Easter is the biggest day of the Christian year! It’s the resurrection of Christ, the defeat of death, the victory over sin and the grave, the hope of humanity, and the promise of new life for people everywhere. And, people are more likely to go to church on Easter than any other day because it is such a big deal. So make Easter at big deal at your church this year. Here’s how to do it on a limited budget:
Several years ago when I was pastoring a suburban Atlanta church, we wanted to reach our community. Like a lot of churches, our advertising budget was limited, but we wanted to make an impact. We ruled out direct mail — too expensive. TV, ditto. But we came up with an inexpensive and effective plan that accomplished our goal.
About 4-weeks before Easter, we designed and printed 1,000 invitations to our three Easter worship services. The invitations were simple, one-color folded notecards printed on the front only. Plain envelopes, without the church return address were purchased for the cards.
We bagged the cards and envelopes in groups of ten. One Sunday morning we put all 100 bags of cards on the front pew and asked each member household to take a bag-of-10-cards. Each family sent invitations to 10 individuals or families they knew, with a personal handwritten note inside each card. Families provided their own stamps, saving the church the cost of postage.
Each family was also encouraged to follow-up their invitations with a phone call to their potential guest, inviting them personally to worship with us on Easter. Our members offered to pick up their guests or meet them at the church, and sit with them during worship.
On an average Sunday, our attendance at two worship services averaged about 300. We thought the sunrise service might attract 30-to-40 people, and we were right on target. But what blew me away were the next two services – we had over 670 people present! Our sanctuary was packed for both the 8:30 AM and 11 AM services. After the smoke cleared and we tallied up the day, our final attendance was 714!
More important than the one day attendance was the information we received from first-time attenders who said they would be interested in knowing more about our church.
This is a low-cost idea that can pay big dividends in reaching new people. The key is having your members invite people they know who don’t have a church home. Today that’s called viral marketing — then, it was just called being friendly. Same thing, big result. It’s an organized word-of-mouth campaign, which is always the most effective.
We did have a lot of folks who invited their families, friends, and neighbors who weren’t really prospects for our church. Either they lived too far away, they were members of another church, or they did not express further interest. But we found enough new folks who were interested to keep us busy in outreach for months after.
If you try this, let me know how it works. You’ve got time to get the cards printed and give them out. Get some buy-in from your members, create some buzz, and see what happens!