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Attract Visitors to your Church with Foursquare

Image: Foursquare (TM) logo/ Mobile users: © Elliotwestacott, Stock Free Images

A while ago John Hamman of GospelShout posted a detailed article on how to use Foursquare, a location-based social network for mobile devices to attract more visitors to your church and to become known in your local area. Foursquare is a newer startup that rewards users for exploring their neighborhoods, it lets you “keep up with friends, discover what’s nearby and save money and unlock rewards” – a fresh new approch to building and expanding communities that you can adapt for your church. 

By John Hamman,

I recently had a meeting with a local pastor who oversees the college and young adults in his church. They have a great size building with a concert/coffee shop and very active local youth. I will be working with him on ways to grow his ministry and thought of Foursquare and Gowalla. I though I would share with everyone what I am sharing with him.

It’s Sunday and people are out and about in the city. You can advertise or suggest your church service to those in the area. Maybe reward the first 5 new visitors who “Check In” using Foursquare with a small gift.

With Foursquare, users (or “players” since it’s more like a social game) are rewarded for their continued check-ins to your locations with “badges” and earning status ranks. For example, if you log into 10 different locations, you get the Adventurer badge. The player/person who logs into your location more than anyone else gets the location title of Mayor.

Why It Works

First of all, Foursquare is a game. It rewards users by checking into it’s system and gives them a feeling of accomplishments for every day tasks.  This fits right into Generation Y’s common need for reward and entitlement.  Also  as part of these accomplishments, it opens up perks and rewards only available to those who have achieved them. Venues are encouraged to reward users based on accomplishments. For example, you could give a free coffee or brownie to whoever is mayor of the moment.  This encourages players to visit your venue in order to receive a reward.

Getting Started With Foursquare

Ok, getting your church in foursquare is easy. It might even already be in foursquare from one of your church members using it.

  1. Start off by heading over to and follow directions. Or you can do a search for your venue and either “Claim it” or “add it” if it is not already in Foursquare. You will need to be able to answer the phone number listed at the business for it to verify you as the owner.
  2. Put up promotional material at your church. You want to inform your members on a regular basis to use it. You can print posters from Foursquare or add yourself to the request list for wall stickers from Foursquare.
  3. Promote use of Foursquare on your blog, website, twitter account, and Facebook page.
  4. Maybe post the weekly mayor on the church announcements, posters, etc. Maybe even from the pulpit!

Using Foursquare To Your Advantage

Offering rewards to players who use Foursquare is important to the success of this type of campaign.  Successfully using Foursquare will result in more people coming to your church and learning about the Kingdom of God. Give mayors something non-churchy as a reward. Why non-church related prizes? While Foursquare could help attendance for current members, ultimately you want to use it for outreach.  Your goal is to encourage those who are not necessarily interested in coming to church, to stop by and check in. You could reward “first time” check-ins. This will help you connect to a person who has never been to your church before, and potentially never experienced who Christ is.  Have a “Check in” table with trained members who will give out the rewards and assess those who stop by. They may need just a friendly greeting, prayer, or help in some way.

Remember, players using Foursquare in the area, will see what is going on at your venue and could be enticed to come join in!

Read the full article at

Wikipedia on ‘Foursquare’:

Foursquare is a web and mobile application that allows registered users to post their location at a venue (“check-in”) and connect with friends. Check-in requires active user selection and points are awarded at check-in. As of April 2012, there have been more than 2 billion check-ins with Foursquare. Users are encouraged to be hyper-local and hyper-specific with their check-ins– one can check into a certain floor/area of a building, or indicate a specific activity while at a venue. Users can choose to have their check-ins posted on their accounts on Twitter, Facebook, or both. In version 1.3 of their iPhone application, foursquare enabled push-notification of friend updates, which they call “Pings”. Users can also earn badges by checking in at locations with certain tags, for check-in frequency, or for other patterns such as time of check-in. The company has stated that users will be able to add their own custom badges to the site in the future.

Users can create a “To Do” list for their private use and add “Tips” to venues that other users can read, which serve as suggestions for great things to do, see or eat at the location.

In addition, users can see where they have checked in with a history page. This function allows you to search past check-ins, which is broken down by month and year. A sidebar also allows you to search your check-ins by category or who you were with at the time.

Images: Foursquare (TM) logo/ Mobile users: © Elliotwestacott, Stock Free Images


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