By Jennifer Wise
Many churches are battling declining memberships and being challenged in their ability to have a significant impact. How can your church go on the offensive to defend its significance and connect with an increasingly secular society? Consider strengthening four core areas to overcome stereotypes that might hinder people from coming in your front door.
#1: Strengthen your vision, mission
As leaders, we must consistently make our vision and mission clear — and demonstrate them.
Young families, especially, want to be part of something that’s affecting change or has a cause. Preach your vision and mission often, and be intentional on having a plan of implementation. The Bible tells us that “where there is no vision, the people perish” — and keeping that vision alive and centered in your church will help your congregation feel anchored and invested in a greater mission.
#2: Beef up your social media
While every pastor wants people in the seats, if your church is weak on social media, you’re missing opportunities. It’s a digital age! The stronger your church’s social media presence, the more likely you’ll attract new members. If people like what they see online, the more likely they are to eventually breach the front door.
Also make sure that your website is clear and simple to navigate, and that basic information — location, service times, and community groups — is easy to find.
#3: Engage the community from your doorstep
This step is simple, and there are several ways it can be done. Whether it’s volunteers waving on the street corner before services, greeters stationed at the front door, or having worship music playing outside your facilities, demonstrating excitement outside your front doors not only lifts up your current members, but it also garners the curiosity of passersby. Think outside the box.
Recently, I visited a church in the North Houston area that made a powerful impact by bringing its lobby space outdoors — to the parking lot! The coffee bar, first-time guest booth and gift shop were all brought outside. What an impact!
While that might not work for every church (given weather constraints and the logistics of set-up and tear down), it makes sense to think outside the box about what can be done to catch outsiders’ attention.
#4: Change your carpet!
Your church doesn’t have to rival the Taj Mahal, but you’ve got to make your property appealing.
An investment in your facilities affects people’s mindsets. If they walk into old, tired facilities, they might feel tired and old themselves. On the other hand, if they walk into fresh, clean, newer facilities, they’re impacted in a different, far more positive way.
Remember the last time you walked into a nice home or hotel, and how you felt? Peaceful. Restful. Maybe you felt welcomed or inspired. Think about how you want your guests to feel, and make it a point to create that atmosphere in your church.
It can be overwhelming to think about changing up your church’s normal routine, but strengthening even one of these core values expands your impact in your community and helps breathe new life into your congregation and outreach.
As churches, we have a very limited amount of time to make a first impression. And, we can never fully know how much of an impact that impression will have on our communities. So, take stock of where your church is right now, and strengthen the areas that need it. It’ll help you reach a broader audience in your own corner of the world which God has called you to serve.
Jennifer Wise serves as director of marketing & public relations for Churches by Daniels Construction in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. With an extensive background in accounting and business management, her current role has also earned Wise a wealth of knowledge about effective church design and construction.