Did you know that understanding your community and congregation can help determine the best connection strategy? It’s true! Building a deep understanding of the people in your community, as well as the people in your congregation, really can help you choose the most productive connection strategies. You’ll also be able to figure out why some unsuccessful strategies have not worked. See also, Learn to Empathize with Your End User and 4 Steps to Extending Your Reach into the Crowd and Community.
Here’s an example:
During the years I was on the team building a small group ministry at Fellowship of The Woodlands, the community of The Woodlands was growing at a rapid pace (it still is). One of the most important traits to know about The Woodlands (and by extension, Fellowship of The Woodlands) is that there were many, many people who had been transferred there or who had moved there to take a job.
The community and the church were exploding with growth. And there were two important data points that made the small group connection a winning strategy:
- Lots of new attendees who didn’t know anyone (i.e., didn’t know anyone at the church and didn’t know their neighbors).
- A large and growing crowd attending the church whom none of the staff knew.
The small group connection strategy solved two significant problems:
- People were looking for ways to get connected and make friends in a new community.
- Many capable potential leaders were attending but were unknown by any of our staff.
Can you see why the small group connection strategy worked? We were able to promote small groups as a way to get connected and make friends. And the small group connection strategy actually identifies leaders at the event. Voilà! The strategy was a fantastic match for the needs of the community and the congregation!
Here’s another example:
Contrast the situation in The Woodlands with the situation in Orland Park, Illinois. Parkview Christian Church in Orland Park, Illinois (a suburb in southwest Chicago), is a fast-growing church in a part of Chicago that is very static. While there are some who move to the area from elsewhere, they are the distinct minority. Most people in Orland Park and the surrounding communities have lived nearby all of their lives. Looking across the lobby it is common for attendees of the church to see both members of their extended family and people they went to high school with 20 years ago.
A very important data point was that our average attendee already had friends…they just weren’t necessarily Christ followers. Most of our attendees had been raised in Roman Catholic families (perhaps as high as 75%).
In response to the fact that our average attendee already had friends, we made two important strategy decisions:
- We still held small group connections, but we shifted our marketing verbiage to highlight connecting with some new friends who are growing in their faith and taking the steps you need to take.
- We chose topics for church-wide campaigns that would interest the extended families and friends of our average attendee (who had deep networks in the community). The HOST strategy was made for situations like this. See also, How to Choose the Right Church-Wide Campaign.
Have you chosen the best strategies given your congregation and community? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.