Missional Ministry In Action: Go Beyond 2015

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A few weeks ago, Elexio participated for the second year in Go Beyond, a week-long missional initiative here in Lancaster County, PA.

Harvest Bible Chapel of Lancaster launched Go Beyond in 2014, extending their typical Sunday of local service to a full week in order to maximize their impact.

This year, they invited the surrounding community to join them in showing God’s love in practical ways. Twenty different churches—including several of our local church partners—participated, as well as 36 area businesses.

Elexio sent a couple groups to package meals through Go Beyond’s partnership with Global Aid Network. In just two days, 900 volunteers packed 211,000 meals that will be sent to earthquake-ravaged Nepal and Ebola-stricken Liberia.

But Go Beyond wasn’t just about worldwide efforts; most of the 200 projects that combined for 10,000 hours of service benefitted people right here in our local community. In addition to feeding those in need on other continents, the thousands who participated in Go Beyond also:

  • Distributed meals outside a local rescue mission
  • Organized a clothing drive that serviced 1,000 people
  • Participated in a Red Cross blood drive
  • Provided meals for local servicemen
  • Hosted three family fun days that drew hundreds of kids
  • Completed projects at the homes of needy and disabled neighbors
  • Cleaned the surrounding roads
  • Served several meals at a rescue mission

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And that list doesn’t even begin to cover all the acts of service completed in just seven days.

To conclude the week of Go Beyond, over 3,000 gathered at nearby Clipper Magazine Stadium for a full worship service, where several people gave their lives to Christ.

Elexio was blessed to play a small role in helping  to demonstrate God’s love through Go Beyond 2015, and we’re praying for an even bigger campaign next year!

How is your church following the missional model and serving others?

Check out these resources on missional ministry:

8 Easy Ways to Be Missional

Missional Ministry: How Even a Large Church Can Do it Well

Two Lies that Keep Families from Being Missional

4 Tips For A Successful Mother’s Day At Your Church

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Mother’s Day is just around the corner—is your church ready? Beyond the flowers and chocolates and poems and tearjerker videos, you can do plenty to celebrate moms and make the holiday a success.

1. Recognize the outreach opportunity

Behind only Christmas and Easter, Mother’s Day brings the third highest church attendance each year. People who haven’t been to church for a couple months or several years are looking for a place to visit this weekend. Take advantage of this special opportunity and invite your local community to celebrate with you. Advertise any special Mother’s Day events and utilize Facebook to promote and get your congregation involved in spreading the word. Send an e-blast to your contacts who haven’t attended recently and encourage everyone to bring their families. Make sure your team is prepared for an influx of visitors and keep this detail in mind when planning every element of the service. But don’t stop there. Follow up with visiting families so they keep coming back.

2. Make the morning routine simple

Moms don’t take a break even on Mother’s Day, but you can make sure that they aren’t completely burned out by lunchtime. Provide easy-to-use tools like mobile check-in that will help them minimize the chaos and get children where they need to be fast so they can enjoy the service.

3. Put your technology to work

Take advantage of all the communication tools and information in your ChMS database to recognize mothers in an appropriate way. Rather than alienating women without children and making mothers feel uncomfortable by making them stand up during announcements, send an email or printed piece in addition to any other special gifts or events. Many of the mothers in your church will likely be serving in some capacity that day, so this will ensure they aren’t overlooked by your efforts.

4. Make the experience great for kids

Even on a day dedicated to showing appreciation for them, moms are more focused on their children. So make sure that your youth and kids ministries provide an experience that is safe, fun, and focused on age-appropriate discipleship. If you do, families will be more likely to return to your church.

How does your church celebrate mothers each year?

