As I write this post, a host of clichés comes to mind, things like, “Strike while the iron is hot, “seize the day”, “there’s no time like the present”. Each phrase communicates the fact that there are certain times (seasons) when you can act and actually maximize your impact and results. For churches in our culture, fall and spring are those seasons.

While there are certainly exceptions to this rule, summer and winter are not traditionally great growth seasons for churches. In the summer people are often busy vacationing and engaged in family time, and in the winter they are normally preoccupied with holidays, namely Christmas. But in the fall they are getting back to school and work and ready to focus on accomplishing some goal. At the first of the year they tend to be open to change and something different.  The proverbial “New Year’s Resolution” and turning over the metaphorical “new leaf” can cause them to be very open to making significant changes to their lives including their spiritual lives.

So, fall and the New Years are go time for churches, it’s the peak of the harvest season for soul winning. With that said let me give you six suggestions as you make your fall plans.

  1. Raise awareness among your team that this is prime time for growth. It seems like simply having it on your radar makes us more focused and effective. There are 11 Sundays between Labor Day weekend and Thanksgiving. These are premium Sundays and they present one of your best opportunities to build new relationships with people. Make them count.
  2. Have your fall plans in place before Labor Day. We don’t plan after Labor Day we execute. If you are planning in the fall you’re probably going to miss the opportunity. Imagine a division-one football coach trying to make his game plan during the game. Not gong to win many championships that way. It’s a matter of doing the right thing at the wrong time. Late summer is when we should fine-tune our plans for our fall campaigns.
  3. Rally your team in August. People need a shot of motivation in late summer to help them get refocused. In most cases having a fall planning party will do the trick, and it’s a convenient time to do it. Most kids go back to school in August, so parents suddenly find themselves with a little extra time. It is a great time to have a Team Event with your Volunteers. Pump them up! Remind them about “Why “you do what you do at church. Be creative, have fun, make it fun!
  4. Encourage them to invite family and friends (people in their sphere of influence). Mobilize the relationships in your church by reminding them that fall is a great time to invite people to come back to God and to church. Print a cool themed invite card and make them available for members to use among their network of contacts. Include the dates of a couple of outreach events on the invite card, which will give them something to invite people to attend. It makes breaking the ice during the invitation so much easier.
  5. Promote and Market back to church. National back to church day is September 17th. Since 2009 over thirty thousand churches have participated, yours should be one of them. Market the daylights out of it. Sometimes all people need is a reason to ask a friend to come. Consider making a “Big Sunday” of it. Have a potluck, have a Back to Church party in the parking lot, host a sweet tea/lemonade social after church with a late summer theme, maybe something like, “So Long Summer”.  By the way here is the link, backtochurch.com
  6. Get involved outside your church. Fall is a great time to serve your community as a church. Sports seasons and school activities provide many amazing opportunities to touch and impact families. Holidays are also a great time to organize and provide assistance to community projects and increase your relational footprint in your community.

I believe these six steps alone could have a tremendous impact in the effectiveness your church enjoys this fall. Don’t be afraid of failure and its not too late.  Mobilize your thoughts, set some goals and make a plan. Say, So long to summer, its time to grow!