Social Media is a great tool to keep up with what God is doing in churches far and near. I love reading each and every glowing report! Many churches had great attendance for Christmas Week and I rejoice with them! Clearly God was moving. Bam!
However, failure to effectively follow up major “victories” (like a record Christmas Eve) is a common mistake many churches make year after year. Simply put, they fail to leverage significant events and squander their momentum. Rather than attendance “spike and build,” they go “spike and back” to where they were before.
Like some of you, Christ Church set a new attendance records this week. Our Christmas Eve services were incredible and God touched lives profoundly! We exceeded our attendance goal and by the looks of Social Media, people are excited and enthused. We have some serious momentum!
It is not time to rest up.
It is time to follow up!
Why Do Churches NOT Follow Up?
History is filled with military victories that could have been great victories if the victor had pressed the retreating army.
There are many reasons why this happens:
- The victorious army is exhausted and in need of rest
- There is an underestimation of remaining strength of the victors
- There is an overestimation of remaining strength of the retreating army
- Victorious armies desire to celebrate
- Generals are unwilling to suffer additional casualties
- Generals are happy to leave the field with “a win in their pocket.”
- Mission becomes the comfort of the soldiers rather than the objectives of the army
Most churches have few real victories. Of the churches that achieve significant victories, most fail to follow them up for the same reasons armies fail to follow up. Churches that consistently grow must not only create victories but learn to leverage victories in systematic and intentional ways. A great Christmas Eve does not insure a great new year but it can create some momentum toward it!
So you need a few days to rest, I get that but the second you get back to work, it is time to follow up!
- If you set a record or had strong attendance, celebrate it! Get word out! Let the people in your church, community and region that you have “something going on!”
- Hotwash your 2018 Christmas week services and schedule this week while things are fresh on your minds. What went well? What went poorly? What needs adjusted? What can be added? What needs replaced?
- Ask yourself what can be done to draw another 10% in attendance next year. Might you add a “get away” service or a Christmas Eve Eve service? Our Christmas Eve Eve service drew almost twice as many people as we expected!
- Plan your 2019 Christmas Week schedule immediately. Get the dates on your calendar. Keep other things off the calendar that week to free up your human and financial resources.
- Thank your key players for their sacrifice. Then thank them again. Posting photos of volunteers on your Facebook page and hand written thank you notes are always a good start. Gift cards are even better. Did a volunteer go “above and beyond” the call of duty, take them to lunch. People love being appreciated!
- Follow up on all leads and local first time guests. Take them something they will actually like (we take really good pies from a famous local bakery) and invite them back.
- Plan some sort of community service project or outreach in January and invite your new folks to help your church “make the world a better place.” We are doing a one Sunday coat drive.
- Work to get your “average” worship service and welcoming ministries up to your Christmas level. You have established a new bar of excellence, let a raised bar become the “new normal.”
BIG IDEA: Don’t settle for a great Christmas Week! Follow it up and place yourself in position for a great 2019 church year!
-Shane L. Bishop, A Distinguished Evangelist of the United Methodist Church, has been the Sr. Pastor of Christ Church in Fairview Heights, Illinois since 1997.