George Barna has found that around 85% of people who live in apartment communities will never leave their apartment community to go to church. Not even on Easter or Christmas. That is a huge problem! And if your church isn’t doing anything to combat that problem it may be time to seriously reevaluate your mission and strategy for reaching the lost for Jesus Christ. The good news is your church can reach an apartment community!
If you think that sending a general mass mail out to your surrounding communities with your church info or next event on it is enough to reach an apartment community, you’re wrong.
Sorry to be so blunt but it is the truth. We live in a junk mail world. When someone receives the mailer your church is sending, they are more than likely just throwing them out immediately. Sending a mailer is a waste of time and resources.
If you want your church to reach an apartment community for Jesus, here are 4 simple steps:
- Start a relationship with the community’s staff
- Foster that relationship
- Seek to meet the community’s needs
- Share the love of Jesus with them
Start A Relationship With The Community Staff
Whatever you do, DO NOT enter a community without forming a relationship with the management staff. It makes you look unprofessional, puts a bad taste in the mouth of management and residents, and will get you kicked off the property without reaching people for Christ.
Starting a relationship is easier than it seems. Managers can seem cold and standoffish but don’t let that stop you. Once they open up they can be great assets. Start by bringing a small gift and introducing yourself. Let them know you are in the community and just want to introduce yourself. Nowadays a Starbucks drink or a $5 gift card is the perfect in for most new introductions.
Bring them the drink or gift card, introduce yourself, and leave (unless you are invited to stay and talk). Management and staff are generally very busy, overworked, and understaffed. However, by doing this first introduction meeting you can have some other intentions in mind as well. Survey the staff. Who’s working there? 3 women? 1 man and 1 woman? Do you see photos of kids on their desk? Getting important intel like this can go a long way for your next meeting!
Foster That Relationship
Now that you have introduced yourself and brought a small gift, wait about 2 weeks and return with another small gift. Remember that intel you got last time? Now is the time to use it! Is a holiday coming? Bring them candy for valentines day, flowers for mothers day, etc.
Generally speaking you will get more time with the staff at this point. But if it is obviously busy, leave the gift after a simple exchange of pleasantries, ask if there is a good time you can schedule a conversation with them, and leave again.
If now is a good time to talk, take advantage of the moment and spark a conversation. Find out more about them (without asking too many questions) and start step three.
Seek To Meet The Community’s Needs
This is where you gain their trust! This is where they start to lower their guard. When they hear that you want to help them instead of get something from them, they will open up.
Find out an immediate need that the community has and then MEET IT!
For example, many communities have to complete certain criteria in order to be a “safe” or “crime free” community such as throwing a block party. Offer to organize an event like that for them, bring people from your church as volunteers, and knock it out of the park. Rent a bounce house, snow cone machine, popcorn machine, play some music, and grill some hotdogs. There you go! You just met an immediate need of the community’s.
Share The Love of Jesus With Them
Once you start meeting the community’s needs both management and residents will open up about life.
Management may even offer to do something for you! I have personally been asked multiple times what the community can do for me after meeting needs of the community. That is your in! You can ask to give flyers, hold a Bible Study in the community, even plant an apartment house church!
Many times residents will notice that you do not live there and will ask why you are doing what you are doing. This your opportunity to introduce yourselves as members of the church that is in their community and you are just volunteering to help with some of the needs in the community.
From there the opportunities are countless. Step up to the plate and knock it out of the park. I promise you, as someone with over 18 years ministering to apartment communities, planting dozens of churches in those communities, leading many people to Christ, and baptizing apartment residents; this is a FAR MORE EFFECTIVE way than a mass mailer.