I’m not a prophet or the son of a prophet, but my gut tells me that this fall is going to be huge for our churches. Families are returning from vacation, people are getting back into routines, and a global pandemic seems to be waning.
All of that means that church parking lots and pews will be fuller than they were during summer … or maybe anytime in the last year and a half. In normal years at our church, we typically see a 30-35% attendance bump from the end of July to mid-August.
So how can you take advantage of the next few weeks in order to be prepared for the influx of guests? Here are seven ways:
Refresh your volunteer training.
Go back to the basics with your current vols. Remind them why your team exists. Whether you’re meeting with them in person or sending out text / email updates, spend a few minutes over the next few weekends helping your volunteers get their heads back in the game. [Related post: Need an Inexpensive Option for Team Training?]
Invite new people to serve.
New guests mean new opportunities for your members to step up their game. Invite all of your current vols to shoulder-tap their friends. If your attendance numbers bump by 1/3 like ours, make it a personal goal to bump your volunteer numbers by the same. [Related post: 20 Ways to Get More Volunteers]
Review your systems.
Sure, you remember the last time when a lot of people showed up and you had to seat them in the lobby or park them at the business down the street. But now, how will you prepare based on what you know? Now is the time to pull out the playbook and talk to your team about what will happen when (not if) additional space is required. (And please, let’s not call it overflow. That’s what toilets do.) [Related post: 10 Ways to Make Your Seating Team More Effective]
Practice your language.
How will you greet your guests when they arrive? Sure, you may cover this with your volunteers … but what about the people on stage? How will your worship leader encourage people to scoot in once worship has already started? How will your lead pastor greet the throngs, acknowledge the bump, and invite them back? How will your announcement guy give practical next steps? [Related post: Six Times to Talk to Your Guests]
Check your supplies.
Do you have enough first time guest gifts? Worship guides? Information cards? Communion cups? Now is the time to order them. [Related post: First Time Guest Bags: An Intro]
Clean it up.
Don’t neglect your facility or your parking lot. Take a minute to walk around this week and spot what needs to be fixed or freshened up: remove those VBS posters; weed that flower bed; windex that lobby door. [Related post: Pick Up Your Junk]
This isn’t the last resort, but the first. If we believe for a moment that the guest experience rises and falls on a clean facility and well-trained volunteers, we deceive ourselves. No, we must pray for the Holy Spirit to compel people to come, to open their eyes to the gospel, and to woo them into a relationship with Jesus. [Related post: Is Your Guest Service Team in a State of Desperation?]
A modified version of this post originally appeared on dfranks.com.
Posted on July 29, 2021
Danny Franks is the Pastor of Guest Services at The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina, and the author of People Are the Mission: How Churches Can Welcome Guests Without Compromising the Gospel. Read more from Danny at www.dfranks.com
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Given the recent developments in the pandemic, you should be planning for (more) remote services even through Christmas. Perhaps some daily podcasts should be on the agenda. Older people are getting very hesitant to get in any crowd. I do not have a crystal ball, but things aren’t improving any time soon. Perhaps encouraging all your members to get a vaccine would help. If you are a minister opposed to vaccines and reading this, I encourage you to go back to the tenets of the faith to the Golden Rule nor spread false information.
Mark, great perspective. I submitted this article a few weeks back, so the news of the last few days hadn’t hit quite yet.
I think, Danny, this article is premature. The pandemic is not waning! In my county it is picking up steam! The infection rate jumped from 0 cases to 48 new cases in three days. This morning the county health department reported 25 new cases. The CDC classifies my county as a red county, a county with a high transmission rate. In my state vaccination has stalled. Only roughly half of the population have had one dose of vaccine. It is increasingly looking like people who have had two doses of vaccine will need a booster if they have an autoimmune disorder ora pre-existing condition or are over 65. The CDC is now recommending fully-vaccinated people to wear face masks indoors in public places like stores, churches, etc. in high and substantial transmission areas. Of the 25 new cases, 21 were unvaccinated; 4 were vaccinated. The report did not state whether they were fully-vaccinated and what vaccine they received. Some vaccines are more effective than others. While break-through infections are uncommon, they do occur. A vaccinated person who has a break-through infection but is asymptomatic can carry the same viral load as an unvaccinated person who has a serious case of the virus and is symptomatic. The CDC is also recommending that the students, faculty, and other staff of all schools grades 12 through KG wear face masks irrespective of whether they are vaccinated. Reportedly people in Missouri are getting vaccinated in secret because of the social pressure against vaccination in the circles in which they move. Right now your article, while informative and helpful, is also misleading. It reflects the situation earlier this summer, not the present situation.
Robin, thanks for that comment! This article was submitted several weeks ago, ahead of the spikes we’ve been hearing of again.