When you’re a brand new church, it’s difficult trying to grow. You likely have other established churches in the area already.
The key is not to try to reach churched people who are unhappy where they are, but the unchurched who left long ago or just aren’t certain if a church is right for them.
Reaching new visitors requires work, but with the right techniques, you can grow your new church faster. Plus, you’ll quickly become a staple in your local community.
Avoid Common Growth Mistakes
The first step is to avoid common growth mistakes. These can prevent your brand new church from getting more than a few new members. Even with the best marketing, a poor growth strategy will just make your new church fail faster instead of getting better.
A few common mistakes to avoid include:
- Not addressing existing issues. These could be issues you’ve taken with you as you left one church to start another. A change in location won’t fix the problem. You must address any issues with your new members and church leaders first.
- Investing everything into new technology to try to seem more current and hip. Flashy lights and loud noises may attract new visitors temporarily, but they won’t stay.
- Thinking a new building makes all the difference. Without substance in your ministry, a brand new building won’t make your new church last. Attract new visitors with a passionate and engaging ministry instead.
Sadly, 6,000 to 10,000 churches are left empty every year. This means it’s not about not being able to find a church. Visitors want to find that one church that helps them grow in their faith. Prove you can do this and your new church will grow.
Understand What Makes People Move
It will take marketing to reach visitors. After all, your church is new and many people may not even know you’re in the area yet. However, you have to first understand what makes people move to a new church. Once you know this, you’ll know what people are looking for and whether your church can deliver. If you can, market your church as such.
The problem is some Christians move because they believe a new church will solve all their problems. They blame pastors for their sins and want the church to raise their children for them. This was the case with the Connelly family.
Despite being excited to move to a new church, they found that their new location didn’t solve all their material and spiritual problems. Churches can guide, but they can’t magically fix someone’s problems. Visitors and members have to act on what they learn and follow that guidance.
Most of the time, though, people are looking for a new church for one or more of the following reasons:
- Values don’t align
- The preaching style doesn’t work for them
- No sense of community within the church
- Few volunteer opportunities
- Using tithes the wrong way, such as making a brand new church fancier versus helping the local community
- Sinful behavior among church leaders, such as affairs
- Drama between members and/or church leaders
- Wanting a church closer to their home
- No ministry programs for specific age groups
As you can see, there are numerous opportunities for your church to reach new visitors. Mainly, offer a friendly, yet educational preaching style while encouraging a sense of community among members. This combination alone creates a welcoming, faithful environment.
Define Your Church’s Mission
When people visit a new church, they want to know what it’s all about. This is where your church’s mission statement comes in. Your mission statement explains your church’s purpose and goals. It also helps potential visitors see if your values align with their own.
We’ve put together a guide on creating a great About Us page, which includes details on creating a mission statement. This statement should be present on both your church’s website and within your church.
Establish Your Church’s Tone
This is sometimes hard for a brand new church. Often times, your church’s tone will change as you start to grow. However, you should try to establish an initial tone. Is your church more laid back, serious, a combination of the two, educational, modern, traditional, etc?
Before trying to attract members, go through some trial services to help determine what your church’s tone and personality are. This will help you to create better marketing material to showcase what type of church people can expect.
Showcase Yourself Online
Just because you’re a new church doesn’t mean you don’t need a church website. In fact, you need a website even more than an established church. When people are searching online for information about local churches, you don’t want your church to be the only one that doesn’t show up.
You don’t need an expensive site, but you do need to have at least six main pages, including:
- Home – Contact details, service hours, upcoming events, denomination, service attire
- About Us – History, mission/vision statements, type of personality/tone
- Ministries – List of ministries available (as a new church, you may only have a few and that’s okay)
- Events – List of upcoming events (hosting open-house style events to welcome in the community outside of service hours is a great idea)
- Sermons – List videos of past sermons (trial services to determine your church’s tone work well when you’re brand new)
- Giving – Explain how to give, why giving is important and even how your church uses tithes
Obviously, adding in a blog helps immensely. It also gives your church more chances to show up in search results online.
Start Socializing Online
Social media has a negative reputation in many ways, but it’s also an incredible tool for those who use it correctly. In fact, many small churches thrive on social media because they can reach just as many people as megachurches.
However, some churches still feel like social media isn’t the right place for them. Think about it another way, though. Your church has the opportunity to make social media more useful for those who are lost or are looking for like-minded Christians.
