New-To-Town Families Are A Key Demographic For Your Outreach and Growth Strategy
If your neighborhood is anything like mine, then you’ve probably noticed “For Sale” signs are beginning to pop up left and right. It’s officially buying and selling season. My friends who work in real estate tell me that this is their busiest time of year.
Transitioning families are eager to get their houses sold, in order to use the summer months to get relocated and settled before school starts back and the fall schedule kicks into gear. Perhaps you find yourself in the house hunting process, but even if you don’t, you’d do well to pay attention to the signs popping up in the neighborhood, because they represent a prime demographic to invite to church.
When I moved to Birmingham to plant a church in 2012, I quickly learned that new-to-town folks were often eager to find a local church to plug into and belong. And even if they were not “church shopping,” many were looking to meet people and find a base for friendship and community. New-to-the-neighborhood families were our number one source of additions to the church plant in its first two years of existence! Even now, five years later, we continue to discover that new neighbors are a key demographic for our church’s growth.
Knowing this, we’ve begun to use the terminology of “neighboring well” among our leaders, to communicate a key strategy for reaching out to our community.
Being intentional with neighbors–especially new neighbors–has become one of the main ways I teach the people in my church to live on mission.
In the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus taught us to be good neighbors; while the story reveals that anyone in need is our “neighbor,” I think that our actual neighbors are a great place to start! When I moved to Birmingham, the first people I met were my neighbors Wayne and Sharon, who eventually ended up coming to church with me.
I challenge the folks in my church to know the names of every person on their street. Or, if they live in an apartment, to know every person in their building. I push them to not fall prey to what I call “commuter syndrome.” Too many people get in their car in the morning, drive to work, work all day, drive home, pull into the garage, and never once interact with anyone who lives on their street. When we do this, we’re missing out big time on opportunities to know, serve, and bless our neighbors.
Ultimately, we miss out on inviting these families into the fellowship of our community of faith, where they can experience God’s love and truth.
As the air warms and the days begin to lengthen, more and more people will head outside to work in their yards, soak up some rays, and play with their kids. This is the perfect time to leash up the dog, go for a walk, and get to know some neighbors you should’ve met a long time ago.
And as you stroll around the block, be sure to pay attention to those yard signs that sporadically decorate the neighborhood, especially the ones that say “Under Contract.” When you see one of those, you know to be watching for a moving truck. And when it shows up and pulls into the drive, go introduce yourself. (Take cookies with you!) Offer to lend a hand. Invite your new neighbors over for dinner, or throw a neighborhood party to welcome them to the block and help them meet others on the street.
The opportunities are endless! There are dozens of ways you can connect with the folks in your neighborhood. The point is, this time of year represents a unique season to do so, and especially with those new to the ‘hood. Don’t overlook this demographic in your church’s outreach strategy. Train yourself and teach your church community to be intentional neighbors as a key way to grow your church.