It seems almost counter-intuitive to market a church in some ways, but your efforts to promote certain programs, services, or worship styles is what will lead to higher levels of attendance. People, at their very core, attend church because they can learn something about their faith in a safe environment where they can also worship in a way that is comfortable for them. If you can provide these two key resources, then you’ll have the foundation of a quality marketing plan.
It all begins with a positive comparison to other churches in your community as to what it is that makes you different. Maybe it is your doctrine of beliefs, or maybe it is your package of programs you offer kids, or it just could be the fact that you offer coffee before the service. Discover the difference and promote it.
Creative Church Marketing Ideas
1. Start Weekly Activities
There are a number of organizations that provide curriculum for your church to implement throughout the week that can bring people through your doors. If you have the people available to run the programs, experiences like AWANA, Patch the Pirate, or sports-related programs will entice kids and parents to participate in a fun and meaningful way.
2. Offer Free Devotions
A number of organizations provide free resources for churches to hand out to their congregation on a weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. There are also a number of low-cost resources, like daily devotions from organizations like Our Daily Bread, that will promote at-home learning opportunities for your church.
3. Create an Email List
When people are connected to a church on a daily basis, it is more difficult for them to stay home on Sundays to watch football. An email list, crafted from your congregation’s contact information, can help to provide important updates, tailored studies based on weekly sermons, and provide a prayer chain resource that many will find to be very valuable.
4. Offer Different Services
Although weekend days are traditional times for church services, it doesn’t mean you need to be bound by those times. If your church offers Sunday services, try having a Saturday evening service instead. The Wednesday service is traditional in many churches as well, but what about a Friday evening service that fits between dinner and an outing? Each community has unique needs in timing. Meet them and you’ll increase attendance.
5. Start Community Assistance Programs
There are a number of needs in your community that need to be met on a regular basis. If you have a clothing outreach, a food bank outreach, and other assistance programs that will help people meet basic needs, you’ll be able to plant some seeds that may just grow in time.
6. Small Groups Are Key
Small group programs led by church leaders will help you engage neighborhoods in a personal, non-threatening way. It doesn’t even need to be religious studies that occur in a small group. Game nights, movie nights, or just dinner together are always that fellowship can occur.
7. Get Out of the Rut
In-depth studies of the Bible are good for gleaning information, but the danger is that you’ll get stuck in a rut where that’s all you do. One church in Colorado began an in-depth study of the book of Matthew in 2006. In 2009, they had run 157 consecutive messages in the book of Matthew and were only on Chapter 14. By then, attendance had dropped to nothing and a pastoral change was forced. Teach because it is needed, not because it is wanted.
8. Be the Light
A church that doesn’t willingly give of itself is a church that will be seen as hypocritical. Be the light to your community and show the love that the Bible teaches – there really is no more of a powerful marketing message for a church than that.
9. Remove Your Opinions
What people want from a church is grounded Scriptural teaching, not personal opinions about how to live life daily. A congregation doesn’t need a principle. It needs a leader who fulfills the example that Jesus set after 40 days in the wilderness.
Everyone feels like they need to have a piece of the pie when it comes to the control of the church. Although it is good to have some skin in the game and to be involved, too many leaders means not enough workers and then nothing gets done at all – including your marketing work.
11. Offer Mobile Resources
Record your praise team with your sound system and then release those tracks independently for people to hear. There are distributors like CD Baby that will let you upload and distribute a full length digital album to iTunes, Spotify, and free listening sites for less than $70. Record your sermons so people can catch up if they miss a week. Even an online bulletin will help people feel connected.
12. Hold Services Outside the Church
You don’t need to be confined in your church building to be able to hold a worship service. Go out to a park once and awhile, enjoy an afternoon at the local beach, or rent out a room somewhere to engage other population groups. Your regular attendees will still be there… and so will some new faces.
Although technology isn’t the emphasis of a church at times, modern technology makes information more accessible. PowerPoint slides through an overhead projector can make teaching come alive and provide easy access to song lyrics. Videos can be shown on upgraded equipment and a better sound system means fewer distractions that can be bothersome to those with listening devices.
14. Always Be Available
A church needs to be accessible 24/7 if it is going to provide real assistance to a community. Emergencies don’t happen during normal business hours all the time.
15. Ease Up on the Rules
How problematic would it be for water to spill on your carpet? What if a child drew on the back of a pew? Is a crying child really that much of a distraction to a service? For a church, the emphasis shouldn’t be on the beauty of the building. It should instead be on building beauty within the heart of each person.