An old Marketing adage says your target is five stoplights of your location. This may be outdated since it doesn’t factor in the reach that comes through digital means. But for those who show up in-person to participate in church ministries, this may be a good gauge of your reach.

Think about your church. How far do you need to reach to encompass five stoplights in any direction? (Maybe in rural areas, you could also include major four-way stops.) Of course, people may drive farther, especially if you are serving in a rural area .

When I think about our church, five stoplights is about right. Highland, IL is within five stoplights to the east. Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, Maryville, and Granite City are within five stoplights to the west. O’Fallon, Belleville, and Collinsville are south. Marine, Worden, and Hamel are north.

Like many churches in Metro East St. Louis, we’re situated in many close communities. As a result, half of our current church membership lives outside the zip code of our church.

As far as ministry goes, our reach is probably about five stoplights in any direction.

This general principle might help us gauge a few important things for our ministry:

Who to invite

Encouraging and equipping your congregation is the best way for people to be invited. However, you may want to send a blanket invitation to the homes in your community and the surrounding area. “Five Stoplights” may help focus those invitations.

Where to focus ministry

“Five Stoplights” may help you focus on a particular ministry in your community or the communities around you. More urban area churches may have a much tighter focus. A clear focus can have an amazing impact on your ministry.

Clear mission field

“Five Stoplights” may help offer clarity to your church and its mission field. Jesus says, “Look up! The fields are ripe for harvest!” Knowing the geography around your church is important. Take your church staff or leadership committee on a drive to see the area around your church building. (Read: 12 Things Your Church Should Know About Their Community)

Outward focus

The mindset of reaching people within “Five Stoplights” is a great way to keep your outward focus. It doesn’t take much for a church to become totally inward-focused. We need a constant reminder to keep things moving forward outside the walls of the building.

Curb appeal

On a practical level, “Five Stoplights” is about driving cars. How many people pass by your building on a daily basis? How are you utilizing your curb appeal to attract or witness to the public? The ideas can be endless, but great-looking, attractive signs, nice landscaping, and other aspects of your building can become an attraction point. What does the outside of your building say about God?

Hospitality reminder: We’re expecting guests

“Five Stoplights” is a reminder to always be ready to welcome guests. Ushers, greeters, and hospitality team members in our churches should stay focused on guests each time we gather for worship. Read the Six Mantras For Your Hospitality Team or check out all the church hospitality team posts!

At the very least, I hope this concept stirs up creative ways to think about your immediate focus as a church. Here are more posts for church and ministry leaders!


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