Mary Deckert

Mary Deckert has over 40 years’ experience in multiple communications and strategic functions including leadership, marketing, crisis management, creative and problem-solving roles in government and business (both private and public sectors); for-profit and ... read more

20 Church Marketing Tactics to Grow Your Church

Want to grow your church?  In this article, we’ll discuss the top 20 proven (and highly practical) ideas for marketing churches of all sizes.

Proven Marketing Tactics to Grow Your Church

Everybody seems to be focused on strategies – the big ideas and lofty visions.

And we agree, knowing the “why” behind the “what” is critical.

If you are looking for high-level strategies, check out the 12 Church Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Church or the 4 Pillars of Effective Marketing

Eventually, once you know your strategies, you need to dig into the mess and actually get something done!

This article is focused on getting things done-

The 20 easy, tried-and-true church marketing tactics you can implement today to grow your church no matter its size.

And, good news!  You don’t need a committee to figure out what to do, and you don’t need a boatload of money to implement them either.

1 - Pick a unique issue in your community and become known as the church that addresses that issue

If you’re not sure what the major issues are in your community, go to local leadership and ask them what their greatest needs are.

At a minimum, pray for those needs, but the idea behind this tactic is to be instrumental in becoming part of the solution to that problem. 

For example, James River Church in Missouri, started Project Partnership with their local school districts. For 23 years, the church has done everything from painting to disinfecting buses to landscaping and even small construction projects. They tell their members that when they join to help in these projects, they are showing their community not only that the church loves them, but more importantly that God loves them. 

How did they know this was a need in their community?

Their Pastor went to the community leaders and asked them what their greatest needs were. That’s when they found out most of the schools were 20 years behind in building maintenance.

What started out as a commitment to paint one school each year has skyrocketed into new playgrounds, updated special needs classrooms and multiple schools helped each year – and an identity for their church as being the organization that cares about schools and education.

They perform their service work on a Saturday and then invite all school leadership on Sunday night to share their vision for their church.

2 - Be present where people are searching for information

Get your Google business profile up to date and use Google’s posts as part of your social media plan so that when you’re doing events you can post in your Google business listing.

Why?

Because Google processes 99,000 searches every single second – that’s 8.5 million searches every day. It’s the single largest driver of traffic to your church and also one of the easiest.

There’s an old adage in business that you start with the “low-hanging fruit,” and Google searches are that low-hanging fruit for churches. 

Don’t you want to come up on the list when people are searching for what your church is doing? Of course you do. If you’re not on the first page of Google searches, you’re simply not in the conversation for people searching for churches – you’re irrelevant.

For help in getting your church to show up at the top of Google search results without costing you a dime, check out CMU’s Ultimate Guide to the Google Ad Grant. Also, watch our video on How to Get a Church Higher Up in the Google Search.

Don’t have a Google business profile? Get one here for free! Make sure you verify your Google profile here to get Google working for you!

If you’d rather have us do the heavy lifting, sign up for our CMU Grow Plan and we’ll put our marketing team to work on your vision.

3- Focus on a Kid’s Ministry event

It’s almost a universal truth that your entire church will rally around a kid-focused event. Case in point: Summit Park Church in Missouri discovered that a kid-focused approach costs significantly less but had the same return as an all-church outreach event.

It was as simple as getting a bunch of candy and declaring one Sunday “Candypalooza” – it cost one-tenth as much as their churchwide Tailgate Sunday event, but brought in the same amount of new families.

Brainstorm with your key leaders about an inexpensive kid’s event that will draw in folks from your community looking for things to do with kids.

4 - Answer the hard questions your community is asking in a special series

Focus on the questions nonbelievers are asking, put the questions on your Social Media channels, and say you’ll be answering those questions this weekend. You could even have a Summer Hot Topic series to increase engagement during typical “downtimes.”

The old, “Why would a good God allow suffering?” is a place to start, but if you’re not sure what questions to cover, ask your congregation, what is the top question you or your nonchurch friends have?

Make it an “event” during one of your service times to really generate interest.

