Let these outreach strategies spark your team’s creative planning and problem solving.
1. Momentum Weekends
When we choose the timing for events and series at Life.Church, we’re always thinking about ways we can multiply momentum. Some events like baptisms or child dedications are natural opportunities for people to invite their family and friends—some of whom might not have a church home. We make sure to align those events with other attendance boosters, like the beginning of a series. And we make sure those weekends don’t fall right before a momentum breaker like a holiday weekend.
We used to try to spread out our momentum builders, thinking that it was better to cover as much of the calendar as possible. But when we combined them, we noticed a multiplier effect instead of the incremental results we’d seen in the past. Those weekends have become perfect weekends for people to start or get back on track with attending church as the energy and excitement spills out into other weekends.
2. Switching Services
When churches are considering adding a service time, many think they can attract a different group of people by launching at a nontraditional time like Saturday nights. In reality, most people who aren’t attending church think of it as something that happens on Sunday morning. So when you’re launching and promoting new service times, consider asking your faithful attenders to attend the nontraditional times like Saturday or Sunday evenings. As you do, it’s an opportunity to cast vision and lead them to make room to reach new people who’ll visit during the traditional Sunday morning times.
3. Market to the Inviters
What’s the most common reason people try out a church? “Someone invited me.” Now consider how regularly those “someones” are attending church themselves. If our most effective resource in getting new people connected to our church is only present at our church every few weeks, how will that affect their frequency of inviting others to church?
That’s a question we asked ourselves several years ago, and it changed our approach to marketing. We began focusing our promotional efforts on people who’ve already visited. It seemed contrary to our instincts as a church since we place such a high value on evangelism and outreach. But our hunch was this: The more frequently people come to church, the more likely they would be to invite people. So we focus on communicating to them through a combined marketing effort we call 7 Touches. These are small, consistent communication touch points that get people excited to come to church and bring friends.
1. Pastor: Our senior pastor, Craig Groeschel, talks about the next series each weekend for three or four weeks before it starts. This makes sure people hear about it even if they miss a week or two.
2. Campus Pastor: As a multisite church, we want our attendees to hear the vision for the series from campus pastors as well.
3. Video: We create promotional videos that build interest and intrigue.
4. Invite Cards: We give our attendees invite cards so they can invite other people easily.
5. Banners: We display banners near the parking lot and driveways to remind people again of what’s coming.
6. Mailers: Attendees receive a reminder mailer at their house the week before a new series starts. We focus on attendees instead of a general ZIP code radius list because they’re the ones who are going to invite somebody. A warm, personal invitation from a churchgoer is one of the most effective invitations.
7. Social Media: We post about new series on official Life.Church social media channels, and we also encourage our staff, volunteers and attendees to post on their personal accounts. We also do paid campaigns to promote the series to people we’re connected to on social media.
4. Baptisms During Worship
We’ve tried a few different ways to celebrate baptisms throughout our history—renting out water parks, holding them outside at local pools and adding them as extra segments of our services. A few years ago we wanted to find a way to incorporate baptisms into our church services without extending the length of the service. We decided to integrate baptisms into our music worship time and not only has it been a good fit for the flow of our weekends, it’s really enhanced the spirit of worship and celebration. Baptisms take place once a quarter and are coordinated for the same weekend across all of our locations.
5. Upgrade Giving
Weather events, holiday weekends and sporadic attendance can create unpredictable giving patterns that make it difficult for churches to plan strategically. When the majority of giving comes in through online channels, it creates a consistency that’s less dependent on these variables.
We used to see less than 30 percent of our giving come in through online channels, and now we see more than 65 percent. One thing that made a big difference? Improving our giving experience. Our attendees have been able to give online ever since the early days of our website, but we didn’t bring much emphasis to the experience until about five years ago. We wanted giving to church be just as easy and enjoyable as making any online purchase, which meant stepping up our mobile giving experience and integrating it seamlessly with our website.
For us, this required a custom development process, but today there are a lot of companies that make it easy. We took the technology we developed and spun it out into Kindrid Smart Giving (Kindrid.com), which allows people to give via text, app and online.
As we improved our Life.Church giving experience, we shifted the language we used to talk about giving, as well. We called any electronic giving Smart Giving and described it as the easiest and best way to give. We also encourage people to set up recurring giving online at strategic times of year, like the beginning of January.
Bobby Gruenewald is pastor, innovation leader at Life.Church. Connect with him on Twitter: @BobbyGwald