Reaching New Disciples

By Ken Willard

One of the most asked questions I get from churches is, “How do we reach new people?”

Is this a question you and your church are wrestling with right now?

Before I share some suggestions, I want you to seriously consider a very important question—Why do you want to reach new people? To serve because you are tired, to financially support the church, or to keep your church from dying are not good responses.

We are commanded to reach new people from Jesus in Matthew 28:18-20.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The churches who are reaching new people tend to have a good balance between the two forms of evangelism, “come and see” – “go and tell.”

Here are ten suggestions for you to consider:

  1. Take your Hospitality game up a level. What’s the difference between a visitor and a guest? A guest is expected! Are you expecting someone new each week? People can tell if you are expecting them or not. Click HERE for a deeper look. (Hebrews 13:2)
  2. Read the book, Becoming a Welcoming Church by Thom S. Rainer and create a plan to implement at least two of the keys. [You can find his top ten list from the book by clicking HERE.]
  3. Start a new class, Sunday school class, small group, or other type of ministry community in the next three months. New people are not looking for a friendly church—they are looking for a church where they can make friends. New people connect best in a new group.
  4. Plan a BIG Day for a Sunday when your attendance is typically low. It is best for each church to create their own special service based on your community, not to copy what another church is doing. However, here are a few examples just to get you thinking: Blessing of the Pets; First-Responders Prayer service; School Band service
  5. Break the tradition of “summer slump.” Lots of new people will come to a church during the summer months. What will they find at your church? This is a great time for a church picnic or maybe a new initiative to create energy instead of accepting a decline in attendance.
  6. Open the front doors. Can your neighbors tell when you are having a service? Too many churches have nice front doors with no windows and no one standing outside before each worship service. So our communities just see a closed door with no activity. Don’t hide the light of Christ under a basket! (Matthew 5:15)
  7. The top three worship service attendance days in most churches are Christmas, Easter, and Mother’s Day. Many new people will come to our churches those days. What are you doing to invite them to return? Click HERE to find some Coming Soon ideas.
  8. Read the book, Ignite: How to Spark Immediate Growth in Your Church by Nelson Searcy and make a plan to implement two of the learnings from this book.
  9. Review your social media. Is it designed for those who are currently here, or for those you are trying to reach? Can a new person find the address of your church, when you worship, and what to expect at a service from your feed? Is your social media current and updated at least weekly?
  10. What happens when a new person attends a service? How is your connections ministry? Do they get a gift of some type? Do you contact them within 24 hours if they left their contact information? Each church must find the balance between overwhelming a new person and making them feel welcomed and invited to return.

Which ONE of the following list are you going to focus on first? Don’t try to do them all at once.

We are called to make disciples of Jesus. Building the church is Jesus’ job. (see Matthew 16:18) Reaching new people for the Kingdom is a key component of discipleship. It should never be about numbers or survival, but because each lost sheep matters to Christ…and to us!