Some obstacles in church growth are hard to overcome. For many, getting a hundred people at their church seems impossible. Other churches can’t get past three hundred. And some churches have thousands but still struggle to reach their community.
Church growth can require a lot of knowledge. But it doesn’t have to be difficult.
There are no obstacles that cannot be overcome. So, I compiled this list of things that you can do to start growing your local church. I tried to be as detailed as possible and provide actionable recommendations.
I’ll go through these 10 steps and provide detailed instructions so that you can easily grow your local church:
- Find New Ways To Serve Your Community (With Ideas)
- Have A Great Website (Here’s How)
- Register Your Church on Google My Business
- Teach Your People to Make Disciples
- Immediately Help People Get Connected
- Get Involved With A Local School (With Email Templates)
- Make Church Invite Cards for Your Congregation
- Livestream Your Services Well (Everything You Need to Know)
- Help People Watching Online Join You in Person (Here’s How)
- Host Special Services or Celebrations
If you want to find new ways to grow your church or ways that you can improve on your current processes, the rest of this post is for you.
1. Find New Ways To Serve Your Community (With Ideas)
If you ask many pastors where most of their church members come from, they would tell you that they came from times when they were serving their community. Not only will this help your church grow, but more importantly, it is a command in the Bible.
Jesus taught us that we are to be Salt and Light to the world (Matthew 5:13). We are to let our light shine among men.
There are many great ways that your church can get involved in the community. As you do this, you’ll notice that more and more people know about and appreciate your church.
And you will have many more opportunities to explain the gospel to people who need to hear it.
Here are some possibilities for your church:
- Make and distribute food for those in need.
- Participate in community events.
- Host a public movie night at the park.
- Volunteer to clean up public streets and parks.
- Sponsor and support a local youth sports team or complex.
If you can find a way to serve your community, it will make a big difference. Consider hosting a public community event if there are none in your area.
2. Have A Great Website (Here’s How)
Your website is your church’s home base online.
Most people will visit your website before they visit your church. Your first impression and first interaction with your community are through your website.
You want to use that opportunity to make it easy for anyone to visit your church. You also have the opportunity to present the gospel through your website.
There are a few important things you absolutely need on your website.
First, you want directions to your local church. Most people who come to your website are looking for directions to your building. This will be the most clicked button on your website.
Second, you want a clear way for people to get connected. Make it easy for them to find your small groups or discipleship group page.
Third, you want to have your doctrinal statement easily available on your website. Many people care a lot about what your church believes. They will look at this statement before visiting because there are many different views within Christianity. New families in the area who attended church before will care a lot about your doctrinal statement.
Lastly, make sure that your sermons are easy to find. Many people will want to listen to a sermon before they visit your church.
Following these three steps will make your website much more helpful than the majority of church websites in the United States.
More than anything, your website needs to be useful. Make it easy for people to decide to come to your church.
3. Register Your Church on Google My Business
If people are looking for churches in your area, the first place that they will go to is Google.
If you’ve ever looked up a restaurant or a business in your area and you see a list of businesses, that is because they are registered with Google My Business.
You want your business to show up when people are searching for churches, and registering with Google My Business is by far the best step to getting there. It allows people to easily get directions, find your website, get in touch, or leave their thoughts on your church.
People look at those reviews before visiting to see what other people have said about your church. Good reviews can make people even more excited to visit.
Registering your website with Google My Business also gives Google all of the information they need to help you promote your church in your area.
The problem is that Google doesn’t know everything they need to know to promote your church. When someone searches for churches, Google wants to provide the most helpful experience for the user.
They want to be able to give as much information as they can to help people find what they’re looking for. Registering your church will give Google more information about you so that they can easily give that information back to the consumer.
Plus, it’s super easy to register with Google My Business. Just click here to go to their website. Everyone else is worrying about how they will make their website easy for Google to understand, but simply registering will put you way ahead of the game.
I helped my local church do this and now they get people finding the church on Google a lot more often. Plus, we can see easily what has been helpful and what was not helpful about our messaging.
4. Teach Your People to Make Disciples
The Bible commands us to make disciples, and the biblical expectation is that the gospel will transform our communities through us.
All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.–Matthew 28:18-20
These verses are a command to the entire church. It was not just given to the Apostles. And it surely was not given only for elders/pastors of churches.
It was given for everyone. And it is a privilege of the whole church to be able to take the gospel into their communities.
However, it can be difficult and awkward to share the gospel. Your people might feel intimidated.
