We hear it from pastors all the time…
“Our worship team does a fantastic job - the music is so powerful!”
“Our greeters are so warm and welcoming. New people never go unnoticed!”
“I prepped for months on that sermon, and I felt great about it”
There it is. The ever present “but” that clings to so many churches.
"Our attendance week over week is declining.”
“Those guests aren’t coming back.”
“It feels like we are missing the mark.”
We have worked with thousands of pastors who have experienced the same struggle. And while it is incredibly important to make sure Sunday morning is well prepared for and engaging to guests and members alike, we are fighting more than just music style preferences to keep people in church.
Think about it. Many people who visit your church for the first time have months, years, or maybe even their whole life of NOT going to church on Sunday morning. Even your members who are committed to your church and its mission have kids, vacation, sickness, a hard week at work, you name it! We are competing with the everyday hustle and bustle of busy families’ lives.
That is what inspired the Sermon Series Bump! With the help of pastors all over the country, we developed a strategy to communicate before and during a new sermon series to boost attendance, and incredible success has come out of it. In fact, churches are reporting back a 10-15% bump in weekly attendance! The solution is simple and highly effective.
The whole philosophy behind the Sermon Series Bump is to get people excited about the new material you are going to be sharing and, honestly, to keep it on the forefront of their minds.
But why texting, you might ask? Well, the proof is in the pudding...
• 23 billion texts are sent each day
• 90% of texts are read within 3 minutes
• 45% of texts receive a reply
If you’re looking for an effective way to reach people, look no further. People are way more likely to open and read a text than answer a phone call, read an email, or browse the bulletin. Whether we like it or not, it’s the reality.
I would be remiss if, at this point, I didn’t make sure you had a full proof way of connecting with your members and guests and collecting their contact information. This is a critical step that sets you up for successful follow-up moving forward.
The Sermon Series Bump is essentially 3 intentionally timed and crafted text messages. That’s right, all you need are 3 simple text messages and a new sermon series, and you can sit back and enjoy church growth!
So, now that you understand the strategy, here’s how it works…
1. The Invitation Message
Send the first text on the Wednesday before your new sermon series will start. Send it around lunch time so members are reminded to invite their friends when they are with their co-workers. This is a simple reminder that a new sermon series is starting and that you’re excited about it!
Is Wednesday a busy day for you? That’s fine! Schedule the texts ahead of time to ensure they go out exactly when you want!
You can start by addressing them by first name to make message feel personal. Keep the rest of the message simple and low-key. Not only is this a good reminder for the upcoming series, but it’s a great talking point for people. Imagine this guy is sitting in his breakroom at work. His phone goes off and he gets this text. It’s so easy for him to say, “Oh, my pastor just texted me about a new series at church. Sounds interesting, you should check it out.” The invite is natural and low pressure- it’s a win for everyone.
2. The Reminder Message
Send the second text on the Saturday morning before, as a last minute reminder. Again, keep it simple, just a note of excitement with the time and maybe a note about coffee or donuts :)
This helps keep attending church on the forefront of people’s minds as they make their weekend plans. Pastors are fighting the busyness of life to get people in the door on Sunday mornings, so don’t be afraid to remind them.
Let me re-emphasize this point: Don’t be afraid to remind people about church! It’s not being annoying or pushy. Its being genuinely invested in the spiritual growth of your community. The world has no problem fighting for people’s attention; we have to get comfortable asking and reminding a bit more often.
3. The Follow-up Message
Finally, send the third text the Tuesday after the first Sunday of the new sermon series in case they missed Sunday and to remind them what’s coming next week.
Speaking in a sermon series can be great because it generates buzz around multiple Sunday messages, but it can also be hard when someone misses the first sermon in the series and decides to just “catch the next series”.
Include the link to your last sermon so they can feel prepared for the next week, and encourage them to show up. This is simply giving them access to the information since they missed it and eliminating the fear or excuse that missing the first week should keep them from coming for the remainder of the sermon series.
• Build Excitement - Give them a reason to show up!
• Make It Personal - Address them by first name!
• Ask Them To Invite Others - Send during work hours so they can share with their friends or co-workers!
• Don’t Back Down - Just because they may not have come Sunday, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t love the rest of the series.
• Send Sermon Link - Give them a link to last week’s sermon so they have no excuse based on the series to not show up the following weeks.
Again, make sure you check out this free guide all about the Sermon Series Bump to get specific examples and a visual to help keep the process simple.
Take it from the thousands of success stories from other churches using this simple method to boost attendance by 10% or more. It is as easy as text messages 1, 2, 3.
P.S. Wondering how else your church could leverage texting to get better engagement? Check out our Church Text Messaging Playbook for some of our favorite strategies!