Here's How You Can Attract Potential New Church Members
Have You Noticed that the Largest Churches Have Amazing Websites?
There’s a reason for that…
They know that you have to meet people where they are and connect with them before they will even consider visiting.
Let’s break that out.
But before we do, let’s look at a couple hypothetical, extreme, and different approaches to getting the word out about your church. (You might even find a use for this as a sermon illustration.)
Imagine that you are a church in or near a city and you want to attract new members.
Here are a couple of ways you could go about it.
Option #1: Grab posterboard and a marker. Make a sign that says, “First Church is on 100 Main St. Come visit us.” Then, you take it outside of town to a crossroads in the country and nail it to a pole.
Option #2: Hold an event that people want to participate in, locate it where people naturally congregate, and make sure visitors have all they need to get to know you and like you as a church.
Which approach do you think churches should take? A no-brainer, right?
Well, maybe not…
You see, that’s a metaphor I like to use for how churches actually go about looking for new members (Option#1) and how they could be going about it, but choose not to (Option #2).
Looking More Closely
Okay, now let’s go back to my earlier statement:
[Large churches with amazing websites] know that (1) you have to meet people where they are and (2) connect with them (3) before they will even consider visiting.
It’s time to break all that out.
You Have to Meet People Where They Are
At one point in time, those country crossroads were really important as people traveled from one location to another. But, times have changed. Those same roads are no longer the thoroughfares they used to be.
If you want people to know about you, you have to go to where they are.
Look around you at how many people are constantly looking at their phones. What about you? How often do you turn to your phone with your questions?
The internet has developed into the major gathering spot where people meet others and find answers to their burning questions.
Now, ask yourself this: If those people decided to look for a church…
…how many of them are going to go straight to Google first?
If they search and you don’t show up, well… out of sight, out of mind. You simply aren’t an option.
With the internet as accessible as it is, there really isn’t any good reason whatsoever for a church not to show up with bells on. However, many churches do indeed choose not to have a quality web presence. They’ve decided that handwritten signs on poster board at the crossroads of a rural intersection (aka, “the old ways of doing things”) are good enough for them.
It’s unfortunate but true.
You Have to Connect with Them
Have you ever met that person who just can’t stop talking about themselves? They don’t really listen and keep redirecting the conversation until it’s all about them.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to find them rather annoying.
Most of the church websites that I have looked at come across this way. They do not display any interest whatsoever in the people who are looking for a church. Instead, all they do is talk about themselves and how great they are.
But it’s a relatively easy one to fix … if you know what you’re doing.
This is where quality copywriting comes in. A professional copywriter can write text for your website that focuses on the experience of your visitors. Each time they show up to your website, you want them to experience a sense of belonging that increases the possibility of them showing up on your doorstep.
This is not an easy skill to learn or master.
Unfortunately, most church websites seem to rely on amateur writing. As a result, they can become that annoying “let’s talk about me” person who runs the danger of a bad first impression. While they don’t intend to turn away visitors who might be a good fit for the congregation, they certainly can.
You Have to Trigger the Desire to Actually Visit Your Church
In this day and age, people meet churches with suspicion. While it’s hard for those who have lived inside the institution all their lives to hear, the fact is that the church is often seen as a money-grubbing, tyrannical, and abusive organization by those on the outside.
I know this because I did not grow up in the church. In fact, I did not join the church until my late 20s. So, I understand this cultural bias against religion, and I see it growing stronger every day.
Yet, at the same time, we see people hunger for spiritual truth. They want more out of life. They want a place where they can find a meaningful spiritual connection with others and make a difference in this world.
When visitors land on your website, your message must be presented in a way that overcomes the cultural bias against organized religion, demonstrates that you can help them to encounter deeper meaning in life, and gives them hope that they can thrive as spiritual beings in the midst of your community.
This is no simple task. And its importance cannot be overstated.
Don't Forget Where We Started
Which brings me back to my original question…
Have you noticed that the largest churches have amazing websites?
Their websites are not just hand-written signs nailed to the internet to let people know of their existence. They are full-fledged, 24/7 evangelists who meet people where they are, connect with them, and present their message in a way that ignites a desire to participate in their communities.
In other words…
Those websites are done by professionals who know what they’re doing.
It’s not that an amateur website can’t help. Theoretically, it could. But, it could also end up giving visitors a bad experience, and you wouldn’t even know it was happening. Yes, amateur work is a lot cheaper, but it also brings a lot more risk. And (at the very least) an amateur website is not going to live up to its evangelistic potential.
Now, the Elephant in the Room
At this point, you’re probably wondering…
Will a professionally-built and written website increase your membership?
Well, that’s a trick question, because that’s not a website’s job.
The job of the website is to connect with people so that they want to visit your church. Whether they stay and become members depends entirely on their experience within the congregation itself.
So, if you have a congregation that people don’t want to participate in after they have experienced it, then a high-quality website isn’t going to help you at this time. Instead, I recommend that you spend your time and resources on developing the quality of your community before you invite the masses in. You’re just not ready for it yet.
If, however, you have a congregation who is ready for visitors, then it’s probably a good time for you to invest in a 24/7 evangelist (aka, “church website”), one who lives where the people live (online).
If this is where you are, I would love to talk with you about how I can help you develop an online persona who represents the spirit of your congregation and speaks to those who may be called to visit your community.
Why in the World Would You Want to Work with Me?
Because (as I mentioned before) I did not grow up in the church. As a result, I understand the culture outside of it.
And, because I’m also an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), so I understand the culture inside the church as well.
That means I speak the languages of both the insider and the outsider, and I can translate what matters in order to initiate quality relationships.
Can you think of a more ideal background for someone to bridge the gap?
To find out more about how I approach things, check out my website for Copy Niche Copywriting.
To go straight to setting up a phone appointment with me, grab a spot on my calendar.
If you are in the Beloit, WI area (where I live) and prefer to meet face to face, just use my contact form and invite me out for coffee.
Still Need More?
How about a sneak peek at what your website could look like?
Click the image and go to a sample Homepage I created for a fictional church. As you look it over, try to imagine that you are someone looking for a deeper sense of spiritual connection.
Once you’re done, feel free to go back to your own website and see how it compares.