Over the past couple of years, I’ve had the privilege of planting another church. In April 2011, our church-planting team and a core group of believers launched Grace Church outside of Nashville.
The methods of planting may have changed, but the motivation has stayed the same.
Needless to say, I love church planting. Yet church planting is different today than it was 25 years ago when I planted my first church in Buffalo, N.Y. We started that first church plant in Buffalo just going door to door. In other churches, we used direct mail, telemarketing campaigns and just about any other way to get the word out.
What does your church do for people? Probably more than you’ve thought. Every Monday, scores of pastors are ready to walk away from ministry. It’s easy for us to forget how incredibly helpful the local church is in shaping and benefitting people’s lives. Let me encourage you about this for the next five minutes.
Last week I heard from a couple whose trajectory was completely changed by what they learned in New Song’s Financial Peace class. Today they have less debt, less tension, more hope, more discipline and more skills to apply to so many areas of their lives. I walked away thinking, “We have hundreds of families who are out of debt or on their way. Offering Financial Peace may be the greatest favor our church has ever done for people.”
If you ask most churches, they are genuinely seeking how to reach their community. Identifying your target visitor through building a community persona is the first step.
Next, you need to figure out how to reach those you have identified and meet their needs.
One important way to achieve this is through generational marketing. Each audience is shaped by different life experiences, traditions and values and should be communicated to using the appropriate and effective channels.
Building an ideal customer profile is a common business practice whose goal is to identify the type or types of people the business caters to. This involves identifying needs, wants, pain points and more. This type of study into the minds of customers helps businesses market more effectively and offer products and services that really meet the needs people have.
So, how does this relate to your church?
Quite simply, if you can learn to identify those you serve best in the community, you will better understand how to attract them to your church and meet their needs.
For many people in your community, Easter is the only day of the year they’ll show up at church. It’s a great opportunity to reach out to those who don’t think about church the other 364 days of the year.
You’ll want to reach out to your visitors and thank them for coming. Depending upon the size and culture of your church, you may make a personal visit, call them or write them a letter (whether through the mail or via e-mail)—or very possibly do all three.
In fact, if you visit them or call them, sending them a follow-up letter is an appropriate next step. It’ll allow you to give them some more details about your church and guard against the possibility that you’ll forget something important.
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: