8 Metrics More Important Than Your Sunday Attendance

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It doesn’t take long in pastoral ministry to feel the pressure and need for numerical growth; it doesn’t start out that way. When you preached your first sermon or led your first Bible study, your focus was not on the attendance, but rather the opportunity. Slowly but surely though, over time, we want to grow whatever it is God has trusted us to lead, and that’s not a bad thing. I believe the desire to make progress is God-given. Where it gets’ tricky is assuming that numerical growth equals progress. Of course, it can, but Sunday attendance only tells part of the growth story of your church.

Over the last few months, my team has been thinking and talking about engagement, specifically how we can track it more effectively. As we have experienced numerical growth, I can’t help but wonder, “Is anyone spiritually growing? Are people becoming more like Jesus? Are our systems and structures helping people take the next step?” Those questions involve different metrics and data than just counting heads. Luckily for us, we were able to use our database search features to begin measuring not only the attendance but the engagement of our congregation.

Let me give you 8 metrics to track more important that Sunday Attendance.

1. Total Reach

You probably know this, but you are reaching more people than your average Sunday morning attendance. A church of “300” is really a church of 450-500 everyone just doesn’t show up on the same day. Your Total Reach is the total number of people who you have engaged in a specific time. You can use whatever criteria you choose, but we use the following criteria in our database search function.

Show me the names of people who have: 
[Checked in a child] OR [Made a donation] OR [Attended a small group] OR [Volunteered in a service] OR [Registered online for an event] Over a certain time

This criteria gives you a fair representation of the total number of people who have engaged with your church over a period of time (1 month, 3 months, 6 months, etc.) Why is that important? As church attendance becomes less frequent, even among Christian families, it is helpful to know your reach is increasing even if attendance is not.

2. Group Attendance

Spiritual growth can be hard to quantify. How can you be sure people are reading the Bible, praying, or obeying? You can’t. That’s why it’s crucial to pick a “next step” metric to gauge for your congregation’s spiritual development. For our church, we chose group attendance. You may want to use different criteria such as Sunday School, that’s fine. Just pick something beyond Sunday morning attendance so you can attempt to measure discipleship effectiveness.

We require our growth group leaders to keep attendance, which allows us to know the exact numbers of weekly group attendance for the semester. Again you can choose any criteria you want, but we decided the following formula:

Average weekly group attendance % by Average adult worship attendance (over the semester)

You get to define success. Depending on what you read, anything over 30% is above average. Our group attendance percentage has grown to over 50%, and we’re excited about the way it’s trending. We believe if a person is regularly attending a group, they will grow in their faith.

3. Involvement

Church is more than a service; it’s a family, and every pastor wants its members to become involved in the life of the church. For us, we decided that if someone was attending a group or serving on a hope team, they were more than an attendee; they were engaged. 

Our search criteria are:

Show me people who have been [scheduled] and [confirmed] as volunteers OR [attended a group] in the last [#] of weeks.

It’s worth noting that we did not include giving in our criteria for engagement, because while giving is an essential identifier for someone’s heart for the church, we also found that people who grew up in a traditional church background, are apt to give but not be involved in the life of our church. We made the decision if someone is ONLY giving, but not attending a group or serving on a team, we did not consider than engaged. You may disagree, but whatever criteria you decide, it’s important to know who is engaging with your church beyond Sunday services.

4. First Time Givers

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will also be” which means that when someone takes the faith-filled step to begin giving to your church, they are indicating that their heart is invested in your church. That shouldn’t be taken lightly or overlooked. 

There are several things you can do to celebrate someone’s decision to begin giving, a handwritten note, a small gift (we’ve given away The Treasure Principle book in the past) a phone call or automated email, etc.) but whatever you do, do something to celebrate people’s spiritual growth in giving.

I can’t speak for all church database systems, but in most cases, a simple search with the following criteria should give you a list:

Show me people who have [first donated] of [any amount] in the last [#] of weeks.

