The best news in the research is that families want and expect churches to keep in touch with them. Following up with families in the weeks and months after the service has a really positive impact on church growth. Here’s more about how to follow up well.
All kinds of organisations realise that keeping in touch with people is vital if they are to return – whether to purchase, visit or give. It’s no different for church.
Through research and testing resources, the Church of England is discovering how repeated invitation really encourages people to come back to church. These are just a few ideas for following up after a baptism service.
Opportunities to invite families back to church are continuous:
- On the day of the christening, an invitation card may be given to the family to invite them back to church, perhaps to the next Family Service or Messy Church. If the christening is a stand alone service, the family can be invited to come back to a Sunday service to collect the certificate, and be welcomed by their new church family.
- When the family come, make a point of talking to them and offering a warm welcome.
- Encourage a few of the congregation to look out for the family and speak to them too. The research indicates that if a family meets and connects with others in the congregation, they’re more likely to keep returning to church.
- If you have leaders who work with children, encourage them to get to know the family and invite the child to those activities when they are old enough.
- Many people simply need a reason to come back to church, so invite them to events that are coming up, such as harvest, christingle, nativity, Christmas, Easter and Mothers’ Day services. Don’t forget other key days in the national or local calendar. The Season of Invitation resources may help with some of these.
- Aim for involvement, for example having a child taking part in a nativity play can often encourage large numbers of their family and friends to come to church to see them.
- Filming and taking pictures on special occasions is second nature to young families, so within the law, be as flexible as you can on photography and filming.
- As technology grows, keeping in touch has never been easier. Consider Twitter and Facebook for linking with families. Invitations to special services can be sent this way too. (Follow @cofechristening so you can share tweets with your network.)
- The first anniversary of the baptism is another natural opportunity to get in touch. You might already use the Mothers’ Union anniversary cards to remind a family of their child’s baptism.
- Repeated invitations work best – it may take several invitations to encourage a family to come, as not all dates will be possible for them. Invitations from their own family and friends are also effective, so if there are links already within the church, involve them.