Dave Adamson, Author of Metachurch, recently quipped that church members didn't disappear; they decentralized. It is an insight that, at first blush, might feel disingenuous to the many churches that feel as if they have lost people since the pandemic. However, a more critical exploration of Adamson's insight would reveal that he is indeed correct. Many churches aren't aware because they are incentivized to look at different metrics. They feel the effects of a paradigm shift, but they have yet to embrace it. While we are looking at attendance as our primary metric, we would find that our people are still coming; they just are coming less frequently.
Most churches operate from a centralized paradigm, while the rest of the world lives in a decentralized one. We went to platforms (i.e., church buildings) in the past; now, platforms come to us. We must begin to look at our churches through a decentralized lens, and when we do, we will find a hidden gem, a secret to growing our church in a digital age: email.
Yep. You read that right.
How To Use Email To Grow Your Church
Email is the equivalent of a digital home. It is not just a mailbox. It is where most people curate their digital lives. Every online business knows that the single most valuable piece of digital information they can possess about a potential client is their email. Without it, you cannot nurture a relationship amidst the cacophony of messages. It would be best if you had one-on-one time over weeks, months, or maybe years for them to establish trust in you as a leader. Most church leaders disregard email because they erroneously use these channels for information dissemination rather than relationship building.
Most churches operate from a centralized paradigm, while the rest of the world lives in a decentralized one.
Try this: write a weekly email that doesn't have all the info for your church, and put a link to a web page. Instead, write a piece of content that provides value for people's spiritual growth in the week. Then put one call to action to something else that will give them value.
Esther intuitively understood the way people commit to big requests. She didn't run to the King in turmoil for her people, asking for help. Esther created Curiosity and then Enlightenment. Only then did Esther make an ask of the King to save her people. If she could stay true to the buy-in journey with the pressure of saving an entire people group from extermination, I'm sure we can remain faithful to it before we ask someone to come to our event.
Follow the Esther Principle, Create Twice As Much Value as you ask of people. Provide an email inviting them into something even more valuable for their lives, then ask them to join you.
That one slight shift will grow your faith community in a digital age.