5. First-time Guests

First Time guests are the lifeblood of a church experiencing momentum. Measuring the number of guests who visit your church is also a great way to measure your evangelism effort, marketing strategy, and whether your current members are excited enough about their church to tell anyone about it.

There are many ways to capture a first-time guests visit. I wrote more about the specific strategy our church uses in this post, but most churches use some form of “connection card” or “guest card” and ask guests to fill it out and turn it in. If you use that model or anything similar, it’s effortless to keep track of the total number of guests who visit your church every year. It’s also easy to track trends of guests and know the seasons in your church when guests are more likely to show up.

According to this post by Tony Morgan, a growing church needs more guests each year than you have people in your total average attendance. In other words, a growing church of 500 will need more than 500 guests in a year. We haven’t experienced that percentage total of guests in our church, but we have experienced over 50% of guest to attendance ratio. Don’t be intimidated or discouraged. Whether you have 1 visitor or 1,000 just keep track, so you have the best data to make the best decisions in the future.

6. Guest Retention

Keeping track of your first-time guest numbers is crucial to creating an effective assimilation plan. The next step is to measure the number of guests who return and eventually get connected to the life of your church. This can be tricky if you haven’t created a way to know if a guest returns. At our church, we also track the number of 2nd-time guests who return. I wrote more about our system in this post.

In our language from the stage, we say, “If you’re a 1st or 2nd-time guest, be sure to go by the connection booth and pick up your gift.” This allows our connection team to know if a guest returns and gives us better information to try to take the next step. We believe that when someone returns for a second visit, they are letting you know they are seriously interested in getting connected to the church. We take that as permission to follow up and connect with them.

The next step for our church is “Launch Class,” which is our “next step/membership” class. At the end of Launch class, someone helps them decide where they want to try serving on one of our hope teams (volunteer) and then they receive a follow up from the leader of the volunteer team. Eventually, our goal is to see a 1st-time guest take the next steps to be a group attending, serving, giving church member. Not for us but for them.

We don’t use search criteria to measure Guest Retention, we use a spreadsheet and manually input the data because it involves a lot of personal follow from our team. The spreadsheet has columns for all the next steps we want to help a guest take. I’ve provided the spreadsheet template we use if you would like to use it just click here to download.

I guess if you wanted to use search criteria you could use something like this:

Show me people whose [first attendance date] was [time period] and have [given] or [served] or [attended a group]

As long as you’re keeping the data, this should provide the information you need.

7. New Group Attendance.

I’ve already talked about how our church uses group attendance as the metric to measure spiritual growth. It’s not a perfect metric but is at least something that allows us to gauge effectiveness.

Similarly, we want to measure the number of people who are joining a group for the first time. You may have noticed that the people in your church who do everything, do everything, and everyone else does very little. It’s the classic 80/20 principle. At our church, we want to know if anyone has decided to join a group for the first time because we want to measure our effectiveness at onboarding new people.

As long as your groups or Sunday School require registration and/or an attendance report, you can produce a list for first-time group attendees. While your church is small we’ve found the best way to measure this number is with a highlighter and a list printout, but as your church grows you might need to define a more complicated search criteria that looks something like:

Show me people who have [registered] for [current group time period] AND EXCLUDE people who have [registered] for [past group time period]

8. Inactive

See if this sounds familiar, you have a church database system with thousands of names in it because over the years you have added families, but the information isn’t up to date, and most of those people are actively involved in your church. Every pastor knows the frustration of having way more members “on the books” than people actively attending. Is there a way to know when someone is no longer active in your church unless they tell you? Yes!

Through the power of automation, you can categorize names in your database as “inactive” based on any criteria you choose. This is a powerful feature because the more accurate your information, the more effective your planning can be.

To create an inactive list, use criteria similar to this:

Change [Membership Status] of people who have NOT:
[Checked in a child] OR [Made a donation] OR [Attended a small group] OR [Volunteered in a service] OR [Registered online for an event] Over a certain time

Episode #30 – The Emotional Challenges of Church Growth

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We spend a lot of time trying to solve the logistical challenges of church growth, but it’s the emotional challenges that hinder us more than logistics. This episode we talk about how to make the hard decisions to keep momentum going in your church.

