Planning Easter Follow Up

After all the hours that go into planning for a fantastic Easter weekend experience, it's no wonder most church offices are a ghost town the week following Easter Sunday. Churches can be great at putting together a remarkable worship experience for Easter, but sometimes, we drop the ball when it comes to follow-up the next week.

Rest is important. Taking a Sabbath rest following Easter is wise and necessary in many circumstances. But that means we need to think ahead about how follow-up will work for the new people who come to your church on Easter Sunday. In the week following Easter, we have just as much an opportunity to make an impression on guests. It's our chance to show how the church helps provide meaningful answers to our weird world every day of the year—not just on one Sunday every spring.

While the topic of holiday follow-up isn't new (we seem to talk about it every season), the follow-up process still needs some work in many churches. Here are a few things to think about as you look at follow-up. Some of it may be helpful for this year, and other parts may be something to consider as you plan for other big weekends in the future.

Gather information

To follow up with your guests, you first need to know a little about them. Most people aren't comfortable giving a ton of personal information to any person or organization they've just met—your church is no different. So, find natural ways to gather small bits of information over time as you build relationships with your guests.

Pro-Tip: Child check-in and registration forms are a great way to gather critical information from families with young kids quickly.

You can also use small cards to gather information from adults in the service (or QR codes for online forms if your congregation is particularly tech-savvy and paper-conscious). But only some people will pre-emptively fill this out on their own. Instead of simply hoping people will fill out the card, build it into the service. Here's how:

On Easter Sunday, ensure every seat (or every person) receives a card and pen. Then, at some point during the service, ask everyone to fill out the card—to make it a bit more natural, simplify the information you're requesting: name and email or phone, and add a considerable space for prayer requests and praises. Tell the crowd what you will do with this information (maybe something like, "If you provide your email address on the card, you can expect to receive an email this week with the full list of prayer requests"). Give everyone time in the service to fill out the card, then collect the cards right away so it's not forgotten by the end of the service (i.e., add it to the offering plate as it passes by, or pass them to the end of the row and have ushers come by and collect).

Connect quickly

It'd be awkward to send an email, write a card, or make the first point of contact a week and a half after Easter. Just because you take the week after Easter off doesn't mean everyone else is sitting there waiting for you. After a couple of days, they've moved on. Ensure you have a plan for a time-sensitive, effective follow-up, even if you're not in the office.

Depending on the information you've gathered, you can pre-write cards to mail, create an email for someone to send on your behalf, automate and schedule follow-up using your Church Management System or other tools, or delegate follow-up phone calls or emails to volunteers.

Pro-tip: The first contact should happen soon after the service, and it should be a personal way to thank the guest and provide a personal connection.

Take advantage of this chance to quickly connect and build on a new relationship simply because you need a break. Get your rest. But also seize the momentum of Easter.

Don't forget about next Sunday

So many churches ramp things up for Easter only to have a colossal letdown the following week. On Easter, there's often new music, unique videos, a strong sermon, and more smiling volunteers. It's the church's "A" game on Easter Sunday, the Super Bowl of the church season. That experience played into a first-time visitor's impression and expectations, and what they experienced on Easter is why they'll choose to come back. So it's important not to go into relaxation mode in the weeks following Easter. Be authentic and consistent, and remember next Sunday.

Encourage members to invite their friends back

If you're thinking about Easter follow-up, you can also engage members to actively follow up with the people they invite. Let your congregation know what the church is doing the following weeks—whether it's a particular sermon series, a welcome class, or something else designed to connect with new guests—and equip your church members to share that information with their friends. If a member invites someone to an Easter service, it's natural for them to follow up. Equip them with the tools to invite their friends again.

Provide a chance to catch up with new people in person

Provide an opportunity to meet guests in person. Maybe you host a lunch or have a welcome class to meet these folks. This opportunity can be as simple as saying something from the stage like, "We know some of you visited for the first time last weekend. We're glad you're back. We want to get to know you and show you what we're all about." Whatever you decide to do, make sure you're acknowledging your guests—especially returning guests. If you've gathered any other information from them—like an email address—send them a follow-up that way, too. Always provide an opportunity for them to meet someone face-to-face.

Make follow-up a routine

Everything we've talked about in this article is about effective follow-up. Following up with guests after a big Sunday like Christmas or Easter is incredibly important—we bring it up at these times of the year because, typically, they're the easiest Sundays to get someone in the church. And because it's easy to get guests on Easter Sunday, we should have a well-defined process for how to thank our guests for coming, introducing ourselves, and welcoming them back. Easter is a great time to start your follow-up process and help people connect with your church.

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