Social Media is a great tool to keep up with what God is doing in churches far and near. I love that! I noticed many churches had record attendances for Easter 2019 and I rejoice with them! Clearly God was moving.
However, failure to effectively follow up major “victories” in a church (like a record Easter) is a common mistake many churches make year after year. Simply put, they fail to leverage significant events and squander their momentum. Rather than attendance “spike and build” they go “spike and back” to where they were before.
Like some of you, Christ Church set a new attendance record last Easter. It was our first time over 4,000 and it was great! Our people were excited and enthused. They invited and people came and those who attended experienced a great worship service!
What now? We follow up!
Why Do Churches NOT Follow Up?
History is filled with military victories that could have been great victories if the victor had pressed the retreating army. There are many reasons why this happens:
- The victorious army is exhausted and in need of rest
- There is an underestimation of remaining strength of the victors
- There is an overestimation of remaining strength of the retreating army
- Victorious armies desire to celebrate
- Generals are unwilling to suffer additional casualties
- Generals are happy to leave the field with “a win in their pocket.”
- Mission becomes the comfort of the soldiers rather than the objectives of the army
Most churches have few real victories. Of the churches that achieve significant victories, most fail to follow them up for the same reasons armies fail to follow up. Churches that consistently grow must not only create victories but follow up victories in systematic and intentional ways. A great Easter does not insure a great year but it can be something to leverage toward it! So you have had a week to rest, I get that. But now it is time to follow up!
Following Up Easter
- If you set a record or had strong attendance, celebrate it! Get it out! Let the people in your church, community and region that you have “something going on!”
- Hotwash your 2018 Easter services and schedule this week while things are fresh on your minds. What went well? What went poorly? What needs adjusted? What can be added? What needs replaced?
- Ask yourself what can be done to draw another 10% in attendance next year. Might you add or reinterpret a Thursday or Friday service? We added a full Saturday night service this year and it drew over 600 people! Expectations are high.
- Plan your 2019 Easter Week schedule immediately. Get the dates on your calendar. Keep other things off the calendar that week to free up your resources toward Easter.
- Thank your key players for their sacrifice. Posting photos of leaders on your Facebook page and hand written thank you notes are always a good start. Did a volunteer go “above and beyond” the call of duty, take them to lunch or buy them a gift certificate. People love being appreciated!
- Follow up on all leads or first time visitors. Take them something they will actually like (we take really good pies from a famous local bakery) and invite them back.
- Plan some sort of community service project or outreach in early May and invite your new folks to help your church “make the world a better place.”
- Work to get your “average” worship service and welcoming ministries up to your Easter level. You have established a new bar of excellence, let that become the “new normal!”
- Finally, lock in a compelling post Easter sermon series. Perhaps a “What Next?” series with a great graphic package where you explore the Great Commission. Advertise it and make sure it has appeal to your “C&E” crowd. Let’s face it, your regulars are going to attend anyway.
BIG IDEA: Don’t settle for a great Easter! Follow it up and have a great 2018 church year!
-Rev. Shane L. Bishop, A Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church, has been the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois since 1997. Christ church has averaged almost 10% annual growth over the past decade.