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A clever and fairly inexpensive way to show your social media followers that you love them (and increase your reach at the same time), is to share a Starbucks Card on social media.
You may have seen churches like North Point and Newspring do this and wondered how they pull it off. We’ve done it before in Facebook groups to show appreciation for our community and conference ticket holders, and a few of you have asked how it’s done. So here’s some simple instructions on how to share a Starbucks card with your followers.
First, download the Starbucks app from the Apple Appstore or whatever marketplace you weirdos use on Android phones. For our example I’ll be showing screenshots from the iPhone app.
Open up the app and once you’re signed into your Starbucks account (create a free one if you don’t already have one), click on “Gift” at the top of the app.
This is where you’ll choose a gift card to purchase.
It doesn’t matter too much which design you choose, but probably best to go with one of the generic “thank you” cards.
If you’ll be sharing the card on a certain holiday – pick a design that goes with the holiday.
In the end, all you’ll need is the barcode that is generated.
Once you choose the card you’re going to use, fill out the required info on the next screen.
Enter your own email address as the recipient, and go ahead and skip the message part.
For now, just choose $20 to load onto it. I’ll explain more about the amount and why in a minute.
Setup a credit card for the purchase.
Then hit send.
Check your email. You should get 3…
One is your receipt. Forward it to the nerds in accounting and be sure to tell them it’s a marketing expense and not a food expense.
One email tells you that the gift card has been delivered to your recipient (in this case, you).
And the last email is the e-gift card – this is the email you’ll need to open next.
Psst… this is a real card. We’ve loaded it with $20. First come, first served. Go try it out!
Once you open the email, click “Redeem my eGift now.”
This will open up the e-gift card with a large barcode.
Take a screenshot of that screen. (On an iPhone press the home button and the power button at the same time to take a screenshot)
It’s best to crop the image to make it look nicer, just don’t edit out the barcode.
However, you DO want to edit out the card number and PIN. This way no one can add it to their Starbucks account and theoretically take everything. (See the PRO TIP below!)
Next, take the image and share it on Facebook, or Twitter, Instagram, etc.
People will be able to pull up the image on their phone and use it at Starbucks to pay for their order just like it was their own card. They can display it right there in the post, or they can save the image and use it that way. (Don’t believe me – grab the image of the card in this post and go try it out!)
Generous people who want to pay it forward can also scan it at Starbucks and add more funds to the card.
How much money should I add to the card?
I suggest $20 because that’s enough to cover any single order, but it’s not enough for someone to abuse the system and buy one of those really cool home espresso machines.
PRO TIP: Using the card number and PIN from the email, add the gift card as one of your cards in the Starbucks app. Then underneath that card, click on “Manage” and set the “Auto Reload” to $10. Now whenever the card empties, it will automatically add another $10 and no one has to worry about pulling up to Starbucks and the card doesn’t work.
Know your budget and watch the card balance. Once you come close to your budget, shut off Auto Reload and the card will be done once the money runs out (unless some Good Samaritan fills it back up for you!). You can spend $20, $50, $100, $500… it’s up to you.
What do I say when I post it?
Some people will think this is shady, or fake. Some people won’t be familiar with the Starbucks app and they’ll be confused. So it’s probably best to explain a bit how it works.
Probably most important is to mention that the card is “first come, first served.” People need to know the risk that if they’re late to the game, the card may be empty and they’ll be stuck at the register with a card that doesn’t work. This has never been an issue for us, so long as you post the disclaimer.
You can also ask people to pay it forward and add their own funds to the card.
Here’s an example of what you might post with the image:
Got a case of the Mondays? How about a free coffee on us? Scan this barcode at your local Starbucks to pay for your order. First come, first served until it runs out… unless you’re feeling generous, then go ahead and #payitforward by adding more funds to it. Just our way of saying we love you! ?
BONUS TIP: Try it with Chick-Fil-A and Other Restaurants
Any restaurant that has an app or e-gift cards that let you simply scan a barcode on your phone to pay will work. We’ve done this with Chick-Fil-A and it worked just as easily.
Go try it today – show your followers you love them. I pray that people will share your post and someone who doesn’t go to your church will see your random act of kindness and find God’s grace because of it.
I’d love to hear about your experience and how this worked for you. Let me know in the comments.
There are 3 concepts that I’ve seen confused in the communications world. Sometimes they’re used interchangeably and sometimes they’re not used at all. I’ve found that the most effective communication strategies, whether in church or in business, come from teams who have figured out how to distinguish them.
Here’s how I would define and describe these 3 categories: Branding, Marketing and Advertising. (Side note: I’m not suggesting these are universally true definitions – like straight of our Websters Dictionary – but for me, this is how I describe these concepts in a distinguishable way)
A representation of your core values. These are the ‘soft’ (intangible) concepts that make your church unique. Often these are called your core values – maybe the presence of God, relationships, scripture, missions, community, joy, professionalism, excellence, etc.) This the what you want people to think about your church after they’ve experienced it.