This was recorded during a staff meeting, and there was an “S-Curve” visual being used on a dry erase board. This is the picture that was shown.

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May Sermon Series Giveaway

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Provide your email address and I will send you a 4-week series called "Psalms." Artwork and Sermon Notes included.


This month is giving away a 4-week series, “Psalms”

Sermon topics include:

  • Psalm 23
  • Psalm 139
  • Psalm 19
  • Psalm 51

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4 Reasons to Read Books You Disagree With

Last month, Andy Stanley published his newest book, “Irresistible.” For some, this book is being viewed as highly controversial. Without going into too many details of the book, Andy states, in short, that proclaiming “The Bible says so and that settles it” is no longer enough for churches in today’s culture.

I pre-ordered the book, and it’s the next on my list to read. I don’t know if I agree with Andy yet or not. But I’m going to find out. Even if I don’t agree with it in the end, it’s vital for me to read it. And it’s vital for you, too.

While I fully understand it’s human nature to fill your life with people, books and media that agrees with you, that doesn’t make it beneficial for you. But that can be difficult. Especially with books. After all, reading is a pleasure and a time-consuming one. Why bother reading something you dislike?

While there are all types of books for us to enjoy, at some point, we should read something that requires us to evaluate and truly think. And if all you ever read are books where you already support the conclusion, how much thinking are you actually doing?

I believe it’s vital that we, especially as spiritual leaders, should do our best to read books that we may not agree with in part or their entirety with topics that deal with life, theology, and the world around us. Even if you are going to disagree with them.

Here are four reasons why you should read books you might disagree with.

1. It’s Helps Refine What You Value

What you value defines who you are. How much you emphasize that value determines how you live your life. You can find value in eating healthy, but if you don’t emphasize that value, you won’t change your eating habits. When reading books that you might disagree with, it can help you refine what values matter the most to you. Even more, it can strengthen or restrengthen those values in your life.

For example, I read a book this year that dealt with the racial issues in America and, specifically, what it means to raise a white child in it. I disagreed with some of the author’s conclusions, but it refined my value of racial equality. And I will choose to emphasize that value so that real change continues to happen in my life when dealing with racial issues while living in a southern community. I can’t value everything, but what I do value must be shown in my life. Reading a book that values things I don’t helps refine that.

2. It Measures Your Growth

As you develop as a pastor, leader, and individual, the way you process media or the written word changes. Just think about how you read the Bible. How much of your perspective of scripture has changed in the last five years? Ten years? Now think about what will change in the next five or ten years. It’s the same thing with reading something you might disagree with. It allows you to measure your growth. Especially if you reread something from years ago. And it’s crucial you see growth. It’s essential that you process thoughts differently as you grow.

3. You’ll be More Informed

A pastoral mentor in my life once said, “Even though I may have different theological beliefs than some of my fellow ministers, the fact I have enough knowledge of their beliefs gives me a foundation to interact and find common ground in our professions.” When you read a book you might disagree with, you learn. You may discover one thing or many things, but you will learn something. And it will help you become a more informed person.

In our culture today, it’s so easy just to say, “You’re wrong, I’m right, and I don’t want to have a conversation about it.” But what if you did? What if you had enough knowledge of a person’s belief or thought process actually to converse? Even if you disagree. Imagine having a civil discussion where you’re on opposite sides and walk away on opposite sides, but you actually talked and heard each other. When you’re more informed, this can happen naturally and far more often.

4. You Might Actually Change Your Mind

You don’t know everything. And you’re probably okay with that. After all, there isn’t anyone who knows everything. However, it’s harder to admit we might not know everything about the things we know. That someone could bring something new to our mind or challenge an already-held belief and actually be right. But when you venture out and read something you might disagree with, this is a possibility.

Wouldn’t it be a great thing to happen? If we were challenged and grew in knowledge about something, we once misbelieved? If we would be open for that to happen? It can become very easy to close our minds to different concepts foreign to our own, but when we do open that door, it is always worth it.

