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“I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18)”

Sometimes growing your church can feel impossible. You want to share the word of God with more people but…how do you get more people to listen?

The reality is churches must grow to survive, but growth does not always mean building a large facility and filling the aisles. Today, many churches are spreading God’s word virtually and forming small groups of Christians to pray and worship together in different ways. The benefits of growing a church include reaching more people, sharing God’s message, and making a difference in people’s lives.

As churches struggle to grow, they must remember the reason for their existence and look to God for ways to spread their message. This article helps churches focus on their mission and find innovative ways to share and grow in God’s name.

Before you take a dive into the strategies, look at the three crucial ways you can start growing your church today.

A. SMART goals

SMART goals rely on the idea that your organization will succeed if goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Otherwise, they are just dreams. Churches that form SMART goals to increase membership will remain fixed on their ultimate mission and goals while planning strategies and activities to reach out to new people. As a church looking to grow, you must create goals that are realistic and measurable. These goals should relate to the church’s mission and ensure that each program they develop will help the church reach its goal.

B. Church membership

Nonprofits and for-profit companies have successfully developed membership programs that increase their impact, raise more money, and allow them to reach more individuals. There are several different types of these membership programs, but most churches follow the Membership-as-Advocate model.

Organizations that use this model encourage membership through their passions. Individuals join these organizations because they see the chance to use their voices and skills to make a larger impact. Through social media and other online activities, nonprofits educate members and give them a megaphone to change the world and solve problems in ways they could not do alone.

Churches can use the membership-as-advocate model to encourage attendance and greater involvement in activities and programs within the church. By forming together as groups, church members can join forces to reach the church’s mission and spread the word of God to those who haven’t been reached in other ways. Using SMART goals and looking at past successes help churches form a plan for increasing membership in the church and fulfill their mission.

Donorbox helps you create membership campaigns with customizable membership tiers and a simple membership form. The form is embeddable on your website or you can customize and use the Donorbox-hosted campaign page. You can also manage the member records and membership payment information at the backend. For example, check out this membership campaign from River Church Baltimore which is a simple but effective way to get started

Church roof

1. Develop a mission statement prioritizing growth

A church’s mission statement is the reason for its existence. Some may say your church does not need a mission statement since the obvious goal is to spread God’s word. Excellent missions are more than just vague statements. They give a purpose to the organization and lay down the road to reach their goal. By creating a mission statement that outlines a path to spread God’s word, your church will have an easier time reaching its goals.

After you construct and agree on a mission statement for your church, you must ensure that all church programs and activities help fulfill the mission. If you currently have programs that do not contribute to the mission, do not feel guilty for canceling them and finding new ways to reach similar groups of people.

Pro-tip: Use our handy Mission & Vision Statement Worksheet to craft yours.

2. Build stronger children and youth programs

A church that does not focus on its children and youth is destined to fail. Younger church members are essential to building your church. Activities that speak to children on their terms and communicate with them in ways that they find comfortable will help encourage membership. The ways you can reach your current younger members and their friends will be different for every church. How has your church tried to get the younger generation in the past? Did they work, or was there not as much of an impact? As you look to your past child and youth activities, we have a few suggestions:

2.1 Keep college students coming to virtual church

Virtual church wasn’t just a pandemic fad. There are home-bound individuals who have not been able to keep up with their church family because they cannot get to Sunday services. Another group the church is losing is college students. These are young adults who may have been very involved in church programs and activities, but once they went to college, those relationships fizzled, and they found other groups. Offering virtual Sunday services and small online groups for college students can help continue these relationships and students’ passion for the church.

2.2 Encourage children and youth to volunteer with local nonprofits

Talk is cheap. People who live lives of generosity and work for others show what it means to be a Christian every day. By encouraging the youth in your church to find places to volunteer and share their skills and passion, you create a walking promotion for your church.

2.3 Invite teenagers to take part in the ministry

If your sermon only speaks to adults, how do you expect to keep children and youth excited and involved? Sure, there is a children’s church, but once you hit a certain age, that option loses its appeal. Ask your youth pastor and team to come up with ways teens can take a larger part in your sermons. Watching younger individuals speak about Christ will not only encourage young people to stay but excite the older church members who may fear what will happen to future generations.

