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And yet, when it comes to church, people are often left facing a barrier of old websites, excel sheets, gmail chains, and worse—text chains that they have no idea how to escape.
Here’s the reality:
If you want to boost engagement at your church, you have to take seriously one digital medium on which people can engage in a way that feels native to their own digital experience.
This may seem like an odd suggestion—that the church partake in the sort of fad that looks tacky and feels ham-fisted.
Many church leaders will respond to the prompt that the church needs to be more tech-friendly: “But the church has been around for 2,000 years!” Indeed, it has. But so have a lot of things that are decreasing in their prevalence—like physical currency, brick and mortar commerce, and even “mainstream” publications.
Of course, God will sustain the church—it belongs to him!
But we as church leaders are entrusted with it to lead it excellently.
And within all the presumably surface-level conversations about technology and the church, there lies the real “stuff” of discipleship: sin, maturity, redemption, love, communion, marriage, mental health issues, and domestic disputes.
God calls the church to spiritually lead its members through these difficulties.
One of the ways the church leads members is in how it communicates with them.
If it is harder to establish a point of contact with a church because it offers no native medium on which to make contact—that is, if it is noticeably resistant to seeking excellence in the digital space—then it makes discipleship itself more difficult.
It is the church’s responsibility—even its calling—to establish a presence in the digital space as much as the early church was tasked with bringing the gospel to Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
Here are a few ways to boost digital engagement in your church that is neither tacky nor time-consuming.
It is a digital software that tracks member attendance, provides sign-up forms for events, manages tithes, collects user information, allows you to send emails to members from the platform, and even enables you to manage the spiritual health of your church members on an individual level.
It may sound complicated, but it’s quite the opposite.
The alternative is complicated.
A rat’s nest of google docs.
No thank you.
The ChMS is the line between the amateur coffee shop pastor and the real, 21st century pastoral professional.
The ChMS is the difference between the freelance gigger and the salaried professional.
The ChMS is the single most defining feature of the 21st-century church’s “best communicative practices.”
Start a Facebook Group
A Facebook Group is a simple way to create a private community of those involved in your church to share details, get updates, and connect with others.
This is a great low-budget way to simply connect those in community so that they can organize small groups, stay informed, and coordinate details of church events.
Not the 100-person-text-chain, but the text message software-enabled marketing tool that enables your church to send hundreds of people the same text from a single number without creating any chains that bury people under 50 replies.
Put an “events” calendar on your church’s home page
This might be the easiest way to connect people at your church.
Create an “events” block on your church’s website and insert it directly on the front page.
When anyone has a question about what’s happening, the details, or if they can bring anything, make it “common practice” for your staff to refer them to this calendar.
A digital calendar will teach people to actually use the digital tools that you establish to help them with communication.
Over to you
Your church should seek to cultivate digital engagement in your church for the same reason that the Apostle Paul wrote letters to his churches—and then, wrote follow-up letters to churches who really needed help.
There’s a reason that Paul wrote only one letter to the church in Phillippi, and 4 letters to the church in Corinth (2 lost)—he wanted to give them timely instruction and edification.
He wanted to stay engaged in their lives.
Paul did not consider connection—and then re-connection, and follow-up, and follow-up-again—optional practices. These were Paul’s essential pastoral practices.
If the Apostle Paul could have sent a text message, “FYI all Judea/Samaria Churches: You don’t need to get circumcised to be saved,” he would havedone so in a heartbeat.
Remember that as you consider how to cultivate digital engagement among the real people in your church.
It will not distract from the real, face-to-face engagement among your church members.
In fact, the whole point of digital engagement is to make real engagement easier, more efficient, and less of a hassle.
Here’s the scene. Your favorite band is coming to town. You want to invite your friends to come with you (obviously). What is the first thing you do? Do you email them, call them, post on social media and tag them, or do you text them?
I’m gonna guess that you answered TEXT them. (PSA phones are not for phone calls anymore. No one, except Grandma, calls me.)
Fun fact: 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes; we should be taking advantage of a tool that everyone else is already using.
There are a ton of tools that offer texting services, but over 17k church leaders are using Text In Church to make it happen and let me tell you why. (Aside from the obvious reason above.)
It’s more than just texting.
