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16 Cost-effective Church Growth Ideas to Acquire and Retain More People

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Published: Nov 12, 2021

Regardless of the size of your church, you need constant growth. But then, growth can mean different things to different people: It could be new infrastructure to one and expanded congregation to another. 

There are many church growth ideas, each of which helps fulfill different outcomes: More people, more resources, better reputation, etc.  

The focus lies on what areas to address first. However, although your definition of church growth may mean a bigger space or fancier infrastructure, ultimately, it all comes down to people. 

People help you grow. 

How can we improve church growth?

According to a 2020 survey, 29 percent of Americans never attend church or synagogue, compared to 24 percent of Americans who attend every week. 

church growth ideas survey

It’s evident that the number of people who attend church is quite low. You may also have noticed a decline in your own congregation size over the years. 

So, how does one overcome that and grow a church?

Let’s see some church growth ideas that focus on ways to increase church attendance and congregation size. These church growth ideas need minimal spending and skills, and they work well regardless of the size of your congregation. So, without worrying much about the resources, get to it. 

We are breaking down these church growth ideas into two categories:

  1. Church growth ideas to acquire members
  2. Church growth ideas to retain members.

Let’s see what goes in each of these categories. 

Church growth ideas to acquire members

  1. Craft a growth-focused mission statement

If you already have a mission statement, great! But, we recommend you take a step back and see if your mission statement is focused on your church’s growth. 

For instance, “Spread love and happiness” is a good mission statement. But it doesn’t focus on how you can grow while spreading love. 

So, an example of a growth-oriented mission statement looks something like this: “Expand the circle of our community and focus on spreading love and happiness”. 

Now, you need to make sure that all the activities in your church align with fulfilling this mission.  

  1. Encourage your congregation to bring people along

Consider hosting a ‘Family and Friends’ Day’. This could either be a special holiday or a monthly recurring event, as per your event plans. This way, your congregation doesn’t have to worry about convincing their circle to join your church. They bring in people for a day in a month or so, and thanks to your interesting sermons, you may already have a new recurring visitor. 

  1. Take your church online

People use the internet today for everything. Start by owning a website with all the details of your church.  

There may be a large number of potential attendees who just need an external push to join your church. Appearing in front of them when they scroll through their phones can do the trick. Give a sneak peek into your church in different ways through different platforms. 

This also helps you involve those who cannot attend in person– thus increasing your overall attendance and paving the way for future events.

Here’s a guide on digital marketing for churches which shows 8 strategies to improve your online presence.

  1. Partner with the local bodies

Schedule regular meetups with the local government, churches, and local businesses. These check-ins create good relationships in the community and help you stay on top of their minds. And when you’re on top of their minds, your church is going to be the one they recommend when someone asks them for help.  

When it comes to partnering with churches, the best way is to host an event or seminar together. 

  1. Contribute your services at community events

Offer to help. It’s what makes you stand out. Help out in any way you can and try to gain a spotlight in the community. Help people at parking lots, serve food, hand out goodies, help with the decor of the staging area, and more. Make sure your team represents you through a unique identity. For example, you all could wear T-shirts with your church’s branding. 

  1. Add a second service

This is a great idea to increase your church’s exposure. Involve your volunteers to offer this service. A second service could range anywhere from serving free coffee in your neighborhood to cleaning up the parks around. 

While you’re at it, you can hand out your flyers or visiting cards to people. 

Here are a few other service ideas:

  • Delivery and pick up of Christmas trees
  • Painting bus stops
  • Landscaping at the neighborhood schools
  • Helping the homeless
  • Serving at old age homes

Church growth ideas to retain members

1. Make everyone feel welcome

There may be multiple reasons for someone hesitating to attend your church. They may have found other ways to worship or changed their belief system altogether. Of course, you have very little control over these. However, where you do have an impact is in making your attendants feel comfortable.  

People are naturally drawn to appealing environments. Regardless of how keen they are on joining you full-time, the way you make them feel goes a long way in retaining them. Escort people as soon as they arrive. Keep the church premises clean and give your visitors time to ease into the environment. One way to help them is by sharing the necessary information that’ll help them blend in the process easily and get accustomed to your practices. 

Here’s how you can do it: Collect their email and phone number and share the resources like Bible verses, videos of your sermons, your bulletins, guidelines, and so on. 

Remember, first impressions matter. It’s the base to how an attendee perceives your church. Make sure they are neither ignored nor overwhelmed.  

