Why do the people who attend your church come there? What moves them to get up on Sunday morning and drive to and participate in the service at your particular church? The truth is, the people who attend your place of worship probably drove past another to get to yours. So what is so special to them about your church? As the pastor of a church I planted some eleven years ago, that question was one I had to deal with early on. If I start a church in a area that needs an evangelical church, what will make them want to come and worship here? There are many reasons a person might select to attend one church over another, but let me give you five that I have observed over the years.
The first reason has to do with distance from their home. Some people select a church because it is near where they live. I pastor a church in the middle of a planned community. Many of the visitors who come through our doors tell us they gave the church a try because they drove by and saw the sign. The nearness factor is good for a percentage of growth and no doubt some will continue to attend because we are a church they associate with as part of their community.
The second reason people attend a particular church over another has to do with worship style. Every church has a worship style, whether it be traditional, full blown contemporary, or something blended in between. Music and worship are so important to some people that they will base their church selection on style alone. Many churches play hard to this venue in an effort to get as many people to attend as possible. One church cannot be all things to all people when it comes to style. Some will attend your church because they like who you are when it comes to worship.
Thirdly, some will attend your church because they like the ministries or a particular ministry your church offers. If you have an awesome youth ministry then there will be those who attend because they like that ministry for their children. Maybe your church has a dynamic children’s program? There will be young couples with small children who will hear about how good your church is with children and they will come. Some will come because the ministries of your church meet a need in their life.
The fourth reason some will attend your church is because of the pastor. This is particularly true for small churches or the beginning of a new church. When a church is small, say seventy five people or less, most everyone in the church can comfortably have personal interaction with the pastor. Many will come to a church early on because the pastor can spend time with all of them. When the church gets larger that becomes a little more difficult. There is still a draw to some people because they will like the pastor even if they don’t have a lot of personal interaction with him. They will like his style, his preaching, or even his personality. Yes, some people attend a particular church just because they like the preacher.
The fifth reason someone chooses to attend a particular church over another is, in my opinion, the most important. Some people choose a church based on the handling of God’s Word. By handling I mean the exposition of or teaching of the Bible. For some people the first four reasons are all secondary to this one. The priority for some is to hear God’s Word faithfully taught, precept upon precept and doctrine upon doctrine.
So, which one of these reasons did I emphasize when I started the church where I pastor? I started with the last one, majoring on God’s Word. God told the prophet Isaiah, “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth; it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I send it” (Isaiah 55.11 KJV). When I started this church, I hitched my ministry wagon to that verse. I wanted this church to be known for its expositional teaching of God’s Word, verse by verse. The result was, the people who came here were in love with Jesus, not a program. The people who came here were in love with Jesus, not me or a ministry. When the church’s eyes are on Jesus and His Word, God makes good things happen, people come to Jesus by faith unto salvation and the church grows. What about the other reasons people choose a church? We have all those, they are simply added to the priority of preaching and teaching God’s Word. When Jesus and His Word are the center of what we do then the other things that draw people to our fellowship are just icing on the cake. What is your church and ministry known for? What is your ministry wagon hitched to?