3 Ideas to Get More New People Coming to Your Church

Posted by Aaron Buer on May 2, 2019

It’s no secret that many churches in America are declining.

The research confirms what many of us are experiencing.

Perhaps you’re watching attendance numbers plateau or dwindle, struggling to come up with solutions.

So, let’s talk.

How do we get more people coming?

I’m not sure I have answers, but I do have a few ideas.

1. Understand Where People Visit

Let me throw a scenario at you.

Let’s say your traveling—maybe to a conference or a vacation.

You’re in a neighboring state and twenty miles from a city you’re not very familiar with.

You’re hungry and you’re a big fan of good food!

You’re not interested in standard fast food.

You want something memorable.

What do you do?

My guess is that you do what I do, you pull out your phone (hopefully you’re not driving right now!) and you do a search, “Best restaurants near me” or something like that.

Here’s my point: This is essentially what people do when looking for a new church.

It’s incredibly rare for a person or a family to just show up at a new church on Sunday morning.

They first visit your church online.

It could be that you have far more visitors than you are aware of.

You just aren’t seeing them because they are visiting your website.

So, how is your online guest experience? When it comes to attracting guests, your website could be one of the smartest places to invest resources.

If your online experience isn’t clear and compelling, you’re not likely to see many guests in your church building on Sunday morning.

This isn’t really the post to give all the details of a great website, but I will share one idea that I really like.

If you want to provide a great and helpful online experience for your guests, consider adding a “Plan Your Visit” page.

Imagine if guests could fill out a quick survey on your website and then a member of your hospitality team met them at the door of your church to make sure they have a top-notch experience.

I’m just saying. That person or family would probably return to your church.

2. Get Ready

Here’s something I’m not a big fan of.

I invite people over for dinner. They ask,

“What time should we show up.”

I say,

“6:00. See you then.”

And then they show up at 5:30.

Not cool!

Why?

My house is not ready!

There are toys everywhere, I’m still trying to vacuum.

The kitchen is a disaster!

I hate this scenario because I want a guest’s experience at my home to be warm and inviting and a huge part of the experience is the environment and I WASN’T READY!

And so, I make them wait on the front porch for 30 minutes.

But, for real, are you ready for guests on Sunday morning?

How’s your parking?

Signage?

Welcome at the door?

How’s your building?

Is it clean and organized?

Are there ushers helping people find seats?

Are all these elements ready to go twenty minutes before your service time?

Here’s a suggestion: Hire a few secret shoppers.

Sometimes, I look at certain demographics that we aren’t doing great with—millennials and Gen Z for example and recruit a bunch of them who don’t go to our church and give them a gift card in exchange for feedback on their experience in visiting our church.

I’m telling you, if you’re willing to do this, you will identify the gaps in your hospitality experience.

It can be painful but also very helpful.

3. Make It Easy and Compelling To Invite

Now, it’s really important that we are ready for guests who are previously unconnected with our church.

However, let’s be honest, most of the new people who show up on a Sunday morning are already connected to our church through someone who attends our church.

Most guests are invited.

I don’t know about you, but I’m WAY more likely to visit an event or a place I’ve never been if I’m with someone who is already familiar.

Truly, the best way to get more new people coming to your church is through the people who are already coming to your church.

Two strategies that we employ here that might be helpful.

The first is to regularly challenge your people to invite their friends, family members and co-workers.

We usually do this around a specific series.

For example, our next series is called Work, It Matters.

And, in the few weeks leading up to a new series, we almost always challenge our people to ask the question, “Who needs to be here for this?”

So, the first strategy is to regularly provide easy and compelling ways for your people to invite others, this usually happens through our teaching series.

The second strategy is more about how to invite.

We regularly use a phrase, “Meet me there.”

Visiting a new church is very intimidating.

You don’t know where to go, how to act, what to wear, etc.

It’s kind of the worst.

Going with someone who knows all the unstated expectations can greatly reduce the anxiety of visiting.

And so, we train our people to invite with the phrase, “Meet me there.”

It’s like providing a built-in hospitality guide.

I’m telling you, it works.

Give it a shot.

Wrap Up

Many churches in America are declining in attendance.

One of the reasons for this is that our guest experience is often not the greatest.

Hopefully, these three ideas spark a conversation with your staff.

We’d love to hear your ideas on this topic as well in the comments below. Thanks for reading.

Topics: Advice

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