In the early years of Disneyland, Walt Disney would often pop up on random attractions. He wanted to ensure the Disney "magic" was present. While he knew he had great elements to rides like The Jungle Cruise, his role was making sure those elements were maximized and used a process that helped them work together.
While Walt created systems in the entertainment space, I try to do the same in the ministry world. Most of the content here revolves around general leadership, today I want to focus specifically on a system that can grow churches. However, I do believe business leaders can see benefit as well.
We preachers put a lot of stock in Sundays. We prepare, study, plan services and pray people will show up! How many times have you walked away from a Sunday and said to yourself, "Wonder why no one came back after last week? Why did today feel off? This was a great sermon, why did it not seem to fit this Sunday?"
Perhaps all of our planning, studying and praying misses an element: A system. Like Walt Disney, we have to employ the right processes that tie together our weekends. If we want to make the most of our services and grow our church, we need to approach Sunday different. Sundays need a system. Here are a few ways to rethink your outlook on weekend services and a hidden gem of a system to help grow your church.
Think campaign, not program.
Programs begin and end with what happens on the stage. If all you plan are songs, sermons and announcements then you are short-sighted. Campaigns bring better return. Campaigns have a broad goal. Campaigns launch, build and have a finale. Transform a series into a campaign.
Get off the stage.
If your planning is focused only on what occurs on stage, your work is settling for less. Carry your efforts into the lobby, parking lot, communication pieces and days of the week between Sundays. Think larger than the platform. The lights and attention may feel good, but do not be enticed by them. Expand how you approach the weekend.
Treat each Sunday different.
Each Sunday shares the same name but not the same potential. Every Sunday during a month has a different strength to be leveraged. They are each unique in what they offer and should be treated as such. There is a natural momentum on the first Sunday of the month that is different than the natural momentum occurring on the third. Approach them strategically. Campaigns change how you leverage your weekends. The purpose of Sunday expands. It is now a day to encounter Christ and to serve as a platform for your campaign.
Here is a system to help leverage your Sunday services.
1st Sunday of the month.
Launch a series and launch it big! Your first week should focus intensely on EVANGELISM. The Sunday prior distribute invite card and encourage people to invite their friends. The week leading up to your series launch do a massive communication blitz. Keep your launch in people’s face every day of that week using social media and daily email blasts. Preach the most evangelistic message of the series to kick it off. Launch on the first Sunday of the month. That weekend is typically when attendance is highest. You only get one launch, so launch strong.
2nd Sunday of the month.
The goal of your message this week is to PASTOR PEOPLE with your message. Walk with people through pain or speak to a broad felt need issue. Consider worship at the end your service for people to reflect, add communion to worship or have individual prayer over congregants. Back off on your communication leading up to this day. Do not stress about having a creative element. This Sunday can be your most dialed back in terms of programming.
3rd Sunday of the month.
This week move people to ACTION. Preach on compassion, serving or putting the gospel into action. Challenge people! Provide an action step and do not let people off the hook. Launch a missions trip, offer sign-ups for volunteering, or receive a special offering. This is also a day to build momentum heading into your final week. Encourage people to bring a friend the following Sunday. Announce elements for the final weekend that give people something to look forward to.
4th Sunday of the month.
CELEBRATION is the key today. Preach your second most evangelistic message of the series. You have gained trust over the past few weeks and people will bring unchurched friends for the finale. Tell stories of what God has done during the past four weeks. Include lots of fun! Make sure you promote what is coming next at your church: summer camps, a student ministry event, or your next teaching series. Also use this week to create multiple ways to capture email addresses of those in attendance. Email remains the most effective way to follow up with and communicate to people.
I hope this is helpful to you. If you would like to further the conversation and grow your church with your next teaching series, I have a free resource for you. Click HERE to download "10 Ways Your Next Series Can Break Attendance Barriers." I also have a series tailor made to bring energy to your church, "Everybody Needs A Superhero." Get details or purchase it HERE.