Category Archives: 2019 A Better me

How to reach and grow your church by 100 new worshippers in 2019

Most churches want to reach unchurched people. They take the Great Commission seriously and want their church to make a positive difference for the Kingdom.

At the same time, we’re coming to grips with the fact that fewer and fewer people are attending church. Even regular members show up more infrequently than in years gone by.

The same group of people, attending less often, is not a recipe for growth. For a church to grow and thrive, it has to reach brand new people.

Even though many churches share in this desire, few actually do it.

If your church is serious about reaching new guests, particularly those who are not attending any other church, here are five things to consider to reach people.

#1 – Set a goal.

When considering how many new volunteers are needed, how much money you need to raise for ministry, or how many guests you want to reach, the answer is usually the same.

And that’s a great feeling.

But more is not a number. It’s a moving target that can never be reached.

If you want to reach new guests this year, start by prayerfully setting a specific goal.

Talk about the priority of reaching new people, the Great Commission, and the mission of your church, and then make it a goal to reach a specific number of new people.

The number 100 isn’t a magic one. In fact, the number 100 may not be for you. What’s important is that you set a specific, measurable, and attainable first-time guest goal.

What should it be?

That’s a matter for prayer and discussion among your leaders.

But Nelson Searcy says if you want your church to be in rapid growth mode, you should target 7 weekly guests for every 100 people in attendance.

Look at your current numbers, consider your situation, and set a goal.

#2 – Decide to do it.

The biggest thing holding many churches back isn’t a lack of space, an outdated facility, a poor website, or a faltering program.

It’s a mindset.

Some churches have a stuck mindset, falling back to the way things are because embracing change appears too difficult.

Some churches have an insider mindset, choosing to continue programs that benefit long-time members but ignoring the needs of changing communities.

Some churches want to reach people, but in reality, their mindset isn’t ready just yet.

If your church is going to reach unchurched people, it’s going to require the right mindset.

And this is hard.

You can’t lead your church to reach the unchurched with a vision meeting or a passionate sermon.

Your goals have to become your priorities, and these are two different things.

You can set any goal you want, but if the goal doesn’t become a priority, nothing is going to change.

A goal is great, but a priority is better.


#3 – Plan your follow up in advance.


What happens when a guest visits?

Is it intentional or accidental?

And is it effective?

Head to a whiteboard or open up some flowchart process and design an experience. Your process might include some of the following steps.

  • An immediate text message. A service like Text in Churchwould help.
  • A phone call or voicemail. A church in Charlotte, NC uses SlyDialto leave a voicemail for a guest. The person’s phone never rings but a voicemail is waiting for them when they get to the parking lot.
  • An automated email sequence. You could use your database program or a tool like MailChimpto send 3-5 emails spread over a month to new guests. The content of these emails can be tailored to new people and answer the most common questions.
  • A hand-written thank you note. In the digital age, this might feel antiquated, but it’s one of the most personal and often the most effective follow up strategies.

Here is an example of a documented follow up process (the original, editable file along with step-by-step coaching and sample email content is available instantly to Church Fuelmembers).

Even if you don’t have many guests, I recommend working hard on your follow up process. The act of intentionally planning will help solidify your priorities and create a healthy expectation.

#4 – Design your service with guests in mind.

Gavin Adams, the Lead Pastor at Woodstock City Church, says we should not worry about being seeker-sensitive but we should strive to be seeker-comprehensible.

One specific place this principle matters is the church service itself.

The fact of the matter is that many church services are designed for people who understand how church services work. They assume people know what’s going on and have context for everything happening.

Now most people probably know the drill.

But new people will not.

That’s why it is important to design everything in your church service with guests in mind.

Pretend someone is at your church for the very first time. Pretend a 5th grader is attending “big church” for the very first time.

Explain every single thing every single time.

And when regulars say, “We get it…you don’t have to explain it any more”… remind them the explanation is not for them, but for new people.

You probably don’t need to change anything you do and you may not need to adjust anything you are planning to preach. You just need to explain it.

Here are some examples.

  • If you’re asking people to turn to a book of the Bible, give specific directions, and context. Don’t assume people know where Philippians is.
  • If you’re observing the sacraments of Baptism or Communion, explain the meaning every single time. Don’t assume people know what it means or why it’s important.
  • If you receive an offering, explain how to participate. It might sound silly, but this is one of the most important moments in your church service.
  • If you’re making announcements, don’t toss around ministry names that won’t mean anything to a guest.

Carey Nieuwhof says one of the marks of a church service designed to reach the unchurched is the service already engages teenagers. He writes, “If teens find your main services (yes, the ones you run on Sunday mornings) boring, irrelevant, and disengaging, so will unchurched people.”

For more on this, read Nine Signs Your Church is Ready to Reached Unchurched People.

#5 – Equip your people to invite.

