Work all four doors

You know about the front door, the one painted red. But you have three other doors as well. If you work all four doors, your church will grow and thrive.

Let’s take these doors one by one:

Front door

This is the door people enter for Sunday worship. Although Sunday services aren’t the big draw they once were, some prospective constituents still make their first contact with you by attending a Sunday service.

From a membership development perspective, your primary goal on Sunday is a second contact, one that you initiate. In marketing terms, this is called “lead development,” that is, the process in which you “generate” a lead — someone you can reasonably contact and expect to accept your message — “nurture” the lead and “convert” the lead into a prospect.

All you need is their email address. Everything else — mailing address, telephone, social media info, even their name — you can get later as your contact with them proceeds.

How do you obtain their email address? You ask for it. Before, during and after worship, and again as they roam your halls. Don’t be shy. People are accustomed to giving their email addresses.


Weekday activity door

On-site or off-site, this door is becoming increasingly important for membership development. You find this door at your preschool and day school, weekday meetings, church fair, special observances, church booth at community event, neighborhood and home gatherings — any place where people come into contact with your congregation’s presence in the community.

Same goal: get their email address. Ask directly — a sign-in sheet at all events, for example — and use standard marketing tools like a raffle, a door prize, a contest (e.g., among children to design the Christmas Eve bulletin), or a free offering (e.g., free jar of jelly at church fair in exchange for email address).

Follow up immediately, while they remember giving you their email address, and lead them to your “opt-in” list by inviting them to receive something, such as a brochure on child care issues. Then you can send them more mailings and show them the full range of church life.


Online door

This door is found on your website. It’s the first one most prospects will see. Using the tools of “inbound marketing,” you offer downloadable content (desirable, pertinent to their lives, not church schedules), bring them to your website, get their email address, send them more, ask them to do something (e.g., send a pair of socks for the homeless), keep nurturing, remain in their presence. Don’t rush to “close the sale.” Just keep delivering value.


Social media door

Use the “brand development” features of social media, especially Facebook, to connect with people.

Don’t worry if they live several states away. You can still serve them. Set up a good Facebook page for your church, with well-chosen photos, free content, your blog. Use an app like Social Stage or Pagemodo to design your page. It can be like a mini-website. Make sure people have to “like” your page before they can access its features.