My dad’s favorite movie when I was growing up was Field of Dreams. In that old movie, Kevin Costner gets a vision to build a baseball field as a voice tells him, “If you build it, they will come.” He builds a regulation-size baseball field, and sure enough, baseball players from many eras prior show up to play. Writing that synopsis makes the movie sound really weird.
If only church planting worked under the “if you build it they will come” idea!
So how are you going to get people to your non-existent church? Here are a few things to consider in these early, preliminary stages…
Use interest meetings to cast vision and reach the community.
Our “launch strategy” (if you want to call it that) was to hit 8 parks around Clarksville, where we would grill burgers, pass out Bibles, and share the Gospel. Looking back, this wasn’t the most effective way to launch a church, but it did what we needed it to do: that park outreach group turned into a Wednesday night Bible study which turned into the team that launched the church. Get creative and reach your community. People will come running for free food and childcare!
Lead with vision.
In his book, Start With Why, Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” People will follow what you say for a little while, but they’ll give their lives for the why. Andy Stanley says that the leader is the C.R.O. of the organization: the Chief Reminding Officer. Once you’re sick of saying it, that’s probably when it’s finally started to sink in for them. Never stop filling their heads and hearts with vision.
Location, location, location!
Don’t overlook the importance of a good location. God in His grace allowed our first location to fall through three weeks before we were scheduled to open the church doors. It felt tragic then, but looking back, I know the pain was actually God’s providence.
The size, feel, location, and visibility all matter. No venue – especially your first rental – will be ideal, but don’t settle for the first one that’s available. Keep looking, get creative, and do the best with the budget and space you have.
Use social media and media that’s social.
Make it easy for people to invite others to your church or interest meetings. Print invite cards and posters to hang around town, design social media graphics people can use on their social accounts, and use any opportunity possible to spread the word.
Facebook and Instagram advertising allows you to set a budget and target people by where they live, what they like, age, and so on (sounds creepy, right?). There’s lots of great free advertising you can do through social media but don’t be afraid to invest a few hundred dollars there, too.
Over the years, we’ve advertised with radio, billboards, posters, invite cards, social media, Google adwords, and even one of those big mall kiosk signs. Those are all good, but the best advertising will always be changed lives. As time goes on, the church grows, and lives are changed, people will spread the word because they’ll want their friends to experience what they’ve experienced. Make it easy and accessible for people to grab invite cards and train them how to share their faith and start conversations, then lead by example.
K E V I N • M I L L E R
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