I got an e-mail today from a church planter asking how we attract people to our church. I think this is a question that everyone wrestles with. As a pastor, you hear stories constantly of marketing and how it works (or doesn’t work).
I remember when we got started, we did some marketing and we had some people find our church because of that, but by and large people come to a church because they are invited. The national stats prove right at Revolution. Over 80% of Americans said they would go to church if someone invited them. Over 90% said they attended church the first time because a friend invited them. This number also gives a greater chance of a second time visit (the crucial one) because they already know someone.
I think marketing has a place, but at the end of the day the people in your church need to feel confident and comfortable inviting someone. If you aren’t having any visitors, ask why not? Do people consistently know what to expect at your church? Does your church say “we’ve been expecting you” or “holy crap, a visitor!”
The other thing that is important for a church to think about is what they are doing with Jesus. One of the things that the gospels are clear on is crowds were always around Jesus. I think Jesus is attractive, people long for him (even if they don’t know it). This is important, does your church lift up and point to Jesus? Is he the center of the worship and preaching? The answer is not always yes.
Really at the end of the day, you have to give people something they can’t get anywhere else. It isn’t great music, preaching, kids stuff, art, video, etc. While all those are important and need to be as excellent as possible, I’m tired of just “okay” stuff being put on at churches (but that is another topic). You have to give people as A.W. Tozer said, “a taste of the holy.” That is what they can’t get somewhere else, and they will come back.
Give them Jesus.