Check out these other resources for Mother’s Day ideas:

6 High-Impact Outreach Ideas for Mother’s Day

Honoring Moms in Your Sunday Service

Mother’s Day: Third Most Popular Sunday

9 Signs Your Church Announcements Need A Makeover

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Each week, church leaders face pressure from different groups to plug their ministries in the morning announcements. This preamble to the Sunday service has become a source of contention in many churches and led to a time of bombarding people with updates. But your church can make better use of this time if you’re falling into these pitfalls of ineffective announcements:

1. They drag on for 47 minutes (or they feel like it, anyway)

Has anyone ever fallen asleep during the announcements because you covered every possible update in the entire church? Don’t subject people—especially visitors—to an announcement marathon each Sunday morning. You have their attention for five minutes tops, so limit it to a maximum of three items. If they last longer than the sermon, your announcements are probably due for a trim.

2. They lack clear instructions

If you’re inviting people to get involved with a ministry or attend an event, they shouldn’t be left scratching their heads guessing what to do next. You should provide them with clear next steps. Rather than telling them to connect with so and so after the service, direct them to a kiosk or online portal to find a small group. Let them know that they can find more information on your website so you don’t need to review every detail of an event during the announcements. You can even encourage them to register immediately from your mobile app.

3.  They sound self-serving

If every announcement is about how to give to the church or how to help the church, people might begin to tune out. These needs are important to highlight, but don’t forget to thankpeople for faithfully giving and serving, too. Let them know how their contributions are making an impact and demonstrate why people should want to get involved.

4. They’re irrelevant to most people

Announcements that make the cut should be pertinent to at least 80 percent of the people in attendance. Each ministry will be vying for a timeslot to plug the next event, but does the entire congregation need to hear about an update that only applies to a handful of people? Promote the church-wide picnic during announcements, but find a more suitable way to spread the word about a college student outing. If multiple ministries are searching for volunteers, direct people to a single place where they can learn about all needs and sign up.

5. They’re not timely

Although you’ve already begun planning for a series beginning six months from now, the rest of your church community probably won’t share your excitement so far in advance. But you’ll also need to give people more than a three day notice. Based on the event and how much planning is required to attend, make announcements when they’ll have the most impact.

6. They’re not rehearsed

When the person making the morning announcements decides to wing it, people can usually tell. The subsequent rabbit trails and rambling make everyone uncomfortable. Make sure anyone standing in front of the congregation at least reads through the announcements a few times before stumbling over words.

7. They’re not reinforced

People typically need to hear about something several times before it sticks. If the only time you inform your church community about an important update is during the announcements, some people might miss out and others will forget. Include this information in your e-newsletter or on your website or on social media to back up the message and keep more people in the know.

8. They conclude with an uncomfortable greeting time

In a poll by Thom Rainer, people named a time of forced conversation and hand shaking as the top reason they wouldn’t return to a church after an initial visit. Those few minutes of greeting the people around you can be awkward enough, so don’t add to the discomfort by giving people a series of questions and answers to recite to each other. In-person connection is important, but these tactics make many people feel uncomfortable rather than welcome.

9. They’re painfully boring 

If people’s eyes glaze over every time the announcements begin, it’s probably time to shake things up. Get creative and make this time more engaging for your church community. Introducing giving through your mobile app? Show, don’t just tell. Have a cool clip to accompany an update? Throw it up on the screen. People will be more likely to remember your announcements if they’re not dozing off out of boredom.

Some churches have abandoned announcements altogether and relegated important updates to the bulletin. Others have moved to video announcements because they can be more engaging and controlled—and they can be repurposed online.

What has worked for your church?

Check out these other resources for more tips:

Church Announcements Are Boring (& What to Do About It)

Obscuring and Illuminating

How to Make Announcements in Worship Services

4 Tips To Bring Christmastime Visitors Back To Your Church

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Whether they’re Chreasters or families looking for a new place to worship, your church has the rare opportunity to connect with a large number of visitors this Christmas season. Some may be out-of-towners, but most guests attending your holiday services are locals who could potentially become a part of your growing church community. Follow these tips to make sure they come back even after the decorations are put away:

1. Deliver on your promises

When you promoted the Christmas program, did you embellish at all just to get people there? If you advertised an ornate live nativity, but you’ve really got a baby doll and some plastic donkeys, you’re probably misleading visitors.

