If there was an opportunity to expand your ministry reach and connect with your church and community where they are during the week, would you take it?
There’s an opportunity in front of you that is still mostly untapped and is ripe with ministry potential. That opportunity is social media. We have all the tools in the toolbox that we need to reach more people than ever before. Now, we need to learn how to use these tools to expand your ministry reach. All it will take from you is investing a few minutes a day. I promise the return will be worth it.
To help you get started, here is a 7-day plan to walk you through what this could look like. Adjust however you’d like to fit your style, community, and culture.
Start off the week by connecting with people and asking how you can pray for them. If you have an experience you can briefly share that demonstrates the power of prayer in your life, share it! This is such an easy way to connect with people and hear the burdens they may be experiencing. As people comment, make sure to reply to their comment with a word of encouragement or to simply let them know you’re praying for them.
What’s a win that has happened recently within your church that you can celebrate? You could share a photo and story of someone who was recently baptized or that gave their lives to Christ. There could be a ministry that is experiencing growth and seeing lives changed. Think about some wins or stories that the average person may not know about in your church, and use this as an opportunity to share it!
Through this season in your life, what is God teaching you? Where have you seen God at work in your life recently? Share this from your heart, and end the post with a question that may spark some engagement by saying “What is God teaching you right now?” Get real and vulnerable. This is a great way to humanize yourself to people that are only used to seeing you on a stage behind a pulpit.
Share through video or text, a look at what you’re going to be sharing in your upcoming message. People love getting a behind the scenes look at something they’re going to experience. If there’s a key question or felt need that you’re going to be addressing in your message, share that! It’s a great way to build some anticipation for what is going to be taught in your message. There may even be an opportunity for you to get feedback, or stories, about a topic that you’re going to share. Ask for that feedback and see if you can work those examples into your message this week.
Is there an unsung hero at your church that you can highlight? Someone who faithfully serves behind the scenes, but may never get the credit they deserve? Snap a photo of them during the week and honor them through a post. This will be a huge encouragement to that volunteer, but will also be an opportunity to demonstrate how important volunteers are to your church.
Why are you excited about church tomorrow? Share that and invite people to join you. Yes, you should share your service times and maybe a web link to get directions to your church. But that’s not the only thing you should share. Here’s the key. Don’t make this just about the information. Make this about the why. As you write this post, target the person that may be on the fence about if they’re going to come to church tomorrow. Share the why, not just the what, and encourage people to bring someone with them. This is also another opportunity for you to share about the topic that you’re speaking about.
Take a few minutes after your services to jump on Facebook or Instagram Live to dive deeper into the application of your message that day. Share a brief recap of what you talked about in the message for the people that are watching on social media that weren’t at church that day. Then, take a moment to encourage people with how they can apply what they heard in the message. If there was a story or scripture that you didn’t have time to share during the service, share it here. This is one of the best opportunities for pastors to connect with people on social media right now.
How long should I spend on creating these posts?
I’d suggest blocking off 10-15 minutes a day to invest in this. Just remember, your job isn’t done after you hit post. Social media is a two-way conversation, not a one-way bullhorn. Make sure to take a few moments during the day to engage with any comments that are coming in.
How can I improve engagement?
Make these posts as visually engaging as you can. Use photos to bring them to life, or a simple graphics to drive home the message. There are some free resources out there for photos like pexels.com, unsplash.com, or pixabay.com. For graphics, you could use an application like canva.com.
What social platforms should I use?
Facebook is where I’d start. Instagram would be next.
Is there a way to plan ahead?
YES! You can schedule content on Facebook through HootSuite.com or Buffer.com. Write a few of the posts, and have them automatically posted when you specify. But, you can’t automate engagement. Engagement is manual, so make sure you’re carving out time to engage with the people that are engaging with you.
After I do the 7 day experiment, what’s next?
This 7 day experiment is designed to get you started and show you the ministry impact that social media can have. Don’t feel the pressure to post every day, but I would encourage you to be consistent in using social media to connect with your church and community.
What’s going to happen through this 7 day social media experiment? How could God use this? Let’s find out.
I’d love to hear any stories or feedback that happen as a result of you jumping in on this experiment. Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org]]>
The conversation starts innocently enough with a need to promote an upcoming event or ministry, but quickly turns into talking about tactics like “We need t-shirts, a billboard, a new logo, business cards, and pens!”
The rhythm most churches are in for promoting an event is:
Most conversations about promoting a ministry focus on the “what” before identifying the “why”.
When this happens, the communications team turns into a service department instead of a ministry.
This model is broken. What’s missing is that we need ministry leaders and communication leaders to partner together to more effectively communicate to the church.
Yes, we desperately need the vision, direction and expertise of the ministry leader to capture what they’re trying to accomplish through an event and to better understand the audience they’re trying to reach. However, we also need communication leaders to use their gifts to clarify that vision and effectively communicate it to your church.
It starts by asking the right questions before assuming you have the right answers.
It starts by establishing a clear WHY before jumping to the WHAT.
