Outreach Ideas for small churches

Last year we had 300 first time visitors at our church. I think that’s a lot of visitors for a church running 100. I’d love to tell you we kept them all, but we didn’t. Often we get asked what we do to attract visitors. We’ve had over 1,200 visitors in 5 years. I don’t claim to be an expert, but here are some simple things we do.

Festivals.

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If there is a community gathering, festival, event, etc, we are there. We rent a booth and give away peanuts and church information. it’s a simple way to get out into the community and meet people. Most cities have festivals with booths available. We invest about $1,000 in the two festivals we participate in every year. We have people attending our church right now that we met at these festivals.

Postcards

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When we launched we mailed 10,000 postcards. About 60+ people came from the mailing alone. We tried it again on our 1 year anniversary. The results were like 10-15. What happened? We had peaked in that 10,000 postcard market. We learned a valuable lesson 3 years later when we mailed 10,000 postcards advertising our community day. Lesson= give them a deadline or date to be there, and give them something they want (free food and carnival). About 100-150 visitors showed up to our community day. About 20-30 came to church the following Sunday. This leads to our third outreach tool…

Cookouts

time to eat!

Where there is free food and games, there’s a crowd. This past summer we had our VBS. 17- 20 kids showed up each night. On Friday we pushed a big cookout. We had food for 75 and ran out. Count on it, if there’s a cook out, people come and invite their friends.

The most important aspect of outreach events is planning. The more time we have to push an event like a cookout, VBS, or a big Sunday etc increases the likelihood of it being a success. Getting the information into community calendars around town or online or on the radio with K-Love requires you to know the dates up to 60 days in advance. Plan out your year around 3-4 big events/services. This will give you and your people time to get it ready and invite people.

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Grow your church quick: just another get rich quick scheme

We see them everyday. Signs, ads, commercials for stuff that is too good to be true. The majority of scams and schemes out there tell you they can make you an over night success. Many people believe these infomercials, emails, and websites, because they desire so badly to get rich quick. Others usually refer to these people ignorant, foolish, simple-minded, etc. Here are a few verses dealing with obtaining wealth.

Proverbs 23:4
Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it.

Proverbs 28:19-20
He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty. A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished.

Proverbs 14:15
The naive believes everything, but the sensible man considers his steps.

Now back to my title. What does this have to do with church? I believe the great majority of church leaders and pastors are falling for a spiritual version of the get rich quick scheme: grow you church quick. We watch videos about huge mega churches building new campuses and begin to desire to see our ministry do the same. We start reading about what other churches have done, and attempt to mimic their “success.” Millions of dollars are spent every year on book, conferences, resources, etc to show us how to grow our churches quickly. Don’t misunderstand me here, I am all for books, conferences and bettering ourselves and our ministries, but I am afraid many are walking away convinced success, growth, increase, can be built up in a year. Am i saying God can’t grow your church? No. Am I saying God doesn’t want to increase the kingdom? No. I am saying if we aren’t careful we’ll get so caught up in the “stuff” that goes along with growth, we’ll start chasing growth, buildings, success, and everything else except the main thing: growing the kingdom. Here’s my point: when a person starts trusting a scam, they start making poor decisions. When we as leaders start trusting in programs, ideas, processes instead of the power of the Holy Spirit, we will start making unwise decisions.

What is the goal? To grow the Kingdom? Let’s ask a tough question. For the kingdom to grow does your church have to have a 5 million dollar sanctuary? Or could your church send 100 missionaries and 5 million dollars around the world and do more for the kingdom? Kingdom mindedness takes the emphasis, glory, pride, possessions, away from us.

The sobering truth is this: anything worthwhile, takes a while. Apple, Microsoft, GE, Toyota, and Walmart didn’t become huge companies in one year, it took real hard work over a long period of time (sometimes generations). The hard truth is: impact takes time. People who want to get rich quick are always changing their minds. One day they want to start a business, the next they want to invest in a penny stock. They don’t stay focused on one thing long enough for it to work out for them. Many churches are acting the same way. One year the push is Upward sports, until it gets tough to find workers and growth didn’t happen as quickly as they’d hoped. The next year their main push is starting a new ministry (a new banner and cool name is all you need right?). The following year they quit that and start a TV ministry, but as that gets expensive and again nothing happens immediately, so they bail on it too. Ministry shouldn’t be a multiple personality disorder. It only shows our weakness for desiring quick easy success. There is nothing wrong with trying new things, but our generation is so addicted to instant gratification that we simply aren’t willing to wait on God to move and grow His church. We feel we must DO something NOW.  Our mission should remain unchanged as we use new methods over the long haul to grow the kingdom of God. Besides Jesus said He would build His church, so why do we exhaust ourselves attempting to do what only He can do?