Remember your long-term goal—bringing those guests back so they can connect with your church and be discipled. But why would they want to come back if they’re disappointed and feel like they’ve been hoodwinked this time around?

Set the right expectations and deliver on those promises. Better yet, under-promise and over-deliver. They’ll be pleasantly surprised.

2. Provide a positive experience

It’s not just about the vocals or the chocolate chip cookies you hand out after the cantata. It’s about every interaction from the moment guests walk through the door.

  • Ensure your check-in process is fast, easy, and secure. Christmas visitors are usually coming with the entire family, so prepare for packed nurseries and leery parents. A system that quickly prints food allergies and medical information on nametags will be a relief to families.
  • Keep it kid-friendly unless you’ve specifically planned an adult-only event. Parents will be able to enjoy themselves if their toddlers aren’t squirming around the pews out of boredom. People are more accepting of sentimental cheesiness this time of year, anyway. So let the toddlers sing away!
  • Don’t get stuck in a rut, but don’t stray too far from tradition either—especially if it’s worked for you in the past. People are familiar with the Christmas story and know what to expect. It’s the one time of year when most people take comfort in tradition rather than search for something new. So unless you’ve told them that you’ll be switching things up, keep your Christmas lineup simple.
  • Be genuine, but still put your best foot forward. Christmas at church is kind of like a first date: you want to be your true self, but the very best version of yourself. Don’t leave out important details so visitors feel like your services aren’t too “churchy,” only to change your tune the next week. People can usually see right through the façade or they’ll be unhappy when they return to a completely different environment later.

3. Show them what you have to offer  

While you’ll be focusing on the Christmas story, don’t forget to let visitors know what else your church has to offer beyond Christmastime. Give them a preview of what’s coming up next and highlight those ministries that would be of interest to visitors. Invite them to the upcoming sermon series or special event. Just don’t let them leave without seeing how your church can be relevant to their lives year round.

4. Follow up with them

Collect guest information at check-in or through visitor cards and enter it into your church database so you can follow up with them after the holidays. While you’d typically reach out to visitors within a day or two, people don’t want to be bothered by phone calls or emails while they’re spending quality time with family. Once things calm down after the New Year, reach out to your Christmastime guests and invite them back.

Visit these other resources for more Christmas tips and ideas:

5 Last-Minute Christmas Service Improvements

Plan for Growth During the Christmas Holidays

5 Videos for Christmas Church Services – Note: Link is no longer live

7 Ways Your Church Can Reach Chreasters This Holiday Season

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Chreasters. Or maybe you prefer CEOs (Christmas and Easter Only). You know—those people who only step foot inside a church two times a year.

They’re looking for a place to go this holiday season. According to Google trends, searches for the word “church” spike at Christmastime, second only to Easter. Are you taking advantage of this season when people who wouldn’t typically join in worship are searching for a church to visit?

1. Get specific

Is your church putting on a Christmas cantata? Are you hosting a candlelight Christmas Eve service? Be specific about the details in your promotion of events. People are more likely to attend a special holiday program than a regular Sunday morning worship service because they have certain expectations this time of year. Childcare and refreshments will also leave people more inclined to be your guests, so tell them ahead of time what you have to offer.

2. Get online

People are searching for a place to go over the holidays, so make sure they can easily find you. Keep your website current and provide plenty of information about Christmas events. Larger churches hosting a variety of major programs might even find value in a dedicated microsite. Check out these eight examples for inspiration.

3. Get noticed

Don’t count on people just finding you organically online. Consider some online advertising during this time of year—try out Google’s Ad Grants program for free. It can serve as a good test to see if this kind of advertising is worthwhile for your church and won’t cut into your tight budget.