Branding is like the center of your target – the bullseye. Without this, how would you know where to aim?
How you live out or create an experience that lets people recognize what your branding is. It’s the next ring in your target that points people to your branding (values).
If your branding is that you value scripture, then your marketing may be that you have scripture decals on the walls of your entrance area, or that you have a daily bible reading guide in your bulletin.
If your brand is that you value relationships, then your marketing may be that you have a monthly potluck, or that you have small groups, or your church coffee shop has lots of tables to sit and build relationships.
if your brand is prayer, then your marketing may be that you have prayer meetings through the week at church, that you send out a weekly email with prayer requests or that when someone arrives in the parking lot team, your parking lot attendants ask if they need prayer for anything and stop what they’re doing to pray together.
These are just examples, but if someone comes to your church, how is their experience going to leave them with the impression of your core values?
Letting people know what to expect from your marketing and how that points back to your branding.
So if your branding is that you are a professional church, then your marketing could be that you have a set start and end time that you always hit, and your advertising could be, “We’re a church that matches your schedule” – maybe you even advertise your start and end time, rather than just your service start times.
If your branding is that you are a loving church, and your marketing is that you have a monthly potluck, then your advertising could be letting others know about your potluck.
WHY does this matter?
Consistency builds trust. If you are consistent with your values, and people are able to experience that in your marketing and advertising, then you will build trust, or what I like to call TrustGlue. Trust is a glue that makes people stick around (specifically important for first-time visitors).
Every interaction someone has with your church will either build trust, or erode trust. If someone has been coming to your church for a long them, their trust is less likely to erode, but if someone is at your church for the first time, their first impression will either create TrustGlue that sticks, or they simply won’t be back.
Year-end giving is often underestimated, but did you know that 20% of annual giving occurs in the month of December? And a large portion of that giving happens in just the last 3 days.
Data shows that people are excited and ready to give the last 3 days of the year, so let’s help them do just that.
HERE ARE 3 PRACTICAL TIPS FOR YEAR-END GIVING:
Start with Scripture
Allow the Bible to teach and the Holy Spirit to lead. Jesus had a lot to say about generosity, and so should we. Any instruction that we give should always come directly from the Bible, ”For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”
Frame the Ask Around Vision
People give to vision. People give to things that are tangible and real. Go beyond the “give to keep the lights on” mentality, and create a goal for generosity centered around your community. When we have the opportunity to change someone’s life, it often changes ours too. Make space for that life change through your year end campaign.
Here are some quick ideas for external generosity projects:
300 christmas dinners to the local food bank
Adopt a local family, and bring Christmas to them
Purchase a playset for a local elementary school
Buy a car for someone in need
Pay a month’s worth of bills for a local family
Tell Stories Tied to Your Vision
If vision draws people in, stories are what moves them. Whatever vision you have cast, share the story of who will be or has been impacted by the generosity of year-end giving.
As church leaders, we get to hear the exciting stories of life change every day. We get to see the faces and hear the heartbeat of people moved by God through the churches generosity. Bring that heartbeat to your vision of generosity.
Make It Easy
Have a mobile first strategy in place. Whether it’s an app like Tithe.ly, a custom built app, or simply an option on your website, give people the ability to give in the moment or outside of the church building. There are a lot of roadblocks when it comes to giving, and the lack of ability shouldn’t be one of them.
But what if it’s too last minute to do any of those things?
No worries! If you can’t manage an entire campaign centered around a vision and mobile giving, then you at least have an online giving option available via your website; and if you need help, Tithe.ly will do it for you. For free.
Most church conflict is not about worship styles, theological affiliations, or carpet color. Most church fights are about metaphors.
Everyone has an operating metaphor for what the church is supposed to be. Some think it should be a cruise ship, where the staff offer stellar customer service and glittering performances. Some expect it to be a classroom, whose primary purpose is to instill a hearty theology in the minds of the students. More than a few want a circle of wagons that keep them safe from the evils of post-Christian culture. Some just want a punch clock that they use at Christmas and Easter to check in. Whatever the preferred analogy, most people have one, and that frames all of their expectations for the church. Nothing is more disorienting than a new pastor who comes to town with a fresh, vision-inspiring metaphor that isn’t the one the last pastor preached.
One of the biggest conflicts in churches in the 20th century came when a few pioneering leaders sought to turn the classroom-church into a theater. It required little structural revision – there were already a bunch of seats aimed at a stage. The teacher simply needed to be replaced with a performer, and the students had to morph into spectators. Rock-hard truth was replaced with Eden’s-apple enticement, but hearts were won over all the same. Every metaphor has its weaknesses, including the theater, but it’s now a matter of ecclesiastical history that new life came to hundreds of congregations in the latter half of the 20th century because of a shift in metaphors.
