For many people in your community, Easter is the only day of the year they’ll show up at church. It’s a great opportunity to reach out to those who don’t think about church the other 364 days of the year.
You’ll want to reach out to your visitors and thank them for coming. Depending upon the size and culture of your church, you may make a personal visit, call them or write them a letter (whether through the mail or via e-mail)—or very possibly do all three.
In fact, if you visit them or call them, sending them a follow-up letter is an appropriate next step. It’ll allow you to give them some more details about your church and guard against the possibility that you’ll forget something important.
Here are few thoughts to remember when writing to church visitors—at Easter or any other time of the year.
Use a warm, personal style. That means write how you talk not how you wrote your seminary papers.
Communicate love and care. People don’t handle rejection well. They want to know that you want them to return to your church no matter what they’ve done, where they’ve been or what they look like. Of course, your congregation must back that up when the person returns to church.
Let them know about your next sermon series. Always either begin a sermon series on Easter or the next week—and make sure it’s a series that meets the felt needs of an unchurched person. Yes, they need the gospel and a relationship with Christ. You and I both know that’s their foundational need, but most people will come to your church because they have a need for friendship … want a better marriage … want to be a better parent … want to feel they’re living a life of significance … or there may be some other need. When you do a series like that, let Easter visitors know in your letter. It’ll give them a reason to come back to your church.
Help them get connected in your church. Let them know about some of the significant assimilation ministries in your church—your membership class, your small groups or your Celebrate Recovery ministry (which I hope you have!). You might do this on your website and simply share the link in your letter or you might have some of this basic info in your letter.
Consider just signing your first name. I always want visitors to feel like they can relate to me on a first-name basis. I realize not everyone’s context is like mine. You may be reaching people who expect a formal signature from a stranger. But many who are unchurched will prefer the more personal route.
Many of your churches put significant time and resources into getting people to your church on Easter. It’ll likely be one of your biggest services of the year. But never forget that the key isn’t just to get them into the building. It’s to keep them there long enough for God to change their lives.
A letter is a great next step bringing visitors back to your church.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
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