This is the weekend for participating churches to begin tracking attendance for the Barna Group survey. More than 20 of you have committed to this project – but if your church is not among them, we encourage you to consider participating on an unofficial basis: you could receive valuable insight into how you can better be in ministry to your community.
“Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.” is used as a public invitation, issued via various media, including television – but it’s also a challenge for our churches: to be intentional about embracing a lifestyle of welcoming of all people.
For the past four years, the California-Nevada Annual Conference has partnered with Igniting Ministry, the denomination’s Advertising and Welcoming Ministry at United Methodist Communications, to implement “Radical Hospitality” and help track its impact.
As part of the final evaluation, we’ve asked churches to track and report overall attendance and the number of first-time guests during August, September, and October. We also want to know how they found the church: whether through TV, postcards, doorhangers, or some other means.
To help you solicit the information, Igniting Ministry has created a response card for newcomers that you may download here and print for immediate use.
Download FRONT BACK
In addition, the Conference Communications Office has created an online Newcomer Evaluation Form that guests may use in place of the traditional response card. We’ve added the URL for the online evaluation to the response card itself.
And to help you tell those newcomers about you, there’s a welcoming brochure that you may download and customize for your church.
All churches – not just those participating in the Barna survey – are invited to make use of these materials. (You will also find them under "Resources" on the green navigation bar near the top of the Home Page at cnumc.org. Just click on "Igniting Ministry Attendance Tracking Forms.")
A national television advertising campaign, along with direct mail postcards (being sent out by Igniting Ministry in selected tracking areas of our conference), will support your efforts of personal invitation and community service to reach your community.
At Annual Conference Session in June, we offered free doorhangers with the theme “Share your Gifts” and a space to promote your church’s ministries. The doorhangers have a short survey on the back, asking the people of your community about ministries they’d like to see the church offer. If you did not pick up doorhangers at the Communications Commission booth, please let us know and we will ship four packs to you free of charge. (Contact Jane Horstman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 916-374-1518.)
See example: Front Back
Again, even if you haven't committed to the Barna survey, please consider tracking overall attendance and newcomers to your church – for your own benefit – in August, September, and October, and also:
- Make sure to receive your free doorhangers and plan how you will distribute them to friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors (FRAN) in your community. (They’re available on a first-come, first-served basis, so get them early before they’re all gone!)
- Plan a special “Open House” activity during September. Igniting Ministry encourages all churches to get ready for guests and to be intentional about welcoming newcomers each September. You may want to have a picnic or concert on the church lawn. Or you could do a community clean-up day and invite the neighborhood to help you. Be creative! And be sure to include events for teens, as well as adults. Look for more “Open House” ideas at IgnitingMinistry.org.
- Work toward becoming a Certified Welcoming Congregation. More than 720 churches around the country have attained this status. By focusing on important welcoming activities, such as improving church signage, having a welcome center, and training the congregation to practice “Radical Hospitality,” many churches have seen tremendous growth – in spiritual fruitfulness and also in people attending the church. Get started by downloading the certification checklist at IgnitingMinistry.org.
The 2007 tracking study conducted by The Barna Group showed both the highest advertising awareness levels (30% of people surveyed remembered seeing United Methodist advertising last year) and the highest willingness to visit a United Methodist Church (54% of people surveyed in 2007 said they’d be willing to visit one of our churches) since 2001. As this partnership draws to a close with the end of this quadrennium, we hope that you will take advantage of the last big, “radical” push in conjunction with our final tracking season.
If you have questions please feel free to contact your Conference Communications Office at 916-374-1518, or Igniting Ministry at 877-281-6535.