How To Get More People In Church: The #1 Game-Changing Strategy [2023]

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If you are trying to figure out how to get more people in church then you are going to love what we have in store for you in this article. 

I’m not here to give you creative ideas or give 15 random and unrelated strategies on how to solve this problem. 

We’re going straight to the heart of the issue so you can get more people in church. 

(Then later, I’m going to show you how one pastor added a second service full of newcomers by catching a few chickens.) 

In this article we will discuss:

  • Section 1: Same Actions Get The Same Results
  • Section 2: What Thriving Ministries Focus On
  • Section 3: If There Is a Silver Bullet – This Is It
  • Section 4: Meeting Needs In Real Life
  • Section 5: How Catching Chickens Got More People in Church

Let’s get to it! 

Section 1: The Same Actions Get The Same Results

The majority of church leaders are all wondering the same thing. That is- exactly the same thing you are asking now, “how do I get more people in church?”

What you may not realize is that most of these church leaders all over the western world are doing essentially the same things in their attempt to get more people in church. 

The majority of churches do the following: 

  • They offer a Sunday Service
  • Youth Group
  • Sunday school for the kids 
  • Maybe a Nursery
  • And the same assortment of sermons that every other church offers (with some denomination differences added in)
  • Even the services themselves are similar across denominations. 

If the church in the western world is in decline (and it is) and you do the same thing other failing churches are doing, then your church will most likely be in decline as well.

What’s popular is almost always wrong. 

This means that being a normal, run-of-the-mill church is no longer sufficient to attract people to your ministry. 

The growth you want in your church can be found in the elusive few churches that ARE finding growth. But they are in the minority of churches. In order to grow your church, you must do what the majority of churches AREN’T doing.

The Pareto principle states that 20% of all churches generate 80% of all the new visitors that go to any church.

To get more people into your church, you must be a contrarian and learn to think the same way that leaders of fruitful ministries think

Let’s take a look at what declining and thriving ministries make into habit. Consider which of the following looks most similar to your ministry: 

Declining Ministries: 

  1. Declining ministries generally don’t know what their specific purpose is. 
  2. Declining ministries ask self-focused questions in staff meetings like “how do I get more people into my church”?
  3. Declining ministries try doing more things to get more people. 
  4. Declining ministries do “ministry as usual”. 
  5. Declining ministries often focus on events to get people in the front door. 
  6. Declining ministries often focus on their own needs first (increasing tithes, getting more volunteers, getting more visitors, etc.) 

In reality, this type of approach to ministry leads to flash in the pan marketing events that don’t keep new visitors who do show up. It also leads to pastor and volunteer burnout and creates half-committed churchgoers. 

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Which of these things did Jesus do?

  1. Jesus knew exactly what God called Him to do and he chose disciples who were willing to sacrifice everything to go on his mission with him. 
  2. Jesus never asked how to increase the size of his following, instead, he went out and met people’s needs.
  3. Jesus never did more things to appeal to larger audiences. In fact, Jesus narrows the options to people  who wanted to follow Him (Matt 19:21, John 14:6).
  4. Jesus disrupted the “synagogue as usual” by doing miracles on the sabbath, etc. (Mark 3:1-6, Mark 6:2, Luke 13:14). 
  5. Jesus only did “events” when they were in line with the purpose of his ministry. (Jesus focused on Jewish “events” because his ministry was to preach repentance beginning with the jews)
  6. Jesus was always concerned with the needs of others first and foremost. Jesus’ primarily fed the hungry, healed the sick, cast out demons, etc.

If you want to know more about why ministries fail to grow, check out our article: The Harsh Reality Of Church Growth You May Be Ignoring

Section 2: What Thriving Ministries Focus On

Thriving ministries on the other hand look more like this: 

  1. Thriving ministries often rally all their resources around a single mission/ vision. 
  2. Thriving ministries ask selfless questions like, “what are the biggest struggles in my audience’s life right now and how could I resolve them”?
  3. Thriving ministries find only the needs they can meet in a powerful way and stick with only those (They realize doing less reaches more people). 
  4. Thriving ministries are willing to throw out “ministry as usual” in favor of doing whatever it takes to meet the needs of their audience. 
  5. Thriving ministries know events only matter so long as they create genuine value in the eyes of their specific audience. 
  6. Thriving ministries focus on meeting the needs of their audience first and know that they will reap what they sow

Growing churches are focused on improving the lives of everyone who enters their doors. 

Consider this passage: 

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” -James 2:14-17

The same is true for every ministry. What good is Sunday service if the needs of the congregation have gone unmet in favor of “ministry as usual”. 

How do we expect to reach anyone if they leave with the same problems they entered the church with? 

If people started hearing that your church genuinely improved the lives of every person who set foot inside, you would have to get a bigger church. 

Not surprisingly, this is exactly what happens in Jesus’ ministry time and time again. 

Consider this passage in Matthew:

“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.” Matthew 4:23

In verse 23 Jesus does two things. 

  1. He meets the physical needs of the people there.
  2. He teaches them the truth. 

When He does this, here is what happens. 

“News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them.” – Matthew 4:24

After Jesus begins meeting the physical needs of the people, it says the “news about him spread all over Syria”. 

How did this happen? The news about him spread because the people were so excited about how their lives had been changed both physically & spiritually, they had to tell everyone they knew. 

Not surprisingly, when more people heard there was someone who was meeting needs, they also brought lots of other people to him to have their needs met too. And Jesus also met their needs!

So what was the result of Jesus continually meeting the needs of the people? THEY came to HIM. 

“Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him.” Matthew 4:25

Jews from every part of the country followed him. 