Church Planting Models: Multi-housing communities

We love reading about church planting. We are always researching to find out what people are doing to start new churches in places people might often overlook. CrossPointe has met in a house, a hotel, an elk’s lodge, and finally a funeral home. However, there are numerous models for starting a church in a school, rec center, or even outdoors. Over the next few posts I want to look at a few of the models for starting a church. Today I want to focus on the multi-housing model.

What is a multi-housing community church model? Until a few days ago I had never heard it called this. It is simply when a group of people start a church inside a Multi-housing community (Private Apartment Communities, Condominium Communities/Community Associations, Manufactured Housing Communities, Public Housing Communities Senior Housing Communities). In this model, a church planter moves into one of these communities with the intentions of renting the cummunity center/party room/conference center/clubhouse that many of these communities have. Many of these community centers have parking for outside visitors as well. The goal is to plant a church within walking distance of 1,000+ people.

Why use the multi-housing community church model? Here are some stats from NAMB (SBC Mission Board): An estimated 57 percent of all people in North America reside in multi-housing – apartments, expensive high-rises, mobile home parks, condominiums and townhouses.  An estimated 95 percent of them are lost without Christ. That works out to over 150 million people living in High rise, apartment, mobile home, and public housing communities. Most of these communities are closed. You can’t solicit, invite, or even direct mail most of them. Many are gated, walled, and closed off as a community within a community. This church planting model places the church community within a smaller community inside the bigger community. 1 out of every 2 new housing projects in America is using a community based model. It is quickly becoming the wave of the future, and people are starting to prefer living in a smaller community within a big city. The good news is: people want community- something the church has.

Another reason to use this model is the cost. If a community is looking to rent their clubhouse, it is usually very affordable. Most of them are large enough for 50+ people. The management is key. If you can form a relationship with the office staff this will help immensely.

Who is using this model? Many denominations have started using this model for new church plants, as well as a mother church models (a church adopts an apartment community in the area, and begins mid week Bible studies in the apartment community). In our denomination I have known of a few missionary teams using this model lately. One team in particular is Jeff Goodman and Josh Bennett. Recently, I asked Jeff a few question about their church plant in Marana AZ. Marana is 15 miles north of Tuscon, where 90% of the population is unchurched. They started holding Bible studies in an apartment community that both Jeff and Josh moved their families into. They are not even a year into the plant and are seeing God move in a mighty way.

Here are Jeff’s answers to some questions I had about the church model.

When you guys moved your families into the apartment community, did you know you were going to start using their facilities to meet in? Was that your goal? Yes, we moved in here planning to use their facilities. It is a community within a community. We see people getting their mail, walking their dogs, playing outside, etc. We were upfront with the office staff when we moved here about our plans, none of them went to church but they were very helpful. Building community even through a church plant helps them retain leasers.

 Is it hard to rent the facility in the community? Are there times when it is over-booked?  Nobody ever rents the facilities here but us. We have had superbowl parties, christmas parties etc.

Does the apartment community model have some drawbacks?
 

 

 Can people from outside the apartment community join the Bible study (are there places for them to park)? We have plenty of parking in the main lot and overflow if we need it inside the complex. People are allowed to come from outside the complex.

How many people at your Bible studies live in the apartment community? We are around 70% apartment people to 30% outside people. 90% of our group are unsaved and far from God, but that is the type of people we are looking for, the lost! They love each other are thrilled to have met friends and work super hard. They are all very excited about helping us launch our church about a mile away. We will still have several things at our apt. complex rven after our launch.