In a national survey conducted by author Thom Rainer and his staff, eight out of ten unchurched men and women said they would come to church—if only someone would invite them. He shares these findings in the book titled The Unchurched Next Door.

You probably know that personal invitations are the most effective way to reach new people. But how do you get your church to actually follow through with this?

Churches often do a great job encouraging their people to invite their friends, neighbors, and co-workers. But encouragement and equipping are two different things.

People don’t just need encouragement to invite, they need the tools. You need to do more than ask them to bring people to church, you need to give them resources that make it easy to follow through.

People don’t just need encouragement to invite, they need the tools. You need to do more than ask them to bring people to church, you need to give them resources that make it easy to follow through.CLICK TO TWEET

Some ways you can do this are:

  • Print invite cards and place them at the doors.
  • Write a Facebook post and send it to people with specific directions on when to post.
  • Create sharable graphics for people to use on social media.
  • Preach regularly on evangelism, inviting, and outreach, highlighting these specific tools in your messages.


Going into 2019 with a new outlook

Your new outlook must start with putting the past behind you and looking toward the future. That mean your past failure, your past pain, your past accomplishment, those that hurt you and those you have hurt.

Philippians 3:12-13 (NLT2)
 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,

 If you can learn How your Best is yet to Come?

  1. Learn from the past but don’t dwell there.

Yes. Those negative experiences you had can actually be used for learning and future experiences — no matter how painful they are. Take some time to reflect on the experience and look at ways at it can actually benefit you down the road.

You can learn from your experiences by reflecting on these few simple questions:

  • What really happened? Answer only by confronting the facts.
  • What emotions do I feel? I personally like to write them down.
  • How can I use this to empower myself and my feelings?

After answering these questions, it’s time to move on. While reflecting on the past for a little bit of time is acceptable, dwelling on it will only keep those negative thoughts and feelings around.

  1. Express your feeling in real time.

Don’t hesitate to get the pain you’re feeling off your chest. Whether it’s talking to the individual who has harmed you (or who you harmed), venting to a friend or writing it down, expressing your feelings can assist you in sorting out what, if anything, needs to be done to move on.

More importantly, it’s good for your health.  Holding onto your feelings leads to anxiety, depression, headache and high blood pressure.

“When it’s time to express your real feelings, make sure to use “I” messages. Describe the degree of your emotions, and share them with someone who will listen and not pass judgment. This will help you express the grief you’re going through.”

  1. Don’t play the blame game.

Playing the role of the victim is easy and sometimes feels pretty good, especially compared with accepting the truth. The problem is, blaming others prevents you from going forward. Most often, pointing fingers is just complaining.

Blaming others gives power to someone else and makes us small. “When we blame, we automatically enter the negative zone. We detest someone else or some external factor because we were not able to mold life into our own favor.”

  1. Focus on the present and less on the past.

One of the most effective ways to let go of the past is to grip the present. Instead of reliving the past and getting consumed with negativity, keep yourself active and enjoy the current moment. Learn to use all the talents God has given you. Meditate. Exercise. Make a new circle of friends. In this life  just live in the present – even if it’s just sitting at home and watching the clouds roll by.  Begin to create something new out of the talent(s) God gave you.

Living in the moment, also called mindfulness, “involves being with your thoughts as they are, neither grasping at them nor pushing them away.”  Find a good place in your mind and learn to mediate there.

To achieve a more mindful state, be aware of what you are thinking and feeling, reduce self-consciousness, seek out new experiences and accept your negative feelings and situations as merely being a part of life.

  1. Disconnect for some people who take you down.

Allow yourself to take some time away so that you can clear your head. You don’t have to go on vacation. Just remove yourself from the situation by distancing yourself from the people, places and things that remind you of the past. Practicing ways to disconnect for a while will give you the chance to experience something positive — even if that’s just reading or coloring a drawing.

When you return, you’ll have a perspective on the past.

  1. Think about the people that surround you.

Take inventory of the people that surround you. Who is negative and always bringing you down? Who are the people associated with the past that you’re trying to move away from? You may need to move away from these individuals to find more positive people who will empower you.

There are more than enough ways to meet new people, such as attending local church and workshops. Don’t be shy. Get yourself out there and find a new group of friends and acquaintances who can help you move forward.

  1. Forgive those who wronged you — including yourself.

If you’ve been hurt by someone, the last thing that you may want to do is forgive them. “Forgiving others is essential for spiritual growth.”  Forgiving other is like embracing the past while moving on, making a new agreement with self, not going to sleep angry and being kind and generous.

While you’re at it, forgive yourself. No one is perfect and we all make mistakes. Instead of kicking yourself for your past mistakes, cut yourself some slack and focus on the lessons that you’ve learned.

Once you’re not carrying that anger and resentment, you’ll be able to move on.

  1. Make new memories.

Finally, start making new, positive memories to replace those negative memories from the past. Spend your time with the people who make you happy, the things that bring you joy and in the places that bring you peace. Making new memories is better being stuck in the past.