Before you jump into promoting your next big thing, start the conversation by discussing these questions:
At the end of the day, what do you want to see happen? Every project should have a clear win and a goal that need to be accomplished. Is it awareness? Attendance? Sharing/inviting friends? Identifying what you need to accomplish will give the ministry leader an opportunity to share the vision and end result they are looking for.
Behind every project is a problem to solve. Often times, instead of identifying the problem to solve, we jump right to what we think is the solution (logos, SWAG, redesigns, videos, etc). If we can zero in on the problem to solve, the communications team now has a filter to run any ideas through to see if it would effectively solve that problem. Through this question, we learn what’s at stake if we don’t solve the problem.
Within every program, event, or new initiative, there are barriers that need to be overcome. There are barriers like: high cost of registration, taking a week off to attend, no childcare, complex instructions, confusing message, and long event length.
As communication leaders, it’s our role to help identify and remove barriers that keep people from taking their next step. It’s not always our role to “fix” the barriers, but our role to identify the barriers so that together we can be strategic about creating solutions for them.
Stop looking at your ministry as a service department, and start leading it as a ministry. Stop looking at your role solely as a promoter. Look at yourself as a partner with your church and ministry leaders. Stop jumping in on the last 10 percent of an event or program by just doing the marketing. Be an advocate for your audience, and partner with ministry leaders to help identify and remove barriers through the communication process.
Your audience will thank you.
1) You’re rushing to find your favorite Christmas album or playlist to get in the Christmas spirit, or 2) You’re already getting anxiety over how stressful the Christmas season will be.
No matter how you feel, we can all agree that Christmas provides a great opportunity for the church to connect and engage our congregations and communities.
What’s it going to take to reach more people at your church this year at Christmas?
It takes a plan.
Unfortunately, the typical church I talk with doesn’t start thinking about their Christmas plans until they get back in the office after Thanksgiving. That leaves little time to strategically communicate how people can worship with you at Christmas.
Think about it this way for promoting Christmas this year at your church….You can have it fast, cheap or great, but you can only pick two.
Some of the most successful promotional efforts I’ve executed with my church have been on less than $500. You can get further with a strategic plan on little or no budget than others might get with thousands.
Here are a few cheap or free ideas that you could use this year to promote Christmas.
Why should someone come to your Christmas service this year? If you had 15 seconds to answer that question for someone that was on the fence, how would you answer it?
Come up with a simple and clear elevator pitch for why someone should come to Christmas this year. Try out the elevator pitch on a few people who will give you honest feedback, and make adjustments till you land on something that is effective. Once you land on your elevator pitch, you now have the foundation of how you can communicate Christmas at your church through stage announcements, bulletins, social media and everything else you may use.
Approximately 65 percent of people are visual learners. That means that the visuals you use to communicate what’s happening at your church for Christmas are critical!
Don’t wait till the last minute to develop your Christmas graphics. Knock it out early so that you can have consistent visuals across all of your communication channels.
Need some resources to get you started? Here are a few resources to get you started.
GRAPHICS: CreativeMarket.com, GraceWayMedia.com, GraphicRiver.net, or CreationSwap.com.
PHOTOS: Unsplash.com, Pexels.com, Lightstock.com, Photodune.net, Pixabay.com
The people in your church want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Empower them with a compelling vision and goal that they can be part of. Don’t just settle for sharing your vision. Invite them into your vision through Christmas this year. Give them a clear call to action and share with them how they can be part of making it happen.
At West Ridge Church where I serve, we share that over 87 percent of our community is not connected to a church anywhere, but the overwhelming majority of people will come if someone simply invites them.
That provides a huge opportunity for us as a church to play a part in the life change that can happen in our community!
One of the most powerful resources you have in your church is the testimony of a changed life. Have someone in your church who gave their life to Christ during a Christmas service in the past? Know of someone who was invited by a friend and came for the first time at Christmas? Share those stories with your church! These can be through a testimony video, a social media post with a photo of the person, or someone sharing briefly in a service. These stories may be the most memorable thing you do to help share the vision of why Christmas matters for your church!
Make it easy for them to get the word out about what’s happening through Christmas this year through social media. Some practical ways you can do this are:
Last year, after the first service, we asked people to share their experience with their friends on social media and were blown away with how many people came for the first time later in the day after seeing what their friends posted!
Yard signs, invite cards, door hangers, and social media posts can all resource your audience to engage their friends and family. It’s not the tool that makes this effective. It’s the conversation your audience has that makes this powerful. You’re just providing the information they need to help them take their next step. One of the most successful things we’ve done at our church is creating 3×3 invite cards that has the logo and service times on one side, along with a map and address on the back side. We had everyone a few of these on their way out of the service and encourage everyone to invite someone with those cards over the next week.
Have a strong worship ministry at your church? Work with them to create a music video of a Christmas song and tag on the service times for Christmas at the end. By doing this at our church, we saw the two Christmas music videos get over 20,000 views through our communication channels. Ex: https://vimeo.com/114248822
Our greatest influencer on what we watch, read, attend, or participate in is the recommendation of friends and family.
