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How To Grow Your Congregation and Increase Church Attendance

Spread your mission and bring more people into your church with these tried-and-true methods for increasing church attendance.

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It’s no secret that the number of people who go to church isn’t on the rise. 

If you’re a pastor or church leader, you may have noticed a dip in your community. You’re not alone. A 2021 survey from Statista found that only 22% of Americans attend church every week. 

You have good news and a strong community to offer your congregation, but it can be a challenge to bring new members in and current members coming back for more than Christmas, Easter, and the occasional Sunday.

If you’re already offering inspiring sermons, quality youth and children’s ministries, and exciting volunteer opportunities, you probably find yourself wondering where you’re missing the mark. 

Before you start doubting your services, it’s worth considering your outreach strategies. Let’s lay out some ways to bring more of the faithful to your church and encourage them to make it their home.

6 Ideas To Increase Church Attendance

You want to see your congregation come in every Sunday morning, but there’s much more to nurturing a thriving church body. 

Here are our best tips for encouraging people to stick around beyond Sunday services.

1. Create a Friendly, Welcoming Environment for Newcomers

Church attendance texts

This means more than just handing out pamphlets to first-time visitors or making sure they get a smile and a tour when they come in. 

Think about ways to make your entire church community approachable and accessible. You could:

  • Spend some time in each service highlighting mixers and social events. It can be hard for new members to get comfortable in a church community by just coming to sit in service each week. Show them ways to meet other members and get to know your staff in a more relaxed setting.
  • Have some of your long-standing congregants (or even staff members) volunteer to be the personal welcoming committee for newcomers. This might mean sitting with them at service or Sunday School, taking them out for lunch after church, or being available for questions over text.
  • Resist singling them out publicly or overwhelming them. It’s common for some churches to ask new members to stand and be recognized or beg them to take a handful of pamphlets all about the church and its activities.

This is the fastest way to make your new members feel uncomfortable and drive them away. Focus on welcoming guests in a way that feels natural.

2. Make Your Mission Statement Clear

A church that knows its identity is attractive to new members, and a strong, clear mission statement is the best way to show your congregation who you are.

There are a few things to keep in mind as you write your mission statement (or edit it, if you already have one):

  • Stick to what makes you unique. Do you have an active missions department that organizes trips and outreach opportunities? Does your church do volunteer work in the local community? Mention these things in your statement.
  • Be specific in your wording. Avoid vague words and phrases like “committed to our faith,” “Godly lifestyle,” and so on. These things will be evident to your flock.
  • If it’s not in your name already, note your church’s denomination (or lack thereof), along with any doctrines and values your church emphasizes.

Once you’ve written your mission statement, put it anywhere your current and potential members can see it. 

Your website is a great place to start, but also add it to your social media, your signs outside, any posters you put up around town, pamphlets you give out when your congregation volunteers or goes on a mission trip, and so on. 

3. Switch up Your Services

You probably have a set routine for church services. Worship, a sermon, some announcements or baptisms, and then a benediction. 

While we’re not telling you to abandon your usual format entirely, we do suggest switching things up regularly. 

I was a pretty restless kid growing up, and the Sundays I loved best at my church were the ones where we spent the entire morning singing or where the children were invited to come and sit in front of the stage for the sermon. 

Visitors to your church will be much more likely to stick around if they know that next Sunday’s service will include something other than the usual sermon-and-singing combo. 

You can even announce next week’s plans over text or on your social media or announcement board so visitors have an extra incentive to come back.

4. Ask Your Congregation for Feedback

Boost your church attendance and attract new members

As with anything, the best way to give your congregation what they want is just to ask. 

Send out a survey to both long-time church members and first-time visitors, asking them about their experience at your church and whether they have requests or ideas for future activities and services. 

Did they like the last picnic or family night? Does the youth group want a second lock-in this year? What should the next sermon series be about?

You can send these out through email or, if you’re looking for a simple way to send out a questionnaire, consider using SMS surveys.

5. Feature Your Church Family on Social Media

Church attendance growth on social media

Would you watch a movie without seeing a trailer? I’m guessing you wouldn’t unless you’re familiar with the actors or directors. Many first-time visitors feel similarly about attending a church for the first time. 

Give potential members a sneak peek of what they can expect by posting short, inspiring videos on social media. 

Feature your staff talking about themselves, their families, and the programs they run at your church. Film bits of your Sunday School classes (with everyone’s permission) or have your congregants talk about their testimony and experiences in the church.

No need to have a professional crew to do this, by the way.

Set up an iPhone on a tripod, trim down your favorite clips, then post. This will help keep an approachable, casual feel to your videos.

6. Get Personal With Text Messages

Text strategies for growing church attendance

At SimpleTexting, we’ve seen both large and small churches achieve success with text message invitations

Don’t take even your long-standing members for granted. Even if someone has been part of your parish for years, they still deserve to know that you want to see them every week. 

Don’t just let people know about your next bible study or worship service. Invite them. Craft your text message so the person really feels welcome and wanted.

Hi Alexa, we have a special vigil coming up on Thursday at 7 for the missionaries in Papua New Guinea, and I thought of you. Will I see you there?

This is also a great way to get new members in for a second or third visit. 

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Keep a QR code on your worship programs, bulletin boards, or screens in the sanctuary that first-time visitors can scan to agree to receive texts from you. You can also advertise a keyword for the same purpose (like Milestone Church does).
  2. Once you have some phone numbers from your guests, have your staff text each one to personally ask them how their visit was and invite them back for Bible study or next week’s service.

That’s it! Easy. You’ll set your church apart as one that values new members. When people are deciding where to attend church next Sunday, you’ll come to mind first.

The Wrap on Increasing Church Attendance

It’s a wonderful feeling to have a full sanctuary on Sunday, but a healthy, thriving church is made up of people who can’t wait to gather for every service and community event they can attend. 

These strategies will help you not only fill your pews but build your ideal church congregation.

Alfredo Salkeld
Alfredo Salkeld

Alfredo is SimpleTexting's brand manager. He's passionate about using his 10+ years of marketing experience to help small businesses grow.

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