by Susan Craig
First UMC Joshua
is employing a tactic this spring that might seem entirely counterintuitive to the “Open Doors” mantra popular in many UMC circles. The church is asking people to “pre-register” for one of two Easter Sunday services
– basically asking them to make a reservation. Does that seem like a radical concept? Maybe, but it works, says Nicole Hutchison, director of Joshua’s discipleship and outreach ministries.
This Easter will be the second time for First Joshua to use this reservation system. The church debuted the registration process in the weeks leading up to Christmas 2018. By all accounts, it was incredibly effective, largely because it’s so easy to tie into the church’s various social media platforms, Nicole said. “It really gives us an opportunity to market or promote our special worship services.”
|FUMC Joshua's registration system allowed for more effective hospitality and promotions for Christmas Eve 2018 services. The results were so positive that it's being brought back for Easter.
By having a good estimate of how many will attend services, the church’s hospitality team can better prepare for an overflow crowd, while the youth and children’s ministries can be ready to welcome visitors in their age brackets.
Perhaps best of all, the registration process has allowed church leadership to identify 37 new families who came to one of their Christmas Eve services after learning about it on Facebook. “Even today, seven of those families are still coming,” Nicole said.
She calls it “a softer approach for the unchurched, an easier on-ramp.” Always on the lookout for ways the church can connect with the community, she had heard about this concept several times, and can point specifically to an article by Carey Nieuwhof, 11 Strategies To Help You Leverage Christmas To Reach the Unchurched.
Strategy No. 1 involves designing an event “for your community, not for your members.” Branding the two special services as “Easter in Joshua” helps attract visitors, including the unchurched. Issuing tickets, or in this case asking people to pre-register, also helps create demand. Nicole laughs when she suggests using FOMO to your advantage. (FOMO = Fear of Missing Out
.) Talk about meeting people where they are, she said. They’re on Facebook.
“Celebrate Easter in Joshua,” the eventbrite form
reads. Once registered, there’s a button to add the event to a calendar. Sharing the link on Facebook makes it easier to talk it up among friends and to get a reminder. It’s all “organic advertising,” Nicole said, “and it hasn’t cost anybody a single penny. It’s all free!”
So passionate is she about disciple-making that Nicole has offered to walk others through the process. If FOMO is a foreign concept to you but innovation isn’t, contact her at Nicole.firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 817-807-0979.
See what else is new at First UMC, Joshua by clicking on www.facebook.com/FirstUMCJoshua/