4. Get social

Actively promote your Christmas festivities throughout your social networks. Tweet details of your services and create events on Facebook that your church community can share with friends. Create some graphics that will catch people’s eyes rather than a status update that most will overlook. Check out these free resources to get started.

5. Get communicative  

Take advantage of the contact list that you’ve collected. Send an email blast to people who’ve visited your church before and consider a physical mailing based on your audience. The personal invitation will serve as a good reminder of their experience with your church. There’s no better time to reignite their interest in your church.

6. Get creative

There’s no one right way to get the word out—it all depends on the local community surrounding your church. Some close-knit communities find success participating in parades and distributing flyers with candy canes, while a young megachurch in the heart of a modern city might not see the same results. However you choose to advertise, make it personal. Provide invite cards for your church community and challenge them to invite friends and family. They can drop one off with a tray of cookies at a neighbor’s home or hang some in local coffee shops and on community announcement boards. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

7. Get prepared

If you’re in an area that could possibly see snow and ice, develop a communication plan in the case of a cancellation. Make a decision as early as possible, and be sure to at least communicate updates everywhere that you promoted the service. Visitors won’t be happy with your church if they brave the elements only to arrive at an empty building.

Take advantage of this holiday season to turn those Chreasters into year-round disciples. Only 23 days till Christmas—better get started!

Check out these other great resources for more ways to reach your community this Christmas season:

5 Ways Social Media Can Help Churches Connect at Christmas

Church Christmas Ideas

Is Your Church Getting The Most Out Of Trunk Or Treat?

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It’s that time of year when churches invite their members to fill parking lots with cars covered by DIY costumes and pack their trunks with candy corn and peanut butter cups.

Trunk or Treat is about providing a fun, safe activity for kids and families in your community. If done properly, it can be a great outreach initiative.

So you’ve got the kids, cars, and candy ready to go—but how do you make sure this amounts to more than just a night of fun and nauseating amounts of sugar?

Although it’s probably a little late to begin planning or advertising for this year, there are still some things you can do to ensure a successful Trunk or Treat.

Social Media

Hopefully you’ve been promoting your Trunk or Treat event for several weeks now. But even if you’re behind on the marketing, you can still use social media to attract more people—up until the day of your event!

  • If your church has an active social media presence, consider creating an event hashtag. You can use it leading up to Trunk or Treat, during the fun, and after the event as you share details and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • You can also create buzz by inviting people to a public event on Facebook. It’s not so much about predicting attendance as it is about creating awareness. But it will help you gauge what kind of turnout to expect.
  • Need some more last minute volunteers? Recruit help from your church community by sharing those service opportunities throughout your social channels. Get them involved after the event, too by having them share posts, pictures, and updates with their friends.
  • Before posting pictures online, make sure you have consent from parents—and watch out for license plates. Your social media activity could backfire if you don’t respect people’s privacy.

Event Day Considerations

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the event, but make sure you’re prepared with more than just some sweet treats.

  • On Trunk or Treat night, take advantage of the fact that hundreds of people from your local community are pouring into your parking lot. Advertise another upcoming event for kids and families so they’ll come back for more fun.
  • Make sure you have plenty of volunteers available to not only hand out candy and help with the grunt work of the event, but also to engage with the families and answer any questions from parents.
  • One of the biggest draws of Trunk or Treat is that it’s typically safer than children roaming neighborhoods in the dark. So make sure you take all the necessary precautions to ensure a secure environment for families.

Follow-ups

Don’t miss an opportunity to learn more about the people from your local community so you can follow up with them later.

  • Ask parents and guardians to fill out visitor connection cards or enter their information on a check-in kiosk. Keep it short, though. You’re providing a free event to the community, so don’t make people feel like there are strings attached to your friendly gesture.
  • Consider allowing those cards to serve as an entry form to win a drawing–for something that is worth sharing their contact information.
  • Be straightforward. People will be more likely to give you their information if you tell them what you’re going to do with it. Will you send them a letter or add them to your weekly newsletter?
  • Use that valuable information within the next few days after your event—while the fun is still fresh in their minds. Get them entered into your database and into a workflow so they receive an automated email or letter. Have a member of your follow-up team call them. Invite them to the next family-friendly event at your church. Use Trunk or Treat as just the first step in making families familiar with your church.

