Avoid the Low Attendance Lag

Avoid the Low Attendance Lag

Pastor! Do you know what is your lowest attended weekends? I recently read a Thom Rainer article that helped me think through low-attended weekends and what strategically you need to do to avoid a lag in your momentum. I wrote the following blog post that I wanted to share with you. This is an inside look at my come-from-behind giving strategy. https://www.onlinegiving.org/support/avoid-the-low-attendance-lag

Which Weekends Have the Lowest Attendance? That was a recent headline of an article posted by Thom Rainer. Rainer is one of the leading thinkers in the Church today. Rainer’s organization posed that question to several church leaders.

Here are the top ten responses they received, ranked by frequency of response.

  1. Father’s Day
  2. The Sunday after Thanksgiving day
  3. Memorial Day weekend Sunday
  4. Labor Day weekend Sunday
  5. The Sundays before and after Christmas
  6. The Sunday nearest the Fourth of July
  7. The Sunday nearest to New Year’s Day
  8. Time changes: spring forward
  9. Spring and fall break Sundays
  10. Summer Sundays, particularly in July 1.

Do you know what your lowest attended weekend is? If your response is close to the above list, as much as 20% of your weekends are impacted by low attendance and low engagement. My question is, what are you doing about this?

In my experience, most churches don’t do anything. They sit back and let the impact of a low-attended weekend impact the life of their church. Most only think of how weekends like the above have impacted campus attendance. New studies are showing that our online engagement is falling off as well. If your members are at the lake, beach, or visiting Grandpa, they are likely not engaging online.

Do you know what other key metrics, besides attendance and online engagement, impact the above weekends? Your giving. As the Stewardship Coach, I think about that on low-attended weekends. Back in the day, when I was a Senior Pastor, there was little, if anything, you could do to make up the giving that was lost due to the decline in attendance. That was then; this is now.

As I write this in the later days of July, I’m focused on helping my client churches make up lost ground from low-attended weekends. At OnlineGiving.org, our clients receive my playbooks for free on how to meet this challenge positively, thus minimizing the potential loss in giving. In my last post, I talked about the why behind a strategy to make up for lost offerings. In this post, I want to give you some basic pointers on avoiding the impact of a low attendance weekend on your giving.

First, you must have the systems to help you keep engaged with your members 24/7/365. Here is a list of the key tools I recommend to my client churches.

  1. Dynamic website.  Your website is the first place most people will visit BEFORE they ever darken your doors. Make yours a good one! This includes the landing page for your giving site. By regularly posting new stories and testimonies of what gifts to your church are doing, your donors will be inspired to give more. Tell your story!
  2. Robust online giving platform, including all the latest means of instant communication.  It’s truly amazing how our client churches are using our platform not just for giving but for instant communication for sign-ups, baptisms, etc. We have the leading platform in the industry, making it easier to keep in contact with members no matter where they are. Contact us today to schedule a free demonstration of our platform at (615) 206-4000 or at support@onlinegiving.org.
  3. Social Media platform and presence.  Like it or not, many people spend the bulk of their time on social media. If you are not there, you miss an opportunity to connect with your people and those in your community. See this post: https://www.onlinegiving.org/support/share-the-vision-with-social-media
  4. Postage-prepaid envelopes.  I know this sounds old school, but this can be a great tool if used properly. Our check scanning feature makes processing paper checks fast and easy. See this post: https://www.onlinegiving.org/support/announcing-our-new-check-scanning-capability
  5. Extensive database of your donors.  A given is to have all your members’ email addresses. Yet you also need to have the ability to break this list down by various subgroups like first-time givers, consistency, etc.
  6. A mass email platform, such as Constant Contact or MailChimp.  There are many platforms to help you send out emails in multiple batches. Some offer free services for a limited number of sends. Most cost only a few dollars a month. Find the tool that suits your church database best.

These are the essential tools for helping you avoid the impact of a low attendance weekend. In a 21st-century communication plan, you must use all the tools in your toolbox to get your message out.

You need these tools before a low attendance weekend because it is not if you will experience a low attendance weekend. It is when and how often. In my previous post, I discussed why you must act quickly to close the gap low-attended weekends produce in your giving. I work with my clients to build out strategies to make up for the “lost” offerings low-impacted weekends cause.

Here is an overview of a plan of action for a special offering:

  • At least one month out, craft the vision for your special offering. People respond to a compelling vision, not desperate appeals. Use your platforms to communicate how a gift to your church will change eternity, and you will find a much greater response.
  • Communicate three weeks out with your leadership. Why? Their gifts will drive the success of your offering!
  • Two weeks from the special offering, start showing the ministry impact of the area of need across all your communication platforms. Show your story!
  • One week out, start a more direct appeal through social media. Set it up through your online giving platform. With a 24/7 offering strategy, you can begin the offering at any time, not merely on the weekends.
  • Two Sundays from the offering, begin announcing from the platform the special offering.
  • Send a series of direct mail appeals the week before the special offering and continue through the day after the special offering.
  • Take up the offering with boldness! In two minutes or less, craft an offering talk that gives a positive take on the need your offering will meet.
  • Thank those that gave to the special offering and provide an update on its results and impact. Thanking your donors paves the way for the next “ask.”

Taking the above steps can help you close the giving gap created by 20% of your offerings being impacted by low attendance weekends. By the way, the above strategy works great for three-day weekends like Labor Day.

This is the kind of coaching and help we give our clients. To find out how our systems, platforms, and plans can help you make up a giving gap and avoid the impact of low attendance weekends, contact us at (615) 206-4000 or email us at support@onlinegiving.org. Because remember, it is not if you will experience a low attendance weekend but when.

  1. https://outreachmagazine.com/features/76846-which-weekends-have-the-lowest-attendance.html?maropost_id=714621667&mpweb=256-10044967-714621667

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