In a typical church, attendance waxes and wanes at different points during the year. For example, attendance might be low on the last weekend before school begins or the first Sunday of Spring Break week. Geography can play a role in this phenomenon as well. My first pastorate was in north Alabama. One weekend in April and one in October were exceedingly low due to NASCAR races at Talladega.
One season, however, when services usually are well-attended is when school resumes in the fall. A church will benefit by capitalizing on this momentum and riding it like a wave into the remainder of the year.
Here are three suggestions that will help maximize this time.
1. Launch a new series
This effort requires advance preparation on the part of the pastor. First, select a preaching unit (a book of the Bible, a section of Scripture such as a series on the parables of Jesus, etc.). Start promoting it several weeks from the launch date. Graphics and announcements work well for this promotion. On the first Sunday after school starts, preach an overview message and encourage all guests to return for future messages.
2. Plan a special event
A second suggested method for catching fall momentum is to plan a targeted outreach/ministry event. A church might host a day of prayer for returning teachers and students or a teacher appreciation service. Each teacher could be given a small gift in the service and invited to remain for a luncheon. Understanding community culture also can help with this emphasis. For example, one church in the community hosted a “Wildcat Day” at the beginning of each football season. The community was passionate about the local high school football team, so the church would invite all players, coaches and their families to a special service followed by a meal. A well-known speaker with ties to the sport or town also attracted other visitors. The service was well-attended every year and helped the church gain momentum to finish the year well.
3. Host a “Vision Sunday”
A third method to gain traction for the fall is to host a “Vision Sunday.” The pastor and other staff and leadership can plan a Sunday to outline the vision God has laid upon his heart. It might highlight proposed outreach emphases, discipleship initiatives or mission efforts for the church. Such an event can galvanize and excite church members and guests who have been looking for a church that is missionally engaged. That Sunday might even be the opportune time to launch a new mission statement and explain how the church will seek to carry out that mission statement in the future. Of course, those goals should be measurable. Make sure to plan and promote the event well, and it will help the church surge from the fall into the Christmas season and beyond.
Whatever you choose to do this fall, remember the words of the apostle Paul in Galatians 6:9, “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for we will reap at the proper time if we do not give up.”
Published July 6, 2022