Don’t misunderstand me. I read books all the time I know I’m going to like. And I’m still challenged by them. But, every once in a while, I have to pick up one I know is going to be tough to find common ground, thoughts, or beliefs.

Every single time, I’m glad that I did.


5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of A Yearly Preaching Calendar

I started using a yearly preaching calendar in 2013. I was desperate for a way to plan ahead for my sermon series and ideas. Most weeks I was up late on Saturday night after my family was in bed trying to finish a sermon, or even worse, sometimes I was trying to come up with a sermon idea.

Over the years, I’ve used a few different layouts and resources, but what has worked best for me is a simple one-page spreadsheet that allows me to view the year at a glance and preach my best sermons at the best times.

Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of an annual preaching calendar:

1. Start With Prayer and Fasting

As with most strategies and tools to help a pastor be a better leader, preaching calendars aren’t controversy-free. Some feel it is less spiritual to plan ahead, or that somehow God doesn’t inspire us in advance. My experience has been the opposite. My best sermons have come from months and months of time to think. Kind of like giving your sermons a chance to “marinate.” Any planning, dreaming, and scheduling has to begin with a time of prayer and fasting. You need God to inspire you with content beyond your ability. You need discernment to gauge the season of your church. You need God to burden you with the material. Preaching is a supernatural activity and requires supernatural intervention. Planning isn’t an absence of prayer and prayer better not be an absence of planning. You need both.

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘Planning isn’t an absence of prayer and prayer better not be an absence of planning. You need both.’  @jasonisaacs” quote=”Planning isn’t an absence of prayer and prayer better not be an absence of planning. You need both. “]

2. Use broad strokes

Often, when I talk to pastors about using a preaching calendar or planning your year, the response is “I could never have my sermons ready that early in advance.” I agree. To be clear, I don’t have my sermons ready that early in advance either; I have my ideas prepared in advance. For example, next year we’re taking 12 weeks leading up to Easter to preach through the Gospel of John. I know that for sure. What I don’t know is what 12 stories were using from John. After reading John a few times, I made some notes.  I know one week I’m going to preach on John 2 where Jesus made a whip and cleared the temple and the very next story he turned water into wine. Some people need to know Jesus makes whips and some people to know Jesus goes to parties. That’s all I know. I’ve written it down, and I will revisit it a few weeks before I preach, make sense? You don’t have to know specifics about your sermons right now, but you can know topics or themes you want to address. Don’t get caught up in the details.

3. Be strategic

If I’ve learned anything pastoring the same for 10 years, I’ve learned that church has a rhythm to it. If you go back and look at your stats and trends, you’ll probably find certain months where attendance is up or down, giving is up or down, group and volunteer participation is up and down. You can feel it instinctually, but if you keep records, you can verify with numbers. Whatever the rhythm of your church is, plan your sermons accordingly. When do you need to preach sermons about spiritual growth as opposed to outreach and evangelism? The right sermon series at the right season of your church can have a drastic difference.

[clickToTweet tweet=”The right sermon series at the right season of your church can have a drastic difference. @jasonisaacs” quote=”The right sermon series at the right season of your church can have a drastic difference.”]

For what it’s worth, your family has a rhythm too. There are seasons where life is more stressful or times that are better to leave town. Use the preaching calendar to maximize your families rhythm.

4. Think themes

Similar to seasons in your church, a yearly calendar has natural themes; capitalize on them. A few examples might be:

  • Talk about relationships in February
  • Family in November
  • Change in January
  • Outreach in August/March/December

It’s not an exact science, but there a few seasons where topics resonate more than other seasons. Over the years our thematic calendar has changed some. That’s why it’s important to start with prayer and fasting. For several years our relationship series in February was one of most significant, most impactful series, but we began to notice after 3 years that it wasn’t as effective, so we changed it up for a few years, and then brought it back in 2018. Don’t be predictable, dress up consistent themes with creative ideas and fresh content, and when it’s necessary to shake it up.

