I just finished a consulting assignment with a small Presbyterian Church. One of the interesting things discovered in the consulting process was that the church kept an average of 15% of its first-time guests. Actually this is just barely below the national average of 16%.
Further research found that this church only attracted about two guests each month. With an average of 24 visitors per year and a 15% retention rate, the church is able to add only four new people a year!
This church illustrates a common pattern among churches. It does a fairly good job of keeping people once they come but just doesn’t attract enough guests to see much growth.
If this church could only attract one guest per week, it would add eight new people each year. If it could attract two per week, it would add 16 people per year.
Preparing for Guests
When you know that guests will be coming to your home for a visit, you spend time cleaning the house, fixing a meal, and generally making the atmosphere as delightful as possible. In a similar way, before you even begin to ask guests to your church, do some house cleaning.
1. Develop your church’s concern.
Is your church good at welcoming new people? It not, then it is doubtful if many new people will be attracted to your church.
Looking for a doctor? Need a home loan? Buying a new car? Selecting a college?Where do you go for advice? Do you look in the paper? Watch T.V? Or, “Let your fingers do the walking?”
If you are like most people, you ask a family member, associate or friend. Advertisers call this “Word of Mouth.” It is the most effective way of advertising any product — even a church!
Word of mouth advertising is referred to in Scripture as a story, a report, a tiding, a reputation and a rumor. Rumors are characterized as either good-speaking or evilspeaking (2 Cor. 6:8). Believers are encouraged to think and spread good rumors (Phil. 4:8).
The ministry of Jesus was predominantly communicated by word of mouth. After raising a dead man, Luke records that “…this report (rumor, story) concerning Him went out all over Judea, and in all the surrounding district.” (Luke 7:17)
A classic example of word of mouth advertising is found in 1 Thessalonians 1:8. Writing about the church in Thessalonica, Paul says, “For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth …”
People were telling how the Thessalonians had turned from idols to serve a living and true God. They were spreading the story by word of mouth. It was so effective that Paul confesses “…we have no need to say anything.”
I was visiting a church in Indiana. As I walked into the church lobby, the person who was walking with me commented, “You’ll like our church. It’s a very friendly place.” Once inside the building, we were immediately met by a man carrying an arm full of papers. Introductions were polite and we shook hands. However, it was what followed that surprised me. Upon completing our handshake, the man turned to my friend and began to talk about some church business which, in truth, should not have been discussed in my presence. As they talked, the man moved nervously back-n-forth on his feet gradually changing his position so that his back was actually pointed toward me. I remember thinking to myself, “Hey! I’m the guest here. Quit ignoring me!” But, I did not say anything to him. Once he was done discussing his bit of church business, he seemed to catch a glimpse of me out of the side of his eye. In an embarrassed and hasty attempt to make me feel welcome, he said, “It was nice to meet you. You’ll like our church. It’s a very friendly place.”
Encounters of the Right Kind
When a person talks to a member of your church, or calls on the telephone, or receives a brochure in the mail, or drives into your parking lot, or whatever, it is a moment of truth.
There is an old saying that you never have a second chance to make a first impression. How do you say hell-o to your first-timers? One effective way is to provide a well done First Impression Piece.
An effective church advertising strategy should be balanced among the five areas of Word of Mouth, an In-house Communications Piece, a First Impression Piece, Newspaper Advertising and Direct Mail.
A First Impression Piece is a brochure that is given to new people as a way to briefly inform them about your church.
Before Your Write A Word
Before you contact a graphic artist or even write a word of copy for your brochure, write out answers to the following questions.