I ran across an article by Dean Seddon recently about why people don’t come to church and it got me thinking…not so much about those specific reasons that he mentioned, but rather about the church marketing approach that we churches use. There are reasons people don’t come to church. Are we making sure that we are addressing those reasons in our marketing campaigns? More than that, are we giving people a reason to come to church?
Why Don’t You Go To Church?
There are a lot of reasons people don’t attend church.
- They want to sleep in on Sundays
- They think all church is like a high Catholic Mass and don’t like that style
- They think church goers (or Christians in general) are self righteous
- They think church goers are fake
- They don’t believe in God
- They don’t have a car
- They had a bad experience at a previous church
- They haven’t been asked
- They have to work on Sundays
- They think they are too sinful
- They travel too much to consistently attend and connect with others
- They don’t believe in organized religion
The list could go on and on I’m sure.
Addressing Real-Life Obstacles
Some of the reasons listed above are personal opinions and perceptions, but others are real world problems that have to be solved for the person to become a member of your church. For example, your church can tell my how exciting the worship is and how “real” your members are until you’re blue in the face, but if i don’t have a car and thus no way to get to your church, I’m not going to come. That’s a real-life problem that has to be addressed before I can come to your service.
Take some time to come up with possible real-life issues that prevent people from coming to your church and come up with ways to address them. For the example above, maybe your church has a bus or could create a carpool system. If a person works on Sundays, maybe your church has a service or functions on other days. For people who travel a lot, perhaps you church offers streaming services and other online features and functions. Be sure to mention these options in your marketing campaigns, including your website.
Many reasons why people don’t attend church are due to preconceived ideas of what church is. This may be based on TV stereotypes, past experiences, or just things they’ve heard. One possible marketing strategy is to attack these preconceptions in your marketing campaign. There is a church in my home town that advertises itself as the church for people who hate church. They’re basically saying, “Look, we aren’t like what your preconceived idea of church is. So, try us out.” That church’s approach is pretty broad, but you can address specific preconceptions as well, whether it’s advertising a contemporary service, describing yourself as real or sinners, etc. Of course the most important part of this is that your church has to fit your description. Don’t describe yourself as contemporary just because you have a guy playing guitar for the hymns instead of an organ.
Giving People A Reason To Come
The last group reasons people don’t come to church are neither real-world obstacles or preconceived notions, they are simply that the people don’t have a good enough reason to come to church instead of doing something else…like getting out of bed. For these reasons you must give a reason for people to come to your church, a reason compelling enough to win out against the competition. What does your church offer?
I think these reasons have to go deep. “Our church has an awesome praise band.” isn’t going to cut it. What do people really want? Maybe they want to find meaning for their life, to fix their marriage, or get help with an addiction. Talk to the inner longings people have.
One other thing to consider is how you deliver that message. If you are trying to reach the unchurched, speak their language. Not everyone knows what “sins” are. For some people “grace” is something you say before dinner. So, think outside the church language box and find the words that will properly communicate with the people you are trying to reach.
The Strongest of the Three
Giving people a compelling reason to come to your church is by far the strongest motivator to get someone to step through the doors of your church. Not only can a good reason get people to be willing to not do something else, but it can convince them to look past their preconceived ideas and it can get them to find ways around those real-world obstacles.
Photo by Lauren Powell-Smothers
What do you think?
What are some of the more common reasons people don’t come to church?
How has your church addressed real-life obstacles?
What reasons does your church offer to get people to come to church?