At the same time, we’re coming to grips with the fact that fewer and fewer people are attending church. Even regular members show up more infrequently than in years gone by.
The same group of people, attending less often, is not a recipe for growth. For a church to grow and thrive, it has to reach brand new people.
Even though many churches share in this desire, few actually do it.
If your church is serious about reaching new guests, particularly those who are not attending any other church, here are five things to consider to reach people.
#1 – Set a goal.
Whenever we ask pastors how many new volunteers they need, how much money they need to raise for ministry, or how many guests they want to reach, the answer is usually the same.
And that’s a great sentiment.
But more is not a number. It’s a moving target that can never be reached.
If you want to reach new guests this year, start by prayerfully setting a specific goal.
Talk about the priority of reaching new people, the Great Commission and the mission of your church, and then make it a goal to reach a specific number of new people.
The number 100 isn’t a magic one. In fact, the number 100 may not be for you. What’s important is that you set a specific, measurable and attainable first-time guest goal.
What should it be?
That’s a matter for prayer and discussion among your leaders.
But Nelson Searcy says if you want your church to be in rapid growth mode, you should target seven weekly guests for every 100 people in attendance.
Look at your current numbers, consider your situation and set a goal.
#2 – Decide to do it.
The biggest thing holding many churches back isn’t a lack of space, an outdated facility, a poor website or a faltering program.
It’s a mindset.
Some churches have a stuck mindset, falling back to the way things are because embracing change appears too difficult.
Some churches have an insider mindset, choosing to continue programs that benefit long-time members but ignoring the needs of changing communities.
Some churches want to reach people, but in reality, their mindset isn’t ready just yet.
If your church is going to reach unchurched people, it’s going to require the right mindset.
And this is hard.
You can’t lead your church to reach the unchurched with a vision meeting or a passionate sermon.
Your goals have to become your priorities, and these are two different things.
You can set any goal you want, but if the goal doesn’t become a priority, nothing is going to change.
A goal is great, but a priority is better.
#3 – Plan your follow up in advance.
What happens when a guest visits?
Is it intentional or accidental?
And is it effective?
Head to a whiteboard or open up some flowchart process and design an experience. Your process might include some of the following steps.
- An immediate text message. A service like Text in Church would help.
- A phone call or voicemail. A church in Charlotte, N.C., uses SlyDial to leave a voicemail for a guest. The person’s phone never rings but a voicemail is waiting for them when they get to the parking lot.
- An automated email sequence. You could use your database program or a tool like MailChimp to send three to five emails spread over a month to new guests. The content of these emails can be tailored to new people and answer the most common questions.
- A hand-written thank you note. In the digital age, this might feel antiquated, but it’s one of the most personal and often the most effective follow-up strategies.
Here is an example of a documented follow-up process (the original, editable file along with step-by-step coaching and sample email content is available instantly to Church Fuel One members).
Even if you don’t have many guests, I recommend working hard on your follow-up process. The act of intentionally planning will help solidify your priorities and create a healthy expectation.