By Jonathan Howe
Leading up to Resurrection Sunday, we posted a few articles on how churches could use online tools to invite those in the community to celebrate with them for Easter. From Facebook ads and boosting posts, to special graphics and specific hashtags, online promotion for churches was greater this Easter than ever before.
This week, we took a quick Twitter poll to see what worked and what didn’t for churches. We didn’t limit the survey to online promotion only, though. Because while many churches saw great success with online promotion, personal interaction is still the most effective way of inviting someone to church. The results proved both points.
What Worked for Churches
- Personal Invites. Several churches used small printed materials (business card or postcard size) to encourage members to invite their friends, neighbors, and coworkers to Easter services. Personal invites were the most common ways churches promoted their Easter weekend services.
- Facebook Promotion. Churches boosted posts, created and shared events, and purchased Facebook ads. With the few exceptions of very limited budgets and run time, Facebook promotion was hugely successful. If your church is not using Facebook to promote major events, you are missing a great opportunity.
- Coordinated Graphics. Several churches encouraged staff and members to use their Easter graphic as their avatar on social media. This subtle change in visuals created interest and gave an opening for staff and members to begin gospel conversations with friends.
- Door-to-door Invites. A variation of this is in the “What Didn’t Work” section below. The key to the success of these door-to-door invites was the personal conversations and invites.
- Intentional, Strategic Planning. We heard from several churches that had been planning their Easter outreach for months. They had a plan leading up to Easter and one for follow-up after Easter. For more on guest follow-up, see our recent post and podcast on the subject.
- Prayer. This response was most encouraging. Churches participated in prayer walks, set up special prayer teams, and prayed over the worship center the week before Easter. These prayers were answered in incredible ways.
What Did Not Work for Churches
- Door-to-door Drop-offs. Many churches canvassed neighborhoods or the area around their church building. Instead of talking to the residents, they simply dropped off invite cards or door hangers. This impersonal approach was overwhelmingly unsuccessful. Few churches saw any noticeable response to just dropping off information.
- Extra Signage. Putting up extra signage and hoping people would read it saw little success. This should come as no surprise. We shouldn’t expect a yard sign the do the work of an evangelist.
- Doing Nothing. Surprisingly, several responses to the Twitter poll came back saying that the church had done nothing to promote Easter worship services. As a result, many of these churches saw no noticeable difference on Resurrection Sunday.
- Not Planning. Several respondents indicated that their church hadn’t planned anything until the week before or waited too long to get things started. Because of the last minute nature of the promotion, there was little to no impact made.
What Did We Learn?
- Personal conversations are still the most effective way to invite people to attend your church worship service.
- Online promotion is the most effective way for churches to spend dollars earmarked for marketing.
- If your church goes door-to-door to invite people, take the time to talk to people.
- When you strategically plan your outreach, you see greater participation and more opportunities for success.
- Cover everything your church does in prayer. Do not rely on your own strength, but on the Spirit.
Did your church try anything else to promote its Easter or Good Friday worship services? Did you see any success in the promotions?
The pursuit to reach people takes work. It must be intentional, and people must seek to engage others and show they really care. It is so much more than an invitation to a church service; it is planting seeds to see people come to Jesus.
Totally agree. Intentional engagement is vital in evangelism.
Your first sentence pretty much nails the whole issue. Alas, “work” has become a dirty word in much of our culture, even in church.
We have had a lot of churches we work with get back with us this week and tell us that the direct mail cards we sent for them worked! Visitors showed up because of the invites as well as hits to their websites increased greatly. These stories are super encouraging!
What worked for us was using social media and the card handout method. The result was the highest attendance in our church history. What did not work was guest information. We simplified our process for Easter Sunday even more than usual, and still did not receive any contact info for the more than 50 guests in our service.
You go no contact info from them or not any more than normal?
We may get one or two every once in a while. I’d say maybe 10% of guests will actually complete a welcome card. Our approach is to ask people to stop by the welcome center after service and receive a gift bag (typical: travel coffee mug, popcorn, church info). We ask them to complete a welcome card at that point. On Easter, only 1 did this, and by my estimation, we had around 50 guests. I am rethinking our approach. I think our Welcome Center is in a location that is actually deterrent. It is too crowded in that area, and is not personal. I’d love more insight on this issue. Maybe a future blog post, or reference to one in the past on Welcome Centers and how to get info from guests?
We moved our guest center from the foyer to a room near the exit of our sanctuary – it has a cafe feel – we call it “Cafe Lite” and we ask our guest to stop by for refreshments and to meet some wonderful people from our church and to receive a gift – it has increased our connections and our cards received significantly.
Thanks, Gregg! Great thoughts.
We decided to do a continental breakfast during the Bible Study hour. We set up photo shoots for our children’s building area; food areas; and provided photographers. These areas were very popular especially for families. We used the small invite cards as well.
