Your church has essential demographic questions needing answers. Since effective communication engagement rises and falls on how well you know your audience, demographics are the foundation of understanding your community. Regularly discover your community through solid research.
Where can you get a demographic study? Your local Baptist association or state Baptist convention may offer it to their partnering churches. Contact them, a consulting group or your local chamber of commerce for answers to these essential demographic questions.
Get started by understanding where families live. Plot on a map all of your families. Remove outliers and draw a custom polygon around the main clustering of families. This reach area gives a more accurate demographic depiction than a standard radius study. IMPORTANT: If families attend your church from this area, there are similar people who’ll potentially want to attend.
Now answer these 10 questions:
- How many live in the reach area? This is your potential if everyone came to your church! What percentage of the reach area community attends your church now? The answer is sobering.
- Is the reach area growing? Most demographic reports give projections. If you become a solution to your community that’s growing at a particular rate, your church should keep up with that growth.
- What’s the average household income? This helps understand socio-economic expectations. Some demographic reports even suggest giving potential too.
- Are there more blue-collar workers? Or white-collar? Understand their work life and expectations.
- What’s the average age of the community? You’ll be surprised at how young communities are. And that average age will only go up 1 or 2 years even after 5 years projection. Start thinking younger!
- What is the diversity of the community? What groups make up your community? What groups are growing at a fast pace? What does that mean for your community?
- How likely is your reach area to be involved with their faith? This helps you understand how accepting your community will be of your ministry and message. And how basic you need to start.
- What is the denominational preference of the community? If they decide to attend church, what denomination will they feel most comfortable with? Is it yours? This can help you decide if your denomination will help or hurt your church name.
- What are their biggest needs, problems or goals? Get into their minds and lives. To be relevant or needed, you need to be their pain experts and help them achieve goals.
- How similar is the community to my congregation? Do you resemble the people around you? Do the people on your stage look like them? They’ll feel more comfortable when they’re around people who understand them and look like them. Get this right and they’ll listen more — so you can share Jesus.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Mark MacDonald is communication pastor, speaker, consultant, bestselling author, church branding strategist for BeKnownforSomething.com and executive director of the Center for Church Communication, empowering 10,000-plus churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites and social media. His book, “Be Known for Something,” is available at BeKnownBook.com.
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