An advantage of using a tool created for churches is because it’s created for churches. They’ve spent years and hours upon hours testing and strategizing for your niche audience. They continue to explore in add the things you need to do your job better.
It saves you time.
If you have people manually entering connect card information, imagine a world where that’s already done by simply filling the connect card out. Text In church offers 1-click integrations with Planning Center, Church Community Builder (CCB) and MailChimp (but you can also import your CSV files). This allows people to add themselves by texting a keyword and filling out your Smart Connect Card.
Creates a Better Guest Experience
Check your website analytics. How many people are first time visitors? My guess is at least 1/2 of them. That is a HUGE amount of people who are looking to get connected, and we have an opportunity to remove barriers.
Right on your landing page, you can add a “Plan Your Visit” section that immediately captures their information and enables you (or your lead pastor) to both text and email them info about your church and your services.
When a stranger comes to your home (say a new neighbor), you want them to feel as comfortable as possible. You tell them what they do / do not need to bring, whether it’s casual or more formal, how long it will be, what the kids will be doing while you hang out, etc…if we do this in our homes, we should also be doing this in our churches.
Create a connection. Set expectations. Follow through.
Automates Your Workflow
Those aren’t sexy words, I know. But listen. How many times have you skipped steps with follow up? Or didn’t know how to create a drip campaign (or frankly didn’t even have time to)? Text In Church has already created a proven 6 week follow up plan, and all you have to do is execute it.
PS did you catch that it’s automated? Done and done.
Let’s go back to the beginning. If you want a response, you’re texting someone. The ability to engage over text message improves your engagement drastically. Increase serving, attendance, and follow through all because you’re meeting people where they already are.
Before the fall gets crazy and you’re in the weeds with guest follow up, just try it for free for 30 days. Tinker with the tools. Ask all the questions. CLICK HERE to get the deal.
Writing scripture by longhand was basically all those monks did all day, everyday. And they had to go super slowly, because can you imagine making a mistake? Plus, they were writing with quills and ink on parchment in poorly lit monasteries.
Those monks defined what it meant to dedicate their lives to God.
To put that theory into (limited) practice, I decided to do something similar. No, I didn’t take a vow of silence or start wearing sackcloths and shave my head. I did something else.
The Handwritten Bible
Last year, I started copying the Bible out by hand during my daily devotional time. Granted, it was with a ballpoint pen on a notepad while sitting comfortably in my air-conditioned home. But it’s still as close to I’ll ever be to a Franciscan monk.
Today, the Bible is available for free and always available online—which is a great thing. However, with this accessibility, it’s easier to take God’s word for granted.
Those old-school monks wrote the scriptures by hand because that was the only real way to spread God’s word back then. Literacy was limited and paper was expensive, so it was a real sacrifice to mark it down on paper.
I’m not going in order, because those first few books of the Old Testament aren’t the most riveting, to say the least. Instead, I’ve selected specific books, alternating between the Old & New Testaments.
And I’m not finished yet, because it takes a long time to write the Bible by hand. But here are the biblical books I’ve copied so far and some things I’ve learned along the way.
1. Handwriting is Slow
It took me about two years to read the entire Bible. But writing it out by hand is even slower. While reading, I could get through about three or four chapters per day. But it takes me an average of about three or four days to finish writing out one chapter by hand.
I pride myself on my legible handwriting and I’ve intentionally kept a slow pace to ensure that my penmanship isn’t compromised.
My hand also starts cramping up after about 20-30 minutes of writing. Because so much of my other writing is done digitally, my hands aren’t used to this kind of strain.
This slow pace has also helped to remind me how long the Bible is. Although it varies by translation, most Bibles have about 800,000 words. Most books are about 50,000 to 100,000 words. By comparison, the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy had about 450,000 words combined. Either way, that’s a lot of words.
2. The Time Makes You Think
When reading the Bible, it’s easier to glaze over certain words or phrases. I read fairly quickly and have certainly missed the finer points while reading through scripture. That’s less of a concern while copying every word down by hand. I don’t miss nearly as much.
In fact, I’ve started having the opposite issue. Writing the Bible by hand has caused me to focus more on the individual words and sentences, rather than understanding the overall message of each book. I’ve started to lose the forest for the trees.
