Nine Questions for Retaining Your Easter Crowd

By Gary Rohrmayer

Easter is coming!  Are you ready? 

You are working hard at having an explosive Easter, your largest Resurrection Sunday in the history of your church...but are you prepared to keep that crowd?

How do you plan to keep your Easter crowd coming back again and again?

When you think in the terms of retaining the crowd God gives you remember these three words: Assimilation. Transformation.  Mobilization.

  • Assimilating them into the life of the church relationally.
  • Exposing them to the Transforming power of the gospel of Jesus.
  • Mobilizing them into the mission field God has placed them in.

When you think of these words you must break them down into key steps for the individual. What are you asking them to do?

  • Assimilation - Making a commitment to relationships within the church.
  • Transformation - Making a commitment to Christ as their Risen Lord and Holy Savior.
  • Mobilization - Making a commitment to living the mission of Jesus.

These nine questions will assist you in evaluating your retention plan.

1. How will you train your people to be inviters, bringers and also includers?

Many churches are good at training their people to invite friends and family to church events but how do you train them to include people relationally into the activities of the church? Send a letter to your people prior to Easter for the purpose of encouraging them to pray for and invite friends, family and neighbors. Provide them with a list of ways they can encourage their friends to take that next step.

2. How will you prepare your people to be a welcoming and connecting church?

Many pastors use Palm Sunday as an opportunity to prepare the church for inviting guests and teaching them ways to connect guests relationally within their network of friends.  The rule is that a guest will need to connect with six people by name within the first four weeks to feel connected.  Training your people to introduce guests to people is critical.  Another connecting rule is that a person needs to know three people in a group before they will join a small group.  So again, training your people to politely introduce guests to members and other guests is critical. 

3. How will you make your visitors feel like guests?

  • Train your greeters to greet!!! Provide a warm welcome and gentle guidance from the street to the seat.
  • Train your ushers to ush!  Ushers who don't ush are ushers who don't help people find a seat and just stand there with bulletins in their hands.
  • Train your members to leave the best seats available for guests.  What are the best seats?  Idle seats and seats in the back.
  • Provide more greeters around the children's area to help parents get their children registered.

4. How will you identify your first time guests?

David Garrison calls this Response Filtering. Response Filtering is employing methods for registering responses to mass evangelism efforts for the purpose of follow up, discipleship and church planting.

There are three traditional ways to identify guests:

  1. Through them filling out a Communication Card.
  2. Through their Giving.
  3. Through the Registration of their Children for children's ministry.

5. How will you ask them to respond to what they experienced in the worship service?

Many pastors struggle with "drawing the net" or calling for a commitment or recommitment to Jesus. In recent years pastors have been using the Spiritual Journey Guide to assist them in the process. The following posts are very helpful.  

Helping a person realize where they are on their spiritual journey in relationship to Jesus and assisting them in taking the next step is an opportunity that should not be missed on Easter Sunday.

6. What will you do to follow up your guests within 36 hours of their visit?

How will you WOW them?  When you wow your first time guests you communicate that you are serious about the mission Jesus has called you to and that people are important to you. The difference between growing churches and declining churches is in how they treat the first time guest. 

Think about how you will respond to the following people individually and personally:

  • Those who fill out the Communication Card - How will you WOW them?
  • Those who fill out a prayer request - How will you tell them they have been prayed for?
  • Those who want more information on a certain ministry - How will they be contacted?
  • Those who gave their first gift to the church - How will you thank and encourage them to become regular givers?
  • Those who register their children for children's ministry - How will you recognize the children? What could you send them to WOW them and their parents?
Thom Rainer writes, “If a person visits your church for the first time, the probability of their returning a second time is considerably higher if you make contact with them within thirty-six hours of their visit.” Herb Miller takes it to another level, “When laypersons make fifteen-minute visits to the homes of first-time worship visitors within thirty-six hours, 85 percent of them return the following week."
What are you willing to do to see people come back again and again?

7. What are the next steps that you will offer people to take?

  • Announce a new message series.
  • Announce a family friendly event that is fun, creative and connecting.
  • Offer a Newcomers luncheon or dinner.
  • Offer a seeker study such as Bible 101 or Christianity 101.
  • Offer serving opportunity within a church wide community service project.

Remember the difference between leaders and followers is that leaders know the next steps.

8. What will you do in the next 30 days?

Allen Ratta writes, "The research shows the more a visitor visits a church the greater the odds are that they will eventually become a part of that church. Yet, churches consistently behave in ways that ignore this critical fact. For example, churches often place all of their efforts in the first time visitor. Reality is that churches will receive a far greater return on investments that they make in 2nd and 3rd and subsequent visitors. What is lacking in many visitor assimilation efforts is the ability to direct and mobilize key resources to repeat visitors. Sustained follow up is essential to effective visitor assimilation." 

  • 2nd visit ideas
    • Personal invitation to a family friendly event.
    • Handwritten invitation to Newcomers luncheon.
    • Phone call by volunteer asking "how can we pray for you and your family?"
    • Help them connect with a small group leader in their area.
  • 3rd visit ideas
    • Invitation to spiritual formation retreat or seminar.
    • Invitation to attend a membership seminar or class.
    • Send a brochure on the ways you will help them to grow spiritually and serve in the church.
    • Phone call from a staff person to help them take the next steps into the life of the church.
  • 4th visit ideas
    • Set up an appointment to discuss where they are on their spiritual journey.
    • invite them to dinner with other newcomers at the pastor's or staff member's home.
    • Extend an invitation to serve on a ministry team.

9. How will you measure the effectiveness of your retention process?

Gary McIntosh sites the following research

  • A church must keep about 16 percent of its first time guests to experience a minimal growth rate of 5 percent a year.
  • Rapidly growing churches keep between 25 and 30 percent of their first time guests. Declining churches keep only about 5 to 8 percent of their first time guests.

It has been said, "We measure what matters to us."  Do you know how you are doing in retaining your visitors?  The churches that track attendance, visitors and visitor retention are statistically the churches that are growing.


I believe the future of our churches is in the harvest.  The potential of future servants, future leaders, future inviters, future contributors, future staff, future elders and even future pastors are waiting in the guests we welcome today.  If churches believe this then they will treat every guest like a superstar with VIP treatment.


Easter, Evangelism, Outreach, Gary Rohrmayer