The other day I started thinking about the constraints that we have as churches given today's current economic conditions. With that in mind, I began to brainstorm ways we can continue to improve how we communicate with the people we are trying to reach without spending any money.

Can it be done, even with no budget? Regardless of your church's size, location or community context, you can use the following ideas to engage the people around you, both inside and outside church walls.

1. Improve guest services on Sunday mornings. Stress to your church that Sunday mornings are a time for your hospitality team to focus on guests. Remember that the guest experience starts before they ever come in the door. If your church is large, you need a parking ministry with attendants that make sure guests find parking easy and accessible. Then think through the next phase of the guest experi-ence and make sure you have greeters posted at every exit, as well as clearly marked signs for the worship center/sanctuary, nursery and children's ministries, bathrooms, etc. The No. 1 reason people will come back to your church is if they find the church to be friendly.
2. Follow through with your promises. If someone volunteers to take a next step in a group, serving or attending an event, make sure you have processes in place that easily facilitate effective follow-up. Studies show that churches have only a small window of time (72 hours) for following up with a guest. The longer the time between when they made the commitment and the follow-up correspondence, the less likely they'll follow through on the commitment.
3. Make it easy for people to ask questions. Create a one-stop location, physical or online, where guests can receive more information about your church and its ministries.
4. Create ministry environments that compel people to invite their friends. Excellent preaching and worship music are not enough. Every envi-ron­ment in the church needs to create an opportunity for life change. When that happens, you won't be able to stop folks from inviting their friends. At the next staff meeting, make a list of environments your church creates on the weekends and during the week, then together evaluate the list, asking, "Does, for example, our pre-K Sunday school foster opportunities for life change?" When the answer is "no," consider eliminating or dramatically changing those areas.
5. Embrace social media. Facebook, Twitter and blogs offer an easy way to engage people in con­versation and develop relationships. As relationships are developed, you'll earn the credibility to encourage people to take next steps. For more on using Twitter in your church, see page 60.
6. Be different. Begin an unexpected sermon series, offer a unique worship experience or do something (good) that gets people talk-ing. Some churches I've worked with have finished an evangelistic message series by canceling church that weekend to go out and serve the community.
7. Make your church an active part of the community. Open your building/campus to the community. Can you video Friday night high school football games and open your church for "Fifth Quarter" where students can watch the game and get pizza for $1 a slice? Can you plant a community garden? Look for the needs in your area and find creative ways to meet them.
8. Eliminate the noise. Prioritize what needs to be communicated and eliminate competing mes­sages. The fewer messages we deliver, the more likely the important messages will be heard.
9. Encourage word-of-mouth marketing. Research shows that the No. 1 reason people will show up to your church for the very first time is because someone invites them. If your attendance has stopped grow­ing, your very first question should be this: Why have people stopped inviting their friends and what would have to happen for that to change?
10. Lead by example. Although leading a church can become all-encompassing, find a way to cultivate personal relationships with non-believers. Like it or not, people model their leaders. Are you living a life worth imitating?

Tony Morgan is a strategist, coach, speaker and consultant who works with a diverse spectrum of churches nationwide. This article was adapted from the 2011 e-book Outspoken: Conversations on Church Communication (OutspokenBook.com).

Ministry Today Subscription Special - Subscribe to Ministry Today magazine today and get 12 issues (2 full years) plus Amplified Leadership, a free leadership book for only $24.

Order Life in the Spirit to actively grow your ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. Your congregation will stay saturated in God's Word, learn to hear His voice, understand their purpose and calling and move into an active role in your ministry.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
  • Jentezen Franklin encourages church leaders to encourage their flocks to vote their values.

    Why We Must Count the Cost—and Vote

    There is a propaganda war that is raging in this country, and it is full of manipulation, lies, ...

  • Have you ever had a cringe moment during your church announcements?

    The 7 Deadly Sins of Church Announcements

    Sometimes they just miss the mark, albeit unintentionally.

  • Peace is indeed attainable in this selfish world. Just look for it in the right place.

    Finding Peace in a Fallen and Selfish World

    You can have peace in this world. Just stop looking in the wrong places.

  • Praying for leaders

    Failing to Do This Can Spell Disaster for the Church

    And it has the potential to destroy many lives.

  • Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Start a Wildfire of Spiritual Growth in Your Church

    Watch how God can take one spark and turn it into a wildfire that impacts your ministry, your community and even future generations.

  • Why did you choose the church you attend?

    7 Key Reasons People Choose a Church

    The real issue is not the intrigue of this research; it is what you and your church will do about ...

  • Some of these reasons for leaving the church are simply not plausible.

    7 Reasons People Leave Their Church During Crisis Times

    Some of the excuses are pretty extreme and, quite frankly, lazy.

  • Prestonwood Church in Dallas

    What Leaders Can Learn From Prestonwood's Jack Graham

    Leaders don't have to know everything, but they need to give their staff what Graham gives his.

  • Many of these issues are self-inflicted.

    10 Poisons That Will Kill Any Church

    Here is why the churches that die from them do so by their own hand.

Use Desktop Layout
Ministry Today Magazine — Serving and empowering church leaders