No One Even Knows Your Church Exists

How many people in your neighborhood have ever heard of your church? For many of us, the answer is few.  But how can we expect to make a real impact on our communities if 90 percent of the people that we hope to impact don’t even know that our churches exist.  Are you looking to make a difference in your community? Start by answering these four questions:

1.  What is your ministry target area?

Defining your ministry Target

One of the most effective steps that a church can take is clearly defining the area that you are looking to reach. I meet a lot of church planters that are planning to be a “regional church.”  What they often mean is that they will allow anyone from anywhere to join them. I am not encouraging you to turn people away, but am suggesting that you have at least clearly thought through your ministry focus. Targeting a specific area makes your goal of starting a church and reaching a community more specific and manageable.  Steps toward defining your ministry target area include:

  • Considering natural boundaries that exist in your context
  • Learning commuting patterns
  • Understanding neighborhood demographics

In some communities, people frequently drive long distances to shop or dine out.  In other communities, people stay and live in a more specific area.  The key principle is to target a specific and manageable ministry area.  How big should a ministry target area be?  This depends on your context.  In a rural setting with low population density your target area may be much larger than in an urban setting where there are many more people per square mile. Focusing on a smaller area, however, is almost always better than a larger area.

2.  How many people are in your ministry target area?

Essential to a clearly defined target area is an understanding of population density. Steps toward this goal include:

  • Knowing how many people live in your target area
  • Learning How many churches exist in the area
  • Understanding the percentage of people committed to any church in your area

What is the right amount of people for a target area? This also depends on your context. If you are a smaller church or church plant, a target area of 500,000 people is probably far too large. With a smaller ministry target, you are much more likely to be known and impact your community .

3.  Who are the people in your ministry target area?

Diverse group of people

We can all spot the differences between a rural farmer and a wall-street business man. In most of our contexts, things are not quite that clear. Do you live in a city or neighborhood where people commute every day?  What businesses or industries affect your area?  Are people more educated or less educated?  What are income levels like? How do people in your target area spend their money?  What do they do with their children during the day? Thinking through these kinds of questions will assist you in understanding who the people in your context, what is important to them, and how to most effectively reach them.

But these first three steps are not enough for people to know that your church exists. So the final question is:

4.  What are you going to do to get the word out?

Now that you have:

Defined a target area, determined how many people live in your target area, and understand who the people are in your target area, what you are going to do to continuously let people know that you exist to serve them? You are not limited to a costly advertising campaign. There are dozens of ways to get the word out. Figuring all this out is why you get paid the small bucks. Shouldn’t your goal be for everyone in your target area to know that you exist?

Keep in mind that these four steps apply both to church plants and existing churches. Investing time to walk through them just might launch your church into a wealth of new ministry opportunities.

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Posted by Brian Howard

My focus is to help YOU move forward one step at a time. I write about church excellence, personal productivity, and family leadership. I coach leaders, start churches, and help organizations break growth barriers. My goal is to draw on this experience to help YOU move forward in life, leadership, and productivity.

  1. Great Questions: Hey Brian, just found your blog…one response…??? I think this is a bigger problem than we admit. I can remember this being discussed in conferences and meetings for years, even remember the first church growth guru I followed; Lisle Shaller… a guy who desired to see a reversal in the decline of the main line churches. Obviously his advice didn’t take hold, the main lines are still dwindling. I am experiencing this still with evangelical, conservative, reformed, “it-doesn’t-matter-what-form” churches. On my way to my first church out of seminary I stopped in at a local convenience store to ask directions. (I am not a proud male, and this was before GPS, Google Maps, etc. We actually relied on our neighbors for help.) I asked for the directions to the church so I could make it for the interview. No one in the store knew where it was. I found the church about an 1/2 later. IT was 3 blocks straight down the street. I was amazed. I shared this with the church in my first official meeting…I was rebuked…”they probably didn’t know where the baptist church was either!”

    I can only describe it as the bubble…Alvin Reed from Southeastern has a new book out on missional living…its a great description of the bubble believers find themselves in and how to bust it…a new movement for growth and renewal…B
    Bust the bubble!!!


    1. Well, said Gary! Ready for you to guest post on this blog anytime!


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  3. […] Scripture makes it clear that God draws people to himself. But when He does will anyone know that your church even exists? Do you have a known presence and a good reputation? Many churches have neither and struggle to be […]


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