And I’ll admit that my mind starts to wander from time to time—especially while copying down those long lists of hard-to-pronounce names and places. There are certain parts of the Bible that are more captivating than others. Staying focused takes discipline.
3. Biblical Grammar is Weird
Part of my day job is as an editor. Plus, I graduated college with degrees in journalism and English. Words are kind of my thing. As such, some of the strange phrasing and sentence structure of the Bible has begun to stick out to me.
For instance, there are a lot of run-on sentences in the Bible. This probably has something to do with the text being over two millennia old and translated from a few different ancient languages. My proverbial hat is off to the modern day translators—but the sentences are still a little long winded.
Part of the issue is also probably that I’m used to writing short, to-the-point blog posts. While the Bible is a lengthy religious text written in a time before public education. It’s a different kind of writing than a modern audience (myself included) is accustomed to.
So I’m probably reading too much into it. But I now better understand Eugene Peterson’s motivation for updating something phrasing with his Message translation.
4. Inspiration Isn’t Automatic
To be honest, this practice hasn’t yielded the results I expected. I was hoping to grow intimately closer with God as a result of writing out his words. But there are times that I treat this time more like a homework assignment—something to get finished a move on with my life.
There is certainly something to be said of the discipline that it takes to sit down and write that long by hand on a daily basis. It’s a habit that’s helped to keep my mind focused on God and remind me of the Bible’s daily relevance. But that’s clearer some days than others.
You can’t expect to do anything spiritual and expect that it will automatically connect you with God. That includes prayer, church attendance, and tithing. God deserves our time and attention.
In other words, just acting like a monk does not make you as holy as one.
Have you ever tried writing out Biblical passages by hand?
If you have customers or followers, you should have an email marketing campaign. While you can tailor your campaign to be as rigorous as you’d like, the one thing you’ll want is a done-for-you email marketing platform.
In this article, we’ll compare 3 popular email marketing platforms for small- and medium-sized organizations.
Choosing your platform is overwhelming choice. Take comfort: for most email marketing objectives any of these tools will work effectively. They’re made intuitively and fully automated and have great templates. And yet, you still need to decide which platform will work best for your organization.
Consider these elements when choosing an email platform:
Fit: Which “feels” right to you? Are the initial steps intuitive? Every platform is built differently, and even changes like layout and color can impact your ease of use.
Automation: What kind of campaigns might you run? Check out how each tool automates and whether or not it will fit your needs.
Pricing: Consider your budget. While each of these tools offers a free trial, not all trails include every feature.
Taking these elements into consideration, we’ll compare Constant Contact, Mailchimp and Drip.
Beginner-friendly | Best Support | Online Training
Constant Contact is great for beginners. The elements of an email marketing strategy are literally at your fingertips, and very easily accessed: contacts and lists, templates, marketing calendar, etc.
As technology advances and social media becomes standard practice, built-in media sharing tools and Facebook ads integration become critical pieces of the marketing puzzle. Constant Contact has you covered on those fronts.
COST: Constant Contact offers a 60-day free trial, after which pricing starts as low as $20/month.
Pro Tip: Don’t register before your search for promo codes. CC will sometimes partner with publications and offer discounts.
One of the most recognizable names in the email service provider industry is Mailchimp. In fact, with their recent release of an all-in-one marketing platform, they’re expected to earn $700M in 2019.
Skyrocketing to fame with its forever free plan in 2009, Mailchimp allows you to send 12,000 emails for up to 2,000 subscribers, all at no cost. Of course, there are additional plans at varying rates, but for a smaller business with a modest contact list, this is an easy start with low commitment.
A great feature offered is Send Time Optimization, which gives you the option of having Mailchimp, based on their algorithms and know-how, determine the best time to send your email to optimize “opens.”
Mailchimp isn’t known for its strong customer support, though it is available, and more readily as you beef up your plan.
COST: In addition to the free plan, Mailchimp offers a plan that includes unlimited emails and accounts, with pricing starting as low as $10/month. For $99 a year Mailchimp offers a custom domain.
If you have an ecommerce website or conduct a high volume of sales online, Drip might be for you.
With Drip’s powerful features that allow subscribers to personalize and automate their email marketing, many well-known digital marketers use this impressive tool. The sophisticated email segmenting is a draw for large companies, as well as the list groups and the visual workflow builder. As some might say, Drip is on another level.
