Every Christian church might have a different vision, but the mission is the same.
Share the gospel and help people grow in their faith.
This will (and should) look different for every church. Every city is unique. It’s made up of different people with different cultures, races, economic statuses, and ages. You’ll need to reach a college town differently than you’d need to reach a big city. Or a small town filled with snow birds.
But to be able to start reaching people…you need people.
A quick invite to church may not work for a lot of people. Some have their own pre-conceived notions about the local church and they may not want to step foot anywhere near one.
It’s our job to reach these people.
In our communities, in our neighborhoods, in our cities.
So, we’ve come up with some simple ways you can begin making your church a PART of your community rather than your community coming to be a part of it as outsiders.
Here are five ways to make your church known in your community.
1. Partner, don’t compete.
One of the easiest ways to get your church involved in your city is simply by joining or partnering your city with an event or cause that is already happening.
Think about it—how much time, money, and resources would it take for your church to begin talking about hosting a fall bonfire? A movie in the park night? A 5K?
If it’s already going on (or there is a group that can easily make it happen), all your church would have to do is show up! And we don’t think this is a good idea just to save time and money.
Partnering with your city, local business, or non-profit organization to do some sort of event or project will communicate two things to your city:
- You care about issues going on in your city and want to do something about them.
- You care about people and not just the headcount of your church.
People notice when you are leaving your church to partner with them about something you both care about. It’s a great conversation starter that can easily lead to building relationships. And with an established relationship, you can have opportunities to share the gospel.
And what a great help or testament you would be to organizations needing more hands, time, money, and resources! An event put on together would probably be done better than something you were putting together just as a church. All while making some lasting relationships along the way.
Think about something your church is passionate about. Or even something silly you do every year.
An Easter Egg Hunt, a 5K, a dance marathon…the list goes on.
Reach out to your city or local leaders and figure out what events you could work on partnering together.
2. Ask key leaders to join community organizations.
John Maxwell says a leader is someone who “knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”
A pastor who leads in tithing will typically have a generous church.
A youth pastor who is at high schools, football games, and recitals typically has leaders who are equally invested in the lives of their students.
In the same way, key leaders in the life of your church who are involved in community organizations will be noticed by the rest of your church members. And that lifestyle WILL become a part of your church’s culture.
City Church in Tallahassee, Florida has a team of volunteers to work concessions at local high school football games, a task usually done by parents of players. This way, parents can watch their kids play and enjoy the game night atmosphere with friends and family.
It’s a simple but powerful way they’ve been able to build a strong relationship with the local high school.
They also host a ‘Coffee and Connections’ group with Access Tallahassee that meets the first Friday of the month as a networking event.
It’s a simple and regular way that City Church connects with young professionals in their city.
It doesn’t have to be extravagant. You’ve just got to show up.
3. Car decals and t-shirts.
Everyone loves free stuff.
Back in my college days, there used to be this HUGE housing fair every fall and spring. Probably 10% of the people who went were genuinely interested in looking for a place to stay.
Nearly EVERYONE else was there for the free shirts, pens, mugs, candy, and koozies. And they weren’t even stylish. They had giant, ugly emblems of housing logos on the apparel. But that didn't matter to us. If you scored a long-sleeve, you were named king.
Shameless, I know.
But it’s what we did.
Imagine what people would do for a stylishly designed shirt from your church! Or a fancy car magnet or decal.
No strings attached. No having to use a fake e-mail.
Just a genuine gift to say ‘hey, thanks for visiting our church’.
Not only will that leave a lasting impression on your new guests, but hey—free walking advertising! And a sense of unity when you see another car parked in the Trader Joe’s parking lot with your church’s name on it.
4. Open up your facility.
No one likes a closed-door policy.
Keeping your doors open to events outside of your church is a great way to build relationships with people in your community.
From weddings to funerals to Quinceañeras—all of these events are great opportunities to love on people and serve your community well.
From fair pricing to interacting with guests to the service you provide, you have the opportunity to change people’s perceptions of the local church, to learn more about them, and serve them well.
5. Do business locally.
With online shopping and the era of one-click purchasing, it is tempting to do all of our business online.
It’s the epitome of instant gratification.
You see what you want, you click it, you wait two days.
But not all things can be done online (and they shouldn’t).
Relationships don’t happen in a one-click purchase.
We’re not saying we don’t appreciate saving that $4 on the book you were looking for. But that extra $4 could go towards walking into a bookstore, smelling the crisp smell of freshly printed paper, and striking up a conversation with someone. Someone that you could be a relationship with. Someone you could share the gospel with.
Don’t take these opportunities for granted.