This is going to be a year long process as our church looks to grow our membership in post-COVID 2024. We started in 2023 and will be continuing in 2024. I want to cover as many options as possible, even if our church decided not to try a particular option. We will be trying several things at once so I will not be able to say a particular method/tool worked specifically because our growth may be coming from two methods. We are not going to be doing more than two things to reach our community at a time.
I hope our experience will give you some direction if your church is looking to increase its membership. This is not a specific list but the general methods we are going to be using:
- Online - social media. I'll pass on what type of posts gathered the most responses.
- Online advertising - There are so many options out there but right now we are going to only be looking at Google and Facebook.
- Mission/outreach - Our church (Covenant Church United Methodist) in High Point, NC took over a Methodist Church that closed due to declining membership and are using it as a Food Pantry, Clothing Closet and serving meals. We are currently serving several hundred people every month. The two churches are not that far from each other so we want to invite those we are serving to join in the activities of the church.
- Print outreach material. There are a number of options from material that members hand out to direct mail. I'll be going over the costs and how each of those worked for us.
- Educating the members and encourage them to reach out to their friends, family and neighbors. We are called to share our faith and the most effective, if done by committed believers, is probably still one on one invitations.
- We will also be looking at the way we welcome and help visitors become members of the church.
I want to make what we do as simple as possible. While larger churches may have a social media/marketing or outreach person, the average church has members that are busy doing a lot of different things. If it takes a full time person to accomplish the task, we are not going to include it, unless it was so crazy successful that we doubled our attendance.
I don't know if you are familiar with the Methodist Church, but between COVID and the situation with the Methodist Church, let's just say it has not been good. Our contemporary service has been hurt the most. The older members have come back but our younger families, those with children, have been most likely to stop coming or find another church.
We have a new youth leader who is slowly bringing the youth back. I'd love to hear your thoughts and what your church has done to reach the community. The next post I'll talk about what we have already tried related to print and what worked and did not work.
Covenant Church has a membership of over 1,000. Attendance is currently averaging about 200 at our traditional service, 70 at our contemporary service and 378 online. Prior to Covid we were averaging 200+ at our traditional service and 250 at our contemporary service and 0 online.