7 Ways Your Church Can Beat The Summer Slump

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Big Events for Church Growth

So let's talk about maybe in the summer having a bon-a-fide children's big event. Now, I say it that way because a lot of churches have events and they're kind of big, but it's not what we would call in the 24toDouble model, a big event. In the 24toDouble model, it's not a big event unless you, first of all, involve the whole church. It's not just a children's ministry event any more, it's a big event. The whole church is involved. Everybody is throwing their energy, their resources, their effort in it. Because we're going to work toward using this to grow the whole church. So one of the things we want to do is invite a lot of people.   Put the kids on stage. Get the kids there so they can invite family and friends to be a part of that, and then we're going to get that information and we're going to be able to use that.   Another thing, there's a difference in the night and the day. If you're having a day thing, let's just say you're doing like a VBS or something, you've got 20 volunteers to pull that thing off and they're there several hours every day. I want you to think about how much easier would it be for you to get volunteers if it was a night event? How much more likely are you going to get parents out there if it's a night event? Kids are not deciding where they go to church. It's going to be their parents. So you want the parents to get exposure. If this is a bon-a-fide big event, then we want to have it at night when the whole family can come, alright?   To that extent, if it's kid fest, change the name from Kid's Fest to Family Fest. We want the whole family to be a part of that. Here's what really makes it a church growth engine and not just a big bunch of kids showed up. Get contact information and start following up immediately. You need to have a database where you've got people listed as regular attendees, volunteers, of course, but FTAs, first time attenders, and guests in there.

What should your Volunteers do next?

So you need to know what you want them to do next. What is that? Do you want them to come to the big fall event? Do you want them to come back to the big Christmas event? Do you want to announce to them the kids events that are coming up, the Sunday morning series that we're doing with our kids, or the different opportunities that we have. I see a lot of churches have a simple kind of registration thing, but you need to make the kids go through that registration table, get their information, get their parents' information. That's how they get prizes, that's how they register to win door prizes et cetera. Then do something with that, follow up with that immediately, and let those folks know.

Church Growth Follow-up

In sales terms, you've got leads and you've got hot leads. You could do some kind of a broadcast mailer all over your community and that could produce maybe a 2% return. But if they've already been to your campus, if they already have had experience with your events, then you've already got a positive experience with them. There's a much greater chance that you'll get them back by sending them a mailer than just broadcasting everywhere. Broadcasting your whole neighborhood or your whole city might be $2 to $5,000, just broadcasting the mailing list of people who've visited your church is a much smaller expense and a greater return. So that's how you turn that into a big event in terms of the 24toDouble model.   This is really, really important. If you're going to have a big event, make it worth it. You know what you want people to do. Having people come onto your campus for a family fest. When they get there, you want to capture their contact information, because here's the thing...right now, with people you don't know that don't know you, you don't have a relationship with them. When they come onto your campus, they can begin to develop the relationship with you, but they're still in control of it. The moment that you capture their information, you begin to have some leverage in the relationship.   And here's what that allows you to do ... a lot of those people are not going to come back on Sunday morning. Most of them will never come back on Sunday morning if you don't have a plan to get them back. But what they might do is, some of them might come on Sunday, but some more of them would come to the next big event you have. Well the only way that you can ensure that they know about your next big event is to capture their information.   Have a strategy. If you're going to to do big events, and this is one of the key things we teach in 24toDouble, is anybody can double their church on Easter but can you double it the week after Easter? You do that by having a strategy that leads up to and then having a great day and then a follow up-strategy of that.   So I just wanted to re-emphasize to make sure that you're picking up what we're laying down right there, because that is a critical mistake that I think a lot of churches are making when they do big events is they put all this energy into them, and then you just got to go right to the next one. To put all that energy in, and you get a little trickle out of it but no lasting change, no people that are coming and disrupting their weekend schedule.   And everybody knows that. Everybody has had a big day where a big bunch of people came in and you thought, "Man, we have turned the corner." And then next week, it doesn't happen. That's not uncommon. One of the lowest attendance days of the year is the week after Easter. That's okay, but if you're following up properly, either it won't happen immediately after the big event, over the next few months, you're following up, you're emailing things to them, you're letting them know, "Hey, we want you back. We're doing other things that are excellent that you would enjoy". Well then, yeah, those FTAs, first time attenders, should start to trickle back in and you've won them. If they don't start with getting information, then there's zero chance you can do any follow-up.

Teach with the seasons

Know the season you're in. You're in the summer. What's happening in people's lives? You want to use the context that they're living in. So they're connecting with their family a whole lot right now. They're doing a lot of family stuff, so let's teach on the family, let's talk relationships. Let's teach on things like unity, let's teach on togetherness, things like that. It doesn't just have to be family, it could be church unity. But just try to use the context that they're living in.   For us, our church is just right down the road from a huge lake which spreads over three counties. It's called Smith Lake. So there's a lot of lake life going on. We talk about that kind of stuff. We have a lot of lake activities. We do some really fun stuff on the lake, and I will use analogies. You've got about 30 to 35 minutes to speak into them so you want to cross that bridge as quickly as you can, and so if you can teach within the seasons, then I think that's fantastic.   Another thing is movies. A lot of churches will do an "At the movies" series which is great. Some really good movies have a positive lesson. They'll start with teaching on that movie. Something that's been popular. Basically, you're fitting into the context that people are already in in their life because some are ... there's travel, there's vacations, there's ball things going on with the kids. It's really hard to get them to focus where you want them to be on the weekend. So if you can, focus a little bit to where they've already been.   Let me make this abundantly clear. I'm not talking about preaching about movies or preaching about the lake. I'm talking about getting yourself out of context where they can receive what you have. You're still sharing God's word. You're still teaching the truth that's going to change their life. But you're going to where they are. It's no different then when Jesus is walking around, and he sees little children and he bends over and he picks one up and he says, "Suffer the little children to come unto me." He's speaking to the context that they're living in. And Jesus was incredible about that. He walks up to disciples and he says, "Hey, from now you, you're going to be fishers of men." Well they'd just gotten off of a fishing boat. He wasn't preaching on fish, but he was using the context that those men understood to bring the message of eternal life. That's what we want to do when we're teaching. Teach with the season. Get into the context that they're already in. Get in the mindset that those people are in so they're more easy to get on board with where you are.

Who are you talking to?

You know, over the last ten years, I've been in hundreds and hundreds of churches. Before I would go out an visit with a church, I'd always listen to two or three podcasts when podcasts became available. It was amazing how much you could learn about a church and what was going on in the life of the church and the life of the pastor by a podcast. One of the things that was always apparent to me is what part of the person are you speaking to? Are you speaking to the mask, the part of the person that says, "Everything's fine, everything's going well" or are you speaking to something that's a little bit deeper or a core issue?   I always was trying to find a way when I'm talking to people, and when we're talking to you, Pastor, we're trying to find ways where we're lining ourselves up with the conversation that's already going on in your head. And that's what we're talking about right here. When you're finding the things that are relevant to them, and you can find ways to use the conversations that are already going on in their head and between them and you can bring that into scripture, I think that you're going to be able to tap into something that's much deeper than most communicators are tapping into.