How Big is Your Church?

attendance, events, online, podcast, streaming

How Large is My Church?

As you look at your Sunday church attendance or at your size of membership, you may ask: “How large is my church?”

The answer should seem straight forward.  A recent study by the Barna Research Group, of Ventura, CA found that the typical Protestant church in the United States has 89 adult attendees during an average weekend.  Does that mean your church has a regular size of 89 people though?  There are regular attendees who are out due to illness, personal travel, business travel and perhaps other family commitments.  There are also those who only attend small groups and Sunday school.

There are also those who view your services but never see them.  Church online is now a very accepted option for Sunday services. According to Pew Research, 27% of church attendees now attend online on a regular basis, 10% watch solely online, and 16% switch between in-person and online services.  If 20% of your attendees on any given Sunday are online, you’re Sunday attendance may be 111 instead of just 89.

The same Pew Research article mentioned that 21% of adults use apps or websites to learn more about the bible and 15% listen to or watch religious podcasts.  And live streams can be streamed again later to the same or new audiences.

Churches also provide outreach to parents and children beyond Sunday through vacation bible school, weekly day care, sports and regular summer camps.  These activities aren’t counted as “regular attendance” but do provide opportunities to reach people with Christ’s messages and open opportunities to invite them to more church events.  There are others who you are actively reaching out to, those who have moved but still care about the church, and even some who may never join your church but can help you reach many who may.

Perhaps the real question is “How Large is Your Reach?”

How Large is my Reach?

I have spoken with so many church leaders who say “our active church membership is XXX” and they want to make sure they don’t include people beyond that when setting up their church database.  But I’d like to share why that may not be the right approach.

You will see many of the same faces from week to week, but many others are influenced by your ministry as well.  If you forget about them, they may forget about you.  Your reach is bigger than your weekend attendance.  When I founded Faith Teams, this “bigger reach” message was one of the biggest messages I wanted to share with church leaders.  With that message, I also wanted to give them the tools to influence those within their reach effectively.  Here are a few examples of “how large your reach” really is:

Guests:  In many cases, your guests who have visited once or twice should be considered as “part of your church” until they tell you otherwise.  As a pastor, I know of many cases where we have continued to engage guests who have visited over the past year or two.  And to my continual surprise, many of them still reply to our messages thanking us for the invitation, and some do return.  Here’s what I have learned:  Communicate with them as if they belong, and they will often respond.  Let them tell you they’re not interested, don’t plan to return, or otherwise unsubscribe from your texts & email.  Guests are a part of your “reach”.

Outside Supporters: Many churches have those who are connected with the church and wish to show some support, even though they don’t attend.  Whether it’s another church or ministry that wishes to show support, a former member who has moved, or just someone who cares about your church, you want to keep these people in your database and continue to let them know about the progress of the church, as well as thank them for their support.  Yes, it’s a different message than goes to your weekly members, but systems like Faith Teams are designed to allow you to “target” those distinct groups with the right message.  Outside supporters are part of your church’s “reach”.

Community: Find unique community members to help spread the word about your church.  As. you build a relationship with them, add them to your database, and consider them to be your ambassadors.  They may be realtors, town/city council members, builders & contractors, business owners, parents at your children’s schools, or anyone you believe to be a great partner.  When there are opportunities for community connections, include them and invite them to invite their network of people.  Events such as community/Earth Day clean-up day, Back to School giveaways, and Holiday gift wraps are great examples of events where you can  maximize reach by tapping into others’ networks.  These community leaders and people are part of your church’s “reach”.

Faith Teams makes it SIMPLE to visualize the true size and impact of your church but it requires thinking about it in a broader view than just those who visit your main services.  It also helps you to engage them with the right “message” using text messages and email that is “targeted” with the right message to the right group of people.

So go ahead, church leader and continue to grow your church and grow the reach of your church!

-Shane LaPierre

Founder / CEO Faith Teams

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