Identifying potential church members and attracting them to your church can be challenging. This is especially true where I live in the Bible belt because selecting a church can be like going through a buffet line: there are a variety of churches to choose from, and people can find just about anything they are looking for.
Church seekers choose which churches to visit in various ways. Some people will find your congregation simply by driving past it. Once they see the physical location, they may look online for your website. Having a presence on the Internet is pretty important these days; and no matter the size of the church, every church should have a website that introduces church seekers to its various ministries.
It is also important to market your church. Create a Facebook page and post on it regularly. When you have a special event, canvass the neighborhood with fliers and promote the event on your church sign if you are able. Some churches use direct mailings, although that can get expensive. On the day of the event, it is important to register those who attend. Registration will provide you with contact information so someone in the church can follow up (you might even offer a door prize or a free gift as an incentive to register). And it is extremely important to follow up. The follow-up doesn’t have to be done by the pastor alone: you can enlist a team of deacons or members to visit or make phone calls. Senior citizens can make calls, even if they are unable to make a physical visit. Another purpose of follow-up is to see if there are needs in the household the church might be able to meet. Meeting needs is a great way to attract new people to your church. You never know what people are dealing with privately, and showing you care will not only demonstrate God’s love, it will leave a positive impression of your church.
The most effective way to find new church members is by word of mouth. When people become excited about what God is doing in their church, they will invite others to come and join in. Ask your members to keep their eyes out for houses being sold and moving trucks being unloaded in the neighborhood. Then meet the new neighbors! These newcomers are prospects for your church.
Also important is the outside appearance of your building and property. If the lawn is overgrown or the building needs repair and paint, potential visitors may just drive on by.
Finally, when you have visitors in your church, make sure they are greeted warmly and made to feel comfortable. I have visited churches before where I wasn’t even acknowledged, and I never returned.
So, promote your church, identify your prospects, follow-up, meet needs, maintain a neat appearance, and accept people when they visit. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:6, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (NKJV). After we have done our part, God will take it from there.
Maleah Bell is a freelance editor and pastor’s wife. She and her husband make their home in Middle Tennessee.