Say you’re doing an “Asking for a Friend” series over the summer and you’d like them to answer three questions – give them a phone number to text responses during the service. Ask:

  • What is your biggest question about God – when you get to Heaven, what is the one question you want him to answer?
  • Think of a friend in your town who doesn’t attend church – what is the #1 reason why they don’t come? Be honest, we really want to know.
  • Keep in mind that same friend – if they had a question about God what would it be?

Do a version of this for your young attendees as well – go to your youth group and have kids write their questions on a slip of paper and put them in a basket.

The Pastor could pull out a slip and answer – totally anonymous! Use those papers in your creative for the series – use them in sermon slides, social media posts, etc.

It will be most effective if it’s the personal handwriting you use.

Just keep in mind, that the channel you use to receive this feedback will determine the quality and quantity of your response – make it easy and non-threatening for people to participate.

5 - Meet simple needs in your community – be about people, not programs

Similar to determining the biggest issues in your community, do something simple like going to a local elementary school or first responder’s organization.

Tell them you’d like to fill their fridge and ask them what their favorite snacks/drinks are.

Do it once a week or once a month, whatever you’ve got the resources and people to handle the task.

For more ideas to engage the community, watch Chris Abbott’s Outreach Ideas for Church Growth.

6 - Plant church-branded merchandise all over town

This can be as easy as giving a bunch of church-branded pens to restaurants all over town – they always need pens; or as sophisticated as water bottles for community-wide marathons/events.

The idea is this – put your church name in front of people with items that are immediately useful and appreciated at the moment.

For ideas and connections to suppliers, check out The Ultimate Guide to Church Merch.

7 - Make sure your Church's Facebook page is people-centric and inviting

Despite claims to the opposite, Facebook remains the top-used social media platform today – conservative estimates are that 70% of the people in your community spend at least a little time on Facebook regularly.

So making the most of your church’s Facebook page is critical in today’s world.

Update the look of your page to be people-centric – use a banner photo of people, not a graphic or logo. It’s a quick way to highlight who you are and show people that they, too can belong at your church.

For more help in updating your church’s Facebook offerings, check out our videos:

8 - Become Known as the Church that prays!

With 2.934 billion people on Facebook every day (that’s roughly 37% of the world’s total population), Facebook has become the largest ministry field in human history.

Social media isn’t just a place to promote your ministries, it’s a place to DO ministry.

And one of the most successful ministry tactics ever employed is something we call Ministry Based Marketing™️ where you simply run a campaign to offer to pray for anyone in your community who needs prayer.

It allows you to walk with people before you invite them to come to your church, gives you time to develop a relationship, and makes that relationship all about them and their needs.

You’ll be amazed when they identify specific needs they have – there’s no better way to let you know what their personal needs are so you can truly minister to them and meet those needs.

If you’re in the Grow program, CMU has a whole course on Ministry Based Marketing™️ Prayer Ads, but for now, check out Chris Abbott’s video on effective Facebook Prayer Ads or Do Facebook Ads Work for Increasing Church Visitors?

9 - Reward new people (visitors) for coming back next week, especially the kids!

Statistics show that if someone attends your church just once, there’s only a 20% chance they will ultimately join; if they return a second time that increases to 50%, and if they return a third week in a row, it increases to 80% For that reason alone, we encourage you to challenge all visitors to attend weekend services three weeks in a row – and reward them for doing so – both in comments from the pulpit and in gifts you shower them with. Make them feel loved, known, cared for, and very welcome. For more information, check out Chris Abbott’s video on How to Retain Church Visitors. CMU also has an entire Follow-Up Course.

10 - Share the spotlight with businesses and nonprofits in your community.

Instead of creating a redundant program, help someone or some organization already doing that well in your community.

There’s a biblical principle at work here – you reap what you sow; that applies to everything. If you want people to recommend your church, you need to generously show love to other nonprofits in your area – recommend them, share their social media posts, and help make them known for what they do in your community. 

When feeling called to do something about adoption and foster care, Gateway Church of Dallas didn’t start its own ministry, it partnered with an agency in town that was doing a great job already. 

