Increasing attendance is a top priority for most churches. Bringing more people through the doors of the church can translate to impacting more people for Christ. Church is where communities of worshippers can deepen their faith and connect with other believers. Worshipping together is vital to the Christian life, yet many churches struggle to fill the pews.
In his article entitled, “68 Ways to Increase Church Attendance (Without a Change of Pastors),” Dr. Robert O. Crossman, Minister of New Church Starts and Congregational Advancement for the Arkansas Conference of the United Methodist Church says, “There are only two ways to increase worship attendance: 1) to have your current members attend more often; or 2) to invite new people to start attending worship.”
With this in mind, here are 10 ways to increase worship attendance:
Welcome every person who walks through the church doors with genuine appreciation–visitors and members alike. Make being welcoming the top priority. Welcome messages posted on the church website homepage, social media, and in service bulletins spread this message even more (welcome gifts for visitors that contain helpful information and free goodies are also helpful).
2-Engage to Grow
Engage with new and existing members as often as possible, especially following services. Create space and time to personally meet, greet and talk with visitors and old friends before or after services or church events.
3-Make an Impression
Impress your neighborhood, visitors and members with welcome signs, lovely interior and exterior decor, effective and instructive signage and landscaping that expresses who you are as an organization. Beautiful church buildings, spaces and gardens speak to visitors and invite them to wander in and check them out.
Recognize visitors during the service (generally without asking them to stand) and use these moments to openly express gratitude that they have joined in worship today. Offer a sincere welcome and thanks that they are there. Welcome messages can also be posted in digital service media and bulletins as a regular practice.
5-Keep Social Media Current
Update all website and social media channels regularly to ensure service schedules and event times are accurate, and so your church’s mission is clearly highlighted and easily understood. Your website is your organization’s face in the world, and nearly all visitors will use the church website to find the location and service times, especially during the holidays.
Follow up in a timely and friendly manner with visitors and members to establish and build stronger relationships, inspire deeper connections and to engage and invite. There are many ways to do this, both in person and via email, phone calls, and snail mail.
7-Outreach and Networking
Reach out and network with existing members to learn more about them and their needs, to obtain helpful feedback, understand attendance rhythms and gauge overall satisfaction rates. Again, there are many options for doing this type of focused outreach, including online surveys and traditional church communication channels.
Communicate regularly with your church community via email, social media or text messaging about upcoming services and events. Many churches have a weekly or monthly print or electronic newsletter, and some even share mid-week service reminders that include bonus content about the week’s lessons and teachings. Offer new or existing members the option to sign up for your electronic newsletter or mailing list as a simple and effective way to stay in touch and share information.
Personally invite visitors to attend services or community events by encouraging members to reach out to their friends, families, co-workers or neighbors with a friendly and personal welcome. Just being invited can make all the difference. And remember to repeat the invitation and keep it open, knowing that it may take time before someone is able to accept.
10-Learn to Invite
Teach your congregation how to invite new people to join services and events. Creating a special program or training where members can learn how to welcome and invite can be helpful. And doing this training together as a group creates an interactive and community building opportunity. Crafting simple phrases or one-liners about your church’s mission and its community, and practicing how to use these phrases, will support the invitation process and help members feel more at ease with it.
The increasing number of accessible and easy-to-use online tools and the power of social media provide churches with the penultimate solution to connect, invite and grow their congregations. Coupled with essential personal invitations and friendly encouragement, churches really do have the power and opportunity at their fingertips to positively impact their attendance on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis.
Lastly, Pray and Be Excellent
Dr. Crossman also offers another solution, “PRAY: Pray until your heart aches and the tears flow.” Growing a church and boosting its attendance is serious business, and is worthy of attention, investment, and prayer.
It is also the business of creating a welcoming environment where newbies and longtime members alike are drawn to your excellence. Be excellent in welcoming, inviting, and attending to people who come to your services. It is good to remember that where our focus goes, things grow.
For additional resources, please check out Dr. Grossman’s helpful article in full here.