30 proven church growth strategies

September 19, 2023

Picture a congregation that's bursting with energy—full of folks eager to lend a hand, make new friends, and share kindness with the world. 

That's what church growth is all about, and it's super important. 

Barriers like not knowing your community well or not keeping your church family engaged can slow things down. But we're here to help. 

In this blog post, we'll uncover the challenges to church growth and share 30 actionable church growth strategies you can implement today. 

Why is church growth so important?

Church growth is not just about filling pews. It's about spreading the gospel further and making more disciples.

The more people you reach, the more impact your church can have on the community.

Growing your congregation means more resources for ministry and the opportunity to make a difference in more lives.

What are some barriers to healthy church growth?

Before we dive into the strategies for sustainable church growth, let's address some common hurdles:

  • Lack of community understanding: To grow, you need to understand your community's needs and demographics. Without this information, you can't effectively reach out to your neighbors.
  • Inadequate outreach: Failing to connect with the community can hinder growth. You need to create a church culture that actively engages with people outside your church and invites them to take part in your mission.
  • Limited engagement & retention: Keeping members engaged and committed is crucial for growth. Without active participation, your congregation won't expand. The challenge is to come up with engagement activities, involve people, and set up a consistent schedule for these activities.

Now, let's explore strategies to overcome these barriers and promote healthy church growth.

Church growth strategies: Reach unchurched people

Church growth: Reach unchurched people

In this section, you’ll uncover how to understand your community, start an outreach ministry, create a marketing strategy, and other fool-proof church growth strategies that can help you expand your reach.

1. Understand your community

Understanding your community is the cornerstone of effective church growth. It's not just about increasing numbers—it's about building genuine relationships and meeting the real needs of the people around you. 

Begin by analyzing the demographics of your community. Are there more young families, singles, or elderly individuals? Understanding age, ethnicity, and family structures can help tailor your church's programs and services to resonate with your neighbors.

Economic challenges can significantly impact a community's needs. By being aware of the local economic climate, your church can offer relevant support, be it job fairs, financial literacy workshops, or drives to meet basic needs.

Identifying gaps in community services or areas where your church can make a difference is crucial. Whether it's setting up a food bank, offering after-school programs for kids, or organizing community clean-up days, these initiatives not only serve the community but also position the church as a beacon of hope and support.

Consider conducting surveys or community forums to gather direct feedback. This not only shows that your church values the opinions of its neighbors but also provides invaluable insights into areas of improvement or need.

By aligning your church's mission with the actual needs of the people, you create a symbiotic relationship where both the church and the community thrive. 

A prime example of this approach's effectiveness is seen at Saddleback Church. Pastor Rick Warren's survey for the church was instrumental in understanding the local community's specific challenges and aspirations. By addressing these needs directly through their programs and initiatives, Saddleback was able to foster a more engaged and growing congregation.

2. Start an outreach ministry

An outreach ministry offers churches the opportunity to extend their impact beyond spiritual guidance, directly addressing tangible needs within the community. By engaging in local projects, churches can make a profound difference.

Whether it's assisting widows with home repairs, volunteering at homeless shelters, or offering daycare services for single parents, these initiatives resonate deeply within the community. 

Bethany Church's program for moms and children stands as a testament to the power of such outreach. With about ten dedicated women from the church volunteering weekly, the program thrives not just because of the services offered, but due to the genuine relationships and unwavering commitment of its volunteers. 

Through such endeavors, churches can truly embody their mission, fostering connections and making a lasting impact.

3. Create a marketing strategy

A well-rounded marketing strategy is more than just an online presence or advertisements. It's about genuinely connecting with the community and fostering relationships.

Take a cue from Fresh Life Church’s website. Their homepage features clear call-to-actions, inviting visitors to watch their latest sermons, get connected with prayer or small groups, and even share their testimonies. This simple yet effective strategy ensures that newcomers know exactly how to get involved. 

Additionally, their email opt-in system is a smart move, allowing them to collect email addresses from interested parties. With this list, they send out weekly newsletters, keeping their congregation informed and engaged. 

Incorporating these elements into your marketing strategy ensures a deeper connection with your community and a more engaged congregation.

