I was reviewing some old articles and came across a post refering to a Christian Web Trends article that spurred the idea for a follow-up post. The article is, “The Best Target Demographic Ever“. I encourage you to give is a quick read, but here’s a quick two paragraph recap.
Studies have also shown that the average church will loose about 10% of their members each year and will only convert about 15% of visitors to becoming members. This means that a church has to attract the equivalent of 75% of their church size in new members each year just to maintain their church size. If you have a church of 200 members, you have to have about 150 visitors each year to keep your church around 200 members. That’s 150 visitors for no church growth.
The Best Demographic Ever
In the article, “The Best Target Demographic Ever?”, Paul wrote about how a church’s current members and the people who come to visit the church are the best demographic for a church to market to. Studies have shown that it is much easier to retain members than it is to get new members. Similarly, it’s much easier to get a visitor to come back than it is to get a new visitor. So, why not put a little more focus on keeping more members and getting a greater percentage of visitors to become members?
Below are five relatively cheap and easy ways your church can better engage members and visitors to keep more members and get a greater percentage of visitors to become members:
1. Church eNewsletter
Perhaps the easiest, and least expensive thing a church can do to keep its members better connected is send out a weekly eNewsletter. A mid-week email can inform people of opportunities for fellowship or service, keep people informed about issues facing the church, and include a devotional or prayer requests. For those members who have been sporadic in their participation or disengaged, an eNewsletter could be what God uses to nudge them reengage and reconnect with Him and the church. It doesn’t take long to put together and send an eNewsletter and it’s free!
If you have a church website or a blog, fresh content and engaging content are very important.
I talk a lot about the importance of online church marketing, getting good search engine rankings for connecting new visitors to your website. There is a lot of work that goes into search engine optimization – keyword research, search engine optimization of individual pages, writing content, building links, analytics, and so on. Without some way to re-engage a visitor after they’ve left your site, you’ve invested all of that effort for a one-time visit.
There are several ways to use your website to re-engage members and visitors including forums, a regular blog, podcasting sermons and other messages, and an eNewsletter. Integrating interactive, social web components to your church website can help to engage members seven days a week / 24 hours a day and help engage new visitors as well.
3. Mid-Week Bible Studies
Is church a once a week activity? The more often your church engages members, the more likely they are to stay at the church. Bible Studies, mid-week or on Sundays, also tend to be more personal and allow for personal engagements and relationships that helps people to feel more like a church is a part of their lives.
4. Talk To Each Other
Does your church have greeters? Great, but not enough. If visitors (or members) are able to arrive and leave your church without more than a “good morning”, they are less likely to come back. I’ve seen some studies that show that visitors meeting at least 5 people during a church visit are much more likely to return to that church than people who meet less church members. Again, you are engaging people and creating relationships. It makes visitors feel like the church is friendly and that the people are approachable. It also makes it much more likely that they will return if they have a personal connection with people at the church. It’s ok to be intentional about this and have a ministry specifically tasked with meeting visitors and introducing them to other members.
5. Plug People Into A Ministry
People have busy lives, right? Most people just don’t have the time or the desire to do more than a Sunday service, right? Personally, I think that some people really are actually too busy or not interested in serving, but I think more people just need a little push. They are either interested, but don’t know what to do or they aren’t really thinking about it, but would respond to a nudge. So, give them that nudge.
At most churches the same people tend to do just about everything. Next time you have a project at church or a ministry needs volunteers, maybe you don’t just announce that you need volunteers (that will just get the same people that always volunteer). Instead, intentionally go up to people who don’t normally volunteer and asked them to participate. You may find that you are able to get a lot of those people to start serving more at the church. If they say, “No.” find out why. Is it a schedule conflict? Is it that the project/ministry isn’t something the person feels comfortable with? If so, you may be able to find a different project/ministry that they would like to do or that won’t conflict with their schedule.
I think a lot of people feel like they are imposing by asking someone to volunteer, but keep in mind that serving is something we are all called to do and is something that is good for us to do. How many times have you heard a person say that they got more out of helping than the people they helped?
These are just a couple of ideas that can help your church close the “back door” and convert more visitors into members. These are the people who have already shown interest in your church, so you have a great opportunity with them. Keep evangelizing. Keep marketing your church. But also, do everything you can to make the most of that marketing and evangelism.
What are some ways you have found to be effective at keeping members and getting more visitors to become members?
Kurt Steinbrueck is a Deacon at his church and has been Director of Marketing Services with Ourchurch.Com for over 5 years providing Christian search engine optimization services including a service specific for church marketing, the Top Church Search Rankings service, a church search engine optimization service. Please contact Kurt at OurChurch.Com if you would be interested in getting better rankings for your church in the search engines.