Getting Noticed

I met with Phil Schroeder this week.  Phil is one of the most creative pastors I know, especially when it comes to bringing existing, "traditional" churches up to date and making them friendly and relevant.  Last year, he was appointed to our conference office as Associate Director of Connectional Ministries, which is good news for a church like mine - not only does he have the time to work with us, but he's being paid to.

Phil met with me for about an hour before heading to the district office for a training event and as we walked around the facility, he gave me his impressions and some suggestions for the church.  One of the things he mentioned that has stood out to me in the last few months is the traffic patterns of the area.

This hasn't been much of a concern for Mt. Bethel before now because I believe that we have had some more pressing things to deal with before we could become intentional about inviting in the masses.  I know that sounds bad for a church, but as a church leader, I feel strongly that you have to be able to put your best foot forward for guests and for Mt. Bethel, that meant sweeping leadership changes, building better communications, and improving our worship and spiritual formation.

Now that things are ramping up, the next step is to put the church out there as a place that people want to be.  A large part of that for Mt. Bethel is simply getting noticed. 

We have a tremendous facility which I have mentioned before - thousands of square feet that is getting minimal use.  All the visioning that we've done over the last few months is leading us to becoming a hub for our community.  We need to become a place that offers the things that no other church is offering and opening our doors 7-days to anyone in the community.

Here's our problem:  We are located just east of the easternmost major subdivision of Henry County.  Each day, people head west out of their neighborhoods whether to go to work, play, or shopping.  Very few people from our community pass by the church, which means many of those people don't even know we're here. 

So here's my question:  How do you get noticed?  Particularly, how do you get noticed by people that aren't involved in any church who are close, but might never drive by? 

Other churches have been successful by putting banners out at the edge of their property.  Obviously, this isn't a great option for us.  Direct mailings continue to be something that groups like Outreach.com push, but everyone in our area gets at least a dozen of these each week, so there is a legitimate fear that our message will be lost in the fray.  Additionally, there aren't many things in our area that draw people together - you have to drive 7 miles to get to anything that's not a house, school, church, or fire station (but there are 22,000 people living within 5 miles of Mt. Bethel) so partnering with existing organizations isn't an available option.  We want to BECOME that place that draws people together and a place that they can find purpose in worship and service.

Experts say that word of mouth is the greatest source of influence for newcomers.  I believe that and I know that if we can attract a few and get the wheel rolling, word of mouth will take over.  The challenge is getting to that point.

Here's where you come in.  Think of your route to work or shopping - the direction you turn out of your driveway every day.  Imagine there was a church (or even a business) in the opposite direction that has a lot to offer.  What would it take for that church/business to get your attention?  I really want to hear your ideas.  Email me at alexander.stroud (at) gmail.com.