Ryan is the founder of Church Marketing University, where he helps churches all over the world get more visitors each week. He and his wife, Amy, and daughter, Katelyn, are a part of Summit Park Church in Kansas City, Missouri. Ryan has many years of experie... read more
How Does Church Photography Help You Reach People?
You’ve likely spent a number of hours this year praying about ways your church can reach more people. You’ve probably already read a few books, blogs, and maybe even attended a church conference. You may have a few new outreach ideas that you and your board are praying about doing this year or next.
Reaching people is what it’s all about. Most pastors always seem to be looking for ways to reach more because they’re not satisfied with just the people who currently are coming. They want to reach more, and they ask questions like:
- How can we see more people coming to our church?
- How can we close the back door so our visitors stick?
- What can we do differently or better in order to grow?
And yet … it’s almost certain the topic of church photography is never brought up. But get this:
Church photography could be the breakthrough your church needs to reach more people.
Most pastors don’t connect photography to salvation. Certainly, God does the work, but have you ever considered how photography of your real people (i.e. the people who attend your church) could help you reach more people with the gospel?
How does church photography help you reach people?
1. Photography allows people to visit your church before they visit your church.
Going to a church for the first time can be a fearful thing for many people. By showing your photography, people can see inside and have their fears eased. They can see a bit of what to expect.
And for major bonus points you can actually do an official Google Photo Tour that allows people to digitally “walk around” your campus before attending. (Plus, when you do that you get bonus points with Google which helps your Search Engine Optimization!)
2. Photography tells a story.
How many times have you preached a message only to find out the thing they remembered was a funny story? People respond with stories. Stories are what people remember because they can connect to a story.
This principle holds true with photography, too. You can show the God-given life through photos of the people at your church. It’s an opportunity to help those outside your church feel like they can connect with those inside your church.
[Still not sure if church photography really has that much impact? Here’s an exercise to show you it’s validity. Think of a rapidly growing church in your state/region. Now go check out their website and/or social media platforms, and see if they use great photography of their people.]
Convinced yet? Let’s keep going …
3. Photography will take all your church’s marketing to the next level.
Some have said that leadership is the great multiplier and that is true. The same is true about photography; everything you do will be so much better. Social media, your website, mailers, bulletins, videos, etc.
4. Photography sets visitors at ease.
When people are thinking about checking out a church, if they can visualize what to expect you have a much greater chance of winning their attendance.
Consider this analogy, what goes through your mind when you drive by a building where the Jehovah’s Witnesses meet? There are no windows, right? Immediately one might wonder what goes on in there.
That’s what a church with out great photography is like. Your digital location has no “windows” and it creeps people out. Well, it might not creep people out, but it certainly does not help your visitors know what they should expect to see (that is, if they even come).
[Consider this: After over 2,000 churches took our Church Marketing Strength Assessment, we discovered the value in great photography. 80% of rapidly growing churches note they constantly capture and share great photography, while only 32% of churches in decline say they do the same. Maybe there’s a correlation there?]
5. Photography can be the first portion of your church hospitality system!
You can literally help people feel like your church is a place they will be welcomed and loved through your photography. Friendly faces expressing the love of God is a great form of hospitality to those looking to visit your church.
(NOTE: Want to reach even more people? The training provided in Church Marketing University helps you develop a system to regularly see new families visit your church. You can previewthe Church Photography Training Module to get step by step tips to reach more people using photography.)
6. Photography can help your church have better visibility online.
Want to know a secret just between us?
Try this Google search: “Find a church in Lees Summit, MO” Let the results pull up then click on the images tab on the top. I count 22 images from my church, Summit Park Church, within the top rows.
When implemented correctly, photography can actually increase your church’s visibility online. (We teach why this is important and how to do it in the SEO Module inside of Church Marketing University.)
7. Photography is huge in connecting with the Millennial generation.
Think about the apps they love: Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc. They are all very visual. The Millennial generation connects best visually. So what does that mean? It means you need visual images of what your church is like, who the people are, and that will help them connect with your church.
8. Photography helps you connect with people.
People attract people. This is a principle I’ve heard years ago, and in my work with churches I’ve found it to be so true! Your church reflects those it shows. For example, if you have young people on the platform and in leadership, you’ll have young people in your church.
The point is this. The people you highlight in your church’s photography will be the types of people you will see coming to your church. Like begets like. It’s an undeniable principle.
9. Photography can be great for your online business profiles.
There are more than 50 profile sites (e.g. Google, YP, Bing, Church Locators, Yelp, etc.) that your church probably should have a profile on. You can maximize all these profiles with the top 10-15 photos of your church.
10. You can use photography as an outreach.
Wait, what?!?! Yes, photography help you reach out to those who are far from God and help them find life through Jesus. Seeing the life-giving photos of people in your church can help someone who’s discouraged and without hope to seek out the happiness and fulfillment which comes through Christ.
Think getting great photography of your church is too hard or too complex? Think again! Check out this case study from Brady Shearer at Pro Church Tools on getting great church photos from just your phone.
(In fact, we have an entire episode on this topic inside of the Church Marketing University Photography Module. Right now you can click here to check out that entire module absolutely free.)
If you’ve found this helpful, and quite possibly, if you’ve changed your mind on photography, would you do us a favor and share this post? Forward it on to a friend or click the social media links below.
As you know this is not something we typically talk about in the church world and other pastors need to know how they can be using photography to reach their city. Lives literally can change for eternity simply through your church’s photography!