5. Get creative

Planning far enough out gives you the chance to involve others in the process, and gives you time to get the creative juices flowing. Find videos, write dramas, or plan special songs. For example, I have a playlist on Spotify called, “Creative Openers” that I put songs in any time I think they might be something our team could use to maximize the message. My worship pastor has that playlist on her phone as well. Your team will thank you for the advanced heads up. Also, as you read magazines or blogs, save articles or research that might be helpful because you know you’re preaching about that topic soon. Every creative piece of art, story, or data, adds a level of depth to your message that cannot be accomplished through last-minute planning.

If you haven’t downloaded the free 2019 one-page preaching calendar, provide your email address below and I will send it to you, along with my 2018 preaching calendar as an example you can use.

Also, be sure to read, “4 Reasons Every Pastor Should Use A Preaching Calendar.”


The 7 Most Common Church Marketing Mistakes (and how To Fix Them)

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Every pastor wants to figure out how to get God’s message to more people in their community. If your church is anything like mine, you meet people all the time who say things like, “where is your church located, again?” Or “I’ve never heard of that church.” or “I’ve driven past that church a bunch of times, I never realized you guys were there.”

It’s not like we don’t want to reach more people, but we’re either unskilled in creative marketing, feel like we don’t have the resources, or we make simple church marketing mistakes. Week after week we hope more people will show up this week than last week, but we haven’t done anything different to increase the likelihood new people will walk through the doors. Don’t just hope more people will come next week, in the words of Jesus, “compel them to come.”

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: We hope more people will show up this week than last, but don’t do anything different to increase the chances someone new will walk through the door. Don’t just hope, in the words of Jesus, ‘compel them to come.’ @jasonisaacs” quote=”PASTOR: We hope more people will show up this week than last, but don’t do anything different to increase the chances someone new will walk through the door. Don’t just hope, in the words of Jesus, ‘compel them to come.’ “]

I can’t guarantee it, but I’m pretty confident if more people knew about your church, more people would come to your church, and more people would want to be a part of your church, so it only makes sense to maximize your marketing opportunities. But how?

The good news is that Jesus is building his church, so the success of God’s kingdom doesn’t rise and fall on the creativity of your Instagram posts, BUT God can and does use marketing as another touch point in people’s life. The more times your church has made an impression on a person’s brain, the more likely they will show up to your church when they are searching for God. So how can your church maximize your time and resources to get the most return on your marketing investment?

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: Jesus is building his church, so the success of God’s kingdom doesn’t rise and fall on the creativity of your Instagram posts. @jasonisaacs” quote=”PASTOR: Jesus is building his church, so the success of God’s kingdom doesn’t rise and fall on the creativity of your Instagram posts.”]

There are lots of answers to that question. There isn’t just one way to market your church, but in the process of trying to discover the best ways to spread the word, you can waste lots of time and money, or even worse, send the wrong message about your church. So if you want to market your church effectively, be sure to avoid these 7 common church marketing mistakes.

1. Have No Plan

Most churches use a “spray and pray” strategy when it comes to church marketing; no schedule or strategy, just impulse/random social media posts. If you want to maximize your church marketing begin creating a plan by answering these questions:

Who is our target audience?

Yes, anyone is welcome at your church, but if you target everyone, you’re targeting no one. The number one question someone asks themselves when they are considering attending a church is, “Is there someone there like me?” The way you market your church can answer that question. Every marketing campaign your church performs needs a specific audience in mind.

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: If you target everyone, you’re targeting no one. The number one question someone asks when considering your church is, “Is there someone there like me?” The way you market your church answers that question. @jasonisaacs” quote=”PASTOR: If you target everyone, you’re targeting no one. The number one question someone asks when considering your church is, “Is there someone there like me?” The way you market your church answers that question. “]

What action do we want them to take when they see/hear our ad?