It worked. People loved it. Young people returned to church. And dozens of pastors lost their jobs trying to lead a paradigm shift from one metaphor to the next. The “worship wars” were a mess of metaphors.
There are also metaphors that pastors use for themselves, and metaphors that congregants expect their pastors to live up to. Some are shepherds and others are CEOs. Many are self-styled teachers and a few are intentional entertainers. When I visited a church and watched the pulpit literally rise out of the stage into the artificial fog, I had a pretty good sense someone thought himself a rock star. Some pastors are nurses and some are artists. Again, there is no single calling prescribed for all ministers, but the minister had better be pretty clear about what is intended and what is expected. Miss-matched metaphors contribute to short tenures.
Every serious church leader and leadership team needs to have prolonged conversations about the metaphors that reign in their particular church. Identifying and assessing the prominent visions is an essential first step to following after God’s call. It’s hard to point towards the Promised Land when no one thinks they’re in Egypt. This should be a congregation-wide conversation, and the ability to describe an ecclesiology metaphorically makes it easy to talk about vision. One pastor described his congregation as a boat sailing across the ocean, and every time a disgruntled sailor jumped overboard, the church’s responsibility was to go around in circles until that person was pulled back on board.
“What should I do about that?” he asked me.
“Tell them that that’s what you see,” I said.
Leaders then have the privilege of crafting new, life-giving, mission-inspiring metaphors that describe what the church is supposed to be. Perhaps it’s a life raft or a kingdom under construction, but any of a number of purposeful visions can inspire new life in a church. It’s simply critical that the church has an operating vision and a metaphor that sums it up.
Over the last several months I have learned a great deal about Church communications and the importance of strategic thinking and process in maintaining a consistent and mission-focused voice for our churches.
As a person who loves data, routine, and schedules, the idea of developing a plan with a repeatable process is very appealing to me. It just makes sense. However, as I begin to bring this plan to my staff, I must try to remember that it will not be the process that brings people to the Church, it will be the relationships created with people that demonstrate our love for each other and for Christ that will attract people to us.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Process won’t bring people to Church. Relationships that demonstrate love for each other will.” quote=”Process won’t bring people to Church. Relationships that demonstrate love for each other will.”]
Ultimately, God is in control here, not me. It is his plan and his purpose that prevails in all things. Yes, communications plans are important, but when I am not showing grace when implementing it, then it becomes a hindrance to the purpose of the plan in the first place.
What do I mean by this?
As a Communications Director my main goal is to convey the mission of our church and how we are working toward it to both our congregation and to the world around us. I do this, in part, by sharing stories, activity notices, and strive to connect others to share their own stories through social media. I am actively asking members, staff, and our online community to share, to comment, to connect. I have a ‘process’ for this- a form, with a deadline, and criteria.
So what happens if someone doesn’t follow the process?
How do I respond when someone doesn’t follow ‘my’ plan? Well, I could get angry or let my pride get in the way. I could send a short email with the form link and be done with it. Or, wanting to be a ‘People Pleaser,’ I can completely ignore the process I am working to implement and say, “Oh sure, I will stay up late, work extra hours, and create that graphic, send that email, post that event..no problem.” But I don’t think either of these bring about positive results.
So what is the answer?
I think the answer is grace. When I get a request that is ‘out of process’, I sit back and try to figure out what is really needed. Is what the person asking me to do 1)necessary 2)practical 3)going to hinder another announcement’s effectiveness 4)can I accomodate this request in another way? Once I answer these questions, I am ready to respond. Sometimes this means I send the link to the form and tell them that, once submitted, I can add to the calendar. Other times, I come up with a different strategy that will be more effective for their purpose and share this strategy with them (along with a link to the form.) And every now and then, I work a little later, make that graphic, and post that event.
Why? Because grace.
The same grace that God gave me and continues to give me when I haven’t stuck to his plan, when I run in and say, “God, I know it’s last minute but I am in trouble here….Help!” — That same grace that some of these very people I work with show me over and over again- when I send out the email with the wrong date, or forget to check the link on the sign up post. The same grace the #chsocm and #churchcomm communities have shown me when I ask the ‘rookie’ questions. (I do finally know what ROI is, thank you.)
The biggest thing I want to communicate as a Church Communications director is grace. I do this by making sure I am putting the people around me ahead of my process.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Put the people around you ahead of the process.” quote=”Put the people around you ahead of the process.”]
In the end, when we share grace with those with whom we work, that pours out into our interactions with our congregations and our communities. It is what will distinguish us from the rest of the world and, hopefully, it will be what attracts others to us.