Gwinnett Church in Sugarhill, Georgia even adopted the philosophy in their church motto – “We’re for you!” During the Thanksgiving holiday season, Gwinnett Church introduced the owner of a local bakery to the community and then recommended its pies to serve at family gatherings! Now that’s supporting small businesses!

11 - Use Facebook to help you lean into seasons of growth

There are seasons in any church calendar – seasons of momentum and growth, times of the year when people are inclined to return to or check out churches in their area – New Year, Easter, Mother’s Day, Back to School, Christmas to name a few.

Facebook provides a great opportunity during those seasons to generate interest in and knowledge of your church. While “come to church!” ads generally may not be worth the investment during the rest of the year, Facebook ads during those times when people are searching is typically money well spent, if done well.

Check out Chris Abbott’s videos on Facebook Ads to Grow Your Church or How to Create Effective Church Facebook Ads to learn how to lean into those seasons of growth.

12 - Outreach Events

During other seasons of the year, when people aren’t necessarily searching for a church to connect with, create some bridge events that serve your community.

It may not help you grow short term, but it will help you develop a community-minded reputation and you’ll get to know community leaders. 

Pro tip: build special events around your Weekend Services and invite the community in. Your ability to retain people is much higher when you can connect an event to a service. Try things like:

  • Movie night
  • Family game night
  • Bonfire
  • Tailgate weekend


For more ideas, check Chris Abbott’s Outreach Ideas for Church Growth video.

13 - Serve your community through the content you offer – with no strings attached

You may wonder why CMU and other companies that serve churches offer so many resources free of charge to church leaders with no strings attached.

They aren’t “free” to us – it costs us to produce these resources. But we know what things you’re struggling with and we genuinely have a heart for the local church, so we provide quality resources we think will be helpful to you and even solve a problem you face in the hopes we can get to know you better and develop a relationship with you during the interactions.

Ultimately, it’s our hope you’ll try CMU so we can help you more deeply later on.  But even if you don’t- we’re happy you’re here, and hope we’ve helped equip your ministry!

Serve your community in the same way, help people so you can get to know them better. Be a resource where kids eat free or things to do in your city this Easter or this Christmas – not all of them church-related.

14 - Create a Community Facebook Group

Is your church known for a special ministry? Perhaps you partner with the Special Needs Community or have a ministry for Single Moms or Teenage Pregnancy; do you have a heart for Adoption or Foster Parents?

Try creating a special Facebook Group for that community to help foster relationships and connections without any expectation that the church is behind it.

Think support group, just done online. Again, focus on the needs of that niche group, not on what those already inside your church are looking for.  (There’s a place for that, too, but it’s probably not going to help you grow your church!)

Church Easter Outreach Ideas

15 - Easter offers a unique opportunity to reach out to your community

Are you aware that more people will attend church on Easter Sunday than at any other time of year? More than Christmas, more than Mother’s Day. So, what are you doing to draw the community into your church’s Easter service? 

We’re so committed to churches making the most of this opportunity, we created the Ultimate Easter Kit to give you everything you need from a communications perspective to make Easter special at your church and in your community – free of charge!  All you have to do is take what we’ve created, put your church’s name and information in, and you’re done! It’s that simple. We even created an Easter Tips for Churches video playbook to give you more ideas.

In addition, we’ve gathered resources from high-quality, trusted partners who have a deep burden to help churches reach out to their communities and make disciples. And we’ve created a whole list of Easter resources free to churches so you can focus on ministry instead of communications or marketing.

16 - Don’t accept the “Summer Slump”

It’s true you have a lot more to compete with during the summer months – the beach, the lake, family vacations, weekend getaways, or just a warm summer day.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t offer something that creates more interest to compel folks to come if for no other reason than FOMO (fear of missing out).

We already mentioned the Tough Questions sermon series idea as one way to draw in crowds.

We also created Beat The Summer Slump Playbook that you can get here to give you a few more ideas.

Point is, don’t accept the “norm” as being the norm for your church this summer – create a season-specific way to serve your community.  Our friend Jennifer Benton did this by having her church pay for people’s laundry at laundromats on several days throughout the summer.