Because Drip is more advanced than other platforms, it can also seem confusing. Thankfully they offer a variety of assistance, from live chat to Implementation Services to an Intro to Drip course.
Cost: Drip offers a free account for up to 100 subscribers, then plans start at $49.
To help you choose which tool fits your needs, the website for each platform will show demos and views of the user interface. This information might be a tipping point that helps you decide on your preferred tool. Browse their site and see if the customer service experience fits your needs, and ask through social media which tool your friends and colleagues like.
With the brilliance of each platform, any choice will give you a great start on your email marketing campaign or take you to the next level of customer engagement.
Have you used any of these platforms? Leave us a comment and share your experience.
A great way to show to members of your church the opportunities where they can serve is to tour them around the church and show them each ministry in action.
Here are some ideas on how to provide these Serving Opportunities Tours to your New Volunteers:
1. You could establish a New Serve or New Volunteer Team. This could be a staff or volunteer-led team. This team could be responsible for assimilating all new members of your church into a serving opportunity.
2. Be sure to schedule these tours soon after your Church Membership Class. You don’t want to leave to much time between them joining your church and when you start plugging them in to serve.
3. Schedule your Serving Opportunities Tours during a prime time where attendees can see each ministry area in action. It’s important for them to get a good idea of what serving in a particular ministry area would be like.
4. Have passionate Hosts for the Tour and for each ministry area. You want your Tour Guide to be outgoing, bubbly, and fun. They need to be passionate about seeing people serve in your church. Also have a designated person in each ministry area that could meet with the tour group as they come by. Have them spend a very brief time sharing the vision of their ministry area and what serving opportunities are available.
5. Respect their time. You want these tours to visit as many ministry areas as you can, but don’t keep them there all day. Thirty minutes to an hour is plenty of time for these tours.
6. Sign them up and follow up! It’s good to ‘strike while the iron’s hot’ and have them sign up for a ministry area before they leave. Don’t give them an excuse to back out. Encourage them to go ahead and plug in! Be sure to follow up that week to make sure they are clear on their next step.
7. Make sure each ministry area has a good system for plugging new volunteers into their pipeline. You can use tools like Fellowship One or The City to make sure volunteers are being scheduled on a regular basis to serve.
These ideas can apply to your Media Production Team or all ministry areas in your church.
For more ideas on how to Transform the Volunteer Culture at your church, check out:
The church technology ministries around the world are in a beautiful place within the Church because they get the chance to serve with a level of humility and sacrifice that I rarely see elsewhere. The ministry is designed so that if you do everything right, you never notice we are there, but without us, hundreds and thousands will not hear the message being brought from your church. This servant heart is from our desire to support the Church in areas where we see lacking because we want the Gospel preached to all ends of the earth.
Techies stand in the back of the church making sure everything is pitch perfect while more consistently than not, getting glared at by an old woman for not turning up her granddaughter on the piano.
Church communication staff look at the message being presented every week and how it is impacting the congregation and community, responding directly to the tough questions online.
Creatives show the beauty in God through the stage and church production but battle budgets and costs.
But missing in all of this is the soul and care for church tech ministries. We are constantly looking to improve our craft with the last social media platforms, investigating how to use Photoshop in innovative ways, and watch every Apple or Google event between New Year’s and Christmas.
But what does your ministry do for your soul?
I found a huge gap with soul care in my own personal experience with church tech and later found my experience was far from unique. In fact, do some research and outside of one book by Jonathan Malm, you’ll find that devotionals for church techs and creatives lacking. Which is scary since we are in the trenches with the most important story the world has ever known and the only thing that could stop it is us. We need to do more.
A ministry concept that directly applies here is that it is impossible to be able to pour out into others through your ministry if you have not been invested in yourself. And who better to connect with in a personal discipleship or small/life group than your tech team?
If we are asked tough questions about hot button issues on the church blog, do we wait until the senior pastor can address it within their busy schedule or respond ourselves? If we do it ourselves, but have not invested in ourselves, will we address it fully and without hesitation? See how this is starting to be a concern?