Plus, social media offers you the chance to reach millions of people. Simply posting regularly on one or two networks is a great start. A few ways to attract visitors to your new church via social media include:
- Sharing useful content from Christian leaders and other churches
- Creating funny Christian memes
- Spending a small amount on Facebook ads (even $5 to $10 is enough)
- Posting suggested reading
- Hosting Q&A sessions
- Living streaming services
- Inviting people to services and events
Of course, as Thom S. Rainer points out, it’s easy to make mistakes too. Posting inappropriate content, ignoring followers and posting too much or too little happen all the time.
Host Local Community Events
Marketing your brand new church online is a cheap way to reach new visitors. However, the best way to reach locals is to host local community events. You can also advertise these online.
Hosting local dinners, family days, carnivals, business fairs, charity fashion shows and so on are all great ways to attract people to your church. While all of them won’t join your church, these events show you care about the community. This will increase new visitors and new members.
Consider Paid Social Ads
As a brand new church, you probably don’t have a huge budget. However, spending just a little on paid social ads helps immensely. Once you have a small audience on social media, it’s much easier to market and engage for free.
This is because if you’re sharing useful content, your small audience shares it with a much larger audience. People who enjoy it then follow you on social media too. It’s kind of like a digital domino effect.
Use Free Google Ads
You may not realize that Google wants to help churches and other nonprofits with marketing. Since Google aids in over three billion searches a day on average (over six billion on the day this was written), it’s hard to pass up on reaching this large of an audience for free.
If you’re curious if your church is eligible, take a look at our guide to Google Grant eligibility requirements. Most churches are eligible and you get $10,000 of free ads per month.
Send Out Mail To Your Local Area
Print marketing isn’t dead yet. Despite the popularity of the Internet, many people only use it sparingly, if at all. Sending out a flier to those in your local area and surrounding areas ensures you’re reaching everyone around.
A friendly welcome message along with service hours, your church’s site and contact details are all you need. It’s quick, inexpensive and a good way to let the area know your brand new church is open.
Have Open House Nights
If you’re trying to reach those who already attend church, you have to give them a chance to check out your church outside of service hours. Host open house nights where anyone can walk in to meet church leaders and the pastor.
Have welcome packets ready with all relevant details. You can even have mini-sermons throughout the evening, such as 10-15 minutes each.
This makes people feel more comfortable stopping by. They get to know more about your church and meet some of the people without feeling committed to attending regularly.
Do this once or twice a month at first to get to know more people in the community and show what type of church you are.
Blogging is a great way to showcase your church’s tone and personality. For those who find you online, they get a chance to see what to expect if they visit in person.
Blog about points in your latest sermon. Talk about issues relevant to your members, community and Christianity. Once or twice a week is enough to boost your search rank and reach far more people. Whether you have 10 members or a 1,000, a blog gives you the same chance to reach people all over the world.
Ask For Feedback From All Visitors
Whenever you have new visitors, welcome them warmly. Also, ask if they would mind providing feedback. Explain that you’re a brand new church and are looking for ways to improve.
Not only does this show you care about their needs, but it shows that you’re willing to grow and change as a church. Plus, you get valuable feedback that you can use to attract even more new visitors.
Have A Solid Welcoming Plan
One of the top reasons new visitors don’t come back is they didn’t feel welcome. This is why your new church needs a solid welcoming plan. The most important thing is to try to say hello to anyone new. When you make them feel like part of the church from day one, they’re more likely to come back.
Join In Local Volunteer Opportunities
Yes, your church could probably use volunteers, but you have to get visitors first. So, get involved in your local community’s volunteer opportunities. Even if you only have a handful of members to begin with, go out and help with local charities. Build houses, serve food in soup kitchens, aid in literacy programs and anything else.
Every chance you get for your church to interact with the community is a chance to attract new members.
Start A Newsletter
Finally, consider starting an email newsletter. This is something that’s easy for subscribers to forward to others. They can also share some of the content on social media. Simply add a signup form to your church’s website.
To encourage more people to sign up, offer something for free. This could be a list of monthly devotionals or a short book of scripture to handle common problems in a person’s life. Advertise this free item on social media to get even more signups.
A newsletter helps you stay in contact with potential visitors and visitors who may only attend now and then. Maintaining contact turns visitors into members and helps your brand new church grow faster.
As a new church, one of the first things to do is get your church online. Our church website services have everything you need to reach a wide audience and grow your church.