Fall Kickoff: How Does Your Church Ramp up in the Fall?

Fall Kickoff: How Does Your Church Ramp up in the Fall?

June 4, 2018 by

Fall may seem like a long way off, but your plans for fall are likely underway. That’s the topic for our Courageous Storytellers membership site this month—fall kickoff—so in addition to a host of resources for our members, we’re also talking to church communicators to see how they handle fall.

What does your church do to ramp things up in the fall? Why is fall kickoff important?

We asked seven church communicators how their churches are kicking off the fall season. Here’s what they said:

Start Early

Sandy Hughes, pastor of communications at Central Peninsula Church in Foster City, Calif.:

Fall is huge in our church. Many of our fall promotions start at the beginning of May, knowing so many of our people will be in and out throughout the summer.

The idea is to get people to register early while they are still in their current Bible study, community group, women’s or men’s groups. It’s also a great time to register people because in our context, people are already thinking that far in advance. They want to know start dates, times, and cost.

Fall kickoff is important for us because that is our surge in attendance and giving. Everyone is back from the vacation and is ready to get back into the swing of things.

Embracing Neighbors & Technology

Charla Wilkerson, director of communications and administration at Fairfax Circle Church in Fairfax, Va.:

Fall kickoff is important because our church lives in such a transient area. Washington, D.C., is full of military and government workers that transfer in and out over the summer and will be looking for a church home. This fall, we are kicking off by launching an app and redesigning our website! I can’t tell you how excited I am about this because in preparation for the big changes, I went through Donald Miller’s book, Building a Storybrand, and am bringing those ideas alongside the new app and website. So for us, fall is all about reaching new people and reaching people with the gospel. We are upping our technology to make it work for us to do so.

This fall, we will also take an adventure into neighboring. Our dream is to better reach our neighborhood, both the church’s neighborhood and our individual neighborhoods. We are focusing our small groups on “The Art of Neighboring.” I’ve also begun a data study of our neighborhood to see who is providing community services and charitable services. We want to combine this with our congregation member’s passion for service. Getting a picture of who is already doing what, along with where God is leading our hearts will help us be more effective servants in our neighborhood.

Busy Season

Kelon Moore, director of communications and technology at Concord Church in Dallas:

Fall is a big deal for us! It’s our busiest season. We focus on connecting families to their next step: July is all about equipping parents; August is all about engaging kids and students with opportunities to grow and serve; and September has a church-wide small groups focus.

Setting the Tone for the Next Year

Rebecca Llenos, communications director at First United Methodist Church Pearland in Pearland, Texas:

We have a special Back to School kickoff with Blessing of Backpacks and separate events for children, middle school, and student ministries. We also have numerous Bible studies that start as well as new sermon series that are geared to our core values or our priorities for the coming 12 months. This fall it will be Growth Groups.

All-Church Picnic

Christy Farrell, director of communications at First Christian Church in Columbus, Ind.:

When school gets back in session we ramp up small groups, Bible studies, and this year we are starting a special sermon series right after Labor Day. For our fall kickoff we have an all-church picnic the Sunday after school starts. It is a big day for staff to build relationships and recruit for different ministry areas.

Creating a Culture of Invitation

Sarah Murry, communications director at Rock Bridge Community Church in Northwest Georgia:

Toward the end of the summer we try to build up “invite culture.” We usually print some special invitations that are either branded with a sermon series or with our general branding, and we encourage everyone to invite people to church. We’ll also make some digital resources for people, like graphics they can use to invite people via text, on Facebook, in an Instagram post or story, etc. I make sure they are the correct dimensions and labeled clearly to make it as easy as possible for people to use them. We also make a huge push for small groups in the fall, usually at the end of August. If people are coming back to church for the first time in a while, we definitely want them to get plugged into a small group so they can continue to learn and grow in their faith.

Fall kickoff is important because it seems like everyone is resetting their rhythms and routines after summer. People from all stages of life get more relaxed with schedules and such during the summer, so the natural tendency in the fall is to try and rein things in to re-establish some consistency as things get busier. If you’re going to add something new to your routine like church attendance/involvement, what better time than the fall when things are re-starting?

Welcome Back, Church Shopping & Programming

Molly Reichard, minister, community engagement at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Edina, Minn.:

Our church has been a fair amount of transition in the past few years from a staff stand-point so our fall activities have varied greatly. We are already planning for this fall now! We believe it’s important for a couple of reasons:

  • It serves as a focused “Welcome Back!” for our members who definitely drift during the summer months. We hold an annual fall welcome back BBQ pig-roast that is very well attended as a social way to gather at the start of the program year. This is held the Wednesday between Labor Day and “Welcome Sunday” which is the Sunday after Labor Day. In addition to social community gathering, it serves as a great way for parishioners to invite friends and family and introduce them to the parish. We also leverage this opportunity to highlight and communicate programs for the fall kickoff.
  • We prepare for fall by August 1 with new or updated welcome materials, etc., as we know that August and early September are some of the biggest church “shopping” times of the year. This is a very key part of our kickoff strategy.
  • Lastly, fall kickoff is important to us as it’s our start to the “program year” at our church. Our program year runs September to May. We certainly do some things in the summer, but most of our programs are on summer break. Often, we are introducing new programs or changes to existing ones and we use the fall kickoff to set the stage for the entire program year. This year in particular, as we are welcoming new family, children and youth ministers to our staff in June, I anticipate we will be doing a lot of work on program year communication artifacts and digital content updates as I believe these programs will be changing significantly.


Do you need help gearing up for your fall kickoff? Check out our Courageous Storytellers resources for fall kickoff. Learn more about becoming a member of Courageous Storytellers.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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