Just ask Google about “boosting church attendance” and you’ll find thousands of articles on the topic. It’s one of the most common questions from church leaders, especially for churches in the early stages of growth.
As a pastor or elder, you know churches only draw people through their doors time and time again when the truth is preached and when love is put into action. But what if the people you’re trying to reach don’t even know your church exists? How can you encourage visitors to attend for the first time, but also come back and connect again?
Here are eight small but powerful ways you and your leadership team can start boosting church attendance from week to week:
1. Get Active on Social Media
First things first: your church needs an official Facebook page. Facebook has become an information hub. It’s where your current members go to share clips from the latest sermon or talk about the upcoming Vacation Bible School. It’s only right that your church provides digital real estate on this platform, giving them a page to link to. List your service times and your address and share regular updates on what’s going on in the life of your church community. An active social media presence helps your church establish an identity and reach local people who otherwise may not even know about your church.
2. Hand Out Invite Cards
Give your excited members something to hand out – purchase invitation cards with your church’s address and service times. A small stack of postcards is easy to carry around and keep in a purse or vehicle. When your congregation wants to tell a friend about the weekend service, it’s not just “word of mouth” – they have something to hand them too!
3. Stop Inviting and Start Helping
You can keep inviting people from the community to church, but what are you doing. Stop talking and start serving. When you show a helpful, servant’s spirit, whether by raking lawns for free or cleaning up the local park, you’re showing you care. If someone isn’t sure about attending church, seeing your congregation’s service-oriented attitude could make a difference in their outlook.
4. Celebrate, Don’t Intimidate, Your Guests
Make sure you greet every person who walks through your church’s doors, every Sunday, without fail. But don’t make all of the first-time guests stand up and introduce themselves in a crowd. Maybe it’s been many years since your first visit to a new church, or your first time in a church at all, but think about how they feel. They’re probably already nervous. Make them feel welcome, but don’t take it over the top.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Dive Deep
Now that you have a healthy crowd coming on Sundays, what can you do to retain your attendees? Don’t get caught up in “putting on a show.” Church isn’t about entertainment, it’s about feeding the flock. And too often, messages are watered down because the pastor feels pressure to entertain, not educate.
It’s okay to vary the pattern and method of your message, whether through song, video or visuals, but whatever you do, dig deep into the topic God is leading you to share. Split your sermon up into a series so you’re not pressed for time.
6. Share the Plan
Try to plan sermon topics at least one week ahead. This gives you the opportunity to wrap up your message with a preview of what you’ll talk about next week. Ask the congregation questions, or list them in a hand-out. Give them homework to complete by the next service. Get them thinking about an issue so they look forward to the next message (and come!).
7. Start Talking About Their Next Step
When church attendees are engaged, they come every week. It’s that simple. Make sure every person who attends your church is prompted to take the next step and get involved in a ministry or join a small group.
8. Expect Action
This might seem obvious, but have you asked your church members if they’re coming next week? Make it a point to honestly invite them to continue sharing the journey of life with you and the church family. When they don’t come, check up on them! Make sure they’re healthy. Ask about their family. Ask if they’ve had the chance to invite anyone to church recently. When you not only expect your church members to be there, but you expect them to actively invite others to come too, you’re setting the bar high and leading with intention.
You’re not working on boosting church attendance for the sake of numbers – you want more people in seats so more souls can be won for Christ. Ask God if these eight small changes could help you and your congregation spread light and life in your community!