Your job as their pastor is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry” according to Ephesians 4:12.
If you teach your people to make disciples who make disciples, you will see growth in your church. And it will be gospel growth.
A lot of churches find that their growth comes from taking members from other churches. I’m not condemning this entirely, but all of Heaven rejoices when church growth comes from gospel proclamation that led to repentance and belief.
Here’s how you can do this:
- start a weekly discipleship class
- teach your people to hold each other accountable to sharing the gospel every week
- integrate stories of evangelism into your small groups
- emphasize the importance of the Great Commission from the pulpit
I’ve seen many churches who do this greatly succeed in growing their congregation.
But the greatest reward from this is seeing the Holy Spirit transform lives through the power of the Gospel.
5. Immediately Help People Get Connected
You may think that visitors want to slip in and out of the church without being noticed. You would be absolutely wrong.
One of the most important ways to grow your congregation is to retain visitors.
Getting them to show up is step one. Getting them to stay is step two, and that is even more important.
You need to make sure that you provide every avenue for them to get connected on their first day. I cannot tell you the number of people that I know who did not go back to a church because there was no opportunity to make friends and get connected.
Here are a few ideas of how you can help people get connected on their first day:
- Have your friendliest people greet them
- Have volunteers on rotation to invite visitors to lunch after church
- Have the pastor invite visitors to come to talk to him after the service
- Mention your small groups on the first day
- Incentivize talking to a member of your greeting team by offering a free gift that has real value
In the end, the most important way you can accomplish this is by having a friendly, welcoming church.
If the visitor feels like they have the potential to make friends, they will stay. If they make even one friendly connection on their first day, they are significantly more likely to return.
Encourage your whole church to find visitors and greet them.
6. Get Involved With A Local School (With Email Templates)
I probably don’t have to tell you how important it is that you are involved in discipling young people. To grow as a church and to be a healthy church, you have to invest in the younger generation.
Getting involved with a local school is a good way to get children and their parents to come and visit your church.
Moreover, the youth of today are the adults of tomorrow. Giving attention to the younger generation will help your church to be healthier in the future.
You can do this inside your church by having a youth group, but one of the most impactful ways for you to get involved in your community is to volunteer and teach at the local schools.
It’s probably not as difficult as you think to get involved with the local school. Most of them have Christian groups or clubs that would love to have a local Pastor come and teach.
Schools might also have ways that you can volunteer. They’re always needing extra hands to give students a great experience. This is a great way to be the hands and feet of Christ to your community.
Start with identifying a school that you would like to get involved in.
You can look through their website to see if they have clubs listed. Check if they have any Christian clubs, such as the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. You can get in touch with the teacher who sponsors or oversees the club to ask if you can get involved in some way.
Here’s a template email to send to a club sponsor or president:
Hi Mr(s). _____, my name is _____ and I am a pastor at _____, a local church in the area. I’d love to get involved with your club in any way that would serve you.
Do you ever need people to lead Bible Studies or serve your group in any other way?
I’d love to help.
If there are no such clubs at the school, there are still ways that you can get involved. Reach out to a principal or someone what’s more Authority at the school to see if there are any opportunities.
Here’s a template email that you can send to a teacher or principal at a local school:
Hi Mr(s). _____, my name is _____ and I am a pastor in the area. Our church, _____, is always looking for ways to serve our community and would love to help your school in any way that we can.
What can we do to volunteer or bless your school?
If there are no opportunities, there will be many more schools in your area that you can get involved in. There are always opportunities to get involved in local schools.
Not only is this a good way to serve, but it’s also a good way to get students plugged into your church and even to bring families to Christ.
7. Make Church Invite Cards for Your Congregation
One easy way to grow your church is to give your congregation and easy way to invite people into their lives.
It can be intimidating to ask someone to come to church. When you have an invitation to give them, it takes some of the stress away. It makes your church members like you have a reason to be talking to the person they’re inviting.
You might think that it is difficult to design and expensive to order these. But it doesn’t have to be either.
If you do a quick web search, you can find many places that design & print church invitation cards.
Some websites also allow you to easily design them yourself. The picture above is an example of a free template you can find on Canva. Here’s a link to that website that has many choices of designs that you could make in 60 seconds or less.
My church found that the best prices and customer service were with our local printer. Feel free to look around the internet and around your city to find the best printer.
No matter what, invitations are well worth the price that you pay for them. Even if they costed ten times more than they actually do, you should still have them.
The church invitations also make it easy for people to remember to come when they are invited.
