When you think of a backdoor what comes to mind? Backdoor friends can be some of the best, right? People you are comfortable enough with who know they can enter your home in the back where your family probably enters and exits on a more normal basis. It’s not as formal and it just has an inexplicable feel about seeing a friend cross over the familial threshold. The backdoor has a lot of traffic and that squeaky screen door probably needs new hinges, but the sound of it swinging back and forth is actually somewhat comforting.
On the contrary, backdoors are often viewed as an escape. Think of the last time you were at a gathering and you thought about the easiest way to leave without being noticed… it was most probably sliding out via the backdoor. And, unfortunately, many visitors to our churches are sliding out the backdoor and we aren’t noticing.
So how do we continue to bring people through the front doors and into the body of church life without them even considering slipping out the backdoor to not return in the foreseeable future? When I read, Assimilation: The Secret to a Growing, Thriving Church, this hit home with me: “Assimilation is about intentionally connecting people to your church” which yields:
- Guests who quickly connect with the people of your church.
- Not needing volunteers because people quickly find places to serve.
- Your staff reaches more people because technology empowers them to help connect people.
Intentionally connecting people starts with an invitation and remembering that people want to feel welcome, but they also want to feel needed. Church is a community where they can make friends and contribute, versus just an obligation to attend on Sunday mornings. Set out to make a strong first impression so that they know you care. What are your connection points if they don’t attend Sunday School or have a child in the nursery or children’s church? You’ll discover some great tips in this blog, Assimilation: Why do so many churches struggle with growth? Make the effort and establish what those next steps are for a visitor to take to go from brand new to a fully committed and involved member.
Large, growing churches look for ways to be efficient. Being more efficient means you can reach more people without more resources. In the end, this process thrives when steps don’t always scale. Hear me out if you’re planning a trunk or treat this fall, I’m sure you’ll have an online form set up so that families planning to decorate their cars can register in advance. If you open up the registration to the community to also participate, this online registration will therefore include non-church members/visitors. And, since we are all still trying to figure out how to safely return to church and activities after covid, you can also request, on social media for example, for all potential attendees to register so you can assign them a start time.
Of course, all are still welcome to attend if they register or not, but asking for the advance registration not only helps you properly plan, but it also warmly opens the front door and helps to eliminate the backdoor from being accessible to your visitors. How is that? Let’s break down how this pre-registration proves to be efficient as it serves a dual purpose to invite them and keep them:
- You’ve intentionally created a solid touchpoint with a non-church member who wants to participate in your trunk or treat to make a fun night for or participate with the community and you’ll be in close communications with them about the details etc.
- They’ll witness your care and organization for this event, and likely have confidence in the church because of it.
- After the event, you’ll send thank you emails and follow up forms with suggestions about the Trunk or Treat and this visitor will be in your database to keep reaching out to so you can invite them to the next event, service and into your church body.
We are being ambitious this fall as we want to get more people to visit and then integrate them into the life of the church, stay connected with church members and keep millennials engaged, all while motivating our church volunteers. It’s a high calling. So let’s keep our hearts and hands intentionally open at the front doors that welcome people and intentionally merge them into future events, Sunday School classes, small groups, and life between Sundays, along with a watchful eye on the backdoor to make sure no one is sliding out.
A growing church means people are coming. The music encourages them. The teaching makes them think. The environment welcomes their whole family. But a church only grows if those people stay. Why do they stay? By getting connected. In other words, by getting assimilated to the church. Our newest resource, Assimilation: The Secret to a Growing, Thriving Church, eliminates this frustration for you, your staff, and your church along with the other guides in the Know and Grow: Solutions to Large Church Problems. And, to make it even easier and so you don’t miss any of our Church Growth Resources, you can also receive our ministry blog posts straight to your inbox
As the Vice President of Marketing for ACS Technologies’, John is responsible for Marketing’s overall corporate strategy and direction. Storyteller, promoter, problem solver to churches of all sizes and shapes. John has traveled the world working with prominent non-profit ministries. He also serves on the board of directors for Dayspring International.