Avoid The Crash After The Fall Sugar Coma

The first major holiday of the fall is already behind us as 2017 keeps speeding by. Candy, cookies, treats, it all just tastes better on Halloween. And diving into your leftover candy after the dust settles from the trick-or-treaters is always something to look forward to, but the sugar high also comes with a sugar crash. It happens to almost all of us!

How did the year go by so fast that we are already talking about post fall events? Aren’t we still planning Easter? Oh, right, that’s Easter 2018 that’s starting to ramp up … (you can never start too early). Fall is a busy season. Even though, sometimes every season feels busy. But, fall does have the most holidays or days to celebrate. And with holidays, comes events. And with events, comes research, planning, execution and follow up. You still with me? It’s safe to say that for some of us, it has been a long October.

But why do we do these events? It’s true, people love to celebrate. Trunk-or-treats, fall festivals, harvest hoedowns, chili cook-offs—these celebrations provide a reason to drink some apple cider, relax with friends and family, and have a fun with your kids. But something events also do is bring people together. Whether you bring your family, coworkers, friends or your small group with you, these fall events provide opportunities for people to connect not only with each other, but also with your church.

The church has a unique opportunity to be a safe place for people to come to have a enjoyable time without the having their guard up. Of course, you probably already knew this since you probably did host an event or partner with another church to host an event leading up to Halloween. The rush of the planning and the whirlwind of the day of the event is comparable to the sugar high you might have gotten last night while finishing off that Halloween candy.

But, the sugar crash and the post Halloween blues are setting in today, the day after Halloween. Experiencing something similar after your fall events is completely normal. You planned, executed, and are now exhausted. But the job isn’t done yet. Hopefully, you have a pile of guest cards/submissions sitting on your desk or in your inbox. Do you have a plan to tackle your post event fall follow up?

Follow up can be draining, but this is an important time to capture the people who came to visit your church because Christmas is right around the corner. If you have low energy after the fall season, digital technology can be a solution for you, and it can also take on a life of it’s own.

Work smarter, not harder this time of year. There is a long term, and sustainable way that digital technology can help you beat the post Halloween and fall events sugar coma crash.

Raise Up Leaders With Chat & Text Engagement

With your mobile app, there is more to the story than only using it for giving or occasionally updating the calendar. You have the power to use digital technology as a tool to grow your congregation and foster a community. Let guests know that their visit to your event mattered to you. You can send a bulk follow-up message to everyone whose information you have. Use outbound text messaging (text engagement) to send all participants a quick thank you. Better yet, you can include a “looking forward to seeing you soon” and some information about your services and a call to action to download your mobile app to check things out before they visit. In our work, we’ve found that there are 3.2 more unique app users than attenders. Your church reaches beyond Sunday morning.

Then, once event attendees are able to visit and hopefully get connected, you can use mobile chat to take on a life of its own in the process of fostering leaders and community. Use chat to connect newer people to others that they may have common interests, can help them join a small group, or get involved in serving. With chat, you are able to have an open line of communication between new guests and volunteer or staff leaders in your church. These leaders can help foster community with newer church members or attendees, and also help mentor them into the mature believers that every church craves.

So when you feel like you’re hitting wall after coming down from a great fall run, there’s no need to panic. Digital technology and mobile apps can work for churches of all sizes and help them grow through member engagement.

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From Fall Guests To Engaged Attenders

This time of year can be one of the most anticipated seasons for some people. Apple cider, pumpkin spice, leaves changing colors, and football; fall does seem to have it all when it comes to activities, food, and entertainment. There’s even a scientific explanation as to why a lot of people feel the fall love, nostalgia, or expectation once this season has finally arrived.

Society has conditioned us to think of fall as a “reset” after the long summer days. It’s a new school year for the kids, a fresh football season for sports lovers, and a more normalized routine for everyone. What the newness of autumn represents for a lot of people is hope. Hope for all A’s on a report card, hope for a winning record for a sports team, and excitement for ambitious goals to be created and accomplished.

Even though fall is full of anticipation, it’s also a time of familiarity, because a lot of events occur annually. Fall festivals, pumpkin patches, trunk or treats, tailgating … events that the whole family can enjoy. With renewed routines at the beginning of autumn, it is plausible to think that people will also be returning to church after a busy summer traveling or spending time away from home.

Churches are at their best this time of year, because fall is a great time to engage the community. But, when it comes to planning an event, it can be tricky to balance the familiarity and expectations of a community with new ideas or improvements you may desire to make and build upon from last year. Trunk or treats and fall festivals are go to events that are proven to be fun and that really work for churches to host as a safe place for people to attend. It’s what you do to engage your community when they are at your event and connect them to the mission of your church in hopes that they will continue to return beyond just your fall event that really matters.