17 - Short-form videos – utilize the best of social media

At the time of this writing, TikTok is on fire and one of the best mediums to reach the next generation- and other platforms like Youtube are taking notice and creating short-form video, too.

Take advantage of the ease of shooting 60-second or fewer selfie videos on your smartphone to share biblical ideas on issues of interest to the general public – marriage or parenting, for example, offer a tip and a short devotional at the end. Include a micro commitment call-to-action to test drive a sermon on the same topic.

Post on all your social media platforms – Instagram Reels, Youtube, TikTok, and Facebook Stories.

You could even offer a short parenting guide with practical tips based on the bible as a downloadable resource, again, free of charge.

18 - Sticky Sermon Series

Create a sermon series that speaks specifically to the non-churched. Use words they typically use when speaking about Christians, like “brainwashed.” Answer these questions:

  • Does God really exist? (Use Tim Keller’s, The Reason for God as a foundation for the topic)
  • Did God really say that? (Address common misconceptions/urban legends about the Bible)
  • Why do bad things happen to good people?
  • Life challenges – parenting, marriage, money

Pro tip: The top issues people search for are God, Sex, and Money – use these keywords in your sermon series, and you’re sure to generate interest!

19 - Online Reviews

It’s time to grab a bite to eat but you’re not sure where to go – what do you do?

If you’re like 90% of the population, you Google, “restaurants near me” and read the reviews.

Or if you need to get a gift for someone and you’re not sure which item is better, you Google the product and read the reviews.

Let’s face it, in today’s culture, whatever someone may be doing, chances are they’ve Googled it before they did.

The psychological theory behind this is that the actions of others (normally in large numbers) help determine the best course of action for ourselves. 

Getting reviews for your church is what’s known as “social proofing” your ministry – social proof is much like testimony time that helps build our faith in what God might do in our own life.

So, in case you haven’t done so yet, it’s time to generate reviews for your church! And it’s easier than you think. 

Pick 5 people who you’d describe as raving fans of your church. Ask them to post a review.

Then, after your first five, get into a rhythm of asking people to post reviews of your church on social media on a regular basis.

The principle is that reviews drive decisions, so help people choose your church when they’re looking for answers.

20 - Google Ad Grant

Speaking of Google searches, how would you like Google to pay for people to find your church? Seriously, they are willing to give nonprofits $10,000 every month in advertising money to rank first in search results – all you have to do is apply for the grant and then start using their money. Interested?

Across the world, people make over 350 billion Google searches every single day. People are constantly searching for answers, how-to, help, and resources. Think about it:

  • A tired parent Google searches “things to do with kids”
  • A lonely college freshman searches “looking for community”
  • A brokenhearted woman searches “how do I find hope?”
  • A confused man searches “who is God?”

Wouldn’t it be great if your church showed up at the top of those search results?

The good news is you can, and it won’t cost you a dime — with Google’s FREE Ad Grant! So, when someone in your area searches for “things to do with kids,” or “local events,” or whatever other keywords you choose, your church ad would show up at the top of the page — you’d be one click away from drawing someone in from your community who’s searching for answers.

To determine if your church is eligible, check out CMU’s Google Ad Grant Eligibility Check. And before you apply for the Google Grant, read CMU’s Ultimate Guide to the Google Ad Grant for Churches

We saved this tactic for last because compared to the other 19 ideas, this one takes the most amount of time and effort, to be accepted for the Grant itself and then doing the minimum to make sure you don’t lose that eligibility. But it’s so worth the effort. 

You can certainly do it on your own, but before you do, check out this warning CMU put together to help: Churches, Don’t Use the Google Ad Grant Until You Know These Five Things

If you’d rather have marketing professionals do the heavy lifting for you,  join our Grow Program (or join the wait list so you’ll be the first to know when we open spots!). We’ll walk with you through the process and keep your ads running so that you comply with Google’s policies & get your website in front of more potential visitors every week!

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Easter is coming fast!

What are you waiting for? You need the Ultimate Easter Kit!