Most of these ideas are perfect for other seasonal activities your church plans like a fall festival or spring fling. Throw seamless events, but make sure you focus on more on the outreach opportunities—isn’t that why you’re doing it, after all?

CHECK OUT THESE OTHER RESOURCES ON EFFECTIVE FOLLOW-UP:

Fantastic Family Follow Up

Follow-up after a Church Holiday Outreach Event: Speed Dating or Relationship Building? (article removed)

8 Effective Ways to Follow up with Guests at Your Church

Church Branding: Before You Pick Your Logo…

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Whether you’re planting a church, considering an overhaul of your current branding, or you just need to make things fresh, make sure you put in the time to do it right.

Why it matters

No matter where you’re located or what you believe, people are going to form an opinion about your church. And it’s usually not based on personal experience.

The brand that you establish for your church will affect your reputation in the community, even if you haven’t put any conscious effort into creating one. You want people to hear your name or see your logo and remember you—for the right reasons. A strong branding strategy will go a long way in giving your church that credibility in outreach.

More than an ichthus

You don’t need a logo that incorporates a cross, a dove, a fish, and a crown of thorns. People will probably know that you’re a church even if you don’t pack every single Biblical symbol into your design.

Nor do you need to name your church First Community Calvary Grace Bible Fellowship. We get it—you’re a church! Keep it simple rather than trying to incorporate too many stereotypical elements into your unique branding.

But your church brand is more than just your name, logo, and color scheme. Of course those elements are all important in solidifying your branding. But before you examine your tagline and fonts, make sure you’ve identified how you want to represent your church and consider these guidelines:

1. BE AUTHENTIC

While you want to attract new people to your church, you need to make sure that you’re doing it the right way. Your branding shouldn’t be a clever disguise that lures people in with false imagery and unrealistic expectations of who you are—stay true to your identity.

Consider your mission statement and what’s important to your church. If you’re having a difficult time pinpointing those unique elements, answer these questions to help you discover what the heart of your brand truly is.

2. BE RELEVANT

Relevance doesn’t mean becoming worldly or compromising your standards—it means relating to the community you’re trying to reach. What is your church doing to meet the needs of the overwhelming homeless population in your city? How are you helping single parent families in your area? Let these kinds of considerations influence your messaging as you develop a brand.

It also means avoiding acronyms or cryptic church-speak that might alienate the unchurched. Creative names for your kid’s ministry or Sunday school classes can be fun, but make sure they’re clear enough that a first time visitor would understand.

3. BE TRANSPARENT

If your church does meet a specific need in the surrounding community, express how a burden to reach troubled teens led local families to found your church. Let people know what makes your church distinctive.

Your branding should allow people to glean some insight into who you are as a church. That doesn’t mean telling your 20 year history in a logo, but that story should help shape your branding strategy.

4. BE UNIFIED

As your church considers its branding as a whole, make sure that everyone is on the same page. The sub-branding for each individual ministry should be complementary—it shouldn’t conflict with the church’s brand or compete with other ministries.

Your church should have a consistent, unified brand across all platforms, not silos that can be detrimental to the church. Once you have these strategies in place, opt for a brand guide that will keep everyone in the know.

Adapting as you grow

As your church grows, it will become increasingly difficult to enforce branding that stays true to your church identity. If you’re a multi-site church, determine early on how you’ll tackle this challenge—will each location have its own website, logo, social accounts? Even if you don’t have the resources to hire someone, entrust a single person with monitoring your brand on all levels.

Check out these other great resources on developing your church brand:

Building Your Church Brand like a President

10 Church Branding Myths

6 Ways to Create a Consistent Church Brand

Going Beyond To Stop Hunger

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Here at Elexio, we obviously love software and technology and striving to make things easier for the church. But what really drives us is our heart for people.

