What people experience in your church has the power to propel them toward Christ or push them away. What we do matters, and doing it well is essential. From your website to the parking lot signage, more than likely your first-time guests have gotten an earful before they’ve even heard the first word of your sermon.
Here are a few time-tested proven how-tos for engaging your community:
1. Know whom God has called your church to reach. In marketing, we call this our target audience. Companies spend millions of dollars researching the behavior and needs of their target audience. Everything is built around them: the product, the price, the promotion and the distribution.
Become great at knowing whom God has uniquely equipped and anointed you to reach. This information will help guide you and your team as you develop effective ministries and communications that reflect your heart and vision.
While on Earth, Jesus had a target audience: the Jewish community. Paul had one, too: the Gentiles. If you’re not sure who your target is, look at your circle of influence and see whom you attract naturally. At first glance, you might think you reach all types of people but take the time to find the common denominators.
When defining your God-ordained target audience, be specific. Are they married or single? Are they aged 18-25 or 35-45? Churched, unchurched or non-believers? Do they have kids, and if so how old? Defining your target forces you to ask the question, “Are we effectively engaging the people God has called us to reach?”
2. Provide a great experience. Let’s say God has called you to reach young families. How can you provide them a great experience when they just had to get two children under the age of 3 ready, in the car and through your doors by 9 a.m.?
- Save them a spot. Have reserved parking closer to your building for young families and pregnant moms.
- Have friendly and knowledgeable volunteers waiting to help escort families to the kid’s area, answering their questions along the way.
- Let the new mom (who is about to hand over her pride and joy to complete strangers) know that you care about what she cares about. Post signage about wellness policies, use of non-toxic cleaners and healthy snacks.
Use every opportunity to communicate value and care to the people God has called you to reach. People are your most effective communication channels.
3. Join the conversation. Today’s culture loves to share their experience. They tweet where they’re going to eat, “check in” on Facebook, instagram their meal and then write a review about the restaurant on Yelp.
One of the top referrers to our website is Yelp.com. Users rate their experience (1-5 stars) and write a review. People now review churches like they do restaurants. The brutally honest reviews provide opportunities to improve.
Good or bad, people will share their experience. Make every effort to join in the conversation. If reviews of your church say it was hard to find your building, respond and improve your signage. If someone tweets it is their first time at your church, offer to meet them in the lobby.
Having a Twitter account or Facebook page is not the key to effective communications. However, it is a great way to connect with people, engage your community and let them know you’re listening.