Is it expensive? We pay $50 per use to rent the community building it is normally 75$ but our apt. Manager got us a 25$ break and we did not even ask them to do that. We have a large open area with a kitchen, a conference room and a movie room, which we use for a nursery along with 2 nice bathrooms.

What’s been the hardest part when it comes to planting a church in Marana? Hardest part-meeting new people is always a challenge, but living here at the apt. complex has truly helped. The city of Marana told us we could not post a sign about our bible study on or near the sidewalk it is their property. The office manager at our apt. complex told us to put it next to their sign by the road. She said Marana doesn’t own that property. No other problems from the city of Marana.

What are some highlights so far for you guys?  All 3 of the office staff now attend our bible study and Jessica (ast. Manager) was our 1st baptism. We love that 90% of our people are unchurched, those are the people we want to reach!

To find out more about Jeff and Josh and the Marana church visit their website http://www.themaranaproject.com/

 

which denominations are growing/declining in America?

Report from the Religion News Service

(RNS) While mainline Protestant churches in the U.S. continue to experience decades-long decline, the memberships of Pentecostal traditions are on the rise, according to new figures compiled by the National Council of Churches.

Mainline Protestant churches that have seen a fall in membership since the 1970s continued their decline; the Presbyterian Church (USA) reported the greatest membership drop (2.6 percent) of the 25 largest denominations.

The membership declines in mainline churches led to a 1 percent decrease in total U.S. church membership, to 145.8 million.

Pentecostal churches make up four of the 25 largest churches, and both the Assemblies of God and the Church of God (Cleveland, Tenn.) increased in membership. Only six of the 25 largest memberships increased over the previous year.

Jehovah’s Witnesses experienced the greatest growth percentage overall, gaining 4.37 percent according to the yearbook. Several historically black denominations continued a years-long practice of not submitting fresh figures.

The 10 largest Christian bodies reported in the 2011 yearbook are:

1. The Catholic Church: 68.5 million, up 0.57 percent.

2. Southern Baptist Convention: 16.1 million, down .42 percent.

3. The United Methodist Church: 7.8 million, down 1 percent.

4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: 6 million, up 1.42 percent.

5. The Church of God in Christ: 5.5 million, no membership updates reported.

6. National Baptist Convention, USA: 5 million, no membership updates reported.

7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: 4.5 million, down 1.96 percent.

8. National Baptist Convention of America, 3.5 million, no membership updates reported.

9. Assemblies of God: 2.9 million, up .52 percent.

10. Presbyterian Church (USA): 2.7 million, down 2.61 percent.

25 ways to reach new people

These are just some ways to meet new people and invite them to church. Our church has tried alot of them, but not all of them. If they are expensive ways I have marked them with $, $$, $$$ accordingly. There is no silver bullet. All of these ideas take time to catch on. However, if you and your church people consistently try to reach people and invite them to church, you will see results.

1. send out postcard invitations to every home within 5 miles of your church $$$

2. host a community cookout at your church on a Saturday

3. sponsor a little league baseball/basketball/football team

4. organize and advertise a city wide scavenger hunt and partner people in your church with new people

5. rent a booth at local festivals and sponsor a give away while passing out your church information

6. get a group to do city clean up projects while wearing your church t shirts

7. host an outdoor movie nite in the summer using projectors and a huge outdoor screen

8. pass out free water bottles and church info at the local little league games on a hot summer day

9. advertise on the radio $$

10. advertise on tv $$$

11. advertise in your local paper $

12. challenge your people to invite friends to church

13. have your staff coach a city little league team

14. advertise on billboards $$$$

15. start a tv ministry $$$$$$$$$$$$$

16. make brochures available to your people to invite others

17. send out an email invitation to your church and ask your people to forward it to their friends

18. host national night out events at your church

19. hang door hangers on every door in your city inviting people to your church

20. invite local firemen and police offcers to a special service honoring our community heros, invite the mayor, chief, or city council member to speak

21. take a random office free lunch or breakfast along with your church brochures and business cards

22. pay for the meal of people behind you in the drive thru and leave them an invitation to church

23. sign up for a service that sends new families just moving into your city invitations to your church

24. take cupcakes to the fire/police station and thank them for their hard work

25. have a free car wash on Saturday and give every one invitations to your church on Sunday