I wanted to take this issue of lacking soul care within church technology one step further with a devotional that spoke directly to the heart of a techy. Rebuilding goes through the whole book of Nehemiah, pulling out the leadership and servant spirit that the man embodies as he restores Jerusalem with faithfulness and passion we see in the hearts of those who run sound, cameras, stage design, and digital communications.
It’s designed to be done individually or as a team, I prefer the latter. More so, we don’t want cost to be a barrier for you, so we give you a whole church license that understands you are working with an already impossible budget. We hope it is a blessing to you, but that you can be a blessing to your team and them to your congregation and community. Because that is what this is ultimately about.
TROLLS. We all have them, and some of us have even been them. The line between a negative comment and having a troll on your hands can be subjective, but here are 3 things to keep in mind with both.
Every negative comment or review is an opportunity to engage.
You’ve heard the phrase, “Hurting people hurt people”. This applies to internet people too (because trolls are people too). Whenever I encounter a visceral response or harsh comment, I wonder what experience this person had in their past that triggered that type of response. What hurt in their past is leaking out sideways? We don’t usually lash out for no reason, there’s almost always a deep seeded hurt that produces it.
And this is where we get to be the church. We get to take negativity and respond with grace and truth. Jesus has already told us how to address internet trolls when he said,
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.” – Matthew 5:38-40
I cannot think of a better example of how to apply this to our lives right now than responding to negative comments with kindness and compassion. Be less focused on controlling the conversation and what people say, and more focused on being kind and compassionate.
Discern the difference between a person seeking restoration and person seeking an argument.
Always always always respond publicly to the person who is seeking restoration (even if it leeks sideways). But if a person is posing a pointed question to trap you in an argument, you do not have to handle that one publicly. Take it offline. Offer to meet with them, or talk to them on the phone.
Proverbs has a lot to say about this kind of character. Proverbs 26:4 says, “Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools, or you will become as foolish as they are.” And Proverbs 18:2-3 says, “Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.”
It is still a chance to engage, to let the person know you are willing and available to answer if they are seeking understanding. But it is also a chance to demonstrate wisdom and discernment in not responding to a foolish argument.
Negative comments and reviews are an opportunity to grow.
I recently saw a negative comment on a Zingermans Deli post about a negative experience. Not only did Zingermans respond publicly, they also publicly went above and beyond to make it right. This person went from a negative relationship to a loyal one; all because of the power of handling a negative review appropriately.
We can’t be everywhere at once, and we can’t make everything perfect for everyone. But we can put our best foot forward and repair what we can with what we have.
How can you use negative comments and negative reviews to repair the relationship between your audience and your church?
Your email list gives you access unlike any other form of media. If you can convince the recipient to open the email (1 click) then you have complete control over what is communicated.
Your website gives you complete control of your content, but often takes multiple clicks, or typing in the address bar to get them from a blank browser to your information.
Social media could mean that people see your information without any additional clicks if it shows up in their timeline, but you have very little control over who will see it and when – you’re at the mercy of Twitter or Instagram’s never-ending timeline, or Facebook ever-changing algorithms.
Think about it, how often do you wake up, grab your phone and go through your inbox? This is a direct way to reach people, and if someone has a habit of checking later, your email is still in that inbox.
So knowing that email gives you the best combination of control and content, how can you make the most of your email list?
1) Use a program intended for mass emails:
I recommend a free account from Mailchimp (affiliate link) but there are some other great options like Constant Contact, or Sendee or some that would integrate with your CRM.
An email newsletter program is important for a few reason:
It will manage ‘unsubscribed’ addresses – if you’re making a habit of copying and pasting in your BCC field, someone is going to ask to be taken off the list, you’re going to forget, and that’s going to be annoying for them, and discouraging when you get the “I’ve asked you to take me off your list 3 times…” email.
You can send images and text setup like a web page with buttons to click, images and text – way more engaging than just text, and will automatically format for mobile screens.
You can track open rates, how many people click and how many people unsubscribe to learn what works and what you can adjust.
It will allow you to schedule an email in advance… you don’t want to wake up every Saturday morning and write your church’s email newsletter, so you can write it during the week, then schedule it for a certain day at a certain time.
