There are so many programs that claim it will increase church attendance. There are also workshops one can attend that also claims it will increase church attendance. Then there are programs that are designed to excite the congregation in such a way that there will be a church attendance increase. Finally, their worship service methods created to attract people to the church and the theory is they will stay and, if necessary, will be saved.
Some of these things may be fine. But how much result is there in three months six months or a year?
Why is it that small to medium churches remain the same size? In some cases, the congregation does not want to grow because they like being small. In that case there is not much that can be done. For those congregations that claim they would like to see more people in their pews, I have a method to offer them.
The minister must lead and the congregation committing themselves to follow Jesus command to go into the highways and byways and compel them to come in. Therefore, what this entails is the cooperation and determination to see this through.
You will first need filing folders and a filing cabinet. You will need postcards for those that have missed Sunday school or church. You will need a method to get the attendance information from those that do come. Sometimes people are asked to fill out a card and put it in the offering plate. Other times there are clipboards at each pew for people to sign. With the clipboards, there is a good probability to know if visitors and members are present. Choose from these or a method you desire. The result is that you must have detailed information about people’s name address phone number.
Put a city map on the wall of an office that will be the outreach center. Divide the city map into sectors with numbers for each sector.
Assuming Sunday school is to be included, the attendance taken in each class will be factored in to the outreach method.
Create a form that is landscape and put sections on it that will demonstrate the following: date, if the person was present, where the context took place such as the door or inside, the number of people contacted on this visit, a section for narrative of short sentences that will relay the conduct of the visit, and any needs those contacted have for follow-up. Since the form is landscaped, it should probably hold three of these contact results.
On the file folders put the person’s name and the number of the sector where they live. When it comes time to assign visits to people, pull folders that have the same number.
Have three steps to reach out to those to be contacted. The pastor should send a letter to any new visitors welcoming them to the church and itemizing good things about the church such as a youth program or Bible studies during the week. After this, contacts are to reach out to those not present on a certain Sunday. The first contact to send a postcard telling the people they were missed. The second contact is a phone call telling them they were missed. Leave a voicemail if necessary. If none of these efforts produce results for the people to return to services, then a home visit is necessary.
Some people complain that home visits are not a good idea. They say it’s intrusive into the other person’s evening or waste of time if they are not home. This is not to say that the visitor barges into the home unwelcomed.
There are steps to use during the visit. When the person being visited answers the door, a good introduction would be something like this, “hello, I am from XYZ church and do not want to intrude into your evening. We just wanted to say that we were pleased you came and see if there are any questions we can answer or prayer requests you may have.”
Very probably the conversation held at the front door. That is quite permissible because a one-on-one contact was made. It doesn’t matter if it’s at the front door or in the living room. If the person is hostile or uncooperative, simply thank them for the opportunity to talk. Then leave. If the person is welcoming, continue the conversation according to the lead of the person being visited.
Do not plunge into specific topics immediately. Have the conversation friendly. Complement the person about something. It might be the beautiful roses they have in the front of the house. It might be a picture of a relative. It might be the way the inside of the house is decorated. Just find something to complement.
After the conversation is more comfortable and the other person seems willing to talk, offer more information about the church. If the person said they were not coming back for a specific reason, try to answer that without being defensive. For instance, a person may say that they didn’t see any information about a youth program and there is a church youth program. Tell the person how their children can become involved with time, it up place, leadership, and activities.
As the conversation warms, seek to discover that person’s spiritual condition. As the Holy Spirit leads, there could be a possibility that the individual might be led to Christ. If so, it is the visitors’ responsibility to stay in contact with the new convert and maybe to sit with him in church. It is also the responsibility of everyone involved to know Scriptures and how to lead someone to Christ.
If the opportunity is present, close the visit in prayer including any concerns from the person being visited. Leave a business card or some way that person can contact the visitor. On Saturday call that person and tell him that you will be there at the door waiting to greet them. No one wants to walk into a group and feel alone or not have anyone they know.
Someone must be responsible to organize these visits. That person will pull folders with the same sector numbers so that the visitors not driving all over town wasting time and gas.
It is best if two visitors go together for each home call for obvious reasons. During the visit one person should be the leader in the second person should be the backup in case there is additional information needed or uncomfortable laws in the conversation. It is also best for the visitors to return to the church and give a report and return their files. If it is not possible for visitor to return to church with the folder, then Sunday morning that folder must be returned.
If the church is very small, there may only be two or three couples or groups to go out visiting. If the church is bigger more groups should be visiting.
Visitors must be prayerfully dedicated to this outreach and not miss any week to visit. During the Sunday morning announcements, the pastor can report how many visits were done and invite other people to join this effort. It might be a good idea for the church to sponsor a dinner or party for those who visit and show appreciation for their dedication and concern for souls.
This brings up the subject that those people unable to visit could be prayer warriors. It is their job to set aside the time to pray when the visitors go out. It is also their job to include in their daily prayer time to support the outreach ministry.
If the person being visited is young, teenager, or young adult, have a mature person and someone of that other person’s age to be the team to visit.
Should the visitors find that no one is at the home, preprinted doorknob hangers should be used. On the hanger should be the name of the church, the address, phone number, and where the visitor can sign. The hanger would say that the visitor was sorry that they missed them but wanted them to know they will in the thoughts of the church members.
If the call comes into the church for prayer request or comments, that information should be directed to the outreach leader for follow-up. People want to know that their presence was appreciated, and their absence was recognized.
As with many churches, there should be people posted as greeters at the front door. That person should ask if the incoming individual needs any assistance or direction to a seat.
This method must first begin with the pastor and members of the congregation who want to see people accept Christ, come into the church, and receive the training or support necessary for their spiritual growth. What will defeat this method is the lack of follow-through, laziness, indifference, lack of leadership, lack of excitement as a whole church fulfilling the great command of Christ. The entire congregation must be invested in reaching people.
Should anyone have any questions or need assistance to implement this method feel free to contact me. My phone number is 937-620-5879. If you make plans to implement this method, please let me know the result. God bless you as you seek to go locally and then extend your efforts to wherever may be needed.