When you are not used to coming to church, it can be hard to remember to get up early on a Sunday morning. These invitations will serve as a reminder to many people. They might leave the invite on their counter, stick it on their fridge, leave it on their desk, etc. but they will certainly see it multiple times.
It’ll also make it easy for them to find directions to the church. They might not remember which church they were invited to. They might have trouble finding it online. But with the card, they will be invited, remember to come, and easily find the church.
That is why these invitations are so important.
8. Livestream Your Services Well (Everything You Need to Know)
For Better or Worse, watching a church service online is becoming a very regular event.
Many people will watch your service online before ever deciding to come and many people will watch online thinking that they are attending church.
In our current circumstances, it goes a long way to have a well-thought-out and well-produced online stream to your church service on Sunday mornings.
It doesn’t have to be very complicated or glamorous.
There are only 3 things you need to do to have a fantastic live stream:
- Have good video.
- Have good audio.
- Make your stream easily accessible.
So, let’s talk about how you can do all three of these things really well.
Having Good Video
First, you need to have good video. Many affordable cameras will give you high-quality videos that you can use to stream.
To make the process easy, my church went to Best Buy and bought a camcorder instead of a DSLR camera. These will typically be easier to use and easy to integrate with streaming software.
Plus, purchasing a camcorder means that you don’t have to buy additional lenses.
You’ll want to make sure that your camera is pointed at a good angle and your zoom is at a good distance. The people online should feel like they are included in the congregation.
You also need to make sure that the camera is in focus. If you have anyone who has worked in media at your church, this should be a super easy process.
Here are some camcorders that are cost-effective and will work for what we need, but feel free to look around for one that fits your budget:
- Canon VIXIA HF R700 – $300
- This camera provides an inexpensive way to easily boost the quality of your live streams.
- Panasonic HC-V770K Full HD – $450
- This is a good mid-range camera, possibly for those who do not like to use Canon cameras. Like the others, it provides HD-quality video and can easily stream.
- Canon VIXIA HF G40 HD – $1,100
- This camera is a great step up if you want the best quality streams. It is less cost-efficient, but this camera might have uses that would help your church in other areas.
Follow those steps to have great video will really improve your live stream.
Having Good Audio
Which do you think is more important, audio or video?
The answer might be surprising. It is audio, hands down.
If people click your stream and you have good video and bad audio, they are very likely to click away. Bad audio is very difficult to deal with for the user.
However, if people click your stream and it has bad video and good audio, they are less likely to click away. Good audio can sometimes make up for bad video.
That’s why it is super important to have great audio for your live streams.
How do you do this? Well, having good audio is mostly about equipment, but not entirely.
Audio equipment is significantly cheaper than video equipment. But you will have to buy a good microphone and a good system to hook it up to your stream.
Most churches have already invested in a soundboard, and that will be a very useful tool for your audio.
For the best quality sound, I would choose a headset microphone. Your other options are a lavalier microphone or a shotgun microphone, but both of them do not provide the highest-quality sound that you can get. Headset microphones are the most versatile and provide the best quality audio.
Here are some microphones for every budget:
- Samson SE10T Earset Microphone with Miniature Condenser Capsule – $110
- While this microphone is inexpensive, it requires a connection to your already existing audio setup. It is not wireless, which can cause issues if you are far away from your soundboard.
- Countryman E6OW5T2SL Springy E6 Omnidirectional Earset – $319
- This is a reliable wireless microphone with good sound quality. This is what my church used for a long time, and it was a good purchase.
- Audio-Technica 3000 Series Wireless System Wireless Microphone System – $919
- While this microphone is expensive, it comes with some features that might be useful for some Churches. It has great audio quality, and it comes with a receiver/transmitter that could be useful depending on your audio setup.
Some churches with good audio equipment still fail to equalize their tracks well. This leads to the common issue of having a very quiet live stream. It is important to make sure that you can be easily heard on the live stream.
If you can do that with good audio, you can provide a great streaming experience.
Making Your Stream Accessible
You might think that it is enough to put your stream on Facebook. But it’s not.
You want to make sure that your stream is in as many places as possible… Especially on your website.
Your Facebook page might be hard to find, your YouTube channel is definitely hard to find, and neither is the first place that people will go to find your live stream.
If someone wants to view your church service, they will go to your website.
If you do not have your live stream available on your website, you are missing out. It is also helpful to have the stream and various other places, such as Facebook or YouTube.
The problem is: How do I livestream to so many places at once? And how do I set it up on my website?
The answer to the second question is easy. You can set up your live stream primarily on YouTube, and then embed it into your website.