If you meet more deeply felt needs, then you will get more people in your church.

Section 3: If There Is A Silver Bullet – This Is It

Here is the crazy part, this cause and effect relationship is hard-wired into every person, in every industry, sector, country, and time. 

Let’s look at some examples of how meeting deeply felt needs attracts people to the person who meets the needs. 

Sharing The Gospel Example: When I find myself discussing apologetics and sharing my faith with an unbeliever, I always begin by asking them all about their beliefs, why they believe it, what it means to them, what leads them to their conclusions. 

I just let them talk about themselves until they are blue in the face. Every single time, there comes a moment when that person feels sufficiently cared for that they want to know my opinions and they are open to hearing whatever I have to say because I met their need first. 

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I have found that this strategy has worked flawlessly no matter who I find myself speaking to. It has helped me communicate effectively with Wiccans, spiritual new age types, Atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, Agnostics, a “cat worshiper”, a Satanist, and others. People have a deeply felt need to be heard and understood.

If evangelists meet more deeply felt needs, then more people will listen and accept Christ.

Sales Example: This principle also holds true in sales. Before someone ever makes a purchase, their need for information, 1-on-1 attention, trust, understanding, and comfort with the purchase process must all be met. Most of all, people have a deep need to know they will be cared for after they make a large purchase. This is true in both online and in-person selling. If the sales person can accomplish this, they get more sales. 

If sales people meet more deeply felt needs, then they make more sales.

Marriage Example: This is also true in marriage. Everyone wants their spouse to meet their needs and uphold their expectations of how they believe things should be. Trying to get your spouse to do this seldom works, and if it does, it isn’t sustainable in the long run. Instead, it creates bitterness and discord. 

Instead, when we stop worrying about ourselves and ask our spouse instead how we can meet their needs (and then actually meet the need) they begin taking an interest in meeting yours. Why? Because all they wanted was to feel cared for – just like you.

If a husband meets more deeply felt needs in his wife, he will receive more love and affection from her.

To grow your church, you must be completely committed to meeting the needs of “the flock”

Just like the scripture above, when you truly meet the needs of your audience, THEY will grow your ministry for you. 

Business Example: The most successful businessmen & women ask themselves every day. “How do I meet the greatest need for the greatest number of people?” 

The more people who want their products, the more money they can make. A bestselling book is a best seller because more people believe that the book can solve their problem – so they buy it. 

If business people meet more deeply felt needs for more people, they attract more people and make more money.

Section 4: Meeting Needs In Real Life

So how do you implement this practically? 

Create a 3 question survey, and get EVERY person in your church to answer them (even if you have to ask each person the questions yourself).

  1. What are the 3 most difficult problems you are currently facing? 
  2. Describe the most impactful experience you have ever had with a church. 
  3. What do you wish we would do differently

After surveying everyone connected with your ministry, you should begin to find some notable similarities in the answers. 

  • Question 1 will tell you what problems they are seeking solutions for. 
  • Question 2 will tell you the type of experience they want more of. 
  • Question 3 asks for honest feedback about your ministry so you can make changes. 

Create a habit of becoming a problem solver. Don’t worry about how to get people in church. Instead, ask everyone you want to come into your ministry what their biggest problems are and try to find a way to resolve them.

When you develop the ability to meet the needs of people around you – you will find ever-increasing numbers of people gravitating toward you and your ministry.  

Section 5: How Catching Chickens Got More People In Church

One pastor I know well took this “meeting needs” suggestion to heart and began asking community leaders what their biggest needs were. The pastor had been talking with the manager of a high-rise apartment building next door to the church (who had previously refused to allow him to “solicit” in the building). 

The building manager told him that he NEEDED the chickens to be removed from the park next to both the church and the apartment building. He was tired of hearing his residents complain every day about the chickens. 

He had been calling the city for ages trying to get the problem resolved – with no results. This pastor then committed himself to resolving the chicken situation – not fully understanding how this would lead to any REAL ministry opportunity. 

Pastor John called the city to discover that they had a $50,000 budget dedicated to catching chickens but could find no one who would do it. He then decided to get the job done himself by recruiting the youth group to catch the chickens (which turned out to be a hit event but ultimately unsuccessful – apparently chickens are pretty fast). 

Not too long after this, Pastor John discovered (through intentional fact-finding) that an especially impoverished community that he had been trying to reach would regularly catch chickens and use them to cook. 

They eagerly and enthusiastically came to his church and made all of the chickens disappear in just a few hours. The residents of the apartment were so glad to see this, they came out of the high-rise apartment building to watch the spectacle and began speaking with and thanking the pastor. 

Not long after this, a pastor who spoke the language of this impoverished community approached Pastor John and asked if he could add a second service to Pastor John’s church in the language of the struggling group. He was able to promote the new service himself and had income from another source.  

The city worker also heard about what had been done and called Pastor John because she had stopped receiving complaints about the chickens. She reallocated some of her funds and had an electrician install floodlighting outside the church to reduce the number of homeless who were vandalizing the building at night. 

Pastor John discovered how to get more people in church after he caught a few chickens. When he met the need of his audience he was blessed in the following ways: 

  • He received a new Sunday service that targeted those struggling the most in his community, in their own language.
  • He had a few of the impoverished people (who ate the chickens) come to church. 
  • The city insisted on paying for and installing floodlighting. 
  • Many of the people he hoped to reach inside the apartment building came out to him.  
  • He has a much better relationship with everyone involved – and they now seek him out with their needs. 

If you meet more deeply felt needs, then you will get more people in church.

So I leave you with this question: 

What are the chickens in the lives of your audience and how can you get rid of them? 

Let us know in the comments!

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