As a pastor, it can be hard filling up the pews every single Sunday. In a progressively secular world, it’s hard enough keeping all your members, much less attracting people to your church. It doesn’t help that pastors have a myriad of other responsibilities that require much of their time.
Some pastors become so wrapped up in their other work that they make mistakes in their outreach ministry; some big, some small, some obvious, and some not so obvious. Here are 5 common mistakes ministers make when attracting new families and how to avoid them.
Have You Committed Any Of These Common Mistakes Pastors Make?
- All hellfire, no loving kindness Don’t get me wrong, every church needs a little fire and brimstone to snap them out of complacency. However, sometimes pastors go overboard; relying on the fire and brimstone style of sermon every week. While giving the congregation a nice scare can be effective, if you do it too much you will turn off prospective members. This doesn’t mean you can’t tell the truth; if anything, it means you have to tell the WHOLE truth. Life is more than just fires and damnation. The Bible often speaks of God’s love and if your message doesn’t reflect that people won’t want to listen. Would you want to go to a church where you’re told you’re terrible and that God hates you? Of course you wouldn’t. God’s love and God’s wrath are part of the same coin.
- Showing too much interest As weird as it sounds, attracting new members to the church is a lot like wooing someone; you can’t come off too strong. Many churches make the mistake of flooding new and prospective members with so much attention that it can be overwhelming. Show new and prospective members that you care about them, that you’d like for them to join the church, and then leave it at that. If you keep calling, sending e-mails, and writing letters; you might come off more as a lunatic than a kind and loving pastor.
- Not staying relevant with the times Many of the old ways are the best ways; but sometimes the old ways are the worst ways to get new church members. We all love our seniors, but if you cater your ministry to only seniors, then you’ll find yourself with a small and steadily declining congregation. That means offering discipleship classes designed for families and young people and updating the church hymns and music. People don’t want to attend a church that’s locked perpetually stuck in 1934, they want a church from the year 2014. It’s not that you have to spend thousands of dollars try to look new and hip; but if you fail to look forward, your church will fail to move forward.
- Not having an outreach strategy
You’d be surprised by how many churches don’t have a strategy for their outreach ministry. Most of the time they take moderate sporadic measures that don’t really accomplish much. Maybe they’ll canvas a random area one evening, maybe they’ll set up a booth at the fair, or maybe they’ll just do nothing.Sometimes pastors just kind of assume that people will see the church sign and go “By golly, I should go here!” Don’t make that mistake. Plan out your ministry, have goals, and a means to reach them. The more organized you are, the better your results will be.
- Adopting a small-tent policy Christians come in all shapes and sizes. Take a walk down the street and look for a Christian. Unless they are carrying a Bible, odds are you won’t be able to tell them apart from the Buddhists, Atheists, Muslims, or Jews. Unfortunately, some pastors and congregations like to judge books by their cover and shun people who don’t fit their idea of what a Christian should look like. Whether someone has tattoos, piercings, or just looks weird; it does not matter.
As a pastor you need to be open and willing to try and attract people who are different from the majority of your flock. A congregation that looks like a bunch of senior citizens will be well equipped to minister to senior citizen; but a congregation that looks like the world will be better equipped to minister to the world. Remember, just because we are not OF this world does not mean we are not A PART of this world.