A Big Draw for First-Time Guests: Ministry to the Poor

Sam Rainer

August 15, 2009

LifeWay Research recently published in their newsletter a new study about ministry to the poor. Obviously, the church should serve the poor and reach out to the hurting. What this study reveals is that churches remaining obedient to Christ’s example of serving the poor are also more likely to attract guests.

This research blurb comes from their findings:

Americans indicate that an active ministry to the poor is more likely to draw them to a church than knowing that it is made up of predominantly young families or their neighbors.

That’s the finding of a recent survey by LifeWay Research that asked 1,600 American adults what factors would affect their decision to visit a church for the first time. The survey also found that a congregation predominantly made up of senior adults is among the greatest deterrents to potential visitors.

Thirty-four percent of Americans say that they would visit a church with an active ministry to the poor in their community while 31 percent indicate that they would visit a church where several families in their neighborhood regularly attend. Twenty-five percent say that they would visit a church made up predominantly of young families with children, and just 13 percent would visit a congregation made up predominantly of senior adults.

Ed Stetzer, church research guru and President of LifeWay Research, comments on the findings:

It appears that people are interested in what a church is doing to impact and transform its community. This seems to be an opportunity for churches and Christians to validate the gospel by showing the good news of Christ as they share it.

Even the unchurched in America know that Jesus came healing the sick and serving the poor so they are surprised to see Him represented by a church uninvolved in such activities. Churches would do well to be engaged with, and also to be known for, caring for the poor.

How is your church reaching out to the poor? I’d enjoy hearing some of your success stories. And how did you share these stories so that others know about it? In your experience, are people not connected to your church more interested in attending because of your ministry to the poor?

4 comments on “A Big Draw for First-Time Guests: Ministry to the Poor”

  1. Scott Meyer says:

    This is a fascinating post. My church, Western Hills Church of Christ (www.westernhillsonline.org) is slowly learning how to minister to and among the poor. Perhaps our greatest success so far has been an event called “We Are The Sermon.” On this day I do not preach…instead when it comes time for the sermon the whole congregation leaves to go to service projects for people outside of our church.

    I, like you would love to hear and learn what other churches are doing among the poor. We desperately want to manifest the gospel to our community in tangible ways.

    Thanks again for the post.

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