Easter is over and Mother's Day came so quickly this year, but before you put the Easter totally out of mind, take some time to evaluate the communications you created, the response you had, and how you can be more effective in future church celebrations and seasonal events to help your church grow.
Post-event evaluation is essential for us to learn how we can best serve our people. It’s never about us, but about doing our best for our Lord and our effectiveness as we communicate the words of eternal life.
Beyond the numbers, what was the spiritual response?
You probably had a large turn-out for Easter—most churches do. However, though numbers are important, in our analysis of the effectiveness of our church communications and marketing, the most important evaluations go beyond numbers to looking at how people responded spiritually.
In the Great Commission, Jesus did not tell us to go into all the world and hold successful church events. He commanded we make disciples. No event we hold, action we take, or ministry we launch is ultimately successful unless it contributes in some way (however tiny the step) to the goal of introducing people to Jesus and helping them grow to mature disciples.
Following are some suggestions for discussion in your upcoming staff meetings to help you make your church celebrations and seasonal events more effective in fully fulfilling the Great Commission.
Count and classify attendees
Made a little chart, date it, and then fill in the numbers for each question below. You may have to guess, but a guess is better than not doing this.
- How many people attended, but more than that, and this is where it gets challenging:
- How many attendees were regular church members?
- Sporadic church attenders (maybe not members but show up once or twice a month?)
- New people or visitors?
Take time to evaluate the numbers
Don’t just hold an event and dash to the next one. As difficult as it might be, take time to discuss the results. YOU MUST be brutally honest with yourself here. If you had a big turnout and everybody had a great time, that is wonderful, but it isn't enough. Here are some topics you need to discuss:
If your numbers were mostly church members—you need to find out why more didn’t invite friends. Did you have invitations for them? Did you motivate them enough so they wanted to invite their friends? Did your congregation realize that outreach is everyone's job, not just something the staff buys, as in an expensive postcard mailing? Did you challenge them to pray for, invite friends, and follow-up with offers of transportation, brunch afterwards, whatever it takes to get unchurched friends to attend?
If you had some sporadic attenders—you need to track if they come back the following week. Did you do anything to strengthen your connection with them, offer anything such as a challenging sermon series, small group discussion or Q&A time that would draw them back? Did you follow-up via social media or a mailing?
If you have lots of new faces obviously visiting as member guests—Congratulations! Ask members what made it easy for people to bring friends; find out what appealed to people outside the church. Be sure you have follow-up communications in place in print, social media and sermon series, small group discussion or Q&A time (Latte with the pastor and other opportunities).
Two more areas to evaluate:
1. What did you give attendees at your event?
If it was only a program or a church bulletin, no matter how glorious the colored printing, that may be a serious problem. This is why many church events have little lasting impact on the growth of the church. Let me explain.
Consider a typical Easter service: Often it is a big production: sets, music, special lighting, candles, beautiful church decorations, sometimes goodies afterwards—all very nice and special. However, when I look at the programs/bulletins of Easter services, few of them tell you anything about why the church is doing what it is doing, anything substantive about Jesus, what else the church does, and why anybody should care.
Many churches do not have any take-home material that explains why the death and resurrection of Jesus is important and why he is the unique Savior of the world. Very few Easter programs contain sections that invite people back next week for a sermon series that might interest them or a seeker study that helps them find more about Jesus; nor do most programs contain website links to reasons why Jesus is the reason for the season or an invitation email to dialog anonymously about spiritual questions.
This is tragic because you have a huge audience of people who never darken the door of the church at any other time, but are there to please family members or to make a neighbor happy. If you don't do more than give them a nice time for one Sunday, you've missed an important opportunity.
2. What is on your website and social media?
Do you expect visitors, people new to the church, and sporadic attenders who may have forgotten what is going on at the church to look at your websites and social media?
They will. The important thing is, do you have material for them? Have you taken care to make sure your website is up-to-date and that there are links for more information?
This may be the last thing you wanted to be concerned about, the last detail that you were going to get to after you finished the pressing details of getting ready for the big Easter event.
If that is the case, schedule time to make certain your website is always in the best possible, most up-to-date condition it can be in. For people who do not regularly attend your church, it is their only view of your church and they can't read your mind of what you intended to put on the site. If you need help to keep it updated, please get it as this is one of the most important doorways to your church in our connected world.
Don't be discouraged—there is always the next celebration!
Truth be told, any church staff that is honest with post-event evaluation will have a some areas where improvements can be made.
Don't dwell on short-comings—press ahead to do better with upcoming opportunities! God gives us many times to celebrate, let's use them all to invite people into the eternal joy of a relationship with Jesus!