Making an Impact After the Event
Keys to Successful Event Follow-up
Every year children’s pastors are faced with one of the greatest challenges: outdoing their previous year’s events! From summer movie nights to Christmas plays, so much love, sweat, tears, and stress go into putting on the perfect event for families in your church. We can get so caught up in making it better, bigger, and grander than the event the year before. We are programed to try and impress that one parent who just never seems to be impressed by what we do! So, we put hours upon hours in planning, recruiting volunteers, buying decor and supplies, and creating the biggest and grandest event of the year.
What if we were to reevaluate our events? What if we asked the question, “What is the purpose of this event?” Most events are conducted for church fellowship, which is good. Other events are used as an alternative to what the world has to offer—like Halloween, which is good. These reasons have one thing in common: they are designed for the already churched people. What if we changed the purpose of our events to be evangelistic in nature? What would happen in our communities if we promoted our family fun events for them and invited them to join?
I started to ask these questions about my events here in Lynnfield, Massachusetts. I reevaluated why our children’s ministry conducts certain events, and began to realize that we cater mainly to already churched people. As I thought through our events and the money spent on them, I realized we were not gaining any new families from our community during these times. The events were on our property, and they were promoted only in-house. I set out to change this, for I wanted our church to fulfill the call to, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16, NIV). I wanted our light at Calvary Christian Church to shine before our community so others may see God’s goodness through our lives.
As we began conducting events and promoting events in our community, another question became extremely important: How would I integrate new families into our established community? Follow-up after the event would be critical to answering this question and becoming successful in it. During each of our events, we have every family (from our church or not) fill out a registration card. This allows me to gather information from people attending our events for my four-step, follow-up process.
The goal with my follow-up is to connect with the parents. Kids don’t need convincing to come to church—parents do! So, I try to connect with the new parents in a few different ways:
A Phone Call: On the Monday after the event, I call the parents, thanking them for stopping by our event. I share my name and position at the church and give a one-sentence statement that describes the mission of our church. I ask them what they enjoyed about the event and, as much as it hurts to hear, what they would like to see improved. I invite them to our Sunday morning services, briefly sharing the children’s ministry classes we offer for their kids. I allow the Holy Spirit to lead the conversation and thank them for their time before I hang up. A phone call like this leaves a massive impression on a visiting family, and communicates to them that you care. Your goal with this phone call is to make a connection. Don’t try and “pitch/sell” your church. Be natural, and allow the Holy Spirit to guide your conversation.
Letter/Card: On the Friday after the event, I mail the parents a letter, again thanking them for visiting our event. I include in the letter a small information card with our children’s ministry programs and service times listed. I encourage the parents by stating that we would love to see them visit on Sunday morning, and mention some of the wonderful things happening at the church.
After sending the parents a letter, I send each child in that family a card that says, “We are glad you visited!” I hand write the backs of the postcards, thank each child for coming, and say that we hope to see him or her on Sunday in kids’ church.
Track the Names: After doing your follow-up, it can be easy to just forget about it and move on. But effective follow-up tracks the names of those with whom you have connected. When those kids do show up on Sunday and fill out a visitor card, you are prepared to give them a call again and say how happy you are that they came to visit your church.
These are just a few small ways that you can reach the unchurched in your area and help people see that you truly care. Be a light to your world, and help people see the goodness of God in your life so that they may see it in their own!