You’ve been called to spread the Gospel with more people in your city, but growing your church plant with traditional outreach is a slow and frustrating process. The good news, beyond the gospel, of course, is that building your church plant community doesn’t have to be that hard.
One church plant, CityReach Church Forest Hills in Forest Hills, NY, tossed traditional outreach programs, grew their community at an unprecedented rate, and cut $1,000 a month from their church outreach budget. We sat down with Pastor Robert Racoma to learn how CityReach Forest Church grew their community with Reach.
Frustrations With Traditional Outreach
In the beginning, Robert mailed out flyers, sought referrals, and hosted big events. These traditional outreach activities brought in a few new members, but he knew there had to be a better way to reach more people with his church plant. “We saw a little traction here and there by using traditional outreach. But it was hard because no one was excited about building our community,” Robert explained.
There was also the problem associated with relying on name recognition alone to bring in new members. “When you send out flyers, people look at them and set them down. Then they forget about them. Maybe, if you’re lucky, one day they will come to visit your church, but it’s normally months or even a year later,” Robert said.
In all, Robert said their early outreach efforts were expensive and not a viable long-term solution. “In the beginning, we spent a lot of money to grow our church plant community. It was worth it because it led the few people we gained to the Gospel and love of God. But for our budget, it wasn’t an effective long-term strategy.”
Reducing Advertising Costs by 90% While Improving Attendance
“The struggle to reach more people with my church plant changed for us when we found Reach,” Robert said. The Reach program helps CityReach grow by donating to a charity each time someone checks-in to the church on Facebook.
Because they are giving to great causes with each Facebook check-in, the CityReach community is excited about participating. That means they never miss a chance to check-in. Since over 200 people typically see each Facebook check-in, it didn't take long for thousands of people to learn about CityReach.
“We no longer have to spend a lot of money and wait months to see the benefits,” Robert said. CityReach started the Reach program in the summer, and during the traditionally slow months of June, July, and August they had a 7% attendance increase.
Robert is in awe that Reach helped them grow their community at a time when most churches see a net member loss. But what’s even more impressive is that they are doing it by spending far less each month. Robert explained, “We reduced our outreach budget by more than 90% and brought in new members at a greater rate than ever before.” Just how much is CityReach saving per month? Robert said they're saving over $1,000 a month, all while increasing attendance.
Exciting the Community With Kingdom-Building Causes
Another great benefit of the Reach program is the way it’s united the CityReach community around the monthly causes. “Reach makes our members feel a part of something bigger than themselves,” Robert explained. Their community loves supporting people in need, and that excitement drives their members to consistently check-in.
Robert said the process of supporting the causes especially energizes the Millennials in his community. “That demographic is intrinsically motivated by giving and being a part of something greater. Reach gives us the opportunity to provide that for the Millennials, and they are more engaged in our community because of it,” Robert said.
That made us wonder if Robert only sees the check-in engagement only with Millennials and asked him if that’s the case. “Oh, no,” he said. “Members of all ages value the program and love checking-in. They all get it, even our Golden Years members.”