By C. MIchael Johnson
Is there such a thing as too many people in your community
being aware of your church... being intrigued, curious... thinking
and talking about it?
OVERLOOKED FACT: The only way to see significant increases
in growth is to create dramatic increases in awareness.
No matter how remarkable your ministry, it is unlikely
to achieve remarkable growth without major attention to developing and
then maintaining awareness.
Read On: In the next 3-1/2 minutes, we'll summarize
why this is true, and what research suggests is the most effective way
to do something about it.
"If you build it, they will come" worked in
the movie Field of Dreams. But for a church, is an excellent
ministry enough by itself to attract steady, marked growth? It's certainly
necessary for growth. You do everything possible to be sure visitors
have a welcoming, connecting experience. You carefully design follow-through
for everyone who walks through your doors. You have an assimilation
plan, with meaningful Bible study, methods for building discipleship,
attractive opportunities for people to begin serving. These are crucial.
But take a step back. For these facets of ministry to
cultivate growth, you first need visitors.
And to get visitors, people have to be aware of you.
Not just aware when you first launched your church, but today. And not
just aware today, but again four months from now.
Encouraging your members to invite friends is highly
effective (assuming they will). This strategy tends, however, to evolve
toward a natural obstacle: There is a finite limit of how many friends
any member knows, who might be interested, whom he could successfully
A straightforward way to multiply the potential is IF
a whole lot more unchurched people have heard of, thought about, talked
about, are curious about your church. Then there will be a whole lot
more people who could be invited, or even drawn to visit on their own.
That kind of awareness, dramatically elevated in your community, can
dramatically increase every other growth measurement in your ministry.
It's a simple
truth: Prospects only visit
a church they have heard of, know about, are curious about.
Who is your target?
GEOGRAPHIC Be specific and realistic, but don't
be too limiting. How far will your prospects drive? Which neighborhoods
are they most likely to live in?
The answers tell you exactly where you need to
engineer a dramatic increase in awareness.
DEMOGRAPHIC If you have (or plan) a remarkable
outreach to Hispanics, you will target your awareness strategies very
differently than if you have been called to reach out to working class
African American communities, or suburban middle class neighborhoods.
REACH For most pastors, the goal will be to generate
a dramatic increase in top-of-the-mind awareness in every household
in a specific part of the city, or every household in the defined
communities your church has been called to serve, or every household
in the neighborhoods extending out from the church in several directions.
Reality Check: In today's society, the only way
known to connect with every household in a defined target area
is by direct mail. Television, radio, billboards, even door-to-door
canvassing or telephone campaigns cannot come close to the 98% saturation
achieved by direct mail.
EFFECTIVENESS For geographically-defined targets,
direct mail has been shown to be the most thorough way to lay a foundation
for top-of-the-mind awareness. That's a known fact.
But don't waste your resources. Letters with brochures
and inserts, enclosed in envelopes can be effective, but also present
a real challenge to get them opened (think of all your mail that goes
into the trash unopened). That is why large, full color postcards, effectively
done, have become the medium of choice for creating awareness.
Even giant corporations like AT&T now use carefully-designed
postcard campaigns to initiate awareness of a new service. No one tosses
mail away without looking at the outside. With postcards, the outside
is the message. 98% of all postcards get looked at. Even postcards that
end up in the trash were looked at.
MESSAGE When considering the message, keep in
mind that we are targeting top-of-the-mind awareness for unchurched
prospects. Therefore your goal is to...
people thinking, even talking about your church
people thinking about visiting
To achieve that, you need to  make them aware of
you  give them a positive impression  touch a need, awaken a dream,
inspire hope, and  engender trust AND curiosity.
The key is to be superbly attractive in visual quality,
to communicate at a glance, and to present an image/message that touches
the heart, that connects with a need, that stirs a dream at the core
of the person receiving the message.
Developing awareness that's positive and an image that's
even remarkable, builds an incredible platform for every other facet
of growth or increase in your church.
Take a fresh look at your outreach
strategies. For 22 years Breakthrough has helped thousands of churches
reach the Unchurched, including building strong identity and awareness
in their communities. If you would like to dialog about your own outreach
challenge and create a remarkable awareness strategy for your church,
drop me an email....tell me about yourself, your church, your community,
your vision. (We don't charge to dialog.)
C. Michael Johnson
Easter Cityreach 2010
Subscribe to each
issue of Mindstorm
Mindstorm Idea Center
and the free Mindstorm Idealetter
subscription is made available through the Community of Dreams national
participating in the
Community of Dreams and