What's in this session?

  • The question (0:40)
  • Do something you’ve never done. Get somewhere you’ve never been (1:08)
  • Disadvantage: Less resources (2:12)
  • Advantage: Move quickly, small improvements result in huge change (2:36)
  • Set your expectations: you don’t need huge growth - nor would you want it (3:51)
  • Set a clear goal (4:54)
  • Acquisition experiments (Facebook ads, community events, Google AdWords) (6:16)
  • Bring value (7:58)

Show notes and resources

Free Bonus: Click here to download The Church Growth Calculator Spreadsheet – a ready-to-go spreadsheet calculator for accurately tracking & measuring church growth

The Transcript

Brady Shearer: Pro Church Daily is brought to you by Storytape unlimited stock video downloads on a single monthly subscription. Head to Storytape.com and you browse through every single video clip we have to offer for free.

Alex Mills: Well, hey there and welcome to Pro Church Daily; the show where in ten minutes or less, you’ll get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus while we navigate the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years. I’m your host, Alex Mills. I’m joined as always by the boss man, it’s Brady Shearer. Today, we’re talking about how you can reach people when you’re a church of 50 people or less.

Brady Shearer: I got a question the other day through a DM on Instagram, and it really made me think. I want to read it out loud.

It says, “Hey, any advice that you can give to help us start reaching more people? We’re a very small church, 50 people or less. Most are older than 40 years old. I’m trying to get young people to come to our church, so any advice would be great.”

It got me thinking about, ‘Okay, if I was in the position of this individual and I was attending a church of 50 or less, most or older, what would I do to reach more people in my community?’ Really, the thoughts just started flowing from there, so I want to dive right in.

The first thing that I wanted to say is that much like anything in life, and this applies directly to your church if you’re 50 or less, 500 or less, 5,000 or less, in whatever you’re trying to do. If you want to get somewhere that you’ve never been, you need to be willing to do things that you’ve never done.

Alex Mills: I love that.

Brady Shearer: That is the thought exercise, really the perspective shift that you need to begin with. ‘Okay, we want to grow. We want to reach people.’ Great, you’re starting with a goal. That’s super important. Most people aren’t even willing to jump to there because if we set a goal, it means we can fail. That’s embarrassing. I’d just rather stay with the status quo. Props for stepping beyond that and saying, ‘We want to grow and reach people.’

The next step to making that a reality is to say, ‘Okay, look. Clearly, what we’ve been doing so far hasn’t allowed us, hasn’t enabled us to accomplish this goal, so we need to start doing things that are unfamiliar, probably uncomfortable, and definitely unusual compared to what we’ve been doing thus far.’

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: ‘If we want to accomplish that goal.’ From there, I think it’s important to analyze your situation as a church. Again, it’s easy at this point to put yourself in a really, really sad state and like, ‘We’re a church of 50 or less. We’re below the continental average. What are we doing wrong?’ I think it’s important yes, to acknowledge your disadvantages, but also to recognize the advantages that you have as a smaller church.

The first disadvantage is obvious, if you’re a church of 50 or less, you likely have less volunteer and monetary resources compared to a church that’s twice your size, ten times your size.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: What advantages do you have being a church that’s 50 or less that a larger church doesn’t? For instance, I go to a church that’s a couple thousand people. I’m very close with some of the leadership and a lot of times, we end up talking about, ‘Man, how hard is it to change things when you have to turn around a giant boat with 2,000 people on it?’

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: The metaphor that we use is like, it’s like we’re driving a Titanic or a cruise ship, and turning it around takes a really long time. The turn has to be so subtle because it’s such a big object. Whereas if you’re a church of 50 or less, you’re basically in a little speedboat.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: You can make turns real fast.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Because you’re so much smaller. That is a huge advantage.

Alex Mills: For sure.

Brady Shearer: You need to recognize that and celebrate it. Another huge advantage of this is that because you’re so small, any success that you do see is going to move the needle forward in such a big way.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: If you’re a church of 500, to double in size, 500 more people? That’s a huge growth step. If you’re 50 to double in size, just getting 50 people, that’s so much easier. Even if you get five people, that will be a 10% growth.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: You know how many churches would love for 10% growth?

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Start somewhere small. Five people. That’s super obtainable. Recognize the advantages and disadvantages, and celebrate the advantages; because they do exist.

Alex Mills: Absolutely.

Brady Shearer: Even if you don’t perceive them to be there. Next step, set your expectations. What you don’t want, as much as you might think you do, is you do not want to double the size of your church overnight.

Alex Mills: No.

Brady Shearer: If you are a church of 50 people, if suddenly within the next month, you had 100 people, it’s very likely that you wouldn’t have the infrastructure ready to absorb that amount of growth. You’d end up maybe even in a net negative over the next couple of months as people weren’t properly taken care, as things happen that you weren’t expecting. You weren’t prepared for that growth.