What if your church could reach people anywhere?

4. Community involvement

Deep engagement with the local community is essential for any church aiming to make a lasting impact. By attending local events, sponsoring community initiatives, and actively participating in neighborhood activities, a church can foster genuine relationships and position itself as a pillar of support. 

Encouraging members to invite community members to upcoming events bridges the gap between a church and the community it serves. This involvement not only builds trust but also showcases the church's commitment to the well-being of its members and the broader community. 

5. Partnerships with other local churches

Building partnerships with neighboring churches can amplify the impact and reach of your congregation. By pooling resources and organizing joint events, churches can collectively address community needs and foster a sense of unity. Such collaborations not only enhance the services offered but also create a broader platform for outreach. 

For example, you can partner with sponsors for meal distribution during Thanksgiving. By coming together, churches can ensure that more families celebrate the holiday with a warm meal, showcasing the power of unity and collaboration.

6. Citywide church events, groups, or associations

Engaging in citywide events and aligning with larger church groups or associations can significantly enhance a church's influence within the city. By being part of these larger initiatives, churches can tap into a wider network, share resources, and collectively work towards the betterment of the community. 

The Rose Hill Citywide Garage Sale serves as a testament to the power of such collaborations. With a dedicated Facebook event page detailing the timing and location, the organizers ensure that information is easily accessible and shareable, fostering community participation and unity. 

By joining such events, churches can further embed themselves in the community and amplify their positive impact.

7. Participation in local school activities

Churches have the potential to be pivotal in the lives of young minds by actively participating in local school and college activities. By supporting students, teachers, and parents, they can foster a nurturing environment that goes beyond spiritual guidance. Volunteering and contributions can make a tangible difference in the lives of young learners. 

For instance, your church could orchestrate a family night complete with food, movies, and the heartwarming gesture of allowing kids to shop for free backpacks and school supplies. Such initiatives not only strengthen community ties but also underscore the church's dedication to holistic development.

8. Start or support a food bank

Addressing food insecurity is a profound way for churches to make a tangible difference in their communities. By starting or supporting existing food banks, churches can provide essential resources to families in need. 

Calvary Community Church of Manteca, CA exemplifies this commitment. They initiated a food bank in their church basement, ensuring local families have access to groceries. Their Living Well Ministries web page further streamlines this effort by clearly communicating the distribution days and timings, making it straightforward for recipients to access their supplies.

Efforts like this one reinforce the church's role as a pillar of support in the community.

9. Host non-church events in your building

A church building can serve as more than just a place of worship. It can be a hub for community activities. By opening its doors to non-religious gatherings, such as business leader meetings or local school events, a church can foster goodwill and introduce new individuals to its space. 

For example, some inclusive approaches could be hosting local Girl Scouts or AA group meetings  in your church’s building. By embracing these community-centric strategies, a church can seamlessly integrate into the fabric of its community, leaving a lasting imprint on the lives it touches.

Church growth: Deepen Church membership engagement & retention

Church growth: Deepen Church membership engagement & retention

You’ve expanded your reach! Next up, we have church membership engagement and retention strategies to retain all the new people you’ve added to your church.

10. Vision casting: Create a mission that everyone can rally behind

A clear and compelling mission serves as the backbone of any thriving church. This provides a direction that everyone in the congregation can passionately rally behind. It also guides the church's actions and also fosters a sense of unity and strengthens commitment among its members. 

Mannahouse in Portland, OR exemplifies this approach. They’ve created a simple mission to “live like Jesus and share his love,” and their vision can be seen through their local community and worldwide outreach, ensuring that every member feels connected to the church's broader purpose. 

11. Create a welcome team & information booth

To make newcomers feel immediately at home, consider establishing a dedicated welcome team and setting up an information booth. This approach ensures that visitors have a go-to spot for all their queries, from understanding the church's programs to its core values. 

The presence of a warm and friendly team can make a world of difference in a newcomer's experience. Incorporating such welcoming gestures can significantly enhance a new member’s experience and encourage them to return and engage more deeply with the church community.

12. Offer a variety of small groups

Providing avenues for members to create connections within the church community can be a transformative experience for individuals and the congregation as a whole. 

