10 Ways for Pastors to Grow Church Attendance and Drive Engagement
The pandemic brought chaos, illness, and death to our doorsteps at the beginning of 2020. It also brought along uncertainty, fear, and isolation for people everywhere in the world. Some turned to wreak havoc, spreading mindless rumors about apocalypse or Armageddon or just stocking up on toilet paper projecting the world's end. For many of us, the pandemic was a great way to assess our lives and work on ourselves for the better, myself included. I committed myself to becoming closer to my religion in both study and practice. However, the same cannot be said for the Christians of America.
Indeed, during the pandemic, polling data by the Pew Research Center indicated that Americans were far more inclined to think that the COVID-19 issue had reinforced rather than undermined their religion. However, the initial response to the crisis did not last, and some people were discouraged from physically returning to church due to the pandemic's length.
According to another survey from Pew, although many places of worship are resuming normal operations, in-person attendance has remained unchanged since the fall. In the United States, 43 percent of adults who attend religious services now say their place of worship is open and holding services, similar to before the COVID-19 epidemic — up 14 percentage points in the last six months and 31 points since March. Meanwhile, 47% believe their congregation is open, but with certain restrictions owing to the pandemic, such as mask requirements or social segregation. However, the average church is not without issues. Houses of worship continue to deal with pandemic-related finance and membership issues, including emptier pews.
Increase in Online Presence
Over the same period, the percentage of Americans who claim they have seen religious services on TV or streamed them online fell from 36% in July 2020 to 28% in September 2021 and is presently at 30%. According to a new March survey, around a third of American people (32%) say they attend religious services at least once or twice a month. Two-thirds (67%) of these self-described frequent attendees say they have visited physically in the recent month. In contrast, 57 percent say they have watched services online or television.
The survey's in-person and virtual attendance questions can be combined to get a sense of how many individuals view services online instead of attending in person and how many are watching online and attending in person. This data gives us precedence to think about the new age in which the pandemic has brought us.
Everything, from ordering medicines, banking, groceries, and entertainment, is now online. The pandemic taught us that it was always easy for us to shift things online, including going to church.
Growing Your Church Attendance
As a pastor or a member of a Church, you might find the idea skeptical. But surely, if you consider how much success talk shows got after everything shifted online, you would be foolish to not realize how beneficial they might be to your cause. We don't know the future in which the pandemic is heading. Curves go up and down every single month. As many have begun doing, you should consider growing your church attendance in an online setting. Through special services offered by JournalOwl, you can build an online following for your parishioners. We have carefully curated ten ways in which you can establish and develop an online community in your own community!
1. Teach The Importance of Journaling
Going to church is synonymous with going to school. You go to church to learn, be a better human being, and be a more active member of your community. But simply going to church isn't enough. You also need to learn. One of the best ways to help someone learn what they have just listened to or observed is by writing it down. Taking notes. Essentially, journaling. As a preacher's practicer, journaling your thoughts down after congregating can give you a clear overview of what fills your mind, whether it be a belief or something else.
Asking your parishioners to a journal can be done after every session of the congregation. They can write their feelings down, or they can journal online. JournalOwl provides a state-of-the-art journaling service just by signing up once. As human beings, the more we learn, the more we keep coming back to gain new knowledge. Journaling is an excellent way to increase church attendance by giving your congregation a little homework.
2. Generate An Online Presence
Your second step is to generate an online presence for your parish or church. Take an example from any business class. Engagement is the lifeblood of any successful business. Businesses must engage with customers and be relevant during this period of uncertainty. Many consumers have grown accustomed to finding what they want online in the previous decade.
A digital presence provides businesses with an excellent platform for communicating with customers. It allows you to create a narrative about who you are as a brand and differentiates yourself from the competition. Your digital presence encompasses all of a consumer's online interactions with your brand, not simply your website.
This is not mean that religion is a business. However, the same tacts apply. Preaching is your marketing sermons to your parishioners. Hence, you need to find new and modern ways to gain their attention if you hope to make the Lord's mark on them.
3. Film and Upload
A church service recording or a sermon recording is a perfect tool to keep your members connected when they can't be in worship due to the pandemic or other reasons. Thanks to the availability of low-cost, high-quality cameras and simple software, it's never been easier to make your own church service or sermon tape.
Posting a video clip of a church activity on social media is similar to showing a trailer before a movie. Before attending a worship session in person, many people interested in attending church want to know what your sermons are about and what you do. There are solutions for every financial and technical ability level, whether you want to deliver a whole worship session from beginning to end or just share the weekly message.
Many churches have started streaming their Sunday services online and uploading them on YouTube. However, they get very little engagement from others. Fortunately, we have something better.
You can now change this by "clipping" your recorded videos with JournalOwl & turn them into what we call JournalClips™. With JournalClips™, the parishioner can search for the church – subscribe to the channel – and then enroll in a challenge after the Sunday service to increase their comprehension of the Pastor's message in church. It would be as if they were there in real life. JournalOwl will start this service soon, so you should get your church registered with us as soon as possible.
4. Encourage Learning
We talked about how going to church is like going to school. If you learn in school, you no doubt learn in church as well. Pastors should encourage their parishioners to learn in session and after the session by pondering on it. As human beings, we tend to learn from experience. Experience shapes our beliefs. If the Sunday session talks about being kind to your neighbor, you need to ask yourself why? And how? And what can you do in your practical life to embody this teaching?
