Always Be Thinking About The Next Opportunity to Connect
As you are planning your Back to Church Sunday (BTCS) celebration, you want to be sure you are thinking strategically about what is next for those who attend? What will that next connection point be? How will you deepen your relationship with those guests who join you on BTCS?
Remember, you want to reach people in your community, but not just for the sake of having a big crowd. The heart behind BTCS is to mobilize your people, connect with newcomers, build relationships, and ultimately introduce them to Jesus. The last thing you want to happen is to invest so much time, energy and resources into an amazing BTCS celebration, and then have nowhere to lead all those people to deepen those relationships.
The churches that are the most evangelistically effective are consistently focusing on what is next for the new individuals and families with whom they are connecting. Here are some proven ideas your ministry team can consider for creating a great follow-up invitation opportunity:
1. Ongoing Sermon Series – Use BTCS as the launching point for a multi-week sermon series. This is one of the simplest ways to create a very natural next step for your new BTCS guests. At the close of your worship gathering be sure to invite everyone to join you next Sunday as you start a new message series. A short “tease” about what is going to be covered the following week is helpful. You can also send a reminder invitation during the week following BTCS to all of your guests —via email, text, handwritten note, or all three— thanking them for joining you and asking them to return for the next sermon series. Not sure what sermon series to use? We recommend one of these: Faith Explored, Renewed or Not So Secret Sauce.
2. Age/Stage of Life Events – Another tried and tested next step is to invite every guest to an event tailored to their age and stage of life. Work with your ministry teams to ensure that you have something for families with young children, students, teenagers, young adults, midlife adults, and senior adults. This may seem like a lot of work, but you can strategically plan so this does not create a huge burden on your volunteers and staff. Some events will appeal to multiple age groups, like a free movie night.
Also, your church does not have to plan and host all of these events. You can simply organize a group of people to attend an event that is already happening in your area, like a free concert in the park, community festival, or local art fair. Invite newcomers to join a group attending one of these events and maybe add an opportunity to get lunch, dinner, or ice cream together. This is an easy way to build community, allowing guests and your regular attenders to get to know one another better.
3. Personal Lunches After Worship – This is another easy way to provide a next step to fit every guest who joins you for BTCS. This takes a little bit of preparation before your BTCS celebration, but it does not require your church to feed everyone who attends. What you want to do is to cast the vision to your people in the weeks leading up to BTCS that you would like every single guest to have the opportunity to eat lunch with an individual or family from your church after your Back to Church Sunday celebration. Have a way for individuals and families to sign up and commit to taking guests to lunch after BTCS. Encourage those who commit to either take those people whom they personally invited to BTCS to lunch after worship or to be prepared to invite other guests who show up on their own to lunch. You can ask those who volunteer to pay for the guests’ meal or, if your church budget allows, you can provide gift cards to local restaurants to help cover the meal costs.
4. Community Service Event – Many churches have incorporated a community service event into their BTCS follow up strategy. An event that contributes to the greater good of your community is an excellent way to let those who join you for your BTCS celebration understand that you are a church that cares about your city. It is a perfect way to build relationships with newcomers as you serve side-by-side. Look into service opportunities that are a good fit for your specific context. Whether cleaning up a local park , serving meals at a nearby homeless shelter, working on a home build with Habitat for Humanity, or some other service project, inviting guests to join you will provide opportunities for greater connectivity.
Make the time now to meet with your ministry leaders and discuss your plans for continuing to deepen relationships with all the guests who join you for your BTCS celebration. Put your plans in place and prepare to point people toward their next step as you welcome them to your church family.
Have other ideas for follow up connection opportunities? Share them with other pastors and ministry leaders in our BTCS Facebook group.