The Top 10 Reasons Your Church Struggles to Reach New People

leadership preaching Mar 03, 2024

What’s better than seeing people surrender to Jesus?! I can’t come up with much. Seeing new people engage in the church and begin following Jesus is one of the most exciting and encouraging things we get to witness.

But for many churches, the new people don’t seem to be coming all that often. 

Why is that? 

It’s an important question because if you want your church to reach new people—consistently— you need to diagnose what’s going on that may be keeping new people from showing up.

In this article, I’m going to show you the top 10 reasons your church might be struggling to reach new people.

Let’s dig in.

The Top 10 Reasons Your Church Struggles to Reach New People

1. You have a friendly church (to each other)

A typical experience for a new person at a church that is friendly (to each other) is they walk in and they see clusters of people talking to each other but they don’t encounter many people (if any) who notice them and engage with them.

Outside of the designated greeter at the door. And, unfortunately, many new people will see that designated greeter as just doing a job versus genuinely welcoming them. 

If a new person has this experience, they likely won’t return.

2. You don’t have a team dedicated to engaging new people on Sundays

And no, I’m not just talking about the greeter at the door. I’m talking about a team of people who are on the lookout for new people. 

They’re ready to engage with and help new people find where they need to go all while being a genuinely hospitable person. 

They might be assigned to a welcome center, but they see their role as transcending that one space and they regularly seek out people they don’t know to connect with them.

3. The church service isn’t designed with new people in mind

If there’s never a welcome to new people during the service and some instructions on how they can connect more with the church, then that just shows that the leadership isn’t expecting new people. 

Welcome the new people. Let them know you’re glad they’re here. But don’t ask them to stand up while everyone else sits. That’s just awkward and unkind.

4. Your sermon isn’t designed with new people in mind

A sermon that is full of biblical knowledge assumptions and very few illustrations and life applications, it’s a sign that you’re not anticipating new people to be in the room. 

When you preach with new people in mind, you’ll make your sermon more relevant to those in the room (whether they’re new or not). 

Make sure you explain theological words. Make sure you show how the biblical text is relevant to life today. All throughout your sermon and not just at the end.

5. You and your leadership team aren’t engaging with people outside the church

If you and your fellow leaders in the church aren’t spending time with people outside of the church, then you shouldn’t be surprised when your church isn’t reaching new people.

It starts with you and your leaders. When you are spending time with unchurched people, your people will be more likely to invite their unchurched friends, co-workers, and family members to your church. Because it will be part of the culture of the church. A welcoming environment for people of all walks of life.

6. Insider language pervades your church

Your sermon is full of unexplained theological terms and unexplained biblical references. The worship transitions are full of unexplained Christianese. The worship service includes references to terms and names that only your most involved members are familiar with.

When insider language pervades your church, your church is creating a relational barrier for new people that they’ll likely not stick around long enough to get through.

7. People aren’t excited about what is happening in the church

At the end of the day, the reason your church isn’t reaching new people (who could be invited to church by your congregants and even you) could be because no one is actually excited about the church.

I know this may seem like a petty reason but it’s unavoidable. 

People talk about most what they’re most excited about.

So have you been making it a point to prioritize celebration? If not, that might be one of your most core issues for why your church isn’t reaching new people.

8. Baptisms aren’t highlighted

Show me a church that is highlighting baptisms and I’ll show you a church that is prioritizing new people in everything they do.

When baptisms ARE highlighted, there’s an expectation in the room that God is working. 

So if you’re not encouraging baptism and highlighting it like crazy when it does happen, I encourage you to make the shift. 

9. Your website isn’t clean and clear

A church website should accomplish two things and two things only:

  1. Clearly show new people what to expect if they were to visit
  2. Give opportunities for people to grow in their faith and get plugged into the life of the church

That’s it. 

So, how many clicks does it take for a new person to get their questions answered?

If your website is old and outdated, spend the time and money to get it redesigned and updated. 

And if that seems too intimidating, talk to some young people in your congregation. Odds are, some of them know enough to get you headed in the right direction.

10. Your social media presence isn’t helpful

Repeat after me:

Thou shalt not make the church’s social media platforms a regurgitation of the bulletin.

Instead, choose to make your social media presence helpful to people who are trying to grow in their faith and navigate life’s many challenges. 

When you make your social media presence helpful, people will share your posts more. And when they do that, your church is going to be put in front of people who need Jesus in their lives.

What are your church’s main struggles?

Go through this list with your team and have each of you write down what you think are your church’s top three struggles. And then see what each of you identified.

Then, start working on fixing those things.

It’s worth it.

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