It can be hard to manage an influx of people on your church campus at a larger community-wide event. And you can’t expect church staff to intentionally talk to everyone and remember their names or contact information. Once people arrive at your event, you’ve already done the hardest part. You’ve convinced them to come and see, but then it’s time get down to what missional nature of what church is, to get people to come and be in a relationship with Christ. But, how? Gathering information passively on paper can create a lot of room for error. But, if you give people the opportunity to easily engage with your church on their mobile phone, that could be a game changer.

Guide Your Audience To Generosity

When you plan a community event, it’s likely that it’s free. But, just because your event is free, doesn’t mean the opportunity to be generous and share your story is lost. With Text Engagement, give people the opportunity to learn more about your church’s values and give to a capital initiative or learn more about your volunteer missions in the community. Have signs, key volunteers, or handouts that let people know to text “give” or “our mission” to your church specific phone number and they’ll receive all the information about a certain church mission or initiative and a call to action to give or learn more. Since 99% of text messages are seen and opened, text engagement is the most effective way to quickly capture your audience’s attention.

A Digital Connection

Again, it’s not easy to capture information of visitors at your church who attend an event. The goal is to get people to return, and it’s easiest to do that if you have the correct data to follow up with them. Make next steps easy for newcomers by allowing them to text a keyword to your number. Text “Connect” or “Fall” (or whatever keyword you choose) to receive a connection card. Your event fall loving event attendees can will out a connection card right on their phone, and you have accurate and organized data right from the source.

However you embrace the fall season, have fun and be creative. Use your fall festival or trunk or treat to share the joy of being children of God with other people in your community. Know that if you chose to get digital with your communication and information gathering, you’ll be creating a long term sustainable solution to connecting and following up with guests.

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The Digital Front Door To Your Church

Every Sunday, there are people all across the world who visit churches. Some visitors on a Sunday morning want to be anonymous. They are at church to simply “kick the tires,” while others are new to the area or church shopping, hoping to find a place to connect.

Visitors come in all forms and from different walks of life. Someone might be coming in with a friend, coworker, or family member, while someone else may be attending on their own. One visitor might be desperate for someone to speak to them and the other might be sinking in their chair in the back hoping nobody notices them (introverts matter, too). Since there are so many reasons people visit churches, engaging them can be quite the challenge.

In fact, according to a survey done by Church Marketing Sucks in 2015, here are reasons people attend church:

  • Spiritual growth/guidance: 23%
  • Keeps me grounded/inspired: 20%
  • It’s my faith: 15%
  • Fellowship of other members/community: 13%
  • Belief in God/religion: 12%
  • I was brought up that way/family value/tradition: 12%

With all the reasons listed above about why people attend church, there is a similar thread between them: they all deal with spirituality and some sort of connection (whether that be to God, family, or desiring connection with the community). The spirituality piece is addressed in different ways, like worship and teaching. But, the connection piece can also be tackled through different avenues as well.

In many ways, engaging new people is a learning process for any church. Have you tried calling guests out from the stage? Or attaching a guest card to every seat? Or what about creating a guest center? You could say churches have tried and tested it all!

Like everything in the church, if we’re going to make the most of every opportunity it’s important to be intentional.

Over the last few years, churches have really made progress in the arena of guest and visitor engagement. With careful planning and volunteers, engaging with visitors has become a little easier to manage. But what’s really given guest engagement a new look is mobile technology.

People are mobile. That’s a fact. And with a new iPhone here, technology will continue to grow. But what does that have to do with church? Well, everyone has to enter your church through a door. There’s nothing new about that! And while you can place people, print brochures, banners, signage, etc. to make the physical experience at your church inviting, you also have a door to your church digitally. This digital door can be on social media, your website or through text engagement. Chances are, out of these three digital doors, you probably haven’t heard of text engagement. But, leave it to a one stop shop of church branded apps and text engagement experts to fill you in.

How Does Text Engagement Work?

Text engagement is an innovative way to engage with anyone who desires to connect with your church anytime, anywhere. And, the first 60 days are free. What is there to lose?

Make the next steps easy for newcomers and members alike by allowing them to text a keyword to your number. Text “Connect” to receive a connection card. Text “Missions” to partner with missionaries. You define the keywords and responses for your congregation. With unlimited keywords and responses, links to your registration forms, connection cards, and other tools to increase response rates on your key efforts in visitor engagement.

For most churches, it is all about making sure people find a slice of “home” inside their doors. Let’s make sure we give them a reason to come back. We can aim to make sure that every visitor that walks into your church understands that you are there to connect with, meet their needs, and make sure they know that we genuinely care for them and desire to see them develop a genuine, life-giving relationship with Jesus.

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