Archives For Communication

Bible and Marketing

Okay, content marketing might be a new term for you. Here’s a definition from Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Two Observations About the Church and Content Marketing

Let me make two observations about the relationship between the church and content marketing.

First, I believe that the church was the first great content marketing institution. How do I know? As I pointed out in my book, Rewired, the early church used papyrus for publishing, the Roman roads for traveling, and the Greek language (almost universally used for written communication) to get the Good News about Jesus out to the ends of the earth.

Then, the church used the printing press to distribute Bibles. The Bible was the first book printed, and is the most widely published book in history for a reason.

My second observation isn’t quite so positive… we’ve fallen behind.

Where once the church was innovative in finding new means of spreading the gospel, now we’re skeptical of technology, scared to engage the…

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Website

The world of website development has come so far that there’s very little you can’t do online these days. But in spite of the progress – including easy to build websites – churches, ministries, and nonprofit organizations still struggle getting their websites to accomplish their goals. Sometimes it’s an expectation problem (because after all, they don’t teach website development in seminary or Bible college) and sometimes it’s a lack of good advice. Either way, I decided to create a baseline list of what your website should be able to do. And if it doesn’t, you need to have a serious talk with your in-house webmaster or your outside vendor.

1) Your website should work. Sure there are times when sites or servers have issues, but they should be few and far between. If your site malfunctions on a regular basis, something is wrong. Don’t allow your webmaster or outside vendor to make excuses. If they can’t get it running smoothly on a regular basis, it’s time to look for another vendor.

2) You should be able to manage it in-house. With the exception of major design or technical changes,…

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Facebook Like

I will never forget that one Sunday. We were launching a new message series called “Healing.” It was all about how Jesus’ Beatitudes are the ultimate pathway for recovery. We spent about $200 sponsoring a video advertising the series during the week leading up to the first Sunday.

The results? We had 74 first-time guests, and, literally, all of them indicated on their communication cards that Facebook was how they’d heard about us.

Two young ladies who had come because of the ad told me after the service that they were heading out to a party the night before, and our ad caught their eye. They decided to attend our services that morning, and both of them prayed to receive Christ.

That was $40,000 well spent. Let me clarify a few details about that amount . . .

  • It was actually Facebook AND Instagram.
  • It was over five years, not all at once.
  • It was, literally, our entire advertising budget for five years.
  • It has worked! Very well, in fact.

But that’s not all. Theirs isn’t the only story. We now see about 400 to 450 people gathering each week, and a majority of them have actually…

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Church communication is both art and science. You can use spreadsheets, but you also need finesse.

You can print bulletins, but few people will read them. You can use social media but few people will see the updates. You can send email but a majority won’t see it in their inboxes. You can even print a newsletter and use snail mail to send it, but why in the world would you?

Church communication leaders and church staff members hear it all the time: “I didn’t know that was happening.”

I’ve been a pastor for 20 years and I’ve been designing church websites for 15 years. I’ve worked in church communications for over a decade and in the last five years, I’ve watched our church plant grow from two families to 500 or so regular attenders.

We still struggle with all of the same questions every church leader has about keeping people informed:

  • What gets announced from the stage?
  • What gets put in the bulletin?
  • What gets posted on social media?
  • What gets passed along via email?
  • Who is in charge of all of that?

Signal-to-Noise

This matters so much because people are constantly being bombarded with noise. From work,…

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Communication

Most organizational communication problems are really something else.

Here are a few examples:

My friend Kaleigh is a freelance copywriter. Business owners routinely hire her to write their About Us webpages and their Core Values. She often has to make the content up from scratch . . .

. . . because they need her to tell them who they should be since they don’t know.

I once attended a church and regularly heard the leaders complain that people wouldn’t sign up for small groups. Every Sunday they announced Men’s and Women’s Bible Studies and special classes and events for young adults. People signed up for those things . . .

. . . because that’s what sounded important and fun.

When I worked in corporate PR, I had a well-known technology company on retainer. About once a month, my team and I were asked to write a press release and pitch journalists…

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There is no doubt that social media is having a huge impact on churches’ ability to reach and influence culture. One of the biggest challenges and opportunities church leaders face is whether or not they should be active on social media. If you are in leadership at any kind of level reading this I want to tell you that you should absolutely be actively participating on social media.

I’m not talking about your church social media feed. I’m talking to you personally. You should absolutely be active, interacting and present.

Why?

When you leverage social media well, you have the potential and capacity to reach many more people online as compared to those who may attend your church. Not just those in the wider Christian community, but you will reach more people who don’t even attend church. Most church leaders dream about being able connect and communicate with the wider community so simply and directly.

Is it your dream that you could impact and connect with your wider community? If it is I want to share with you seven steps that will help you reach people more than ever before.

1. Imagine the average person in your community that doesn’t…

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In ministry, some things must never change, but others must change constantly.

