new people coming to church

A few weeks back, driving past a church sign with some non-Christian friends who work in marketing, we saw this “King sized bed” poster out the front of a church. I noticed it, and thought about trying to start a conversation, but before I could, one of my friends pointed out the poster, and said “that’s very clever”. outreach media poster - king size bed

As we talked about it, it seemed that they were quite appreciative of the sign, and how clever it was, but when I went further and asked if it would actually make them go to a church service, there was a universal “no” response. The barrier to people visiting a church seems much higher than having a well-designed poster.

In the lead-up to Christmas, one of the churches near me had a letter-box drop that made me go so far as to walk over to their building and have a look. It wasn’t enough, though, to have me drop in and see how they were doing things.

What does it take to get a church service to a point where people are comfortable to go? And to invite others?

If you go to a church (and you like it), what do you like about your church. If you don’t… what would make you feel comfortable enough to actually go along to a service?

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4 Comments

  1. It’s a good question, Dave. I honestly can’t think of a single thing that would get me to go to a church service.

    Maybe if there was something on after the service that I felt I desperately needed to see, and the only way I could guarantee a seat would be to go to the service beforehand?

    Fair is fair. If I want to see the free entertainment, I’ll listen to the pitch beforehand.

    Maybe if you booked a Richard Dawkins autograph session afterwards? That’s one way to attract the atheist market.

  2. FWIW, I’ve belonged to a few churches and neither the church’s marketing efforts (or lack of), nor the format of the church service has never had anything to do with my decision to attend them. It’s always been other stronger influencing factors such as recommendations from others, or existing relationships with people at the church.

  3. Interesting post.

    It made me reflect on our Christmas at Fairfield SPACE. We had our Christmas Eve All Age Interactive Gathering at 4pm on christmas eve with 80 people (as many as we can really accomodate) and about 20 of those were people normally part of the faith communities that meet there. I think the biggest factors were relationships and comfortability in the SPACE. We’ve been opening up the building each day as a Family SPACE, a couple of playgroups meet in the building too and a local child had her 10 yr old bday party in the building. So people own the space and feel comfortable in it – we’ve done well at people feeling like at least this is a space we know but more likely they feel like they own it as much as the people in the faith community do. Relationships I think are important in what happened. Numerous people have a sense of what we are on about even though they are not part of the faith community. They’ve chatted with me or one of the others, or are friends of a friend so know that we will be real about our faith and real about the story that we celebrate at Christmas, inviting people from wherever they are to join us on that journey but they trust us to respect them where they are.
    It was exciting as I looked around as I led the time – I knew lots of faces as people who I have had a conversation with but very few people who I could even put a name to. As we finished I had lots of people thanking us for it, asking questions about the various other things we do and some conversations of significance following the way I had finished inviting people to pray for the various good and hard thing that their Christmas brings by lighting a candle as they left.

    I think as well as all this, things take time to build – this is the third time we have done this Christmas Eve gathering and alongside what else we are doing and our general presence people are really at a point of trusting us.

    ok – you got me on a role … but it is pretty exciting!

  4. one other thing that comes out of the trust of us is that many of the people who were there were invited by people not part of the faith community but who have a relationship with us and trust us … some people were there 3 people removed from any relationship with us or the space, but invited by someone who was invited by someone.

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