2.4 Offer public WiFi during sermons and encourage children to sign up for a Bible app

Children have a hard time sitting still in church. Many parents have done their best by helping kids take notes or getting them to play quietly, but as a pastor, you can help parents keep their children quiet and reach younger people with new ways to learn about God. Several Bible apps include games and note-taking tools that can be part of your sermon. These hands-on devices can open the world of the bible to younger members of your church. If your church offers public WiFi and includes how to use these tools during your sermons, many in your congregation may take advantage of this new way to learn.

3. Encourage involvement

Reach out to your ardent supporters and volunteers to fundraise for your church and spread the word to their own networks. This will help you acquire new supporters and raise more funds.

Peer-to-peer campaigns are ideal for this. Invite your best supporters and volunteers with a strong network and many followers to create their own fundraising campaigns and raise money for your mission. Encourage them to be an integral part of it and reward their good efforts.

With Donorbox, creating a peer-to-peer campaign is very easy – all it takes is toggling a switch. You can invite as many supporters as you want. Your invitees will receive email invites, and the tool will guide them to create and customize their own campaign pages. You can also choose to add a button to your campaign so supporters can opt-in to fundraising on your behalf. Once your fundraisers start raising funds and spreading the word, your parent campaign will list the top fundraisers (shown below) to encourage more people to fundraise for you. Know more about how to create a Donorbox Peer-to-Peer fundraising campaign here.

Church Growth Strategies

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4. Focus on creating relationships within your community

Youth teams are not the only ones who can learn and benefit from volunteering with nonprofits. Your church can increase involvement in your church by asking members to volunteer for local nonprofits. Offer ways to help the homeless; drop off meals to the elderly; and give childcare options to parents who cannot afford it. Involvement in these activities will help your church members share what being Christian really means. This will also introduce others in the community to a caring environment they want to join.

Another way to promote a caring environment and invite new members is by allowing already formed groups to use your facilities. Sundays and Wednesdays are generally popular days for your church activities, but that leaves five more days where other groups can meet. Alcoholics Anonymous, parent support groups, and PADS or other homeless networks are always looking for affordable facilities to use. Don’t think of them as just renters. Instead, build relationships with them and welcome them to join your services. Introduce them to your congregation and watch new friendships and communities develop.

5. Manage your supporters and strengthen these relationships

Now that you’ve built new relationships with supporters and maybe gained some new members, too, it is time that you have a plan to manage them well. You should start by segmenting your supporters into different groups as per their giving abilities, location, giving frequency, event or campaign interest, etc. This will help you understand your supporters, create targeted communication and marketing pieces, and strengthen your relationships with them.

Finally, get started with moves management. It defines the goals and various stages of a donor relationship. These steps will help your fundraisers or staff members better maintain relationships within the community and ask for donations when the time is just right.

Choose a donor management system that is automated and easy for you to use. For example, Donorbox adds your donor information automatically to its donor management system as soon as donations are made. Your donors will receive login details to access their own donor accounts and manage donation plans. You can check the details, contact them, add notes, and apply filters to segment donors (shown below).

How to Grow a Church

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Pro-tip: Make sure you have donation options that align with what each of your segments wants. For example, letting donors use digital wallets is a great way to both streamline the giving process and connect with younger donors. Donorbox UltraSwift™ Pay ensures a super fast donation process for your supporters. They can use digital wallets like Venmo, PayPal, Google PayApple Pay, etc. Moreover, there will be no need to manually enter personal information. This will substantially reduce your donor drop-off rates.

6. Partner with neighboring churches for events and programs

Do you think of other churches as competition or fellow Christians? Unfortunately, the second choice is often ignored. Churches see themselves competing for the few members of their community who want to join God’s family. Why not be different this year? Are there ways other churches are reaching out to the community? Do they offer different options for bible or education classes or seminars? Can you find ways to join them in these efforts?

By joining forces to hold public events or being part of another church’s work in the community, you are building a supportive environment for all Christians and churches. There may even be a few people who attend an event at one church but feel a stronger connection to your church members they met there. Connect with other local church leaders and suggest ways the two of you can join forces. After all, you all have the same goal to spread God’s word.

7. Start a virtual church

Ever since the pandemic, churches have started to find new ways to reach their current population. There have been some surprising benefits to these online sermons that may have surprised some church leaders. Virtual churches are growing and allow even more people to attend your church.

