By Barbara Sadler, Path 1 Associate
Last month my husband and I took a “road trip” up to the Tennessee mountains to see the fall foliage. While we were in the area there were a couple of church-related colleges we wanted to see because they had such good reputations.
One we finally found only after driving 20 miles past it, then backtracking and driving around through the little town until we spotted some buildings in the distance that looked like they might be college buildings. The second one we never did find.
What both schools lacked were directional signs for those who didn’t already know where the schools were located. This is a common mistake on the part of established churches as well as new church plants.
Established churches think “everyone knows where we are.” Everyone doesn’t know. Only members and long time community residents (maybe) know where you are. Only members know where to go once they get to your church’s facility.
New church plants are even more at risk for being lost. They don’t yet have a permanent site. In the work I do I’ve discovered many new church plants and/or second sites of established churches that have no public signage indicating there is worship going on there. Or if there is a sign, it is too small to read driving by at 25, 35, or 45+ miles per hour.
Rule number 1 in hospitality is “help people find you”. Here's some suggestions:
- Have a huge banner printed up with the name of your church and the times of worship. These banners are relatively inexpensive. Be sure it can be read from the roadway at the speed of traffic.
- If your location is isolated you might need to create several directional signs.
- Have “business cards” printed with a map to the church location on the back. This gives your core group something to put in the hands of people they invite.
- Include a map and/or directions with all communication.
- Provide seasonal points of interest near the sign to change it up a bit and attract people’s attention.
And remember, planting churches is not about setting up shop and waiting to be found. It’s about finding the places where you are needed and planting yourself right there. Jesus didn’t tell his disciples to settle down and wait for people to come find them. He told them “go out” and “reach out” to people everywhere. How can we be the church everywhere if people have hunt for us?
For more detailed and helpful information, I refer you to Kennon Callahan’s book, Twelve Keys to an Effective Church, Chapter 9, “High Visibility.” Of course, this book has 11 other great tips as well, but for the purpose of this blog, I focused on helping people find you.
What is your church doing to increase your visibility, both along the road and within the community?