By Vince Williams
February 21, 2012
Easter is the biggest day of the Christian year. It is the day we celebrate Christ’s love and His defeat of death through His resurrection. On this day, we remember that climactic moment in history, when Satan lost and God won.
It is for this reason that many who normally do not attend church will seek one out to attend. This is the one time a year where you know there are families looking for a church. Therefore it is this time of year that churches should make their biggest push toward outreach through invitation.
Here are some great ideas for doing it cost-effectively and with a little creativity.
1. The personal invitation. The best form of invitation is a personal one. Anytime a person can hand someone else an invitation the value of that invite goes up greatly. This year create an invitation that begs to be handed out. Design a folded greeting card and envelope with a personal invitation built in. People love seeing their name on an envelope and digging inside to discover the words of affirmation awaiting them. Make the card a general sentiment of good will with a little invitation thrown in. Have members of the church grab 5 cards and envelopes each, then have them write the names of the people they would love to invite on the envelopes. This will help remind them to hand these out. A nice-looking card with a positive message will draw members in and help to overcome their fear of inviting someone to church.
2. Put up a new sign. Many churches are located right next to one of their best assets for inviting new families: their road. If your church is located on a fairly busy street, then you have the opportunity to capture the minds of those drivers as they pass by. The question is what do you say? Many churches have opted for fun sayings or basic service times. While these may be effective for the day-to-day of your church, Easter is a special time that requires a special sign. Full-color banners catch the eye, or if you have invested in a backlit sign there are unique materials that can turn it into a full-color sign that will definitely get noticed. The key is to keep it simple and inviting. “You are invited” in big letters is a good way to start. People don’t need to know to everything about your church. Mostly they just need to know it is OK to show up.
3. Mailed invitations. Many churches feel that mail is just too expensive. Although mailing does require some investment, it can be an excellent way to reach people outside of your members’ influence, especially at Easter. A 10,000 piece mailing can run as little as 23¢ per household. During Easter it is very typical that a well-crafted postcard will see 5 families or more per 1,000 postcards respond to the invitation. That is a cost of $46 to get a new family into your church. And this can potentially pay for itself: If one of the five families becomes an active, giving member of your church, their new financial contributions could pay for the mailing within months.
The key to a successful mailer is a combination of great design and a good offer. Check out the best practices for a successful mailing in our previous article, “The 10 Commandments of Church Mailings”
4. Get social. Churches are still in the throws of discovering how to use social media in relevant and effective ways. Easter is a great opportunity to utilize your social network to get the word out about your Easter plans. Design a fun digital invitation that you can post to your Facebook page. Then ask all of your members to “Like” your page and your invitation. They can in turn throw out invitations throughout their network by referencing your invite. The power of social media means that you could reach out to thousands of people in a matter of days, if you can get everyone with an account from your church participating.
5. Email invitations. Every church should find ways to take advantage of the cost-effective world of digital invitations. Create a landing page designed with your specific Easter information, and then develop a tell-a-friend invitation that matches. This way your members can use the email addresses they have to invite people to your church. The invitations still have a personal feel, but generally members don’t have quite the same fear associated with a face-to-face invitation. If developing a tell-a-friend feature seems intimidating, there are a number of online services. (Our team offers a registration page and tell-a-friend for $295.00 that can be used for both invites and to get people to pre-register for a specific service time.)
The key to seeing more people come through your doors this Easter is visibility. The demand is already there, all you need to do is let people in your community know that your doors are wide open.