This is an action step. In the marketing world, it’s called a “call to action.” When someone comes in contact with your message what is the one thing you want them to do next. Text a phone number? Click a link? Come to an event? If you don’t clearly explain the next step, they won’t move in your direction. There are times when your marketing is simply for “brand awareness,” but you probably don’t have enough money to market endlessly so make sure whatever message you are broadcasting has a purpose and an action step.

Are we prepared if we get a good return on this marketing idea?

What if it works? Ha! Wouldn’t that be amazing? What if 100 more people show up this Sunday because they got your message? Would you be ready? If 1000 people click your link in 20 minutes is your website going to crash? If everyone who got your mailer comes to your Easter egg hunt, do you have enough eggs? If you expect your marketing to work, make sure your ready. If you don’t expect it to work, don’t do it!

How will we know if it worked?

After your marketing campaign is done, will you have any way of knowing if it worked? Will you have any analytics or data to review? If you’re using mail, is there a place on your connect card asking “How did you hear about our church?” If you’re directing people to your website are you using the free Google Analytics service? Make sure you have data. And if you’re paying an outside company to market for you make sure they provide the data. Before you sign a contract be sure to ask them what kind of data they can offer to show their plan has worked in the past.

What is the goal of this marketing idea?

If you can’t answer this question, don’t waste a second or a penny on marketing. You have to know the goal. Is it Sunday Attendance? Is it web clicks? Is it the number of people reached through radio? If you don’t know what you’re trying to accomplish how will you know when you accomplish it? There’s no wrong answer you just need to know the goal so you can use the best strategy.

The time and dollars you spend to spread your message are valuable, and I believe you are responsible for being a good steward, so the worst way to spend them is to throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks.

2. Don’t Take Advantage of Drive By Traffic

The number one marketing opportunity your church has is the drive-by traffic every day. Depending on where your church is located you have a few thousand people to as many as 50,000+ people whose eyeballs pass your church building every 24 hours. (Your city can give you that data by the way.) Think of the potential reach or damage you do to your church every day. When people drive by your church what message are you sending? Does it look like the kind of place I would want to bring my family? Does it look like it’s been foreclosed? Is the parking lot well lit? Is the sign up to date?

One of the things we did at our church is hang a 25ft banner, big enough to see from the street, over the stained glass window on the front of our building. Our building is old, but we want to send the message that our church is not. Another thing we did is cut down a large tree that provided more visibility. We’ve had a median that grows weeds in our driveway for 30 years, and we always tried to stay on top of the landscaping, but no matter how hard we worked we couldn’t keep it from being an eyesore, so we paid a company to tear the median out and give us a three-lane driveway instead of 2. Your church property is a billboard for your church, and thousands of people drive by every day drawing an impression about your church. What message are you sending?

[clickToTweet tweet=”PASTOR: Your church property is a billboard for your church, and thousands of people drive by every day drawing an impression about your church. What message are you sending? @jasonisaacs” quote=”PASTOR: Your church property is a billboard for your church, and thousands of people drive by every day drawing an impression about your church. What message are you sending? “]

3. Bad Stock Photography

When it comes to websites and Facebook ads, the easiest thing to do is “google search” a phrase like, “happy family” and then use one of the pictures from the search results (that’s illegal by the way.) This strategy poses 2 potential problems:

False Advertising

In your attempt to send an attractive, compelling message to potential visitors, be careful you don’t send a false message. If your church has no ethnic diversity, don’t post a stock photo of 5 friends who are black, Asian, Hispanic, and white. It’s not true. And if by chance someone shows up in response to your marketing and sees that you mislead them, they won’t trust you, and your marketing hurts you instead of helps you. We don’t do it on purpose. Our motives are pure, we want our church to be more diverse or younger, but honest advertising will always be more effective than false advertising.

Cheesy Quality

Probably more likely than false advertising, is just poor photo selection. People, especially younger people, want authenticity. And the photo example I’ve provided here is not authentic.

7 Biggest Church Marketing Mistakes

Let’s be real, the people who attend your church aren’t that perfect, spiritual, or happy. With a photo like this, instead of sending the message, “you’re welcome here” you send the message, “you probably won’t be good enough to fit in here.”

