Our church was started almost 10 years ago to reach people who are not a part of any church. Like most churches, we primarily seek to do that through a specific strategy that includes regular programming and initiatives. However, also like most churches, we have tried numerous other events, ideas, and programs to reach even more people as over half a million people who don’t go to church live within driving distance of our church.
We Decided to Focus Our Efforts in C3 Kids & Students
This year we even added a couple smaller events in our children and student ministries (C3 Kids & C3 Students). They were designed for families and students to invite their friends. There was some success, but not nearly enough return on investment. While that was going on we were already shifting to a place where we wanted to try and leverage things we already did to reach more kids and students.
Here are some things we did:
- Facebook Promotion of New Series/Month – We do this for series in our main services and we’ve started to do it in C3 Kids & Students as well. This has helped draw in families who attend less frequently and a new series is a great time to push inviting. We boost posts on our Facebook pages to spread the word.
- Summer Series Kickoff – In Preschool and Elementary we heavily promoted the kickoff of the summer series and encouraged families to invite friends. The summer series feels new and different and that brings momentum.
- Jingle Jim (family experience from Orange) – We actually didn’t do Jingle Jam as a family experience, but instead we just did it for elementary kids and promoted it heavily. We challenged families to invite friends and they responded. We promoted through our normal channels but also mailed home 4 invites to each family to use in inviting friends. Attendance was up 50% and half of the increase was from kids who were not a part of our church.
- Bonfire – We moved our regular student programming (same day/time as usual) offsite and had a bonfire.
- Sports night – Like the bonfire, we held our regular student programming offsite, but this time at a sports complex where students were able to play any number of sports, games, or just hang out and have fun.
- Color fight – A lot of student ministries have done this event and it worked really well for us as we closed out the school year last year.
- Christmas party – Every year we have a Christmas party and ever year we see big attendance and students bring friends.
30%+ Increase in Participation
In some ways this is similar to the Big Day strategy Nelson Searcy talks about. I went back and checked, and on average these things we tried resulted in at least a 30% increase in participation.
As you know, it’s not about having high numbers. It’s about seeing more and more kids and students who aren’t a part of any church connect with Jesus. We’ll have to continue to monitor how good our follow up and assimilation is, but my favorite part of this so far is that we spend less time and less money on these efforts than we do on other things we’ve tried.