July 14, 2014
By Phil Maynard
I’ve rarely met a church where there wasn’t a desire to introduce more people to Jesus.
Yet, the number one issue as I work with churches (new church plants and existing congregations) is how to reach more people for Jesus.
Basically there are three options.
First, is what most of us think about when we think of marketing. In the marketing world it is termed “top-of-mind awareness”. This approach is about having a sustained level of awareness about your church so that when people begin to think about going to church (if they in fact do) they will think of your church first. This generally works well for already popular ministries. It requires substantial investment of financial resources and expertise in developing creative marketing tools.
The second option is what the marketing community calls “frame-of-mind awareness”. It is about reaching people who are looking for a church. This option doesn’t create a desire for church but fulfills a desire that already exists. This approach probably includes most of our ‘attractional’ ministries where we offer opportunities for people to discover our church and what we have to offer.
The success of both of these approaches is based on the ability of the church to differentiate itself in an environment where there is a ‘church on every corner’. They require the church to be amazing, interesting, exciting, lively, and to create a knock it out of the ballpark experience week in and week out. This, of course, is extraordinarily difficult!
So, let’s consider a third option – a better way. It doesn’t take a big marketing budget. It doesn’t require the investment of hundreds of hours of people’s time in hosting big events and productions. And, it is many times more effective than either of the options considered thus far.
You’ve probably guessed the option by now – it’s the old-fashioned approach of building relationships with people outside the church and inviting them to discover through the witness of your life the blessing of being in a relationship with Jesus. It’s the approach used by Andrew who invited his brother Simon to meet Jesus and Philip who invited Nathanael to meet Jesus (John 1:40-50).
The effectiveness of this approach is based not on the reputation of the church or even Jesus (afterall, can anything good come out of Nazareth?) but on the trusting relationship of brothers and friends. If you want to connect people to Jesus and to the church of Jesus there are some ways to help people:
- Teach that in a life of discipleship worship is bigger than an event. It is a lifestyle that brings honor and glory to God and invites people to something more significant in life
- Model that a life of hospitality is bigger than greeting people who happen to show up at church. It includes building relationships to be Jesus in people’s lives inviting them to discover that relationship for themselves
- Encourage disciples to live into the great commission – go and make disciples. That’s the reason the church exists. This commitment is part of the journey toward maturity for every disciple.
- Invite people to use their spiritual gifts and talents to make a difference in the community around them and in the process build relationships to invite people to meet Jesus. As Lovett Weems puts it: We have to earn the right to be heard (share the gospel).
- Challenge disciples to live a lifestyle of generosity – living on less so that we can bless others more.