By Brian Byersdorf
Church leaders and attendees alike have noticed that worship attendance has changed with the COVID-19 pandemic, with 21% of churchgoers still substituting virtual attendance for in-person attendance. Even with lower COVID-19 cases, many churchgoers are finding they prefer to worship alone, and enjoy having a virtual option.
While this departure from pre-pandemic worship can be challenging, churches can harness the power of digital tools to create a hybrid worship model that further engages members and increases community connection — both in person and digitally.
With Easter, one of the most well-attended services of the year, on the horizon, it’s a great time to start implementing some of these tactics to boost churchgoer engagement and lessen the impact of what many call ‘the summer slump’ when churches see lower attendance due to summer vacations and fluctuating schedules.
In fact, Pushpay has seen a growing number of churches experience steady or increased summer participation by nurturing their community members and fostering a feeling of deep connection.
Here are some tips to do just that:
- Plan ahead to facilitate a well-attended summer
Find ways to engage churchgoers through the summer at your Easter service and other spring services. Whether it’s announcing Vacation Bible School on Easter Sunday or gathering data for a summer newsletter at the kids’ check-in station — there are plenty of ways to leverage high-attendance moments as a jumping point to increase engagement throughout the summer.
- Create a digital community
Whether it’s livestreaming services so members can join from anywhere, creating a custom church app, or engaging with your community on social media, making sure your church has a digital presence in the increasingly virtual world is key. According to Pushpay’s recent State of Church Technology Report, 91% of churches are currently offering a livestream option, and it’s safe to say churchgoers will continue to expect this technology and flexibility in the future.
- Make church attendance personal
If your leadership team has noticed a family hasn’t been attending church for several weeks, it’s a great opportunity to call and check in to let them know their fellow church members are thinking of them. You can use platforms like Pushpay’s ChurchStaq to track attendance and make sure no one is slipping through the cracks. This will help boost attendance, and make members feel valued. If your team isn’t able to take on this additional task, you can also make this a volunteer opportunity for engaged members, and with a little training this can give the volunteering member a renewed sense of purpose while creating strong, new connections for the receivers of their calls.
- Develop a push notifications strategy
As churches focus on ways to connect and engage with their community leading into Easter, app push notifications are a seamless way to reach people and drive awareness about ways to participate on one of the most meaningful days of the year. In fact, last year alone the number of push notifications sent via Pushpay’s apps increased more than 31% the week of Easter, compared to average weeks in 2021. More so, churches saw an 18% increase of app users, on average, the week of Easter compared to other weeks. Build on that momentum and develop a mobile communication strategy to engage your community throughout the summer.
- Engage members outside of church
Whether it’s a church-wide BBQ or community outing, don’t save your large events for the fall. Even if a family can’t attend services — or prefers a Sunday morning livestream — they might appreciate an extra event and opportunity to engage with the church in a new, fun way. If you’re using a church app, you can create events quickly that will be viewable by all members on the app.
Brian Byersdorf is the director of product marketing at Pushpay.