Preparing Your Church for the Back to School Season
By The Elexio Team - July 31, 2019
Believe it or not, the end of summer is quickly approaching. You are likely gearing up for families to return from vacations and prepping for the changes that back to school time brings to your congregation. This season brings an increase in attendance and excitement as families settle back into routines and norms.
We’ve compiled a list of tips for how your church can adapt to the changes that occur during this season. The goal is to help your church adjust in a way that is beneficial to members and welcoming to new families.
Staff It Up
Summertime often brings lighter attendance as many families travel and take time to enjoy family vacations. However, as families settle back into their routines, your Sunday attendance will likely grow. Increase the number of volunteers in Sunday school classes to ensure you are meeting the needs of each student. You can also add additional greeters and volunteers at sign-in desks and welcome kiosks to answer questions and greet new guests.
Dedicate a Sunday towards the end of summer to spread awareness about roles that may need to be filled. At first, you may struggle to find members willing to meet this need. Vanderbloemen addresses this topic in their article 4 Ways For Pastors To Increase Church Volunteer Service.
Secure Your Space
Increased attendance means greater opportunities for a security breach. Combat this threat by completing some of the following tasks:
- Do a check of your security measures to make sure all cameras and check-in kiosks are operating correctly.
- You will likely have additional events added to the church calendar. Adjust your security personnel numbers to account for these extra times.
- Update the website with details on your methods for keeping children safe during Sunday school. Outline the check-in process so that parents have an idea of what to expect before arriving. This will put guests with young children at ease if they know what to do when they arrive. It can also help minimize confusion for current members if any processes have changed.
- Utilize a check-in process through your church management software.
Communicate with families through your church website and email (among other ways). These are great mediums for informing your members of changes in childcare routines and upcoming church events.
Make sure to advertise events related to back to school clearly on the church homepage or in the bulletin too. According to Ekklesia 360, “17 million people who aren’t regular church-goers visit church websites each year.” Your church website is a great outreach opportunity for local families wanting to find a church home. It’s also important that you connect with families within your congregation through frequent email blasts. The three most important things people look for in an email newsletter are events, updates, and changes. You can address these topics utilizing the following methods:
- Update subscribers of changes in the childcare or Sunday school schedule. Provide an overview of the schedule for the entire year.
- Showcase a broad overview of the curriculum that will be used in Sunday school. Identify ways parents can get involved with teaching your Bible curriculum at home.
- Email reminders of important policies and procedures your church follows.
Increase Engagement Opportunities for Families
You may need to create additional opportunities for families to get involved through small groups and Bible classes. Look for gaps within your small group structure that could be filled with a school-aged group of families. Schedule family-centered events to promote fellowship for new members that may trickle in during the back to school time period.
Promote This as an Exciting Time
Use back to school time as a chance to recognize this transitional period through a promotion Sunday. Graduate students into their new grade levels and celebrate them through a shared meal or post-church service gathering. This is a fun way to ease the anxiety of moving to a new grade.
Reach Out to the Community
Utilize your connections with local schools to participate in outreach opportunities for students and their families. Host back to school fundraisers, such as a backpack drive or school supply checklist completion event. You can set up a specialized fund for church members to give specifically to needs created through back to school prep. This is a great opportunity to promote online giving, share the ministry of your church, and spread the Gospel with your local community.
Address the Stress
Heading back to school after a relaxing summer break brings stress for both students and parents. Adjusting to more regimented routines, new classrooms and teachers, and excessive amounts of information can really take its toll. This is a great opportunity for you to acknowledge the stress and anxiety of this transition and help families find ways to cope with it. Providing fun and safe environments for kids to spend their evenings or weekends is a great way to help. Make sure that volunteers are trained to help students transition into the new routines. Identify signs they need to watch for when it comes to excessive stress and anxiety.
Gather staff together for a time of prayer over the students as they head back to school. Offer counseling for students who may be struggling during the transition. Share scripture with members during Sunday school and through email communications. Have your pastor preach words of encouragement to families walking through this season.
The back to school season is a great opportunity to re-engage current members and reach out to families who are looking for a home church. Through strong communication both externally and internally, you can strengthen the community of families that make up your church congregation.
Back to school is so much easier when you have a hard working ChMS doing the heavy lifting for you. Does your database make the grade? Or are you in need of a smarter, more powerful church software to organize your data and support your ministry? Check out Nine Questions to Ask as You Consider a ChMS, which can help as you evaluate your options. The experts at Elexio have served as church staff members and volunteers, so they built it based on authentic experiences doing what you do.