You can use merge tags (like inserting each recipient’s first name into the email newsletter)
2) Make a habit of sending a regular email newsletter:
This could be weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly, but get people in the habit of looking for and opening your email. Ours goes out on Saturdays – fewer business emails, higher open rates. (According to this impromptu trial with unseminary, 57% of churches who moved their emails to Saturday saw an increase in attendance.)
3) Send out emails outside of your usual schedule:
We do an email usually once a month called “Coffee with Pastor Ryan” where we take a 3-4 minute video of our Lead Pastor sitting at starbucks and drinking a coffee while talking about what’s going on and coming up at Life Church. We put a screenshot in Mailchimp, then link it to the video on Facebook or youtube.
I use the subject link “Would you be able to have coffee with Pastor Ryan today?” or “Do you have 5 minutes for coffee with Pastor Ryan?”
Last week, I created an online survey, and then sent it out from our email newsletter. I used a merge tag to say “Hey , can you help me with a couple of questions?” and made my email the ‘from’ address.
I’ve found that changing things up keeps people curious as to what the content will be, though they know that the Saturday emails are a list of what’s happening on our calendar in the following week.
4) Have a clear goal for your email newsletter:
What is the purpose of your email newsletter? Who is likely to read it? What information are they looking for? What itch does it scratch?
For us, we found that fewer and fewer people were taking a bulletin (even if handed to them) and then of the ones that were taken, a high portion of them were being left behind when people went home. Based on the cost of printing, the time it takes to organize the info, design, proof, print, cut, fold and the waste, I started exploring other options.
It was about 18 months ago that I sent our first email newsletter and built it into my weekly schedule. The purpose of the email newsletter was to let people know everything that was public coming up in the next 7 days – for example, it includes every Life Group happening that week with date and time, but doesn’t include worship rehearsal because that’s not open invite. It would include the “Join the Ushers” party but doesn’t include staff meetings.
I would then include “Big Picture” items coming up – baptisms, new members classes, a new series, or an upcoming event as the header of the email.
Slowly we found that even fewer bulletins were being handed out, and more people would notice when we missed an email newsletter (yep, it happened. I actually had a neighbor come to me that week and ask if I could resend it because he “couldn’t find his” and it’s his reminder for his Life Group that happens every-other week.)
My goal was to eventually create dependance on the weekly email newsletter and remove dependance on the bulletin. Last week I sent out a communications survey and asked 6 questions about how people find out about events and where they look for more information – one of the questions included the respondent’s age bracket.. We found that over 60% find out what’s coming up from our email newsletter, and another 20 said they use it as a secondary source to find information. Only 2% said they find out from the bulletin.
In light of the time involved, we decided last week (after 18 months of the newsletter) to stop printing the bulletin and once a month create a paper handout to talk about that one “Big Picture” item.
5) Create a system to collect email addresses:
We started out by creating a list of people who have been involved at our church in the last 6 months (attended, given or served) as a starting point for our email newsletter. Whenever someone interacts with us in a way that involves their email, they email gets added to our mailchimp list. This includes if they sign up for an event, visit youth, fill out a connection card, sign up to join our kids team, register their kids for class, etc.
We also have a spot on the iPads on our welcome center where people can subscribe, and we talk about it at least once a month in our service announcements, not only to invite people who haven’t yet subscribed, but also to remind people who have subscribed to watch for it.
Overall, we’ve found that email is one of the most effective ways for us to communicate. I’m confident if you include these 5 ways, you’ll find the same.
This article was originally published on That Church Conference Blog
Full disclosure: I’m more of a pastor than a techie. Don’t get me wrong – I love all aspects of using media to create experiences where people grow closer to Jesus. I love computers, cameras, lighting, audio, sets, switchers, and other production gear. But my passion is people.
So I’m coming at this topic fully knowing that I’m biased, but I do believe wholeheartedly that you can have all the production gear in the world and all the best toys, but it’s all for naught if you don’t consider people. If you don’t invest in both the audience you’re creating your experience for and the volunteers and staff that help you execute your experience, in church world, I believe you’re missing the point.
With that in mind I’d like to submit to you the one thing, that if you focus on, I promise your team will grow more than you ever thought possible: people.
As a Church Media Director, I could get so wrapped up on Sunday’s with the details of the service- how transitions went, how camera shots looked, whether we hit that guitar solo, if lyrics were late, if the videos fired correctly, and on and on… that I didn’t step back enough to minister to my team and those around me.
