Reaching People on the Crowd's Edge

Wondering what I’m talking about when I use the term crowd’s edge? You probably already have most of it, but just in case, here’s my definition.

Crowd’s edge isn’t really a place. It has more to do with the kind of folks you find there. It has to do with their mindset, their struggles and their convictions.

The crowd refers to a segment of the total number of people who consider your church to be their church. They may not come all the time, but if asked where they go to church … they’ll say they go to your church … even if it’s only once or twice a year. And they may not know the name of your church. They may refer to it as “the place we went last Easter” or “the church where we go for Christmas Eve services.”

I actually use “crowd’s edge” to describe the least connected folks in your church. For example, they might technically be members of your church, and you might think of them as being represented by “congregation” on diagram. But as you’ll see below, the least connected members of the congregation share some similarities with the folks in the crowd.

Crowd’s edgers are infrequent attendees, but they’re often one service away, one conversation away, one life event away, from deciding to make attending a more regular event. It may be strange to think of it that way, but it’s the reason so many refer back to an Easter or Christmas Eve service and say “that’s when I really got it.” Or they might refer to a message series that pulled them in (“We didn’t miss a week during the 40 Days of Purpose”).

Mindset, Convictions and Struggles

Their attendance pattern isn’t the main thing you need to know about them, though. In fact, their attendance pattern is just a reflection of their overall mindset. They just don’t see your church as an essential life ingredient. Not to say they won’t eventually. It’s just that right now … things are working out OK just the way they are.

When it comes to convictions, they don’t share yours … yet. They might someday, but for now, they’ve got their own set. For example, they may not see anything out of the ordinary about living together before marriage. In fact, it might seem really odd to them that you see it differently than they do. “Why not make sure it’s going to work before you dive in a really commit?”

You need to have an understanding of their struggles, too. A lot of them are just like yours. They just don’t have the same kind of support you do. And on top of that, their decisions (just like ours) often lead them in a direction that causes despair, loneliness and a lack of purpose.

Their 10 Best Friends Have Never Been to Your Church

While you’re digging into an understanding of their mindset, convictions and struggles, you need to know one more thing. If you interview the most connected people in your church (the usual suspects), you’ll discover that eight, nine or even all 10 of their best friends are also among the most connected people. However, when you interview the folks at crowd’s edge, you’ll discover that eight, nine or even all 10 of their best friends have never been to your church. I talk about this in much more detail right here.  

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Mark Howell
Mark Howell serves as Pastor of Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. He founded, offering consulting and coaching services to help churches across North America launch, build and sustain healthy small group ministries. He spent four years on the consulting staff at Lifetogether and often contributes to ministry periodicals such as the Pastor's Ministry Toolbox and

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