Your Launch Sunday attendance will be inflated by grand opening well-wishers. That can be good and bad at the same time. Here are some ideas to maximize the good and minimize the bad.
Many churches experience a spike in attendance at their inaugural public worship gathering. Which can be exciting! But then the following Sunday, attendance goes down. Way down. It’s pretty typical to see attendance drop by a quarter to a third the very next week.
Some real-world math here: if there were 150 at Launch, it shouldn’t shock you that there’s only 100 the next week. Or if you have 350 on the first Sunday to have 235 the next.
What in the world is going on?
There are several factors that lead to an attendance spike at a church’s grand opening:
- Well-wishers come to celebrate
- A marketing push brings higher than usual numbers of new families from your community
- All of your regulars come on a single, historic Sunday
the Grand Opening Well-Wishers
By grand opening well-wishers, I mean people that come to help you celebrate the launch of the new church but won’t be regulars. They may be:
- Your family in the area (or even from out of state)
- Financial supporters
- Prayer supporters
- Families or even staff from a mother church or sending churches in the region
- Someone for your denomination or church planting organization
If you’ve done your community networking, it might even include local dignitaries (think ribbon cutting).
So your well-wishers are people already relationally connected to the church but who have no intention of joining your crew and participating.
Having grand opening well-wishers is helpful because they bring excitement and will have extra grace for any mishaps. They bolster your numbers and help create a ‘standing room only’ buzz.
But if their numbers are concentrated or exaggerated, the next Sunday is going to hurt.
And they can inadvertently use up your parking spaces and seating capacity. That makes it harder for the people from the community who may very well come back. That is, if they’re not put off by having no parking and nowhere to sit.
Reach Out to Them Ahead
Because your well-wishers are already relationally connected, call, email, text or DM them several weeks ahead. Let them know that they’re welcome and encouraged to help your new church celebrate. And encourage them to come instead to one of more of the following:
- the 2nd or 3rd week to even out attendance
- the final Preview Service before the grand opening
- (if you will have multiple services) the lesser-attended service
And if they absolutely must come for grand opening Sunday, then by all means come.
When They Come
Also mention to them that when they come, regardless of which Sunday, it would be helpful if they would:
- park further out
- be the first to give up their seat if things get tight
- for the already-churched: remain conscious of the unchurched you’ve worked so hard to invite (limit super-churchy behaviors)
- generally be super-friendly to everyone
With a little planning, you can turn your grand opening well-wishers into an even greater asset for your church plant Launch.