People want to create relationships with like-minded individuals, build relationships, and do life together. Be sure to create small groups that reflect your community—youth, singles, young parents, seniors, and even sports enthusiasts. 

Promote your small groups on your church’s website, mobile app, and social media. Allow people to quickly and easily find and register for small groups with the help of group finder tools

13. Provide serving & volunteer opportunities

Offer various opportunities for members to serve, allowing them to use their talents and passion within the church.

Actively recruit members to contribute in various capacities, be it volunteering at the church's food bank, donating funds, or providing essential supplies. Such initiatives not only meet the immediate needs of the community but also empower members to play an active role in the church's mission.

With technology, you can easily manage your volunteers, their schedules, and communication. You can also help your volunteers have more bandwidth by inspiring more people to volunteer.

14. Create an amazing children’s ministry experience for parents & children

An impactful children's ministry is one that resonates with both young attendees and their parents. By focusing on creating a welcoming, fun, and secure environment, churches can ensure that families look forward to their time spent there. 

Consider what parents and their children experience when they enter your building. Having a dedicated team to greet parents and assist with a smooth check-in process can make a world of difference. 

Make the church experience both friendly and engaging for parents and kids alike. By ensuring that every detail, from the check-in process to the activities offered, is meticulously planned and executed, you can craft an environment where families can connect, learn, and grow together. 

15. Evaluate & restructure your existing ministry programs

Your church’s needs change over time. By assessing the effectiveness of each ministry program’s initiative, churches can make informed decisions, phasing out less successful endeavors and amplifying those that resonate with the congregation.

For instance, a church might decide to discontinue a midweek service that sees dwindling attendance in favor of bolstering small group growth. Such decisions, while tough, ensure that the church's resources—both in terms of time and finances—are directed towards initiatives that truly benefit the community.

Ask your team key questions to guide this evaluation process, including:

  • What’s working effectively?
  • What initiatives might need to be closed down?
  • Where are there opportunities for improvement?

By continually seeking answers to these questions, churches can ensure they're not just going through the motions but are actively evolving to meet the needs and aspirations of their congregation. This proactive approach ensures optimal resource allocation and fosters a culture of continuous growth and improvement.

16. Provide printed & digital connection cards

Printed and digital connection cards serve as simple yet effective tools to facilitate this. Providing connect cards during church events provides a reminder for attendees to introduce themselves and share any needs they may have, such as prayer requests or signing up for volunteering, Digital forms shared through platforms like your website and mobile app cater to the tech-savvy and those who prefer online interactions.

Your connection card serves as a touchpoint, ensuring that both visitors and long-time members have an easy way to connect, share feedback, or express interest in church activities. 

17. Promote your church events online and in person

Promoting church events both online and within the church premises is crucial. Utilizing event management platforms, like Subsplash, to create, promote, and broadcast these events through text messages, emails, and group messaging apps, can help you reach both new and existing members. 

Such promotions not only raise awareness but also foster a sense of community and anticipation. And for events like retreats, concerts, or conferences that require non-charitable payments for tickets, merchandise, or other items, use Subsplash to accept payments or donations like tithes and offerings. 

18. Show appreciation for your donors

Recognizing and showing gratitude to donors is pivotal for any church. These individuals, who generously contribute their time, resources, or skills, play a crucial role in the church's mission. By acknowledging their efforts and sacrifices, churches not only express their gratitude but also encourage a culture of giving and volunteering.

For instance, simple gestures like sending personalized thank-you notes or individual donor letters can make a church member feel valued. You can also highlight their contributions in newsletters or mention them during church services to further amplify your appreciation. 

Organizing events dedicated to celebrating their generosity is another way to underscore their importance to the church community and ensure they feel valued and seen.

Church growth strategies: Create online connections

Church growth: Create online connections

Whether for work, school, or entertainment, people spend much of their day online. Here are quick and easy ways to make an impact and expand your mission through the power of technology. 

19. Create a central hub with a church app

Having a dedicated church app can significantly enhance engagement and accessibility for your congregation. Church engagement platforms, like Subsplash, offer churches the opportunity to create a centralized hub where members can delve into the Bible, access sermons, contribute donations, and engage with various church content—all from their smartphone or tablet. 

