Every large church faces the challenge of cultivating lasting relationships from the success of its outreach efforts. Social media, church events, and community programs can all bring new people into your church, but how do you connect with them so they return? Let’s discuss what you can do to connect and grow your church.
You know most visitors to your church have already done some research on you. Whether talking with friends or neighbors, attending one of your events, or searching your church’s online presence (website and social media). With this in mind, make sure you’ve taken steps to evaluate all points of contact someone may have with your church. Make sure you are inviting people into your community and not just communicating with your existing members. Make it easy for someone to visit your church with maps, directions, times, and other important information.
Once you’ve reviewed all the ways people may find out about your church, let’s look at connecting with them once they come through your doors. Make a great impression. It’s important! From your parking crew to your greeters, be sure they are engaging. It may seem obvious that you want friendly, outgoing folks who can talk to anyone and make them comfortable. But these same folks also like to speak with each other and thus miss the new faces going by. So be sure they know the importance of their initial welcomes and first impressions.
Once someone has started attending your church, the challenge begins. If your church doesn’t have pathways implemented for new members, it’s time to put a plan together. You want new members to get involved right away. Let them know the programs offered – child care, parent programs, financial mentoring, marriage enrichment, divorce support, young adult groups, etc. Find out their passions and encourage them to start volunteering. My church has a monthly event for new members where we introduce all the programs. It’s too easy to get lost in the crowd on a Sunday when thousands attend your worship service.
Small groups are another crucial way to connect with new members. We know the authority of Scripture comes from God. It’s the basis of all your church groups and discipleship efforts. We also know that growing disciples solely based on participating in a praise and worship service can be challenging. So small group programs, based on the Word of God, allow members to grow in their faith while supporting and connecting with other members. Studying scripture in these groups also unifies and motivates members to carry out the church’s mission. Shepherding and guiding them in small groups allows you to follow their faith journey. It also provides a more intimate opportunity to discuss the Word of God, ask questions, and gain a deeper understanding. Groups also create bonds of friendship. These connections are the foundation of growth for your church.
Participation in small groups has seen a decline in recent years. The reasons vary from person to person, but as mentioned above, connecting within your church community is essential for growth and within one’s own faith. So, what are some ways to increase small group participation within your church?
- Have people share testimonials of the work God is doing in your groups.
- Have your Pastor do a sermon on the value of small groups.
- Be sure your leadership is mentioning small groups at every opportunity.
- Offer varied meeting times and locations to ensure convenience.
- Have a special “bring a friend” meeting in your group.
- For convenience, offer groups for different family members at the same time.
- Offer a variety of small groups so individuals can find the perfect fit.
- Stage of life
Cultivating small groups within your church is crucial for your ministry and mission. By connecting with new and existing members, you’re strengthening your entire congregation. And you’re ensuring a deeper relationship with God.
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