It’s like if I go into the gym and I’m like, “You know what? I’m going to get a personal best today.” Then, I pick up a weight that’s twice as much as I’ve ever lifted.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: One, I’m risking myself for injury.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Two, it’s like not even possible. It’s not even something that’s actually realistic. Set your expectations reasonably. There’s that great adage for set goals and the acronym is ‘smart.’ It’s specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time centric.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Make it realistic. From there, what you want to do is do set a clear goal. I said earlier that taking that step of wanting to grow is really big. That’s great. How measurable and specific can you make the goal? For instance, you can have a goal for 2018 being like, ‘We want to reach more people.’ Not good enough.

What is actually much better would be to set the goal of, ‘Okay, in the year of 2018, we want 25 new people to come through our front doors on a Sunday morning.’ That would be one very specific, 25.

Alex Mills: Yup.

Brady Shearer: It would be measurable. You could track if 25 new people came, especially in a church of 50. It would be very noticeable.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: It’s attainable. Sure, maybe it’s not. Reassess that for your own, maybe starting with five new people is more attainable. Again, 10% growth is huge. Most churches would love that.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Realistic and finally time centric. By the way, if I’m butchering this acronym, I feel like I’m getting most of the letters right.

Alex Mills: Yeah, I think you’re fine.

Brady Shearer: Which I think is most important.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Time centric, this is one that a lot of people don’t do. Set a deadline. The second you put something on a deadline, it’s that much more likely for it to happen.

Alex Mills: For sure.

Brady Shearer: This is why we set launch dates for our products.

We say, “Okay, on this day, we’re opening up. All right, developers, make sure that you get it done by then.”

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Suddenly things go a lot faster it seems, sometimes.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Because there’s a deadline that now we know we need to hit. Set that clear goal. Now, once we’ve done all this; we’ve recognized our advantages and disadvantages. We’ve hopefully had that perspective shift, understanding that we need to do things we never done to get somewhere that we’ve never been. We’ve set a clear goal. From there, now it’s time to run as many acquisition experiments as you possibly can. Again, the advantage of being a small church. You can move quickly.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: You want to try as many things as you possibly can within the year, because it’s very likely if you haven’t seen success up until this point, you’ve likely either been unwilling to try at risk of failure, or you just aren’t sure about this part of running a church. That’s okay. Running a church is hard. Leading a business, running an organization, is very difficult. There’s so many things you need to consider. If you’re not huge on the acquisition marketing outreach side of things, that’s okay. One way to improve? Try your hand at everything.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: It’s like if you’ve never had Indian food and … I can only think of one type of cuisine. Mexican food.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: You’ve never been to this restaurant, and this restaurant, and this restaurant. You’re like, ‘Yeah, I really only like eating spaghetti and meatballs every day.’ What you need to do is … Well, you could really put yourself in two positions. One, the only good food on earth is spaghetti and meatballs. It’s probably not true, you just haven’t tried enough things.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Try as much as you possibly can. What’s likely to happen is you’re going to stumble upon something that works. Then, once you have something that works, double down on that. I could sit here and say, ‘Okay, Facebook ads is the right thing to do.’ I could say, ‘Run big community events.’ I could say ‘Do Google AdWords so people are searching for churches in your area. You show up first, because you’re paying to show up.’

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: There are so many different things that you could do, but I don’t know your unique situation for this individual and for everyone else that’s listening. The best thing that you can do, being the size that you are, run as many possible experiments as you possibly can. Get the church and the senior leadership on board with this idea. If we want to go somewhere we’ve never been, we got to do stuff that we’ve never done.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Then from there, you want to just bring value to people. At the end of the day, the only reason people are going to be coming to your church is because it’s valuable to their life. You could have conversations with people in your church already. Why do you attend this church? What brings value to you? Also, talk to people that don’t come to your church. You want to reach people that are younger. If your church is mostly older people, the answers that they give you as to how you’re bringing value to them likely would be different for someone half their age, or a quarter their age. Try to dial down.

Okay, if someone was going to come to our church that was in their 20s or 30s, what would they find valuable? Dial into that. Experiment with that. That’s the process that I would work.

Alex Mills: That’s good.

Brady Shearer: That’ll do it for this episode of Pro Church Daily. We’ve love for you to be eligible for all the giveaways we’re doing throughout the month of February.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: It’s all happening on our Instagram accounts, @BradyShearer on Instagram. That’s where all the giveaways are going down, so give a follow to that account; and you could be eligible to win the great stuff that we’re giving away. What are we giving away? It’s a secret. Not to those who follow on Instagram.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: They know. Go to @BradyShearer, give it a follow, watch the stories, engage with the posts. You could be eligible to win, you and your church. Thanks for watching today’s episode of Pro Church Daily. We’ll see you tomorrow.

Hey, thanks for listening to today’s episode of Pro Church Daily. If you haven’t already, make sure to subscribe to the Pro Church podcast for new podcasts just like this one every single day. If you’ve like to support this podcast, leave us a rating or review. It doesn’t cost you much, but it means the world to us. Talk to you tomorrow.

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