Here are 5 easy ways you can be intentional about pouring into people:
Pray for your Team Members by name.
Reserve one day a week where you take a volunteer to lunch to talk about what God is doing in their life.
Write one note (a physical note or that you mail, not an e-mail or text) a day telling one team member how glad you are they are on your team and that you are praying for them.
Reserve one night a month where you and your spouse invite another couple or a few members of your team over to your house to hang out.
Spend 10 minutes a day on Facebook and learn about the lives of your volunteers. Be sure to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and other life moments.
These are just five simple ways you can put pastoring your people over your process.
I’ve recorded several podcast episodes on the topic of focusing on people and growing your Volunteer Team. For more free training, check out those episodes here.
Sometimes running a church can feel like living paycheck to paycheck. All of your efforts constantly go into keeping everything functioning on a week to week basis.
The truth is, though, operating on a weekly, monthly, or even seasonal schedule can be pretty inefficient.
It all but guarantees that you’ll be doing things in a haphazard, stressed out manner, which can have a pretty serious effect on the quality of your Sunday services. On top of that, it can also lead to missed ministry opportunities on a regular basis as you and your team struggle to keep your heads above the water.
With that in mind, I’ve come up with a road map to help pastors and ministry leaders, in general, think beyond the next month or two.
This article will help guide you through the fall kick off and on an into the rest of the year that follows. The goal is to provide you with the opportunity to think things through, come up with a game plan, and then decide how to implement it in the best way possible.
Phase 1 – Plan your work
This first phase can be the most intimidating. It’s hard to look at a whole fifty-two weeks and think “what are we going to do to fill this many weeks up?”
Seriously, just the thought that a pastor is going to somehow come up with over fifty full-length sermons in that time is already pretty impressive, let alone things like worship sets, mid-week Bible studies, outreaches, VBS programs, and so on.
Oh, the possibilities
The good news is, planning the year out isn’t something that a pastor needs to do all on his own. Coming up with the next year of events, activities, sermon topics, and so on can certainly be an activity that involves a larger portion of your ministry team.
I would start by gathering everyone up for a good old-fashioned brainstorming session. Make sure to identify important dates and events at the beginning of the session, and then do your best to mediate the discussion and keep the brainstorming focused on the topic at hand.
You may be surprised to see what ideas pop up. When they do, write them down to be revisited later.
Choosing the best options
Once you’ve got a good bank of potential ideas for the year ahead, it’s time to sort through them and choose what you actually want to try to accomplish as a ministry this upcoming year.
At this point, nothing is set in stone — and you always want to leave room for God to move — but as far as is possible, try to get a solid idea of what you reasonably can fit into the next twelve months.
Phase 2 – Work your plan
Next, you need to come up with an actionable approach to put your proposed plan into place.
Scheduling it all out
First, organize and outline your ministry’s proposed agenda.
I suggest using a free platform like Trello to help layout and organize everything in a visual way that’s accessible to your whole team.
Break things up into topics like “sermons,” “events,” and “promotion” and even things like “graphics and content.” Basically, categorize anything that will require work and timing to do correctly.
Plan your promotions
Once you have your plan laid out, it’s time to put things into motion. Don’t just wait for each event to creep up on you, plan the work out weeks and months in advance.
This includes promotions. If you need to create free church graphics for a fundraiser, make sure you have them ready early enough not just for the event, but to use in your promotions leading up to it, too.
Prep your online hub
Your website should be treated as the center of your operations throughout the year. Every promotional effort should point to it. Sermons should be uploaded to it each week. Event information and sign up forms should be housed there.
You get the idea.
In short, make sure that your website is running like a well-oiled machine before the year kicks off in earnest. I promise you won’t regret having a smooth running site to help keep everything orderly and updated as you go along.
The magic of planning ahead
Planning your ministry’s year ahead of time really does make a huge difference.
If you can manage to break out of the short term mindset in order to prepare your year’s activities, messages, sermons, and so on, you’re likely to find that you and your staff are less stressed and more efficient.
On top of the easing of pressure on your day to day operations, having a well-organized, thought out plan in place means your ministry is likely to have a much more effective year as each item in your agenda takes place smoothly, predictably, and on time.