2. Keep your sermons interesting

31% of millennials find church boring, shows research. Also, a study shows that the average human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds to 8 seconds. So, make sure all your sermons are concise and interesting to the young generation. Regardless of the topic you’re focusing on, try to think of your sermons as an influential TED talk. 

3. Collect your congregation’s feedback and act on it

Your congregation may have church improvement ideas and tips you may not have thought of. Tap into them. One way to do this is through surveys. Send out different surveys to people depending on how long they’ve been with you. 

For instance, you can ask a new visitor about their experience. Whereas, for an old and regular attendee, your survey could focus on collecting opinion on improving a few practices. Find out what they think and try your best to implement them if you think they can improve church attendance. 

SMS surveys are one of the best ways to execute this idea. 

4. Offer volunteering opportunities

Most church growth ideas focus on involving and engaging with people. Find a way to involve every interested visitor in your church. Make sure your visitors know that each of them has and plays an important role. One way to start is by offering volunteering opportunities. 

New graduates or students in your neighborhood may be looking for a few extracurricular activities for their CV. Offer them the opportunity to start at your church.  

As for your other members, start by getting to know the new visitors with friendly conversations. Gradually, as you build a relationship and understand their needs and interests, you can involve them in your volunteering programs. For instance, if a member says they are good in sales, it’s your cue to put them on the team that brings in donors. 

You can also list these opportunities on your website, along with a form for people to enroll. Here’s an example of a church that uses its website to showcase volunteering opportunities.

church growth ideas volunteering opportunities
Source: Hope City

Another way to execute this is through texting, calling, or emails. All in all, make sure they know what’s expected of them as volunteers. 

5. Communicate from the start

Some of your new visitors may have no clue about what people do in a church; other than worshipping, of course. The basis of successful church growth ideas is communication. Consider communicating with these people right from the moment they step into your campus. This doesn’t have to be in person. A simple signage that points them towards taking action is good enough. 

For instance, you could direct them towards the desk where you collect new visitors’ contact information. Giving them a souvenir as a newcomer gift could help them start happy. And, it also enables you to direct them to share the contact information, which is so valuable to you. 

Think about it: Would you go to that desk by looking at a sign that said: “Share your contact information here”? Or “Collect your visitor goodies here”?  

We thought so 🙂

6. Brand your church

Your church doesn’t have to be similar to every other church in the town or neighborhood. Bring in elements that make your visitors feel lively and part of one community the moment they enter. Define yourself with a tone and stick to it across every platform you’re present on. 

Branding can also create a sense of belonging and loyalty, and such loyal members make some of the best ambassadors. They act as your brand advocates and can refer your church to their network. 

7. Reward progress

Celebrate even the smallest progress to motivate a bigger achievement among church members and leaders. For instance, if you asked your volunteers to bring in a donation worth $10,000 for the week and they do, treat them in a nice restaurant during the weekend. 

Progress can be in other forms too. Sometimes, your past efforts may start seeing great results at a point. For instance, your community work in the past may have now gotten special recognition. This may increase your popularity in the neighborhood and, thus, your reach. Let your team know of such events and call for a celebration.  

Remember, good leaders bring out the best in people and celebrate their achievements. 

8. Reach out to former members

Say you have a big event coming up. It doesn’t hurt to check in on your former members and invite them, right? 

A friendly phone call, text message, or even email could be a great way to rebuild your relationship with them and gradually get them on board again. 

Reach out to them to simply check in and subtly mention the event you’re hosting as a part of the conversation. 

9. Focus on the attendance of current members

To get people to attend your church regularly, the first step is to check in every time they miss a prayer. It’s hard to get them back if they get used to staying home or devoting that time to some other activity. So, call up and ask if they’re okay and encourage them to attend your next Sunday worship. If they are going through a difficult phase, offer to help in any way you can.   

10. Follow up with new visitors

Studies show that 90% of guests revisit the church if they’ve been followed up on the same day after their visit. 

Reach new visitors through text messages or emails and encourage them to attend your church again. CallHub’s text messaging service can help you set up follow-up messages making sure nobody gets overlooked. 

Get started!

Implement these church growth ideas to acquire new visitors and retain the existing ones. Discovering those church growth ideas that work for you the best and committing to them is the key to further growth. 

We also have a great resource to help you out with your church marketing. In this post, you’ll learn 6 ways to increase church membership. See how you and your team can implement them.

What other church growth ideas have you tried that helped you bring more people? Let us know in the comments.

Featured image: Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

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