We are blessed to have rewarding careers that not only make an eternal impact, but also provide for us financially so we can live comfortable lives. We don’t have to worry where our next meal will come from—but many people throughout the world do.  041

Did you know that 2.6 million children under the age of five die each year from undernutrition? Or that undernourishment contributes to more deaths than malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS combined?

Because God has given us so much, we know we need to share His love with others by not only reaching out to them spiritually, but also helping meet their physical needs.

That’s why we’ve partnered with Harvest Bible Chapel here in Lancaster County, PA through their Go Beyond campaign—a week dedicated to spontaneous and planned acts of kindness.

We have signs posted throughout the office that serve as constant reminders to be thinking of ways to go out of our way to put others first. And last week we participated in an effort to send thousands of meals for the hungry through Stop Hunger Now—an organization whose mission is to end world hunger.

Our staff volunteered in two groups with others from the community to package over 10,000 meals to be sent across the world in each two hour shift.

The dehydrated meals contain several nutrient-rich ingredients, specifically designed for people who are malnourished and lacking essential vitamins and minerals. Each has a shelf life of two years and costs only 29 cents.

It’s amazing what a few volunteers, a couple hours, and what we’d consider pocket change can do.

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Charity isn’t always just about sending a check—what about getting out of your comfort zone and giving your time to the people who need it most?

And you know what? We had a blast doing it!

We’re now faced with the challenge of making this concept of going beyond not just a one-time event, but a lasting change in our attitude and culture. The people who are hungry or sick or impoverished will not all be reached overnight, but with a Christ-like mindset and selfless hard work, we can spark a change.

 

Let us know—how are you going beyond to make a difference?

Serving Up HOPE One Cup Of Coffee At A Time

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Here at Elexio, we spend hours each day coding, designing, and providing support to churches all around the country—and that means a lot of coffee to get us through the long days.

But we leverage this guilty pleasure to help make a difference in the world. We get our caffeine fix from HOPE Coffee.

Launched in 2009 to provide visitors a coveted souvenir of Honduran coffee to take home from short-term mission strips, HOPE Coffee began as a small operation. Mark Fittz, a missionary to Honduras with Camino Global, connected with local coffee farmers to purchase the coffee and Honduran churches to dedicate proceeds to community projects.

As people fell in love with both the mission and flavor of HOPE Coffee, Mark was overwhelmed by the number of requests to send coffee to the United States. In 2010, a U.S.-based branch of HOPE Coffee opened in Dallas to keep up with the demand and increase the community impact.

Small local farmers provide the strictly high grown coffee which is:

  • Fairly traded – the farmers and other workers are paid fair wages
  • Directly traded – the beans are purchased directly from the farmers
  • Community traded – the profits are invested back into Honduran communities through local church outreach programs

Proceeds from HOPE Coffee help Camino Global meet its goal of producing and empowering followers of Jesus Christ by creating income to sustain mission ministries and developing relationships with the Honduran church and surrounding communities.

In 2013 alone, HOPE Coffee was able to provide new homes to two widows, new stoves to 28 families, 10 water systems, and two bathrooms.

But beyond meeting the real physical needs of the Honduran people, HOPE Coffee also uses these projects to share the Gospel and address their spiritual needs.

A woman named Sofia was one of the widows to receive a new home last year. In 1990, Sofia was pregnant with her fourth child when her husband was murdered. In order to care for her family, she woke up at 2 AM each morning to make food to sell on the streets. Then her son Samuel lost his eye in an accident. Sofia had a seven pound tumor removed at only 32 years. Her daughter got cancer. But devastated by loss, illness, and poverty, Sofia’s family consistently received support and encouragement from the church. She learned that God loved her even through these times of trial. HOPE Coffee partnered with the church to show the love of Christ in a tangible way by meeting her physical needs with a new home.