So if you want to be honest, authentic, and legal with your photos, what options do you have? First, try to use as many pictures of your actual church facility or church people as possible, but there are times when a stock photo is a better choice. Our church uses a mixture of stock and personal photos. Our criteria when selecting stock photos is, “Does it look like this photo could have been taken at our church? So for example, we use this stock photo from as the main photo on the front page of our website because

7 Biggest Church Marketing Mistakes

  • it shows a diverse range of ages
  • it shows a girl with a nose ring, which defuses any feelings of uptight religion
  • it shows a young couple
  • it shows a man carrying a baby carrier
  • it shows people stacking chairs (one of our campuses is portable)
  • It shows people wearing casual clothes

This photo could’ve very easily been taken out our church, but it’s better than any picture we had, and it only cost $10, so we purchased it and use it a lot.

I highly recommend for your stock photos. I don’t work for them, but I am a satisfied customer and asked them to offer some kind of discount to readers, so they were kind enough to provide this discount code with a 20% discount for the yearly subscription or the first month of a monthly subscription. You can also pay $10 per picture if you choose.

4. Not Using Email

In the age of social media, it’s easy to forget about good ole reliable email newsletters, but you’d be crazy to overlook email marketing because studies show that people are anywhere from 6x to 30x more likely to click on a link in an email over social media.

Keep in mind marketing doesn’t always have to be to brand new leads. As a matter of fact, your best chance at engagement will probably be with people who have already come in contact with your church; they just need a reminder that you exist.

What if you sent a weekly or monthly email newsletter from your church keeping relevant information on their radar. While we’re on that topic, do you do anything with the email addresses you collect from the guests who visit your church? Please tell me you are collecting email addresses from guests????

I wrote an extensive tutorial on how our church uses Planning Center’s FREE “People” software to follow up with every guest who visits our church. You can read that tutorial here.

There’s a fine line between being annoying and being helpful, figure out where that line is and maximize exposure to people who have given you permission to reach them by giving you their email address.

There are lots of email marketing companies you can use, but I recommend MailChimp, They have a free account for up to 2000 email addresses, and if you use Planning Center for your church database management (and you should) it syncs perfectly with MailChimp so you can send emails to your database in one step. Read more about that here.

5. Outdated Website

I could write a whole blog on this topic alone, and I probably will at some point in the future, but for the purposes of this article, let’s keep it as simple as this: your website is the front door to your church, and people will visit your website before they visit your church. Is your website sending the clear message, “you really need to visit our church because you will like it!” or is your website sending the message, “Something cool was happening 4 months ago, but nothing cool enough to update the website has happened since then.”

It’s easy to think that people don’t visit websites because they visit your social media pages instead, but that would be wrong, they visit both. The difference is when they visit your social media page they are most likely just browsing, trying to get a general impression of your church, but when they visit your website, they are looking for specific information.

  • Service times and address
  • General information about your beliefs and pastor
  • A video of the sermon (if available)

Here is a screenshot of the google analytics of our church website. Since Jan. 1 of this year, we’ve had 20,301 website views from 14,970 individuals.

7 Biggest Church Marketing Mistakes
  • 43% viewed the homepage
  • 10% viewed the “about us” page
  • 4% of those people viewed the “our pastor” page
  • 3% viewed the “sermons” page

More critical than cool youth group names, or a calendar of events is the images on your homepage and quality of the information in your pages. At our church, we use our website as a tool to reach visitors (people who don’t attend our church yet), and then we use the church blog to provide news and updates for everyone. Our website is NOT for our church members, we use social media for that.

I understand that having a good church website can be challenging if your limited financially and are not a “tech” person, but it’s too important not to do it right. I would go as a far as to say if you can’t have a good, updated, website don’t have one at all.

We just launched a new website for our church, and we used this $54 WordPress template. We had to customize it to fit our needs, but our total cost after hosting, WordPress templates, and stock photos was less than $400.

We use for our hosting and domains. They have plans for as a cheap as $3.95/month.

