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Simple way to reach people without “selling” your church


Question – How do we reach people without looking like we are “selling” our church?

Answer – Talk more about your listener and less about your church

In Matthew 4:19, Jesus calls us to fish for people (every man, woman, boy and girl).

I grew up in a family of fishermen, and we spent more hours than I could count with a pole in the water.

I learned early on that the goal of fishing was to present something the fish needs (food) in a way they will respond to.

But every fish responds differently.

Trout go after one type of food, tuna go after another.

Both are fish, but what attracts them is very different. Consequently, you fish for them in very different ways.

Knowing what your are fishing for determines what will attract them.

Back to the question…

How does our church become fishers of people, without looking like we are “selling” our church?

We have to:

  1. Know who we are trying to REACH
  2. What ISSUES they are facing

Here’s what it can look like:

Who do I want to REACH = Young Families

What ISSUES are they facing = 2 Spouses Working, Single Parenting, Little Free Time, Kids with Challenges, Childcare issues, Never get a break

You can “fish” for them in multiple ways.

Talk about your church

Tell them how great your church is, and why they should be a part. Show pictures of involved families and how they might fit in.

Invite, Invite, Invite


Talk about them

Address the real-life issues they are facing. Show how your church offers solutions to the problems and they aren’t alone in the struggle. Let them see and hear from people whose life has been changed by the ministry you offer.


Both ways have the potential to attract people.

One looks like you’re trying to “sell” something – your church

The other looks like you “love” them and want to help meet their needs.


Meet their needs and you open the door to changing their heart.

How far out should we be promoting events?

Recently I asked my email list about their challenges with church communications. My goal was to get a list of pain points they were facing and questions that they needed answers for.

The list of questions amazed me.

It Was Huge

While there were many similarities, they covered many topics and struggles.

After trying to figure out how best to provide answers, I decided the best way was to just start tackling them one question at a time.

Starting today, I’m going to be answering your questions via video, in what I’m calling #AskRADIdeas.

Question #1 – How far out should we be promoting events?

SDewitt writes, “How far out should we be promoting events? We have an e-newsletter that goes out weekly, but it seems that people get board seeing things too many times (6 weeks out and then they wait to volunteer or sign-up to come).”

Answer #1 – Promote 6-8 weeks before an event in multiple ways

There is a fine line between over promoting and under promoting.

The thing to remember is, the average person needs to hear about an opportunity 3-7 times before they feel informed enough to make a decision about it.

Barna Research recently released a statistic that complicates things. They found that the majority of people who would say they are connected to your church attend fewer than 2 times a month.

This creates a challenge because they are in the building only twice a month, but we need people to hear about an opportunity 3-7 times to make a decision.

To get to that point you’ve got to present things to your congregation multiple times and in various ways for them to all hear about it.

How do we do that?

We have to start talking about an opportunity 6-8 weeks before it occurs.

We do this is to increase the chances of someone having heard about your event while they are in the church building. We then follow up with other promotional channels outside the building.

Here’s what it can look like…

6-8 weeks before – Start mentioning the opportunity in Verbal Announcements and possibly the Bulletin

5-6 weeks before – Add Bulletin announcement and provide Flyers to hand out and use to invite friends

3-4 weeks out – Add Website, Email, Text messaging, provide Resources to invite friends

1-2 weeks out – Social Media, Text messaging, Email follow up

Seem excessive?

Remember, the goal is that your church hears about an opportunity enough times to make a decision about attending.

While you’ve been working on this for weeks, planning and preparing for the event, the people you’re talking to haven’t been thinking about it. It’s not the only thing in their lives and it’s not taking up the amount of time you are pouring into it.

If you’ve talked about something 10-12 times and it seems excessive to you, remember that the average listener has probably only heard about it 5-6 times. They aren’t listening to every promotion you’re putting out and aren’t sick of hearing about it. In fact, it may just be the reminder they needed to attend.

Start earlier and make sure you present opportunities in multiple ways so you reach people enough times.