Most church websites are built on WordPress, and there is a free plugin that allows you to easily put your YouTube live stream video on your website. It is called Embed Plus.
With this plugin, you will be able to put your live stream on your website easily.
If you are wanting to stream directly to multiple places at once, there are a few tools that allow you to do that easily. The one that many of my friends have used is called BoxCast.
The problem with these services is that they cost monthly. However, if you are willing to pay a monthly fee to make streaming your church services easier, it might be worth checking out. Other companies provide similar services – so feel free to search around.
9. Help People Watching Online Join You in Person (Here’s How)
Of course, the end goal is not to get more people into your online streams. The end goal is to get people into church – and possibly church membership.
You might think that people will decide to come to church on their own, but it is much more effective for you to do some kind of marketing.
Marketers understand the importance of helping customers get from one stage to the next. For example, you helped someone get from not knowing about your church to knowing about your church. Then they went from knowing about your church to watching a live stream. The next step is to get them from watching a live stream to attending on a Sunday morning.
It’s important to think through how you help people get from one step to the next.
So, how can you help people who are watching your live stream decide to attend church?
First, make sure to preach the importance of the local gathering. The Bible is clear that it is wrong to forsake the gathering of the local church. The Holy Spirit Works to correct us and make us into the likeness of Christ. This includes convicting us about the importance of being in a local church.
Second, you can simply ask people on the live stream to attend a service. Say something like this:
“If you are watching online, I would like to invite you to join us in person next Sunday. We would love to get to meet you and to bless you in any way that we can. So come say hi!”
Some people might not even think of coming in person. But this will show them that it’s important to you that you can know them.
Third, you can incentivize joining in person.
Mention that visitors who joined online can get a special gift if they join in person next week. This gift could be something easy like a book or a gift card.
Through all of this, make sure that the emphasis is on your desire to meet them and to see them become part of a loving community.
10. Host Special Services or Celebrations
When there is a special celebration at church, people feel more obligated to show up. It’s a weird cultural thing in the United States.
That’s why we have so many people show up for Christmas and Easter but don’t go otherwise.
But if you have had a special event in the past, you’ll know that more people will show up. Some of them will be visitors. Others will be people who claim your church as their church home but rarely show up.
This is a tool you can use sparingly to boost attendance and help people get connected.
Of course, you want to make sure that you are still feeding the church every Sunday. These celebrations can sometimes take away from your normal Ministry of the word. But if they are too common, they also stop working.
However, having a few special celebrations a year can bring in a lot more visitors to your church.
Here are some ideas to make some days more special:
- A kickoff of a new series
- I believe that churches should preach through books of the Bible. Some churches also preach topical sermons. If you are going through a series, it’s fun to make a big event to kick off the beginning of a new series. Make invitation cards, remind the church weeks in advance, and make it a big deal.
- The beginning of Advent
- People feel obligated to attend church on Christmas. You can make the most of this by celebrating the Incarnation throughout the entire month of December. Make a big deal about Advent and encourage your members to invite their friends.
- Mother’s and Father’s Day
- Many churches celebrate Mother’s and Father’s Day, and it is a great idea to celebrate a special day in the church. Parenthood is a gift of God and the church has the right to teach on it and celebrated as the people of God.
- While Thanksgiving is an American celebration, the concept of giving thanks is overtly biblical. Thanksgiving is a great holiday for your church to celebrate together, invite new people, and learn to give thanks to God for his grace to save us and care for us.
- Local celebrations
- Every area has local celebrations. Make sure that you take advantage of yours by participating in the community and even celebrating them, when appropriate, as a congregation on Sunday morning.
- Bring A Friend To Church Day
- Of course, people should be inviting their friends anyway. But if you make it a special event, the odds are that many people will bring their friends when they wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s a fun way to get to know new people and introduce new people to your church.
All of these recommendations are best done together. If you are going to host a special celebration, make sure to make invitation cards, set up a live stream, and remind your congregation of the importance of making disciples.
Most of all, your priority as a pastor is to care for your people. You know that Hebrews 13:17 says that you will give an account for their souls. That is a weighty calling, and I’m sure you very much feel it.
Don’t get discouraged when your church is shrinking or you can’t seem to grow. Be grateful to God for the work that he is doing no matter what.
And always look to Christ.
Brooks is currently pursuing a Masters of Divinity with an emphasis in Biblical Counseling from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the Marketing Manager at Bethany Global University, a college dedicated to training missionaries to reach the unreached.