If the people in your community don’t know that your church exists, they won’t ever join your church.
If nobody in your city is aware of your church’s services or Sunday gatherings, you’ve lost a chance to connect those people to your discipleship process. A frequently overlooked step in connecting with a community is simply building baseline awareness of a church in that broader community. The first step in connecting with new guests at your church is making them aware of your church in the first place.
When was the last time your church reached out to the community to make your presence known?
How are you actively ensuring that people in your town know about your church and the services you offer?
Here are five categories that outline different ways you can build community awareness of your church. (Granted, I know that some of these things cost money, but I presume you either have budget money allocated or could reallocate resources toward this area.) We’re passionate about reaching people in our communities because the local church is the only organization in the world that doesn’t exist for its own people. We exist for people outside our walls, and reaching out to them starts with them knowing us.
Getting your people out of their seats and into the streets is the most effective way to build community awareness. In my book Church Growth Flywheel, there is a whole chapter dedicated to leveraging community outreach for church growth.
Good old-fashioned community service is great, not only for building your community’s awareness of your church but also for paving a path toward trust. The reality is that people drive by our churches and aren’t always sure what goes on inside. Rather than waiting for people to come in, what if we motivated our people to go outside our walls and make a difference? You’d be amazed at the doors that this will open as your church is seen and perceived as an active participant in the community. Here are a few examples of some community outreach events you could run:
- Community clean-up day // Contact your local parks and rec department and ask them if people from your church could clean up the park next spring. Get everyone a volunteer t-shirt and have some fun in the outdoors!
- Free market // As opposed to flea markets where people try to sell their junky stuff, a free market is where we bring our best stuff and give it away to people in need. Work with local community service organizations to spread the word to families in need who live in your town.
- Winter carnival for families with special needs // You’re already planning fun Christmas activities, so why not turn those activities into something special for the children with special needs in your community? Again, partnering with local organizations that can provide resources and information on what families in your area require will be a big help when organizing these types of events.
If all your church has is a single small sign at the road indicating you exist, you are missing an opportunity to create awareness with some temporary signage you can put up on Sundays. The truth is that people drive by and are unaware of what’s happening inside your building—even on Sunday mornings! What if you invested some time and a few resources in signage for the outside of your church so that people could know what’s happening inside? Here are some examples of signage you could add:
- Flags on the corners of your property // Giant tear-drop flags are always fun in the wind, and you’d be surprised how economical they are. If you placed one at each entrance to your parking lot and a few along the most visible part of your property, they will draw attention and make your facility pop!
- A-frame signs // Some A-frame signs are a quick and easy way to build visual awareness. These are great to place at the entrance to your property to invite people to come on in!
- Pop signs // You’ve seen folks holding small 2×2 signs at events as you enter that say things like, “We’re glad you’re here,” and, “You’re looking good today.” Those are a fun way to add both people and fun messages out on the street.
- Police presence // Finally, you could pay your local police department to direct traffic at the entrance to your church parking lot. This is not only a service to your community, but it also helps draw awareness to the church. (I know this isn’t really a “sign,” but it serves a similar purpose.)