6. Not Taking Advantage of Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are such a powerful marketing tool, it’s scary. I’m sure you’ve experienced scrolling through your feed only to see ads for products you viewed earlier in the day; that’s not a coincidence.

Facebook ads allow you to target people of a certain age, in a specific zip code, with a specific interest. For example, you can show posts to people who are friends with people who like your churches page, in other words, you can market to people who are 1 connection away from people who are involved in your church. Those aren’t “cold leads” they are most likely people who have heard about your church through a friend.

Or consider the opportunity to maximize marketing dollars to show an Easter Egg video promo to women ages 22-42, who “like” the county public school Facebook page AND live in your churches zip code. With Facebook Ads, you can do precisely that.

Here is an example of a video ad our church did for Easter this year. We targeted only people living in the surrounding communities who were “facebook friends” with people who “liked” our churches FB page.

You’re Invited to Easter at Hope City Church

Are you going to church this Easter??? You’re invited to celebrate Easter with us at Hope City Church.

–> Fun Kid’s Classes
–> Exciting Music
–> Life Changing Messages

Saturday, March 31 @ 7:00pm
Sunday, April 1 @ 9:00am/10:15am/11:45am

We share real hope so people can have real life. Find more at

Posted by Hope City Church on Thursday, March 8, 2018

7 Biggest Church Marketing MIstakes

  • We spent $208
  • We reached 17,770 individuals
  • The video was watched over 5,000 times
  • 63 people clicked the link to go to our church website

You may consider that successful or not, you’ll have to decide what your goals are, but we definitely did.

The worst idea is to just boost a post for $20 with no criteria. The more specific you’re targeting the effective your reach. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on the opportunity to use the most sophisticated marking tool of our lifetime for as little as $1 day.

7. No marketing at all

This is a long article with A LOT of information, and when it comes to branding, marketing, videos, ads, photography, and social media, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and do nothing., Don’t do that! The worst thing you could do is nothing.

Sometimes our strategy to reach people is just hope. We keep doing the same things and just hope that more people show up next week than the week before, but we have the most significant message in the world, shouldn’t we figure out the most effective ways to get that message out?

I’m not talking about marketing with wrong motives, or tricking people into coming, or creating hype, I’m talking about effective ways to tell people that their family would love your church and potentially fall in love with Jesus if they knew about it.

Whatever you do, do something. People need to know!


September Sermon Series Giveaway

This month is giving away a 6-week series, “My Life Under Construction”

Sermon topics include:

  • Taking personal responsibility for the ruins in your life
  • The power of the favor of God
  • The importance of having the right people in your life
  • and more

Sermon Bundle Includes:

  • artwork files (title slide and scripture background slide)
  • 5-Weeks of sermon notes (one week was a panel discussion)

August Sermon Series Giveaway

This month is giving away a 4-week series, “Long Hair Don’t Care”

Sermon topics include:

  • The reasons God asks us to live a righteous life
  • The importance of parenting on purpose
  • How to overcome temptation
  • and more

Sermon Bundle Includes:

  • .jpg and .psd artwork files (title slide and scripture background slide)
  • 4-Weeks of sermon notes

July Sermon Series Giveaway

This month is giving away a 4-week series, “Worst. Day. Ever.”

Sermon topics include:

  • What To Do When You Find Out Bad News
  • Why Hard Times Can Be Good For You
  • Finding Friends During Life’s Tough Seasons
  • Learning To Trust God
  • and more

Sermon Bundle Includes:

  • .jpg and .psd artwork files (title slide and scripture background slide)
  • 4-Weeks of sermon notes


June Sermon Series Giveaway

This month is giving away a 5-week series, “I Don’t Want To Be That Person Anymore.”

Sermon topics include:

  • The Difference Between Regret and Repentance
  • The Difference Between Condemnation and Conviction
  • The Difference Between Religion and Relationship
  • The Difference Between Falling and Failing
  • and more

Sermon Bundle Includes:

  • .jpg and .psd artwork files (title slide and scripture background slide)
  • 5-Weeks of sermon notes