Many others have come to know Christ through these efforts, and they have even bigger plans for the future.

Please consider serving HOPE Coffee at your churchto help reach the people of Honduras. We can all make a small impact by switching our morning brew to HOPE Coffee.

Learn more about HOPE Coffee and Camino Global!

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Image Credits: HOPE Coffee

How To Engage Church Attendees…Easter And Beyond

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Lent is here.  That means Easter is fast approaching and church staff is putting in overtime to prepare for this most holy of seasons.  While it is easy to fall back on traditions and get caught up in busyness, it is important to take a step back and ask, “Are we making an impact? Are Easter worshipers engaged after Easter?”

Easter traditionally brings more people to church than any other time of year.  However, even this most sacred of Christian celebrations is facing lackluster attendance.  According to a poll conducted by LifeWay Research, 41% of Americans planned to attend an Easter worship service last year, almost the same as the number who planned not to attend (39%).  Another 20% were unsure.  Among Christians, only slightly more than half planned to attend. Protestant (58%) and Catholics (57%) were most likely to attend while only 45% of nondenominational Christians planned to attend.

ATTENDANCE IN GENERAL

A recent survey by Pew Research Center found that 37% of Americans reported that they attend worship services every week, and only 33% reported attending monthly or yearly.  Among religiously affiliated Americans who report that they only attend worship services a few times a year, the following reasons for not attending more often were cited:

  • Personal priorities (24%), including 16% who say they are too busy.
  • Practical difficulties – work conflicts, health issues, or transportation difficulties (24%).
  • Religious or church related issue – disagreement with the beliefs of the religion or church leaders (37%).
  • No particular reason (9%).

GETTING THEM TO RETURN

So, how do we engage more Christians before, during and After Easter?  In an interview with TheBlaze,  Thom Schultz, co-author of  Why Nobody Wants to Go To Church Anymore, suggested 4 four possible solutions to the church attendance problem:

  1. Radical Hospitality – “embracing a church paradigm of full acceptance.”
  2. Fearless Conversation – sharing of divergent viewpoints.
  3. Genuine Humility – true concern for addressing the issues, without being a hypocrite.
  4. Divine Anticipation – a focus on God’s providence in today’s world.

According to ChurchLeaders.com, the majority of de-churched people (62%) are open to the idea of returning.  Getting them to return may be as simple as inviting them.  In fact, 41% said they would return if an acquaintance or friend invited them.  Younger adults, ages 18-35, are even more likely to return if invited (60%).

Of course, the way we invite people may vary greatly.  Some people are perfectly comfortable with simply inviting their friends and acquaintances to worship.  Others feel more at ease inviting friends and family to celebrate a religious holiday or attend a ministry event (e.g., youth activities).  Small groups are also a great way to establish a personal connection and give people who would consider coming back to church a chance to openly explore issues and share different viewpoints.

The key is to discover what matters most to the people you would like to invite and engage them on their terms.  Be patient.  It is not a sprint to the finish line.  Give them a chance to re-engage in a way they feel comfortable with.  In fact, nearly two-thirds of the de-churched who decide to return prefer to remain anonymous until their second visit.  Provide a way for them to access information about small groups or learn about how various ministries serve the community without making them feel like everyone is going to pounce on them the minute they enter the worship center.  A Self-Service Kiosk is a great way to let them learn more on their own while at church.

Open up to people and be authentic about your faith AND your life.  Christianity is not about Christians, it is about Christ.  It is about having an eternal relationship with God through Christ. Of those who left church and expressed dissatisfaction with the membership, 45% felt church members were judgmental and hypocritical.  Demonstrate a little humility while extending the invitation to come to church.   Listen to any objections they may have and show true concern for addressing the issues without attacking the messenger. After all, we refer to our faith walk, not our faith 400 meter dash.

Need help connecting with church attendees and finding new ways to engage those that grace your front step?  Contact us.

Image Credits: iStockPhoto