Back to Church Sunday is almost here and your church is ready: you’ve empowered your members to invite, planned a powerful service, promoted your event in the community and online, cleaned up your building, prepped your staff and encouraged everyone to pray! Whew, what could possibly be left?

If you haven’t considered your follow-up plans, you could be leaving out one of the most important parts of a successful Back to Church Sunday campaign. Once you have visitors in your church, how will you get them to return next week? Visitors who come for Back to Church Sunday may be ready to make church a more important part of their lives. So here are a few ideas to help you engage with them and hopefully get them to return in the next weeks or months:  

Launch a compelling sermon series

There is a good chance that many people in your community share similar challenges in their lives – who hasn’t worried about being a good parent, fixing their finances, or finding enough time in the day? – so launching a sermon series that sheds Biblical light on one of those common “felt needs” is an effective way to keep your visitors interested in coming to church. Get great ideas and resources here.

Host a guest speaker

One California church plans several “Wow Sundays” each year when they bring in a guest speaker that will draw visitors from the community. While it is great to host a big name star, it’s probably not necessary. There are a lot of great speakers who have interesting, compelling stories that will draw a crowd. You know your community demographics best, so pick someone that will interest the largest segment you are trying to reach – visit to get started.

Offer a free lunch

Kind of like a back to school open house, invite your visitors to come back the next Sunday for church and a free lunch. It could even be an outdoor barbecue or a pancake brunch. Try to have all your pastors and ministry leaders attend and be table hosts. Have ice breaker questions and then let visitors get to know one another. Give a short history of your church and your vision for where you are going and how you support the community. If your visitors feel connected and part of your community, they are more likely to be comfortable coming back again.

Plan a community event or festival

Show your visitors that there’s  more to church than Sunday services by hosting a fun community event like a harvest festival, Thanksgiving dinner or craft fair. Big events show visitors that service and volunteerism is important to your church and that there is more to attending church than sitting in the pews – PLUS everyone has fun!

Roll out the red carpet

Everyone loves going to the movies – but for a family it can be expensive. So bring a great movie to your church instead! Have a little fun with this event – offer popcorn and candy, have “paparazzi” take photos and set up comfortable seating areas. Be sure to offer childcare for the younger kids so parents can relax and the kids can have fun. Check out great movie event options here.  


Back to Church Sunday is a powerful starting point for reaching your community, but don’t stop there! Plan one or more follow-up events and give your visitors a reason to return. And whatever event you plan, be sure to have invitations ready at your Back to Church event so everyone knows they are welcome to return!