This approach offers the advantage of tapping into an existing user base and infrastructure, eliminating the need to build an app from scratch. By utilizing such apps, churches can ensure that their content like sermon videos, Bible reading plans, and discipleship resources are readily available to members throughout the week. 

20. Take advantage of social media

By sharing updates about church events, sermons, and other engaging content on Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms, churches can create a dynamic online presence that resonates with a wider audience.

For instance, consistently posting inspirational messages, event updates, and other relevant content to social media ensures that their message reaches far and wide, fostering a sense of community even beyond the physical confines of the church.

21. Come up with new social media ideas 

With 38% of individuals turning to social media as a tool to nurture their spiritual faith, churches can’t afford to ignore social media. 

Here are some church growth ideas for how churches can incorporate social media into their overall marketing and engagement strategy for church growth: 

  • Interactive Bible Studies. Host weekly live sessions on platforms like Instagram or Facebook, delving into specific Bible passages. Encourage real-time questions and discussions.
  • Testimonials. Share stories of faith transformations, allowing members to post short video testimonials about their spiritual journeys.
  • Digital Retreats. Organize online spiritual retreats, offering prayer sessions, sermons, and group discussions over a weekend.
  • Engagement Challenges. Create monthly challenges, like scripture memorization or acts of kindness, encouraging members to share their experiences using a specific hashtag.
  • Behind-the-scenes Content. Offer glimpses into the daily life of the church, from choir practice sessions to community service initiatives.
  • Polls & Surveys. Engage your audience by running polls on various topics, from sermon themes to community outreach ideas, ensuring members feel involved in decision-making.

Social media can foster deeper connections and ensure your message resonates with both the current generation and those to come.

22. Optimize your website

A church's website serves as its primary touchpoint for both newcomers and regular attendees. A well-optimized website not only provides essential information but also offers a glimpse into the church's ethos and community.

A church’s website should be intuitively designed, offering visitors easy access to service times, details about their congregations, and a heartfelt message from the pastor. Thoughtful design and content curation ensure that visitors get a comprehensive understanding of what the church stands for.

You also want to think about improving your local SEO, so that people in the community can easily find your church on Google. 

23. Provide online discipleship resources

Churches have the opportunity to extend their reach through online discipleship resources. By offering online classes, Bible studies, and other valuable materials, churches can engage members beyond the traditional confines of the sanctuary.

Hope Fellowship stands as a beacon in this regard. Their website is a treasure trove of resources, from online Bible study materials to a rich archive of recorded sermons, ensuring members have access to spiritual nourishment anytime, anywhere.

With a significant 63% of Christian adults believing in the continued use of digital resources for discipleship, as seen during the pandemic, it's evident that the fusion of Christian faith and technology is not just a trend but a lasting shift in how churches connect and nurture their communities.

24. Live stream your services

Did you know that 27% of US adults tune into religious services on screens, and 67% of church attendees express high satisfaction when attending virtual worship services? 

Live streaming has emerged as a vital tool for churches to maintain and expand their reach. This digital approach ensures that the church's message resonates with both local attendees and those from afar.

The best church live streaming platforms allow churches to easily broadcast their weekly services live on their websites, apps, Facebook Live, and YouTube. You can even take this a step further by creating custom church TV apps on Roku and Apple TV using a platform like Subsplash. This ensures that remote attendees remain connected and spiritually nourished regardless of physical barriers.

25. Build community with a group messaging tool

Group messaging tools offer churches a unique opportunity to foster community and deepen connections. By creating dedicated spaces for prayer requests, discussion groups, and other communal activities, churches can ensure that members remain engaged and supported, even outside of regular services.

For instance, a church might utilize Subsplash’s group messaging functionality for Bible study discussions, prayer circles, or local event planning. These digital messaging chats allow for real-time interaction, ensuring that members can share insights, seek support, and celebrate milestones together.

By integrating group messaging tools into their communication strategy with text messaging and email, churches can bridge the gap between physical gatherings and daily life, ensuring that the sense of community remains strong and vibrant at all times.

