is the steeple. Open the doors and see all the people…?” As a kid, I’d love to interlock my fingers and wiggle them all around to symbolize the people in church. However, the reality is that our churches aren’t always as full as my little fist with my wiggly fingers. While this is unfortunate, the good news is that Back to Church Sunday is coming up!
Back to Church Sunday (traditionally the third Sunday in September) is in many ways like a reset. As families get back into a school routine (and all the moms say hallelujah), and people look for normalcy in their schedules, this is the perfect time for churches to focus on outreach.
However, one of the biggest reasons that people don’t attend church is because no one ever invited them. In fact, according to Lifeway Research, 29 percent of churchgoers didn’t invite anyone to church with them in a six-month time frame. This is the perfect Sunday to encourage your members to change that statistic, invite a friend, and increase your church attendance.
Here are a few ideas to implement at your church this back to church Sunday.
1. Invite People
As stated above, inviting people is crucial when it comes to getting new people in the doors of your church. In order to encourage this, create handout cards that your members can give to friends and family. Also, consider creating shareable social media graphics and asking your members to post them and invite people that way. Lastly, create a challenge for each member of your congregation to invite one person to attend Back to Church Sunday.
2. Plan Early
It’s never too early to start planning for back to church Sunday. The more you’ve thought through and prepared for, the better. Grab our helpful Back to Church Checklist which gives a streamlined planning approach AND shows you how to use church management software to make it even easier!
When it comes to planning, take on the mindset of a guest. Here are a few key things to think through:
- Parking: Where do guests park? Do you have volunteers ready to assist people?
- Signage: Is everything clearly marked so people can navigate your campus? Find out more about signage here.
- Welcome Center: Are your volunteers equipped? Do you have updated handouts available?
3. Create Excitement
Back to Church Sunday shouldn’t be just like any other Sunday. This should be a day focused on guests and on connecting people to the life of your church. This could be done in a variety of ways including:
- Offer a light breakfast or bring in donuts.
- Make Coffee…not just church coffee (you coffee snobs out there know what we mean). Hire a barista or a coffee truck to come and make specialty coffee drinks for visitors.
- Create a photo booth or backdrop where families can take back-to-school pictures.
- Host an after-church potluck where guests can meet members of your congregation.
4. Launch a New Sermon Series
A powerful sermon series can be a little like a favorite TV show that leaves you wanting more. Encourage your pastor to start a new sermon series on Back to Church Sunday and give a little teaser of what to expect next week. Hopefully, this not only encourages people to return but also keeps them focusing on the message and its applications throughout the week.
5. Start New Small Groups
Back to Church Sunday is the perfect day to launch new small groups. Nobody likes to feel like the awkward new kid. New small groups are the perfect place for visitors because everyone is new. Promote these groups from the pulpit and ensure that the leaders are equipped to make everyone feel welcome.
Bonus: use the group management feature within your ChMS to keep these new groups organized and on task.
6. Equip Your Welcome Center
Welcome centers are easy to neglect. If you simply assume that they have what they need, you might be in for a rude awakening on Back to Church Sunday. Before that day, go through your welcome center and update any handouts that you may have. Keep branding consistent so everything looks great and serves a purpose. Also, be sure to train your welcome center staff so they know how to direct visitors towards next steps.
7. Up Your Security Procedures
This is the perfect Sunday to put security procedures to work at your church. This part of the job isn’t glamorous, but you’d much rather be safe than sorry. Here are a few ways to keep your church safe:
- Hire a security guard to be present on Sunday mornings.
- Implement a child check-in system.
- Ensure that emergency procedures are in place.
8. Don’t Forget the Kids
In all of the hype of Back to Church Sunday, don’t forget the kids! Find ways to include them in the excitement. Before this Sunday, encourage kids to invite their friends just like the adults in your church. This is also the perfect Sunday for promotion. Again, nobody likes to be the new kid so promotion Sunday is a way to introduce a little bit of newness to everyone. Finally, have children make a fun craft or do fun activities focused on telling others about Jesus.
9. Offer Clear Next Steps
Once visitors are in the doors of your church on back to church Sunday, what do they do next? This should be made abundantly clear. Decide ahead of time what these next steps are and communicate them from the pulpit, in small groups, at your welcome centers, and online.
10. Follow Up
Lastly, your Back to Church Sunday will only be successful if you put a plan in place to follow up with visitors. The good news is that you can use your ChMS to help. Assign each visitor to a volunteer or staff member and make a plan to reach out to them within a few days. Make sure you know how much you enjoyed having them and invite them back to something specific. This could be next Sunday’s worship service or an event you have coming up.
As a church, you have an opportunity to help people connect with your church and grow in their faith this Back to Church Sunday. To help make sure you have all of your T’s crossed and your I’s dotted, we’ve created a Back to Church Checklist. Bonus: It comes with a Church Website Report Card so you can make sure your website is ready, too!