For years, I’ve heard the phrase about real estate and churches: “it’s all about location, location, location.” I agree that a poor location can be an obstacle to church growth, but re-locating is not an immediate option for many congregations. If you think your church’s location is a hindrance, here are some options to consider:
- Forget about blaming the location for a lack of growth. It may indeed be a factor, but many leaders stop considering other issues once they’ve decided the church is in a bad location. The location sometimes becomes a scapegoat when the issues blocking growth are much bigger than the real estate.
- Pray particularly about your church’s witness and influence in your community. As long as your congregation still gathers where it does, you have a spiritual obligation to be a light in that community. Rather than get frustrated about where you are, ask God to give you a renewed vision and an increased love for your community.
- Focus on strengthening the Sunday morning service. I want people to serve in a church near where they live, but our mobile society has broadened that range. The truth is that people will drive to a church where God is glorified and something’s happening. On the other hand, even local people won’t attend for long a boring, dying church. Make your church a place to which people want to come.
- Talk to community leaders to find out what their greatest needs are. You may discover that your church can make a bigger difference right where you are if you intentionally try to address real needs in the shadow of your steeple. Too many churches think they know what those needs are, and they’ve never asked anybody.
- Find out how many people in your area are truly churched. I live in the Bible belt in a seminary town with several strong churches, and I thought we had a high number of church plants in the area. Then I learned the percentage of unchurched people in our area, and I changed my mind. You might be surprised by what you learn about your community, too.
- Use multiple options to let people know about your church, and do them well. Upgrade your website. Use social media to tell what God’s doing there. Put an ad in the local paper. Ask the city about putting up signs that direct people toward your location. Seek community opportunities to advertise your church, like county fairs, local parades, etc. If your location really is bad, you have to work harder to let people know you exist.
- Make sure your building is itself inviting. A bad location is no excuse for poor maintenance of your property. Whether your church sits in a metropolis or in a rural setting behind the local grocery store, you still honor God by taking care of His house.
- Pour yourself into two or three believers, and help ignite their passion for Christ. A less than ideal location may limit traffic that just wanders by the building, but it need not limit the passion of believers to invite people to come. A few “on fire” believers can suddenly make unchurched people want to know what’s up at your place. Start there.
What would you add to this list?