How can we reach people with our new church plant or ministry? Where will they come from? What is the best way to communicate God’s Love to them? As we look into the Scriptures we see God timing the launch of The Church with a cultural event that drew many people together:
Acts 2:6-13 (ESV) - And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
I couldn’t see any such event lining up in my city although there have been several since then. I read books on Church Planting to get tips. I looked at Scripture. I talked to peers and mentors. I prayed. Here are some ways to try and connect with people in your context and a few thoughts on each that I have experienced…
- Print Mass Marketing - in spite of all the debate over ‘importing Madison Avenue into the Church’ this can be helpful. Postcards, flyers, etc. We have used them all. It has been more successful in getting people aware of us than it has for getting people to an event or gathering. In the early stages of a new ministry, this type of ‘ground cover’ can be useful. Thus far, less than 5% of our weekly attendees have come as a result of this connection strategy.
- Social-Media Marketing - A Facebook page seems most useful of all the options but it seems good to use as many mediums as possible to connect in the social sphere that is relevant to your context. Frequent posts, blog-type writings, event updates and more all seem to help create awareness. Regular ‘boosting’ of posts is an in-expensive way to broaden your online community and expand your connections. We have seen this as the most effective way to market special events OTHER than our regular church gatherings (like community events). We do see about 2% of our weekly attendees coming from it.
- Website & Search Engine Optimization - It is true that your website is your ‘front door’ of your ministry. It needs to be functional and frequently updated. Even at that, it may not immediately be noticed or findable. We sought out help to optimize our site. There are many options. You can overspend so do your research. We have seen regular guests thanks to this connection strategy with as many as 10% of our weekly attendees coming from it.
- Door-to-Door - Yes, we did that. Yes, we do that. We visited over 2,500 homes in our first year (with the help of several mission teams) and thousands more since then. We simply brought a gift (a coffee mug filled with candy and then a stadium cup when we found they were cheaper and very usable). Included was information about our church and an invitation to be our guest and a brief survey about how ‘the newest church in town’ could serve or pray for them. We have seen low results with this but we have seen results. I meet people on a weekly basis that have been ‘mugged’ by us. We have about 3% of our regular attendees due to this strategy.
- Missional - What I mean by this is similar to what you would read about if reading several of the great ‘missional living’ books out. One I would recommend would be ‘The Missional Quest’ by Lance Ford and Brad Briscoe. This is a more personal way to connect with those around you whether it is neighbors, co-workers, etc. It is a relational connection and can even be a ‘word of mouth’ connection. It is a strategy that has its heart in the Gospel and the Commandment to ‘love people the way Jesus loves us’. It is at the heart of our ministry and we see about 80% of our regular attendees coming from it.
There are many ways to try and connect with folks whether you are a church planter or in some other type/style of ministry. Maybe there isn’t a bad way. Maybe instead of knocking certain styles we should do what we are led to do and applaud others for trying. We must not forget that no matter the strategy, each person is brought to us by God. However, we don’t want to sit back lazily with a ‘we built it, now send them’ faith. We want a faith that is full of obedient action. An action that shows our understanding that we are a ‘sent people’ - John 20:21.
No matter the style, we should bathe our efforts in prayer and lead every effort with love for those that we are striving to connect. Without God’s help and our love we will find that no level of effort will produce lasting results.
How do you best connect with others for the purpose of ministry?