Geo-Targeted Maps for Your Church: Step-by-Step Tutorial

Google Maps has a handy (AND FREE!) tool that you can use to import a spreadsheet of addresses onto a map for use at your church. Our brains are very good at picking out patterns and visualization of data like this can be a powerful tool for decision-making. It could be used by your church in a number of different ways:

  • Multisite // We regularly look at the shift patterns of where our attenders and guests are coming from to know where to put our next campuses. This is invaluable for us in the decision-making process.
  • Student Ministry // You could drop the addresses of all your students on a map to help your leaders see which students are closest to them.
  • Missions Trips // Get the addresses of various locations that you are visiting and share them with your potential participants. Because these maps are integrated with Google’s StreetView, you can literally see exactly where you are going!
  • Facility Search // Maybe you are looking at new locations for campuses or your church plant. Drop all the potential new locations onto a map for people to explore!

For this tutorial I used a list of churches in New Jersey as the sample data. You can download the spreadsheet here and see the map at this link.

Step 1 // Prepare Your Spreadsheet


Using your favorite spreadsheet program, make a sheet with all the information that you’ll need. Label the various columns whatever you’d like, but make sure everything is clear to you. In Step 6, you will pick a column to be the label for the “pins” that will be dropped on the map. Ensure that data is in one column now. My Maps limits the number of rows of data that you can import to just 2,000 … which might be a problem if you want to import your entire church database.

Step 2 // Log Into My Maps


You’ll need a Google account for using My Maps. If you use Gmail, you already have an account that you can use. You will be presented with two options when you log in:

  • Create a New Map // This gives you the ability to create a new map from a spreadsheet.
  • Open a Map // This is where maps that you have already created are stored for future use and sharing.

Click on “Create a New Map” to advance to the next step!

Step 3 // Name the Map


On the top left-hand corner of the map, there will be a dialogue box that reads “Untitled map” … click on that to rename it something that will be easily understood by all users.

Step 4 // Import the Data


In the same dialogue box, you’ll see a blue highlighted “Import” link. Click on that and you will be given the opportunity to upload your spreadsheet. (You can import CSV, TSV, KML, KMZ or XLSX files, as well as spreadsheets from Google Drive.)

Step 5 // Select the Location Data to Map


The next window will show the top row from your spreadsheet as titles of the columns that you will use to place the data. In our example, we selected multiple columns (ADDRESS, CITY, STATE, ZIP CODE) because Google My Maps will use that data and combine them together to place the data on the map. The more information you provide, the more accurate the map will be. For example, if you just gave it city names, it would place all the pins with that city name in the center of town.

Step 6 // Title Your Markers


The last step is to pick a name for each of the pins. You will pick one column that will serve as the title for each of the corresponding rows. You can only pick one, so when you’re making your spreadsheet, ensure that you have a column that would work well for what you’re trying to show.

You’re Done! // Explore Your Data


You’ll notice that the layer is renamed to the file name of the spreadsheet you’ve uploaded. When you click on any given pin, the information from the row in the spreadsheet is displayed … even data that wasn’t used as a title or a location marker.

Other Features // More helpful stuff you can use!

  • Sharing // By clicking the “Share” button in the dialogue box, you can email the map to other people or generate a link for use on social media.
  • Change Pins // Scroll over the “All items” label and you’ll see a little paint bucket. Click on that bucket to change the pins’ color or logo.
  • Multiple Layers // Import more than one spreadsheet and you can compare various sets of data.
  • Measure Distance // At the top of the map there is a “ruler” icon. Use this tool to measure the distance between two points on the map. Handy for doing quick approximations of drive times!


  1. Hey Rich– this also seems like it could be a cool idea for small groups.

    So many churches ask for a way to visually “see” where groups are located so they’re easier for new people to know where to plug in.

    Thanks for posting!

  2. We’ve actually started doing something similar with small groups using Mapbox. It’s only been a couple months and it has made placing people into small groups much more efficient.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.