Church growth: Cultivate healthy church leaders

Church growth: Cultivate healthy church leaders

Thriving churches are continually investing in the growth of their current and future leaders. Here are some long-term church growth strategies for cultivating healthy church leaders.

26. Appreciate your volunteers

Volunteers often serve as the backbone of a church, dedicating their time and energy to ensure its smooth functioning. They’re also an excellent source for future leaders and church staff. Recognizing and appreciating their selfless contributions is essential for fostering a sense of belonging and motivation.

For instance, a simple yet heartfelt letter of gratitude can make a volunteer feel valued and seen. Expressing thanks from the pulpit, where the entire congregation can acknowledge their efforts, further amplifies this appreciation. Special events, like a volunteer appreciation dinner, can serve as both a token of gratitude and a celebration of the collective efforts that drive the church's mission.

By consistently showing appreciation, churches can ensure that their volunteers feel cherished and motivated, reinforcing the spirit of service and community that lies at the heart of every congregation.

27. Invest in church management software (ChMS)

Efficient management and streamlined communication are crucial for any organization, including churches. Investing in church management software can significantly enhance these aspects, ensuring that operations run smoothly and members remain engaged.

From drag-and-drop website and app builders, live streaming and on-demand video libraries, to tracking church attendance and managing donations, Subsplash stands out as a popular choice to know and grow people in your church.

By choosing an all-in-one church engagement platform, you can not only boost efficiency, but you can also free up valuable time and resources, allowing you to focus on your church’s core mission and spiritual growth. 

28. Develop future leaders

The longevity and vitality of any church community hinge on its ability to nurture and develop its future leaders. By investing in discipleship programs, churches can ensure that they're molding individuals who will carry forward the church's mission with passion and dedication.

By equipping members with the skills and knowledge required for church leadership roles, churches not only strengthen their present community but also ensure a robust foundation for the future. Make the development of future leaders a priority. These steps will ensure passionate and skilled individuals are ready to guide the congregation toward spiritual growth and community impact.

29. Honor & celebrate your pastor 

The pastor often stands as the spiritual compass of a church, guiding, nurturing, and leading the congregation towards spiritual growth and maturity. Recognizing and celebrating their dedication and service is essential to foster a sense of appreciation and unity within the community.

Churches can set aside special days, like Pastor Appreciation Month to honor their pastor's commitment. This could involve heartfelt testimonials from members, a dedicated worship service, or even a community event in their honor. Such gestures not only show gratitude but also reinforce the bond between the pastor and the congregation.

By consistently honoring and celebrating their pastor, churches can ensure that their spiritual leader feels valued and cherished, further strengthening the ties that bind the community together.

30. Make sure your staff & volunteers get time off to recharge

In the midst of serving and guiding the congregation, it's crucial to remember that pastors, staff, and volunteers are also individuals who need rest and rejuvenation. Ensuring they have ample opportunities to recharge not only avoids ministry burnout, it’s essential for their well-being and the overall health of the church community.

Regular sabbaticals and scheduled breaks can make a significant difference. By allowing periods of rest, churches ensure that their team returns with renewed energy, passion, and perspective. This not only benefits the individuals but also enhances the quality of service and guidance they provide to the congregation.

By prioritizing the health and rejuvenation of their team, churches can ensure sustained growth, harmony, and vitality within their community.

Church growth is challenging but possible

Growing a church requires dedication, understanding your community, and utilizing various strategies to reach new members while engaging and retaining existing ones. By using these tactics, your church can thrive and fulfill its mission. 

An important part of growing your church remains the consistency of your efforts. Choose a few key strategies to begin with and do them consistently till you start seeing results. Then, carefully add a new strategy every other quarter ensuring that you have enough resources and bandwidth to expand.

Discover why 17,000 churches and ministries turn to Subsplash to reach new people, know their members, and grow their churches.[.blog-contact-cta] Book a free demo today. [.blog-contact-cta]


Jessica Malnik, Guest author

Jessica is a copywriter and content strategist with over 10 years' experience in SaaS marketing. Her work has appeared on industry-leading websites like Social Media Examiner, The Next Web, Help Scout, and more. When she's not writing, you'll usually find her watching MasterChef or schooling people on 90s pop culture trivia.

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