Thinking Strategically about the New Year

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thinkingOver the next few weeks all of us have an opportunity to connect unconnected people. The holiday season prompts a series of activities and the activities lead to a set of feelings (depression and sadness, hopes and dreams).

These feelings are almost culture-wide. Few people begin the new year as just another day. Most people enter the new year with a sense of resignation, a hopeful anticipation, or something in between.

Here are a few things that quickly come to mind as I think about the new year:

  1. Unconnected people may see joining a short-term group as something they ought to do. Sometimes this happens naturally and other times we can help unconnected people reach this conclusion. If we are saying the right things in our weekend messaging, if our website and our church-wide emails have the right cues, we can prompt this conclusion.
  2. People who were part of a group that chose not to continue may be looking for a new group. This is especially true if you use the fall ministry season as a way to launch new groups (for example, with a church-wide campaign or small group connection). We know the best case scenario is that about 70% of new groups will choose to continue into another 6 week study. This means that 30% of new group members are in groups that don’t continue. That means there is a good chance some of those who tried a group in the fall are now looking for a new group in January.
  3. Almost everyone sees the new year as an opportunity to start something new. There is something about the new year that makes self-improvement a natural thing to think about. Lose weight. Get out of debt. Go back to school. Make some new friends. Start reading the Bible. Attend a short-term group or class. Again, if we say the right things in our messaging (system-wide), we can prompt unconnected people to include joining a short-term group in the list of the other self-improvement options they are already thinking about.
  4. We seem to be programmed to hope that next year will be better. This is slightly different than #3. There is something about the holidays that causes many, many people to feel sad or even a little desperate about the state of their lives. After all, they have often attended too many parties, eaten or drank too much of the wrong things, busily chauffeured their children to parties and activities, pushed pause on their exercise routine, and maxed out their credit cards again…all at the same time.
  5. Every year some Christmas Eve attendees decide to come back for the January message series. Most churches have a group of people who only attend once or twice a year (Christmas and Easter). It’s common for a Christmas service to be the first service attended by new attendees. What begins as an annual tradition sometimes leads to attending week one of a January message series designed to have wide appeal (and peak the interest of unconnected people).

Image by Brandon Warren

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