Well, a public hanging might do it. Or you could hand out money. Or you could arrange an appearance by Lady Gaga. Not ready for that…
There are several considerations that control this critical part of a church plant. At Tellstart, (www.tellstart.com) job one is helping new churches attract that all important crowd – or “critical mass.” 20 people in your living room is critical mass. 20 people in a HS gymnasium is not. Considerations:
1. The universe of available people. We did a marketing program for a planter in rural Iowa. Only 5,000 people in the entire county… You’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince. All mass marketing works off the law of large numbers. This doesn’t mean we should avoid small communities but most of us will have to adjust our expectations according to the available population. (See Charles Hill’s June 6th blog about church planting in small towns)
2. The number of other new churches in your community. Only one chicken at a time can sit on the nest. If you are too close to other local church plants you will struggle, and generate hostility from those who have preceded you there. I started planting in the early 1970s when this was not an issue, but I believe it is now one of the primary reasons for church plant failure.
3. Proximity to a mega church. If some monster church a mile away has a youth department that looks like Disney World with a cross on top, you’re going to have to work twice as hard with half the resources. True, not all prospects will be satisfied with a large church. But isn’t it your goal to increase your numbers? If you only attract people who will be happy in a small intimate church – that’s what you will become.
4. Mass marketing and incarnational personal ministry will both draw a crowd. They are separated by time and cost. Frankly, you can “buy” a crowd. “Keeping” a crowd is another matter. A dozen years ago I spent about $20,000 planting a church. Another church was planted about 200 miles from me in a similar sized Southern city at the same time. They spent $280,000. They were three times our numbers at launch. Three years later we were the same size.
5. Growth must be intentional. When Dan Rather was at the helm of CBS News he used to wad up a piece of paper each morning and put it in his pocket. During the day as he would put his hand in that pocket he would be reminded of what was written on the paper. It said, “Is what you are doing right now improving the broadcast?”
Is what you are doing right now improving your church? Will it bring in more people? Email me for help. I will send you “Incarnational Evangelism: 20 things you can do for free to get people to your church.” Yes, it’s free… firstname.lastname@example.org