Don’t get hung up on how many new people are coming to your church. Instead, thank God, and shepherd them well.
Something seems to be stirring more people to come to church. Spiritual interest is on the rise, and the potential to reach people for Christ is substantially greater now than in the past few years.
What do you think it is?
- Spiritual hunger – people are looking for answers that make sense in a world that doesn’t make sense.
- The fog of the pandemic is lifting, and fear is subsiding.
- God is moving in a fresh and new way.
- Leaders are praying more than ever. We’ve always known God is the source, but the recent years have deepened our dependency in profound ways.
I don’t claim to know all the reasons with certainty, but what I do know is that I’m grateful and thanking God daily.
What’s our part?
When God is moving, how do we position ourselves to be in step with what He is doing and where He is going? — “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
In reaching people today, wise leadership is necessary, great programming is helpful, and compassionate care is needed, but listening for God’s direction is essential.
There are so many facets from prayer to leadership and from vision to strategy, but it’s always about people.
5 Questions to Consider As New People Come to Your Church
In this encouraging season of new people coming to church, we should not allow old assumptions to guide us in leading these new people. Life has changed – life is good, but it’s different.
1) Who is coming and why?
As a student of leadership, I don’t believe we need to start with a blank slate as we consider this question. There are clues and insights we can gain from the difference in generations.
For one example, if you are attracting mostly Gen Z, their needs and desires will be different than Millennials.
Generational diversity is a little glimpse of Heaven. Are your older generations making room for the next generation?
Sometimes people try your church simply because you made room for them. Not merely physical space, but emotionally, generationally, and an open-minded spirit to people who are not just like you.
As a Boomer, I’m intentionally making room. It’s a blast to raise up and empower young leaders.
There are many reasons why this is important, but among them is the fact that younger leaders will connect and communicate better with younger adults.
And here’s just one beautiful thing about generational diversity, the older generations have the experience to spiritually shepherd younger generations with patience, experience and wisdom.
This is just the tip of the iceberg for this question. Talk with your team to dig deeper about who is coming and why?
2) What are their felt needs?
A person’s felt needs are often different than their real needs, but it’s usually best to start with what weighs on them most in their daily lives. Start where they are.
How do we discover their needs? We need to get close enough for connection and conversation, but we don’t need to make it complicated. Sometimes a few minutes in the lobby on a Sunday morning can reveal much.
How can you respond in a meaningful way to needs such as:
- Financial pressures in an insecure economy
- Raising children in a rapidly changing culture
- Crisis of faith from a perception that God wasn’t there for them
- Marriage struggles where couples are ready to throw in the towel
The needs within your congregation seem endless, and you can’t meet them all, but you can meet some. Start there. Every church is different, what is your best response? Be intentional about it, think and pray, then respond.
Then, how do you lead and shepherd the new people who are coming to meet their deeper more eternal needs?
3) Where are they spiritually?
Are the new people attending your church hopeful seekers, hurt and disillusioned Christians, skeptics who are longing for something meaningful?
- Do they know the Bible?
- Do they pray?
- Do they know the Jesus of Scripture?
Knowing where people are spiritually informs your next steps process. Don’t rush to abandon your system, but you may need to adapt your approach, change language, and listen more to meet needs in the most personal way possible.
The truth is that knowing where people are spiritually is not easy to discern.
Past hurts, spiritual confusion or disappointments, and a lack of knowledge affect a person’s perception of spiritual truth and the good news of Christ.
Systems and processes are needed to stay organized and make room for more than just a hand full of new people in your church, but we can’t overestimate the importance of a personal touch.
Find ways for personal connection and conversation. The more you learn the better you lead and help people mature spiritually.
4) What inspires people come back?
People still come to church because they are invited, they still come because they are searching, but that’s not why they stay. They want to be seen, know they are valued, and sense that you care.
When you help people know they matter to you and to God they are much more likely to return.
When you are clear about your vision, the people gain a sense of purpose and meaning. That will spiritually encourage and inspire them at a soul level.
When people see that you are serious about making a difference in your community and even the world, they want to be part.
New attendance patterns can be frustrating, I know, but try not to let yourself focus on that and get stuck there.
Adapt but don’t settle. What I mean is, accept the new reality and lead within that reality, but you can still encourage, shepherd, pray and lead toward healthier spiritual habits and rhythms.
5) What does God have in mind?
Good leadership always starts with prayer, takes action, and returns to prayer.
Simply stated we:
- Thank God
- Ask God for direction
- Listen carefully
- Take action
(We repeat some version of this over and over again as we make progress in advancing His Kingdom and strengthening His Church.)
What is God saying to you?
We know the will of God is for everyone to trust Christ for salvation, but there are so many movements of His love and grace that we must listen carefully for what He is doing right now.
What do you sense that is at your church right now?
What is stirring in your soul for the spiritual growth of your congregation and especially for the new people who are honoring you with their presence and participation?
This is an incredible season for the church, the potential to help people and change lives is huge. We’re all in this together, let’s encourage each other to do our best!
11 thoughts on “5 Questions to Consider as New People Come to your Church”
This is so true, thx! We are averaging 4 new people every Sunday for the last six months. Everyone is talking about the wonderful spirit in the (now) two services, and we are praying for God’s direction in this outpouring of His Spirit.
That is wonderful!! God is moving!! Good to hear from you. Hugs to you and Keith!
Great ideas Dan— these insights are so useful to leaders in other fields as well! As a Christian college and university CEO I suggest a leader approach these same questions of new and returning students.
Thanks Ron… I didn’t think about that for new students. That’s a great idea!
Brother Dan, Great article and very timely. I will share it with my Leadership Ministry Team/Church Board, tonight, as a part of my leadership training, and with my pastoral team at our Tuesday staff meeting. We are a church in a rural community in central California, and we are experiencing a number of new families coming to our church for the first time, and we are having others return, after their COVID pause in attendance. I have served here for over 20 years and we have created an atmosphere of constant adaptation and change (for the right reasons). Again, thank you for your insights, not just in this article, but in the many that have been received previously. You have blessed me.
Mark, Pitcher, Pastor at Port Naz, Porterville. CA
So glad you find this helpful Mark, and delighted to hear that you also are having new families come.
20 years, that is awesome!
Keep adapting, keep reaching people for Jesus!
Practical and applicable. We are seeing an uptick at all of our campuses…which is awesome… but the real question is, How are we pastoring/shepherding these new people? Great content, Dan! Thanks!
Good to hear that you are seeing new people at all your campuses too! And yes, let’s shepherd them well!!
Thanks for your articles. Always refreshing, practical and applicable. I am seeing the same in Africa. Interest in church is higher for sure. Thanks for the counsel.
Pastor Eliud Nguku,
Wow, so glad to hear of this in Africa too! God is moving!
We’re all in this together!
Thank you for your opinions. But i think the first step must be learn the love of Jesus because if they understand the Jesus love they follow your steps