Even though we don’t like to admit it, numbers and analytics are an important part of a church leader’s life. We all want to reach more people with the love of Jesus, see the Kingdom of God built, and welcome them into the fold of our weekly worship services. However, adding people to our attendance rolls isn’t as easy as it would seem. It takes careful planning, strategy, and personnel who are enthusiastic and committed.
In addition to strategic planning, however, a key part of any church growth plan is putting people first. People will be drawn to your congregation when they know they will be seen, heard, and understood. When people feel valued, they will attend your church, get involved, and stay for the long haul.
Here are four relationship-centered church growth strategies to help you grow your attendance right now.
Encourage people to bring their friends: It’s a strategy as old as Sunday School itself: ask people to invite their friends to church! Everyone has relationships in their lives. Friends, family members, acquaintances, and colleagues. Encourage people who are already sitting in the seats to invite others to come to church, attend special programs, or check out a potluck or a summer picnic. Give your members creative ways to invite others and create welcoming environments for guests to make them want to return again and again. Make everyone feel like part of the family.
Build relationships in the community: As a part of your local ministry, outreach to people in the community is a natural strategy for church growth. However, to aid in this strategy, it makes great sense to develop relationships with community leaders and community organizations known in local areas. Police departments, park councils, school boards, and women’s shelters are great places to start. They see the community’s needs and will know what ministries will be most meaningful to local people. When they are ready, people can be lovingly enfolded into the congregation.
Meet people where they are: People have many needs. Some are financial, some emotional, many spiritual. The Church makes it its mission to meet the needs of its people. However, as church leaders, we can also open the doors to the community and meet the needs of people who are not yet in our doors. We can be the hands and feet of Jesus to people who are hurting. We build genuine relationships with these people as we come alongside them in their time of need. While we always help with no ulterior motives, it is natural that many of those people will want to become a member of our community of Jesus followers. They will want to come worship with us on Sunday mornings. Reach out to those in need, meet them where they are at, and the church will grow organically.
Open the Doors to a New Community. Most churches draw people from a certain geographic area. Church leaders plot the church at a point on a map, draw a circle around it, and target the population within that circle. When seeking to grow attendance, why not choose a new neighborhood or community adjacent to that circle and reach out to the people in that area? Start building relationships with them by going door-to-door and introducing yourselves as church leaders. Invite them for special holiday celebrations that are non-threatening for them to attend. Make them feel welcome and assign church members to get to know new guests personally. Eventually, some of those people will begin attending weekly worship services, get involved as volunteers, and join another program that appeals to their life stage. Involve them in small groups and make sure relationships with newcomers remain a priority.
Church growth does not have to be simply about numbers and analytics. Growing attendance is essential but also must be based on relationships. Get to know visitors and new members deeply, and they will become enthusiastic attendees who hang around long into the future.
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