“Growing churches focus on reaching receptive people. Non-growing churches focus on re-enlisting inactive people.” – Rick Warren
The central goal of the local church is to reach people with the Gospel message. You want to prevent a decline in church attendance and you want to get your current members motivated and involved, but as Rick Warren says: God calls pastors to catch fish and feed sheep, not corral goats!
Is it time to rethink your church growth strategies? Here are eight effective methods to sharpen your church’s focus:
1. Create a Mission Statement and Build Around It
Does your church have a clear mission statement? Outline what your church is all about with one or two clear sentences. Make sure it reflects the church’s vision and missional focus. This creates a common goal for everyone and helps church leadership prioritize ministries. Add programs that clearly contribute to the church’s central objective and ignore the temptation to spend time and energy on efforts that take away attention from the target.
2. Develop a Website and Social Media Presence
Your church needs to be digitally present. In 2012, 33 percent of people said they first learned about their church online. 46 percent reported their church’s website was an important factor in choosing a church to visit.
Social media is another important vehicle for spreading information about your church. 71 percent of all online adults have a Facebook profile. By nature, a church is a social organization, so you need a social presence!
3. Set Up a Fun, Inviting Children’s Program
If the kids were bored and bothered, they’re going to resist when parents suggest returning to church. If kids are enlivened and engaged, they may be the ones dragging the parents back next Sunday!
Don’t underestimate the importance of your children’s outreach program. Spend the necessary time, energy and resources into raising up a committed younger generation of excited believers. It’s a worthwhile investment.
4. Don’t Live at Church
If the goal of church is to reach the unchurched, why are you at church every night of the week? It’s time to live life in your local community. Sign up for a recreational sports time. Go out for dinner with your team at the office. Building relationships outside of church is the first step towards bringing your new friends with you next Sunday.
5. Research Your Target Demographic
Is there a college in your town? Is there a military base close by? It’s important to have an in-depth knowledge of your local community. This can help guide your goals for church growth and inspire new opportunities for service and ministry.
6. Form a Creative Team
Who are the creative thinkers on your church staff? Who has a heart for outreach and a mission-focused mind? Put together a church growth team and include people from your community’s majority demographic. It’s always better to have more than one perspective. Encourage your trusted team members to bring forth ministry ideas for both new visitors and long-time members.
7. Offer Volunteer Opportunities Right Away
People want to help – they just don’t know where to start. Don’t treat newcomers with kid gloves. Make sure everyone attending church knows where the needs are and knows what steps to take to get involved. When people are able to join in with the mission right away, they’ll be more connected to the church community sooner.
8. Make Caring Relationships the Priority
If a newcomer attends church because they were invited, it’s the relationships they form within the church that will keep them actively engaged. At your church, it’s not just all about the mission. It’s about pursuing the mission together. Everyone needs support. Everyone needs a community. Make healthy relationships the ultimate priority and church growth will flow naturally.
If you’re looking for resources to disciple church members and reach out to your local community, we can help. Visit our website today for devotionals, brochures and more.