At times as church leaders, you may be so consumed by the day in and the day out of ministry that it can be hard to step back and evaluate methods for church growth. Then something comes along to catch your attention and bring about helpful self-reflection.
This ebook was one of those resources that recently caught our eye, and we thought it might spark some thought about your own ministry initiatives. It identifies 5 habits that church leaders may unwittingly exhibit that could be stifling church growth.
Here is an excerpt that delves into one tricky territory many churches face—who is God calling you to reach? We hope this lends to some thoughtful conversation among your team members.
10 Questions to Help Identify Your Church’s Target Audience
[Note: This post is excerpted from an ebook by echurch: 5 Bad Habits that Kill Church Growth (and How to Break Them). Click the link to get access to the rest of the book.]
When you start talking about a church’s “target demographic or audience,” some people get really uncomfortable. “The gospel’s for everyone, right?” they might say. “Christ’s salvation isn’t a product to be marketed to a specific audience. Are you suggesting that we exclude people?”
I want to let you in on a little secret: you have a target audience, whether you know it or not. Everything your church does or says is going to appeal to one group more than another. It just is. People don’t all enjoy the same kind of theology, music, decor, or preaching style. Some people like communion to come in little plastic cups. Others prefer intinction.
I want to let you in on a little secret: you have a target audience, whether you know it or not.
The choices you make are excluding people who would prefer something else. If they don’t like drums in the worship service, and your church uses drums in some fashion, you’re excluding them. If they don’t like drums but stay anyway, of course you’ll welcome them. It’s not like you’re putting a sign on the front door that says, “If you don’t like drums, go away!” But some of the choices you make will potentially turn some people off — and that’s okay.
One thing stagnant churches haven’t realized yet is that by not choosing who they intend to appeal to, the choice is being made for them. Everything from the interior design to the music is being chosen by different people using their own preferences as criteria. What you often end up with is a strange quilt of elements that might not necessarily appeal to anyone.
Choosing Your Target Audience
You want to make a decision to appeal to a certain demographic. When you decide what that target is, you begin to look at everything in your church through their eyes. How would the lobby change? Should we be greeting people differently? Is there a way we can adjust the decorative elements to appeal to that demographic?
When churches begin going down this road, they’ll often decide that their church demographic is something like “young families.” This is a good place to start, but isn’t quite as dialed in as you would like. If you can be even more specific and say, “young families with infants” or “families with elementary-aged kids,” it’s much easier to understand how things could change to be more welcoming for them.
Some churches have had great success focusing on groups like unchurched men, musicians, cowboys, military families, etc.
Still trying to figure out who will find your church’s “target audience” is? Start by asking the questions below:
- Who do we appeal to right now? Why?
- Who do the other churches in our city appeal to?
- Is there an underserved demographic in our community? Who are they?
- What does our community look like?
- What is the average income in our community?
- What is the average educational level in our community?
- What kinds of jobs are represented in our community? White collar? Blue collar? Artists? Medical professionals? Young entrepreneurs?
- What kind of lifestyles are represented in our community? Outdoorsy? Runners? Sports fans?
- What kind of worship experiences aren’t represented in our community?
- What are our strengths?
Prayerfully, going through these questions with your leadership team will help identify who your target audience should be. Once that’s done, you can start thinking about how to appeal to them—and how to remove impediments that might be turning them off.
Click to read more of the bad habits that kill church growth—and what you can be doing to break them!