Not the promo, not the process…the people of grace.
Church Tech guy. Sorry if I’m the first to tell you this: your job is hard. We can always upgrade cameras, or video switchers, or PA systems. But no matter how high-tech a church’s gear becomes, no matter how the desire for high-quality product becomes, there’s one asset the church cannot buy: Volunteers.
Church, whether in Digital, Online, Live Production, Creative, Communications…. volunteers are the life-blood of our ministry. No matter the gear, if volunteers are not led well, quality will suffer. Before major upgrades and improvements happen at the equipment level, ask yourself: how is the volunteer culture in your departments.
To that end, Church, in order to create an effective volunteer culture, we need to lead our technical volunteers technically, personally, and spiritually.
Technically: Our volunteers serve in the technical arena. Just as culture challenges us with change, we should challenge our volunteers to grow and develop their skills! Even better, give empowerment to the volunteer to challenge your understanding and stretch your church’s capacity. Remember, gear only gets you so far. Understanding technique takes your to a whole other level.
Personally: Leading volunteers is more than just technical, though. Volunteers need to know that people care for them. They need to know that you’re emotionally invested in them. Take the time to know your team members. Gather them together. Learn their kids names, and their occupation. What emotionally challenges them? By doing this, you’ll find yourself creating community. Caring for the individual creates a bond, a trust between you and the volunteer. This will pay off big time down the road as your team realizes you care for them more than just a button pusher/mouse clicker/stick mover.
Spiritually: This is so often forgotten, or dismissed, due to time constraints. Take the time to lead the volunteer spiritually. What are the spiritual ramifications of their service? How did God use that service for the benefit of His Kingdom? Celebrate the life-change that happens as a result of the technology. Remind them of their spiritual act of worship thru serving. Pray with them. Disciple them. Help them grow deeper in their understanding of who God is. If you want to see people who are sold out for serving in technical areas, show them how God uses their technical gifts for His purposes.
To reach volunteers effectively, you need all three levels. Tech Volunteers need to be challenged technically, nurtured personally, and nourished spiritually.
This now famous phrase essentially meant that organized religion helps ease the ailments of mankind. However, it also serves to dull the senses and distract from the harsh realities of the world. It’s a drug that has the capacity to both help and harm.
Marx allegedly first expressed that sentiment in back 1843. A few things have changed since then.
One way or another, we are a society that is high on entertainment. We crave it deeply. And it’s given to us in abundance. Entertainment shapes our views and sets our values. It’s filling a hole meant for something else.
What This Means For Religion
Religion has been dethroned by Entertainment as the subject of mass attention. Where people once relied on God, they now depend on a solid wifi connection. So what impact does that have on organized religion? And on the church specifically?
For starters, it means the church isn’t competing with other churches for people’s attention. We aren’t even competing with other religions. We’re competing with Netflix and Facebook and Apple. And that can seem like a much more daunting task.
People are no longer fighting over religions—they’re largely ignoring them. To paraphrase another German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, God isn’t dead—just overlooked.
How Churches Can Matter Again
To overcome this, the church needs to remember that we shouldn’t have wanted to be the “opiate of the masses” in the first place. That quote was just a crutch rather than a solution.
Instead, the church should seek to be the nourishment of the masses—a resource that people actively seek, appreciate, understand and need for survival. We should provide people with valuable sustenance they desire, not an empty drug that they crave.
In fact, the more people become addicted to the opiate of Entertainment, the more they need the Church. Like any drug, entertainment leaves you feeling empty and wanting more. Only Christ can fill that emptiness. Only God can cure our internal ailments.
People are addicted. The Church has the cure. We just have to convince people it’s worth being cured. And this can only be accomplished through authentic relationships.
In a world where entertainment is cheap, real connections are invaluable. The sooner people start realizing that, the sooner the church will become a sustainable force in our culture.
Getting People’s Attention
In the meantime, how can the church reach people who are more interested in Angry Birds and Candy Crush? How can we reach a younger generation that has inherited such a low opinion of organized religion. Here’s some ideas on how to bridge that gap:
Speak their language. Understand the technology they’re using. And then use it to communicate with them on their level.
Know the struggle. Learn what challenges face our entertainment-obsessed culture. People have tons of issues; they may just not be willing to share them openly.
Give value. Provide people with a solution to these problems. Create a safe space that they can heal from the wounds of an addiction to entertainment.
Have fun. One of the church’s inherent problems is our seriousness bordering on somberness. Not that religion isn’t serious, but it can also be enjoyable.
Be real. Don’t try to play the same game as entertainment. The only sake of entertainment is more attention. The sake of the church is to help people. Never forget that.
Christianity can be more than a distraction from life—it can make it more meaningful. Instead of the drug, the church can be the cure. All it takes is building authentic community and meaningful relationships with people.