Clearly, God’s five purposes for his Church are non-negotiable. If a church fails to balance the five purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism, then it’s no longer a healthy church, and it’s in danger of becoming simply a social club.

On the other hand, the way or style in which we fulfill these eternal purposes must continually be adjusted and modified because human culture is always changing.

For instance, when I first started Saddleback Church, fresh out of Southwestern Seminary, computers were in their infancy, slow and cumbersome and capable of very limited functions. The Internet was just a crude academic network and nobody had even heard of email. Now I often sit in my pajamas and have conversations with people across the globe.

In addition, you can get on a plane and within a few hours fly to almost anywhere in the world, and that means there’s even less of an excuse for not being involved in foreign missions, even if just for the short-term. The times, they are a-changing, and they’ll keep right on a-changing whether we want them to or not.

And…

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When it comes to a “profile” or “bio” on social media, most people just have fun with it. That’s okay, but if you want to be an influencer, get noticed, or grow your followers, a more creative and strategic profile can give you a big boost.  Here are the three most important areas most people need to fix:

1) Your Photo: What’s the image you want to project to the world? It’s not about egomania, it’s about perception. Your social media profile photo is something people will see over and over again – perhaps thousands of times. So make it something you want burned into their memory.

Photos are an important part of great visual design, so every time you post a photo on a profile, make it count.

2) The Link: What’s the most important and authoritative website that tells your story? Do you have a blog? A general website? If not, perhaps it’s your Facebook page. In some cases, you may want to use the link to your company, church, nonprofit – particularly if…

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Have you ever heard these questions?

“How can I share small group ministry vision and ongoing training when I struggle to even get the leaders to gather together! What do you do to gather your leaders? What works well in your context? What creative ideas have you implemented?”

Every time my Small Group Network Huddle meets, questions such as this surface in one form or another. So if these questions ring true for you in your role as a small group ministry leader, let me assure you you are not alone!

While physically gathering small group leaders together has an important and valuable role in our ministry, sometimes it just proves too tricky to pull off on a regular basis. So thinking creatively beyond a physical gathering is an important step. Social media can be a very simple and effective vehicle to connect with our team, to encourage, inspire, set direction and share information.

When most people use the term “social media,” they are referring to social networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. If you are anything like me (a bit of a novice), it can all seem a little overwhelming. So I want to encourage you…

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I find it fascinating that many people who handle social media for very large churches and ministries find it difficult to share their faith on their personal social media platforms. And others do it in an incredibly obnoxious way. Every new technology gives us another possibility for telling the greatest story ever told, but we have to do it with honesty and sincerity.

Krysta Masciale, CEO of Big Deal Branding puts it this way: “For me, it’s important that I share as much on social media as I would in person. Since I don’t speak about my faith until I’ve gained trust and been given permission to do so in a relationship, I use that same philosophy with my social media accounts. Also, know your audience. If Christians follow you and are expecting spiritual insights, give it to them. If not, be aware that you’re building a relationship, not trying to sell a car.”

Krysta is exactly right. So I asked Kristen Tarsiuk, Creative Director + Community Pastor at Liberty Church Brooklyn to give us some suggestions about sharing our faith without screwing up the message. Here are her…

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Mark Cuban once said…

Tithes…Sales cure all.”

Now, I understand having a stronger tithe base doesn’t cure all. But it sure does help alleviate several church tensions for pastors. Use these 7 ways to boost your church giving.

1. Buy a Giving-Themed URL

Most churches have a giving link on their website, but it takes some time to explain to congregants how they can find it. I tried something a few years ago and our online giving grew from 25% to 55% of total monthly giving. Buy a domain that is related to your church name and giving. Our church name is Northwood Church so I bought www.northwoodgive.com and forwarded it to the url for our giving page.

During the giving talk we created a simple graphic with NorthwoodGive.com and we mentioned it every service. “For those of you who don’t carry cash or check, you can give at northwoodgive.com right there on your phone.”

Giving increased overall because we added a new way for people to give.  Northwoodgive.com became a popular phrase in every department for event registration and signup payments.

2. Get Automated Payments

We have seen a surge in the business world the last several years on monthly subscription pricing. The theory…

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I spend a lot of time with pastors around the country. I get asked all kinds of questions. I’ll write later about the most common things I see when I do a church secret shopper consultation. Today, I want to write about one of the most common things I say to churches. Here it is:

Always point people to your church’s website. Always. 

Before I finished this post, I took a quick poll of pastor friends of mine. I texted them and said, “Am I the only one that says this or is that what you also do with your church’s strategy?” They all agreed it’s the same for them, too. It’s what I always encourage pastors with when I consult with their church.

Why does this post have a picture of a mobile phone? Because people will check your mobile website out (most likely) first – before they sit at their computer and look. I’ve written in the past about being mobile. Let me just say this is huge. You have to have a mobile website or responsive design these days.

What are some examples of how this aforementioned principle plays out?