There are basically two ways to increase your weekend celebration service attendance: 1) increase the number of new people who are attending; 2) increase the frequency of your regular attendees. It really is that simple. Not easy, but simple. And Lyle Schaller told me this long ago so it must be true! With that simple truth in mind I was reminded again this weekend that ANY Sunday can be a big Sunday if we want it to be.
My first stop this weekend was speaking at CCC-Montgomery for our 5:00 Saturday night celebration service. Typically, this service is not filled to capacity like our 11:00 service, but as the music started playing to signal the beginning of the experience the place was packed and buzzing with enthusiasm. Why?
My second stop this weekend was speaking at CCC-DownTown Naperville for their 10:10 celebration service on Sunday morning. This CCC site meets in a large high school auditorium and we have been making great progress toward the critical mass needed for that space. Well, this weekend we had it! The place was full and just like my Saturday night experience buzzing with enthusiasm. Why?
At CCC-Montgomery it was child dedication and in the “Catholic culture” of Chicago whenever someone is dedicating a child or being baptized as an adult it is an event that includes close friends, family and a party. So each of these families invited their families and good friends to join them in the celebration service and the party that took place afterwards on the patio.
At CCC-DownTown Naperville we hosted our School for the Arts recital after the celebration service and asked a couple of the children dance ensembles to perform during the service. Many of the SFTA families accepted our invitation and showed up early for church services and all the families (and some extended family and friends) who had children performing during the service showed up as well! Afterwards we asked everyone to stick around for lunch before the recital. It was a winner!
What was special about Sunday 1st (or Saturday May 31st)? Nothing really. It was just ANY Sunday. But both of these CCC locations proved that ANY Sunday can be a big Sunday if we remember a few things:
- INCLUDING PEOPLE IN THE SERVICE INCREASES ATTENDANCE.
Child dedication included a lot more people in the celebration service than usual. It more than doubled the number of people that were on the stage. By partnering with our SFTA and having a couple of kids ensembles perform we dramatically increased the number of people on the stage. If you ask people to be involved in the service, they are more likely to attend. What other ways can you involve more people in your celebration services?
- GIVING PEOPLE AN EXTRA REASON TO INVITE FRIENDS INCREASES ATTENDANCE.
Child dedication is a great reason to invite friends and family to join you at church. How can you say “no” to their kid? And these families that dedicate children brought a ton of new people with them; many who had not been to church in a long, long time. Having kids from our SFTA perform was also a great reason for people to invite friends and family. And they did! So ask yourself, how can we give our people an extra reason to invite friends and family?
- GIVING PEOPLE MULTIPLE REASONS TO COME INCREASES ATTENDANCE.
Child dedication and kids performances were only one of the reasons we gave people for inviting friends. In addition we had a big party afterwards to celebrate with the friends and families. This little extra is like a second reason to come to church. Can you hear your people asking, “want to come to church and watch Jenny and her tap dance ensemble? It will be fun, we are all sticking around afterward for a party.” How can you you give your people multiple reasons to come to church and invite people to church?
(Disclaimer: Yes, Community is a missional church – we send people out to start campuses, churches and alternative churches; but at the same time we seek to make everything we do as attractive as possible – whew!)