From the beginning, church leaders and members of every congregation have worried about church attendance. Without members, the church cannot sustain itself. So we ask questions like “How do I attract new members to my church?” and “How do I make them feel at home in our congregation?”
One of the first steps after becoming a pastor is creating a loving atmosphere where all are welcome. It’s not something anyone can easily learn, but there are some steps you can take to get started. Once you’ve gotten your new members in the door, it’s about keeping them there with Christ’s love and your own.
Learn how to manage your church’s online presence, give your church a welcoming atmosphere, become involved in the community, and more.
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Establish a Welcoming Presence Online
How easy is it for people to find your church community online? How about on social media platforms like Facebook and YouTube? Is your advertising getting to the people who most need to see it?
There are lots of ways to do this, but most of them come down to optimizing your website and web presence for traffic, enjoyability, and the opportunity to create a real, living connection. The welcome starts well before anyone walks through your sanctuary’s front doors. Make sure your site has at least the following:
- An address with directions, from multiple areas if necessary, and parking instructions
- Service times with descriptions of the various services and what makes them unique
- Childcare information
- A simple “What To Expect” of a typical service or week in the life of your church.
Create a Welcoming Environment
Get the whole congregation involved in creating a welcoming environment in everything you do. That means preparing for visitors with info packets and videos, making an active declaration that you’re looking for new members, establishing a system for an ongoing neighborhood welcome wagon, and visiting other churches to get a sense of what it’s like to be an outsider in a close-knit community.
Every time you visit your church, or any other, you are gifted with ideas for how to make a real difference in your community and congregation. Why do people attend? What is it giving them? What could it be giving them that would make a difference? How can you connect the people in your church with the people outside in the world?
Personal or personalized invitations—most people arrive at a new church because of someone who’s already attending. These relationships are the key to building and maintaining a church community.
Encourage your congregants to share their faith with friends and show them how your church meets their needs, whether that’s the need to give back or the need for a greater community. Look for special occasions like Easter or Christmas to invite non-Christians or non-churchgoers to see your congregation at their most welcoming.
In the Community
You’ll need an expert if you want to find out what the needs are in your community and how to address those needs as part of your good works. The good news? You’re already an expert being part of the community yourself!
Between finding new projects you can use to build awareness, giving others the opportunity to serve and welcoming new members of the community (whether or not they choose to join your congregation) is the way to build lasting connections that will serve you better than a “get them in the door” approach.
One easy form of community evangelism: Bring welcome packets to Christian schools in the area to give out during the registration of new students. Make sure it includes non-church resources in the community to keep your appeal on the community level. It’s not just about getting people to visit — it’s about creating an environment that is warm, thoughtful, dynamic, and loving.
Asking for Help
If you’re wondering, “How do I attract new members to my church?”, challenge your existing church members to serve and volunteer by welcoming others into the community whenever they can.
Think of every member of your congregation as the light of a single candle: Together, they’re very bright, but you can also use every candle to light others. Similarly, your church is made up of those individual lights, but every single one can be used to ignite Christ’s love in the heart of someone new.
Another way to welcome: Have your congregation contribute to a welcome basket filled with necessities for those who are just coming into the community: toilet paper, soap, and basics like this. Church members can invite new families — and individuals — to their houses for dinner. Make it a regular part of your worship, along with serving people who are experiencing houselessness and whatever else you’re doing out in the community.
Every service and meeting should be welcoming throughout, not just in the perfunctory request for any visitors to identify themselves. That can actually feel needlessly intrusive and often causes people to shut down in today’s world. What’s more important is creating an enjoyable and meaningful atmosphere that will show your church and its members in the best light.
Their Second Home
Publishing and promoting your service times are necessary parts of leading a congregation, and it’s best to be as open about your church services as possible. But what about those who may not be able to physically attend? If you’re building a church for everyone, that means building a church for those who are unable to be there: Livestream or record services to make them feel a part of things.
How Do I Attract New Members to My Church?
At ChristianMinistryEDU.org, you can connect with the spiritual training and degree programs that will lead to your pastoral future. When you’re in charge of a flock, building and rebuilding will be a major part of your work. That’s why it’s important now to think about what that flock will look like and how you’ll make it a success.