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 invite.

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.

Do you know the neighborhoods within a 25-minute drive that fit your target demographics? Do you know how easy it is to find this information? [click here to learn how to request a free report on the neighborhoods surrounding your church]

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...

get people thinking, even talking about your church

get people thinking about visiting

To achieve that, you need to [1] make them aware of you [2] give them a positive impression [3] touch a need, awaken a dream, inspire hope, and [4] 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.


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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



click here to learn how to request a free report on the neighborhoods surrounding your church

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