What is the most effective way to get new people to attend your church?
You already know what it is. The most effective way to get new people to visit your church is to have one of your members invite someone to attend. In the secular world, this is called “word of mouth” advertizing. Let’s ask ourselves who they are most likely to invite? The answer is someone in one of their three most important circles; extended family, friends, and work associates.
Yes, theoretically, they could walk through there neighborhood or the local mall and invite people, but we all know this is unlikely for Episcopalians. In addition, if they are not inviting friends, family and fellow workers, what are the odds they will invite others?
To invite folks, you have to feel good about inviting them. Think of it this way. You see the latest film and you really like it. What do you do? You mention it to your family, friends, and fellow workers. It’s natural. This means that your congregation is more likely to be inviting if your liturgical, program and/or fellowship life imparts significant meaning. This means that Sundays need to be, above all else and brace yourselves, INSPIRATIONAL. This, of course, is a word that seminary professors taught all clergy to abhor, but trust me, laity know what I mean.
It also helps, if you create ways to help folks in knowing when to invite others. The best way to do this, and the most proven way of increasing attendance at your church on a given Sunday, is to hold a “Special Sunday.” I’ll describe this in my next blog. If you can’t wait, buy my book 5 Keys for Church Leaders. Look up The Special Sunday. A properly planned and executed Special Sunday can increase attendance 10 to 100%! The average large evangelical church schedules 20 of these a year, and the average Episcopal Church normally has three of them.
Importantly, to get folks to invite others to your church, church members need to feel good about their own church. Remember, members can be loyal, dedicated and faithful, but still not feel positive about their own congregation. Try this; rate your congregation on a “congregational esteem scale” of at least 7. On this scale, 1 equals “I don’t even know why I attend here any more, let along why I would invite someone else!” 10 equals “Let me tell you about my church. . . pause. . . tears. . . its is the greatest church you will ever attend.”)
How would your folks rate the esteem of your congregation? If you are above 7, they are inviting people already. If it is 5 or below, you can forget about inviting people. First, start making creative changes aimed at raising the esteem. Don’t worry about inviting people with other methods until you make these changes because even if they come, they will not return!