Most pastors breathe a sigh of relief the day after Easter. There’s been a lot of work and preparation to go into getting ready for this biggest day of the year, and now it’s behind you. Yet as pastors, Tim Parsons tells us in an article for this is really just the beginning:

“Church growth doesn’t happen on a single Sunday. Imagine for a moment what would happen to your church if every visitor that showed up on Easter Sunday came back the very next Sunday and became a regular part of your church. Wouldn’t that be great?

“What I know is that it won’t happen by only having an excellent Sunday morning service. It only happens through a follow-up process that has these four keys:

“Don’t wait. All visitors should be contacted within 48 hours of their visit. If you wait, their experience will not be fresh anymore. Waiting to communicate with them will increase the likelihood that they’ve gotten back into the routine of life and moved on from their visit to your church. Plus, communicating with them soon after their visit shows that you noticed they were there and you care about them. Also, communicating early allows for a system that includes multiple contact points in the weeks and months after a person visits your church, but that’s a post for another day.

“Make it personal. Even if you’re using an automated email or a form letter, be sure that it’s personal. Use their name. Invite them to contact you directly. And use a conversational tone rather than a formal one. Be sure that you’re using inclusive terms and avoiding exclusive words (for example using “the church” rather than “our church”). Another idea is to add a picture to your email signature or to the letter so they can see who’s communicating with them.

“Point them to something. What is their next step? Give them ways to get involved in the life of your church. Invite them to an event that is just for new people. Tell them about your membership class or how to jump into a small group. Be sure to include a link or URL so they can easily RSVP for a group or an event. Visitors that have little or no experience with church can find it confusing to know what they should do next—and it’s our job to answer those questions before they’re even asked. Including this in your follow-up communication will help you get there.

“Close the communication by asking them to do something specific. If it’s a letter or an email (or even a text message!), ask them to take a short 5-question survey about your church and their experience. If it’s a phone call, ask them to find you next Sunday and say hello. Also, you could ask them to let you know how you can pray for them this week.” (Read the full article here.)

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About The Author

Michael Duduit is the founding publisher and editor of Preaching magazine. He is also the founding Dean of the new College of Christian Studies and Professor of Christian Ministry at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina. Michael is author and editor of several books, including the Handbook of Contemporary Preaching (Broadman & Holman Press), Joy in Ministry (Baker Books), Preaching With Power (Baker) and Communicate With Power (Baker). From 1996 until 2000 he served as editor of the Abingdon Preaching Annual series. His email newsletter, PreachingNow, is read each week by more than 40,000 pastors and church leaders in the U.S. and around the world. He is founder and director of the National Conference on Preaching and the International Congress on Preaching, which has been held in 1997 at Westminster Chapel in London, 2002 at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and 2007at Cambridge. He has been a pastor and associate pastor, has served a number of churches as interim pastor, and speaks regularly for churches, colleges and conferences.

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