Do you have an upcoming special event or program? Are you getting ready to launch groups, recruit volunteers, or ask people to give online? Is there something on the calendar where it would be better if more people signed up?

Here are three insanely practical ideas to increase the sign up rate of anything that’s happening at your church.

#1 – Make it easy for people to sign up.

So many times, our systems and processes make it easier on us (as staff). But in reality, we should make it easier for our people.

  • Why can’t people sign up for something by text right during the service?
  • Why can’t they sign up online instead of at a table with a long line?
  • Why do people have to fill out their complete address or give their birthday or answer additional questions?
  • Why can’t someone give online without setting up an entire account?

Most of these situations require a little bit of work after the fact. But we should embrace the work because it makes it easier on the person taking a step.

In our quest to automate and improve everything, we miss out on the simple fact that if we want more people to do something, we need to make it simpler for them to do it. Look at your sign up process and remove any unnecessary steps. Make signing up for something as easy as possible, even if it creates more work for you on the backside.

#2 – Communicate multiple deadlines.

There’s no sense of urgency for things you can always do. If it’s always there people think, “I’ll do that later.” Many times, they never get around to it. This is why sales work. “I gotta buy these shoes now because they are 40% off today only…tomorrow they are going to cost more.” That’s the power of deadlines.

Whether you’re launching groups or asking parents to send their teenagers to youth camp, make sure you set and communicate clear deadlines.

  • Set an early bird deadline. Email links to your members before you announce it to the public. If there’s a cost associated with the event, give people a small discount for signing up first. When you’re communicating, say things like “registration opens next week.”
  • Give a “Last Chance”deadline. Just like an early bird deadline will reach your early-adopters, a last chance deadline can motivate people on the fence to take action. “Today is the last day to sign up,” is very powerful. One word of caution: When you set deadlines, stick to deadlines. Extending deadlines because not enough people signed up just reinforces to the congregation that your deadlines are arbitrary.
  • Consider a sign-up incentive. If you need to recruit 25 volunteers for Vacation Bible School or 100 people for a workday, consider offering a simple gift for the first people who sign up. It’s not a deadline, but these type of sign up bonuses really work.

#3 – Make it personal.

When we talk about events, small groups or volunteering, most of the time the focus is on us.  Instead, shift the focus of your communication and make it about THEM.

It’s the difference between everybody saying things like “This mp3 player has 1 Gigabyte of storage” and Steve Jobs saying the iPod is “1,000 songs in your pocket.”  The first sentence is all about the product; the second metaphor puts the focus on the user. Leo McGinneva famously said people don’t want quarter inch drill bits…they want quarter inch holes.

When you’re talking about programs, events, small groups, volunteering, giving or just about anything else in church, step into people’s world and tailor your communication to their lives.

You’re not just asking for volunteers…you’re giving people an opportunity to do what God created them to do. You’re not just promoting youth camp, you’re talking about an environment where teenagers can make Christian friends. You’re not just asking people to get into a group, you’re asking people to go through life together.

Don't let “your reward is in heaven” become an excuse not to make something meaningful for people here on earth.

Look at your language and see if it’s about your church or about the people. This subtle shift in communication can have powerful results.