Church Growth

Do You Know the Key to Growing Your Church?

An article on Church Growth by Steven Lanham, Owner, New Mover Church Postcards

Church Marketing is the Key

Communication with the outside world is the key to growing your church. It should form the keystone of your church growth strategy. The type of communication you use often depends on the cost. Most things cost money: television and radio advertising, newspapers, direct mail, door-hangers – the list goes on. For a non profit organization such as a church, the investment is usually the determining factor when it comes to deciding on the “best” vehicle to deliver the message. There is good news, however, for churches looking to grow without spending a lot of money.

The most inexpensive form of communication is also unquestionably the most effective - it's called Word of Mouth Advertising. This is simply a fancy marketing phrase given to something we've all been doing all our lives: talking to our family, friends and colleagues about the things we deem important in our lives: food, movies, people, clothes - everything. It's not just gossip (well, sometimes), it's the free exchange of ideas and opinions. Notice the word "free"? That's the best part. And because it’s free, it should be the first choice when it comes to harnessing its incredible power to really grow your church.

Create a BUZZ!

Getting people to talk about their “product” is the primary goal of any marketer and a church is no different. It's called creating a buzz or hype.

Let me give you an example.

My family and I belong to a church located about 12 miles (roughly 20 minutes) from where we live. We originally joined the church (almost 10 years ago) because it was close to our first home. We’ve moved several times since then, but we keep going back to our original church. Why? Because we like it.

In the past several years, a new church has emerged close to where we live and it’s creating a lot of buzz. We haven’t been to the church (it now has four “campuses” spanning several nearby towns) but I’ve heard it’s really good. In fact, I’ve heard it’s really good from literally dozens and dozens of people. Neighbors, friends, associates all rave about this church.

The reason it’s creating a lot of buzz isn’t because of the type of church it is (I have no idea what kind of church it is, I’ve just heard it’s really good), what it looks like inside, the name of the senior pastor or even the comfort level of the seats. All I know is that it’s really good because my neighbors, friends and associates tell me it’s good. Talk about an amazingly powerful, yet free church invitation program!
Like any “business” a church needs to market or advertise itself to raise awareness, create interest, instill desire, and cause people to take action.

Typically, a church or business will invest heavily in traditional forms of marketing such as signage or advertising not realizing that the best (and the most cheapest) form of advertising is (literally) sitting right in front of them. Your current church members form an incredibly powerful “sales force”. Instead of you singing your praises (pun intended) with traditional and often costly forms of advertising, you should deliberately and purposely ask your current members to spread the word. Give them advice and tips to see that they become active sales people for your church.

Please don’t confuse this with asking your members to “bring a guest next week”. I personally love that approach and it can pay big dividends. However, in addition to that tactic, ask your guests to talk freely and openly to their friends, neighbors and associates about their church and HOW it makes them feel. It’s called indirect selling and it’s very powerful. Instead of focusing on a straight invitation (this can be difficult for some members and it can make potential visitors a little uncomfortable), ask your members to share stories such as the funny remarks made by the Senior Pastor or the fantastic toys they have in the nursery. It’s about painting a picture of a place that sounds really great… and inviting.   

Word of mouth advertising is the most powerful form of communication - the best form of community outreach! And the good news is that it is also the cheapest.

Church Growth and Outreach Programs

Another inexpensive approach to growing your church is focusing on an audience that is typically more receptive than most. It’s a group of people that have been pursued by marketers for decades. These are people known as new movers or new residents: families who have recently arrived in a new neighborhood.

Marketers know that new movers are more responsive that established residents which makes them an ideal audience for low-cost marketing. This is because the new mover universe is really small, typically 30 – 50 new families in every ZIP code. So, reaching these families is very cost effective.

Like word-of-mouth advertising, direct mail is a very powerful form of direct (i.e. one-to-one) communication. A new movers direct mail program is both convenient and affordable (and it works). If you’re looking to grow your church, but you are on a limited budget, a monthly new mover direct mail program is a great place to start.

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SAMPLE POSTCARDS: For a collection of new movers direct mail postcards, please click here.

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Jason Cotton, Pastor
Doylestown, PA 18901

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