Stream your services online and offer online prayer groups, bible studies, or other activities online. People who listen to services online take time to learn more about a church. They may also join small groups and support the church financially. Plus, the rise of hybrid church means you offer something for everyone – those that want virtual offerings and those looking for that in-person connection.

Tons of apps and websites are available to help churches stream services and reach a larger audience. Church Streaming TV is one of the apps out there that streams services from churches worldwide. Some of these are mega-churches, but others are small churches looking to increase their outreach.

Another way a virtual church is particularly helpful is for raising funds online. Directing people to your website – the welcome mat of your church! – where your donation button is clear will help boost your fundraising. People these days keep their mobiles handy at all times. So when they visit your church, let them know about your online presence. Along with other benefits you provide online, mention the option to give. You never know who might end up giving to your church online and even opt for recurring donations.

Pro-tip: Use QR codes to share more information with your congregation. With one quick scan, an in-person visitor can quickly get connected with you online. This is a great way to collect in-person donations in an increasingly cashless world, too!

Donorbox Church Fundraising

8. Use social media to promote your church

While the virtual church is a newer trend, social media has been around for longer and has shown no signs of losing its popularity. There are a few ways churches can use social media to promote their mission and reach a larger audience. Churches can share public events on Facebook and encourage church members to take a picture at the event and share online with their friends and families. Ask Sunday morning attendees to share a bible verse or quote from the sermon on Twitter. Encourage them to speak about what the verse means to them.

There are untold numbers of ways social media can help grow your church. Learn more about how to develop a social media plan and keep your mission in mind when creating ways your church and members can share information, invite new members, and raise more funds.

9. Hold community events for the public

You may have seen a fair or food event held at another local church in your community. Events like these are ways to bring in new people and share their church’s mission with the public. These are generally affordable and family-friendly events. Parents and children in the community look forward to these events every year, and in addition to introducing people to your church, you are also raising money to keep your church thriving.

Pro tip: Give your congregation the best experience of attending an event for your church. Create an online event ticketing form with Donorbox Events. This will also help you create unlimited ticket levels as per your pricing strategy, keep track of sold tickets, know the attendees’ preferences, and maintain purchasers’ information. Donorbox also lets you accept donations from the event ticketing form. Know more about our event ticketing solution here and read this blog to get started with creating an event ticketing form on Donorbox.

10. Let church members help online

As fewer people keep cash and checks on hand, weekly offering plates are not collecting the money they used to. This lack of funds can make growing and promoting your church difficult. Churches that have their own website can receive tithes and offerings online. It gives people more options to give regularly through recurring donations and encourages larger gifts with credit and debit card payments.

Other options churches can use are text-to-give and crowdfunding.

Churches can include a texting number and campaign ID in the program, and pastors can ask people to give with their phones right there and then. Since more people have smartphones, they can easily text the campaign ID to the number and receive a link to an online donation form. Donors can repeat the donation anytime on the go with just a simple text – no need for opening the donation form again.

Here’s what repeating a donation with Donorbox Text-to-Give looks like –

Church Growth Strategies

Donorbox even offers nonprofits and churches a shortcode plan with its Text-to-Give, which comes with a shorter texting number and a custom keyword. This makes it even easier for your donors! Need inspiration? Check out our ultimate guide to Text-to-Give for churches.

Crowdfunding campaigns can be created by the church for mission trips, building improvements, or other activities. They can be communicated with church members and promoted by the organization and parishioners. These campaigns give members another chance to share excitement for God and their church with friends and family.

11. Bonus method: Focus on small groups

Sunday services are what people think of when they hear ‘church’. But membership in God’s family does not require a large building and hundreds of followers. New Christians, after Jesus’s death and rebirth, visited together in their homes. They shared their own memories and stories of how Jesus’s teachings impacted their lives.

Simple Church Europe has used these church groups as an inspiration to spread Christianity around Europe and build up the faith again. The goal of this organization is to re-evangelize Europe during an age when fewer people attend church. All churches can grow their congregation and inspire new members through smaller groups. For instance, prayer meetings, parent support, and children and youth classes give individuals a place to share their enthusiasm for God and build strong relationships with fellow believers.

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