Photo booths were HUGELY popular. I’ll have a post on those coming in a couple weeks.
Great post. One point where our church saw a difference than your perspective is with extra signage. Extra signage helped us big time. A family joined last Sunday as a result of our extra signage. I met a family Monday that learned of our church thanks to our extra signage. I think a lot of the extra signage situation pertains to context. Chattanooga basically doesn’t enforce the laws pertaining to putting up coroplast signs at busy intersections, etc. In my hometown of Plano, TX, you’d be fined if you put up signs like that.
Good point, J. Different things work in different areas.
We often do ‘Door-to-Door drop offs’ for many of our events, including Easter. However, our expectation has never been that many would come in (although some have). Rather, this leafletting is about raising the profile of the Church in the neighbourhood. Over a year, residents receive several different flyers from our church and, hopefully, we become a more recognised part of the community. So, in other words, even though the results of this kind of drop off are small, I think it is worthwhile for us in the long run. However, I would definitely say that it isn’t the most effective way but I do think it has a place. What do you think? Do you have more information on this kind of work?
Prayer first, sharing the gospel in a regular and frequent way, and personally inviting them to church and to be baptized, and the pastor teaching directly from God’s Word when they come. That’s what the Bible says. If folks, who are sincerely following Jesus, are afraid to share their faith, they could read “Take Someone with You to Heaven,” a book you can find on Amazon. It’s full of stories about how easy it is for us regular Christians to share our faith – because God does the work. All we do is show up, prayed up, and ready to obey His leading.
WE turned Holy Week into Healing Week with 7p worship every night the week between Palm and Easter Sundays. Easter Worship was the capstone to a week of worship and the Word. Each night we gained momentum, and by Easter morning we had a solid group of folks who came into the worship center ready and primed. Every seat was filled, SRO. Will definitely do this next year.
That’s an interesting idea. Would you mind sharing a few more details?
Wow. Please do share more info.
We worked very hard to reach as many people in our community as possible for our Easter Service. We prayed, used social media extensively, personally gave business card- sized invites to friends, plastered posters everywhere, used lawn signs at strategic places in the community, used our local online newspaper with 15 second full-colored ads, and used the marquee at our local Civic Center. We normally average 115 people but had 915 people attend our Easter Sunday Worship Celebration and Egg Hunt. It was an honor to serve our community in this way.
I recently listened to a podcast where the subject of parsonages was discussed. Dr. Rainer asked if one knew of a church that had build a parsonage he would like to know about it. FBC Brownstown IL built a new parsonage. Current pastor is Olen Evans.
Olen is the real deal. I greatly admire his leadership at his church and in our association!
It’s strange. I was discouraged because of lower than average attendance over the last few months, so I wasn’t too enthusiastic or optimistic about our Easter services this year. Consequently, I didn’t promote them much. No personal invites. No social media posts. No door to door information or conversations. We’ve done some or all of these in years past, and saw very little response when we did. But this year, when we did nothing, we had the largest crowd I’ve ever seen at our church for Easter: about double our normal services lately. Strange. The best I can figure is that we’ve loosely become the church home for many who only occasionally attend church. We had very few first time guests on Easter. We knew almost everyone, it’s just that they don’t come very often. I was encouraged that we have an ongoing relationship with so many who came, and I pray that we can continue building on those relationships so that they will be more than C&E attenders.
We had our largest attendance in our history and we did most of the already mentioned things. (FB, Members passed out postcard invites, Video ads on social media, etc.) But the most successful thing as always for us was the personal invite. Just a few things to add that we did. We hosted a Saturday night service for several recovery centers in our area and it was packed! Also, with follow up we strongly emephize people following up with the ones they invite. We have seen more return from that than anything that the staff has ever done. Yes, we do follow up but we know that discipleship is best done through relationships. Out of all our guest very few just came. Most came with someone!
Last thing is our return from Easter has been amazing since we started advertising a new series launch starting the following week, giving people a reason to come back. I read about this a few years ago and we starting doing it with great results. This year we announced our series that would be a continuation of the message from Easter!
Please forgive me, but I’ve never understood why Easter Sunday should be any different than other Sundays.
More people are likely to attend on Easter than any other Sunday of the year. Is that the way it should be? No, but that’s the way it is. Many churches and pastors try to take advantage of the interest in spiritual matters at that time of year and use it as an opportunity to present the gospel.
We went door to door in this very changing neighborhood and place door hanger invites. Along the way we engaged several people in conversation about Easter etc. On Easter Sunday we had a 60% increase in our worship service. I can’t say any of those that we invited came, but we believe that we must plant seeds if we are to have a crop and we leave the results to the Lord. Some plant, some water but it is the Lord that gives the increase. We had one person saved, and three rededicate themselves to the Lord. I think that approach to inviting folks should included a variety of ways.