By Jennifer Tribble
These are a few helpful keys we implemented to create churches unchurched people love to attend. Hope they help you too!
- The Message Before the Message:
All our church environments communicate something. From the parking lot to the stage – everything matters if we want to be great. Culture has the unique ability to trump the message before it’s even preached so we pay careful attention to the pre-service sermon that is coming across to our guests and first time visitors.
Excellence and consistency matter and effect the overall impact of your church. Organization and cleanliness say to our visitors “we were expecting you!” and “were glad you’re here!” Dirty bathrooms, clutter, and disorganization erodes trust and sends the message that ,“if you treat your church like this, you will treat me like that too.”
Let’s create our environments with care and project the right message.
How are your first time visitors welcomed?
What is the language used?
Do you have areas of your church you’ve been “trying to get to” for a while? Time in erodes awareness of, all of these details can contribute to whether or not someone will return for a second experience.
- Messing with the Methods:
When designing services, we will do anything short of sin to bring the gospel of Christ to those far from God. If that means we get on stage and dress up like giant bacon and dance to Britney Spears (which we have) we will.
We don’t do these creative elements just for the sake of doing it, although entertaining as it is.
We have a purpose for why we do them and when. Sometimes we add specific elements in the service to remove tension and make people laugh (which gets people comfortable and more receptive to the message).
We use other elements to create tension. We usually slot these in right before or after the message. It could be a quick video, song, drama, or anything that doesn’t resolve but allows the message to answer the tension. Be aware that the longer you create tension the higher the payoff has to be. Nobody likes movies that keep you hanging on the edge of your seat till the end of the movie and just ends with no resolution or reward (I hate those!) it just leaves you feeling ripped off. We don’t want people leaving our services with that impression.
- The Buffet is Closed:
This is going to be shocking.
Wait for it.
We usually do a total of 3, maybe 4 songs on a typical Sunday.
We may add other musical elements in but we usually do no more than that in our music sets. This usually surprises churched people because we have been brought to believe that longer means deeper worship. I would challenge you to look at your life- Monday through Sunday as a worship experience. The Sunday Buffet is closed. We prefer that our visitors come to church and leave hungry for more of the word and worship, not full, fat and fatigued.
Keep in mind that when choosing your songs, songs that reference such things as “the blood” or “fire falling down”, “jumping in rivers”, etc., and other such language may be uncomfortable and foreign to unchurched people.
You may be thinking, “you’re just being seeker sensitive!” and You’re right!
But, it’s a lot better than being seeker insensitive!
Our mission is pretty straightforward- we are after the lost. That’s the reason we exist as a church. We choose songs that use normal language to engage everyone in our audience at whatever spiritual stage they are in.
- The Message:
When it comes to preaching there are many assumptions that are made when it comes to our style of church,
For starters, is that to reach an unchurched audience you must be watering down the message.
Incase you haven’t heard- the Gospel isn’t meant to be offensive, it is the GOOD news. We believe it is the goodness of God that leads men to repentance- not judgment, threats of eternal damnation or other messages of doom and gloom.
A few things to watch for that will maximize the impact in your message on an unchurched and churched audience is,
Watch your time.
Keep it short and to the point.
Messages that stay under 35-40 minutes are more impactful overall.
The message should be one maybe two main points, and a few supporting verses. This ensures it’s relatively easy to understand, easy to remember, and most importantly, easy to apply (after all we are making disciples). All of our messages end with a simple take-away that breaks it down to a response we are looking for from our congregation.
we assume that everyone knows what we are talking about.
Sometimes preachers will start their message mid verse and jump right in without referencing the verse, chapter or context. Just assuming that most people know what you’re talking about is a mistake. If you have unchurched guests or new Christians in the service, some things we are very familiar with as churched people they will no little to nothing about.
Take the time to explain what you are doing and where the service is going.
This includes what we call “the welcome” this is where we let new visitors know what to expect, how long the service will be and set newcomers at ease when they ask questions like “how long will this take?”.
Use simple language that an 8 year old would understand, more often than not fancy language is just a way to disguise disorganization and lack of preparedness of the speaker.
- The Why:
Always do a salvation call. This is why we do what we do. Our entire service acts as a funnel leading people towards making a decision to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Time and time again we have visited churches and conferences that are attended by church members, who have never made a decision for Christ. When we do the salvation call at the end we are always blown away by the number of salvations. Always give that opportunity for salvation, you never know who may make that decision.
(Insider Tip: This also acts as a tool in training your congregation to do this themselves and lead others to Christ, since they hear it every week they can easily bring it to memory when they need it.)
Hope this was helpful!
I will end with this quick thought: Every church is going to be different, So do what works to reach people in your context- these methods have worked for us but If there ever comes a time when these methods are not producing results and we stop seeing salvations- we will change our methods because the message of the Gospel is sacred, but our methods need to be able to adapt to current culture in order to reach every available person and we will do whatever it takes to do that. Go get em!