You need to provide your parishioners with tasks they can do which can help them gain knowledge. The more they learn, the more inclined they will be to stay on this track and regularly visit the church or attend online. One thing that you can provide them with is questions to answer. In our circle, they are known as journaling prompts. People can answer them by writing their thoughts down after each session. It's an excellent way to keep them engaged. JournalClips™ allows you to enter these prompts with your clips for people to answer.
5. Self Study
Sunday church attendance provides a welcome break from the hectic pace of modern life. Every week, we take two hours to think, worship, deepen our spiritual bonds, and refocus our life on Jesus Christ. We worship with a group of Saints who strive to be more Christlike and learn from one another.
Many churches offer several different classes for both children and adults before and after sacrament meetings. Each group meets for a lesson and discussion led by one of the members assigned to their group. Each week's lesson is based on a different part of scripture. If you want people to attend these additional meetings, you need to promote self-studying. JournalOwl can help with that self-studying by asking devotees to write down their thoughts on what they have learned.
They will be more engaged with the content if they investigate a topic independently. Self-study students can think more thoroughly about topics and draw connections between what they're learning. Students can better recall information when interested (and excited) about it.
6. Avoid Distraction
Distraction is a modern-day curse. Our attention is constantly diverted by our cell phones and computer screens, not to mention our children and coworkers. It might be tough to concentrate on a single task—or a single person—for an extended period.
In fact, the world is growing increasingly distracted. Technology has become increasingly widespread and persuasive. However, waiting for IT companies to modify their practices and your boss to respect your time may take longer than you're ready to wait. It's better to be prepared for distraction with tactics you can use right away. After all, while distractions aren't always your fault, they are your obligation to manage.
Similarly, people in the modern age are much more distracted by their phones. They do not pay close attention during the service. They walk away from the "message" with minimal comprehension of what the Pastor attempts to convey. People aren't "absorbing" material because they are too distracted daily and forget how to focus. JournalOwl's mission is to counter this rising tide by providing a platform that forces people into "focused" expressive writing on thought-provoking topics.
It can be challenging for church leaders to understand the big picture of serving their community's needs between administrative responsibilities and sermon preparation. To involve your visitors and members in decision-making, ask them for feedback on their worship experience. They'll gladly offer you suggestions and ideas, especially if it means that your church can better meet their wants and desires. Send a survey to newcomers and long-time members to discover what they have thought of your church recently. Inquire about their worship experience, the relevance of your talks, and available volunteer and leisure opportunities. Then, with your staff, discuss what you'd like to alter to make your church more welcoming and appealing to the community.
You can receive feedback from myriad sources by using JournalOwl. You can include questions for your members to help them provide constructive feedback on the service.
8. Make It Challenging To Remain Disconnected
Expectations eventually force people to conform. If you tell a child he'll never amount to anything, he'll probably give up on his college dreams. If you tell a child she can endure and complete the tasks she faces, she will. People grow and fall in response to our expectations. Congregations are no exception. If you don't expect people to do anything other than attend your church, don't be surprised if that's all they do.
Create a culture through your words, Sunday calls to action, and other messages that encourage individuals to serve, join a group, invite a friend, and donate generously. You can encourage your members to take their faith to the next level after they've been attending for a time. Volunteers from the church are dedicated to the mission. Being a part of your church's various ministries allows them to put their beliefs into practice. Serving reminds your church of the broader picture and encourages community members to be unselfish. When people come to your church for the first time, they frequently question where they will fit in. Initiate conversations to learn about their hobbies, such as cooking or working with children. Inform them about the several available ministries to assist them in determining where they belong. They can use their abilities and interests to bless others by serving in the church.
9. Alternative To Consumption
One of the most common charges against Christians by non-Christians is that we are self-indulgent and hypocritical. Those criticisms are not unfounded. Unchurched people will become more curious and interested when a more selfless church emerges (even wonderful, selfless churches). While you might argue about what Millennials really want out of life, the Minimalist movement has taught us that our culture has a growing desire to fight against consumerism.
People yearn for an alternative to their current lives. That alternative is the church. Christians who are obsessed with throwing their life away vote for Trump. Christians are preoccupied with their own preferences.
Your church programming should focus on the broader objective of keeping people involved. Include ministries that engage and link your congregation to your beliefs and values. If you give someone too many options, they may become overwhelmed or lose interest. Keep your programming simple, and encourage your members to perceive the church as a dynamic community rather than a club to fulfill their needs. Because your church's time and resources are limited, you must concentrate on activities that support your mission. You may focus on the essential missions to you and your church when you eliminate extraneous programs.
10. Be Welcoming
When visitors arrive through the front door, give them a positive first impression of your house of worship. Newcomers and people who haven't attended church in a long time are often unsure where they fit in. Everyone will be more likely to return if they feel included.
To make newcomers as comfortable as possible, try to understand how they feel. Make an attempt to collect their names and contact information so that you may send them information about your church's programs. After the service, you might wish to have someone send them a thank-you note. A family can invite them over for dinner to get to know them better. Excellent follow-up and welcome methods humanize your church and establish fellowship among your congregation.
These steps can be done through our JournalOwl services that we will provide starting next month. It will help keep track of your attendees and their learning progress. JournalClips™ is an online platform that will help garner attendance and membership for the church and aid people in getting the best experience from their Sunday services.
JournalOwl is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, medication, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptoms or conditions. JournalOwl is not authorized to make recommendations about medication or serve as a substitute for professional advice. You should never disregard professional psychological or medical advice, or delay in seeking treatment, based on anything you read on JournalOwl’s website or platform.