Remove barriers from the process of making your content easy to share. Add share buttons on your website so that people can share the information on their social media platforms or by email. Make your tweets shorter so that people can re-tweet and add comments to their post. It’s not just about communicating to the insiders in your church. It’s about creating content that the insiders in your church can share with their connections.
Create awareness and excitement on the days leading up to your Christmas service by doing a countdown on social media. You can share behind the scenes photos of how you as a church are preparing, or glimpses of what they’ll experience as a church. If you need a free resource for creating these graphics, check outcanva.com.
Make sure that your website has clear information on the who, what, when, where, how and why for Christmas services. Show the website to someone who doesn’t go to your church and see if it give them the information they would need to visit your church for the first time at Christmas.]]>
I’ll cut to the chase, because I know your time is short you’ve got a lot on your plate. If you’d be willing to give me a few minutes, I’d love to share my heart with you about what I see as one of the problems we need to solve in the church. I want to get a position on your radar, if you haven’t been able to address it already.
Before I get any further, I want to express to you how much I appreciate what you do. My dad was a Senior Pastor for 30+ years, and I saw first hand the challenges and tole that ministry can take. I’m in ministry today because of people like you faithfully serving the mission of Jesus Christ. Thank you for what you do.
At the end of the day, I know that you want to see lives changed and people reached for the Gospel. We have the greatest message to communicate in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You’d think that with all the new methods we have to communicate now, that it would be easier than ever to communicate that message, right? Unfortunately, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The church doesn’t have a message problem. We have a communications problem.
Since it’s easier than ever for anyone to communicate their message, there is more noise than ever. It’s becoming harder and harder for your message to get noticed in a noisy world.
Every sermon, announcement, sign, handout, website, event or social media post communicates something. Everything we communicate has potential to add to or take away from your ability to communicate your message as a church. If you’re like the typical church that I speak to, you’re probably discontent with the engagement or response you’re getting and want to be more effective in reaching people in your congregation and community.
It’s time to address the most overlooked position on a church staff. That role? Communications leader.
20 years ago, the only communications leader you needed was the person producing the weekly bulletin. Now, it’s become a critical role that helps your church effectively communicate what you’re doing as a church.
I realize you may have some questions about this position. Let’s cover a few of them.
Well, they are not just bulletin person, although they may be doing that. They’re not just someone who updates the website or runs social media accounts, although they may be doing that as well.
Want to communicate something you want people to sign up, show up, serve in, engage in, or give to? There is likely a who, what, when, where, how and most importantly, why, that needs to be clearly identified and communicated for people to take action.
An effective church communication leader can clarify the message, and then identify and remove barriers from people taking their next step.
Decades ago, the communication strategy could be as simple as printing information in a bulletin and announcing it from stage. Now, because of the busyness and noise that most people experience in their lives, we have to reach people where they are during the week to effectively communicate to them.
There are tons of channels that churches can use to communicate what God is doing in and through your church. Here’s just a few of them:
Digital: Website, app, email
Print: Bulletins, newsletters, signage, invite cards, banners
Social: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat
In Service: Stage announcement, promo videos
Communication leaders can use these types of channels to expand the reach of your message further than ever before.
This position used to be a luxury hire once you reach a certain attendance mark. Now, I believe it should be one of the earliest positions hired on a church staff. What I typically see is that many churches wait until they grow to 1,000-2,000 until they invest in a communications leader position. Then, when that communication leader comes on board, they have to go back and attempt to fix communication issues that have been deeply embedded within the culture for years.
I’m not here to tell you that there may not be other staff positions that you need to address first.
You may be in a place where you need to hire someone in another area. What I will tell you though is that a communications leader is absolutely a ministry position. Why? Because it can add value to every ministry and every area of the church. Communication leaders aren’t there to build their own silos. They are there to take all the ministries and initiatives of the church and help them connect and communicate effectively together.
It shouldn’t be! There certainly are administrative aspects to the role that require organization and structure. In fact, many churches are realizing that this is actually a leadership role that deserves a seat at the leadership table. The value of having someone as part of the leadership conversation is that they can be an advocate for our audience.
They can clarify the message and voice how the church can effectively communicate the message.
Hiring a communications leader can be challenging because it’s a role that can often require a wide range of skills. It’s unlikely that you’ll find anyone that has a lot of experience in writing, editing, design, web development, video, or photography.
There may be a particular area of need that you want to focus on, which is really dependent on the needs of your church.
Beyond that, I’d focus on searching for a church-first person who cares deeply about the mission of the church as a whole. I’d be looking for someone who you feel can be an advocate for your audience and has a knack for identifying things that get in the way from people taking their next step.
There are two key things that only you as a Senior Pastor or senior leader can provide.
1) Give them a direction
The #1 thing that will make or break the effectiveness of your communications is planning ahead. You’ll find that if you’re giving your communications leader information on Thursday expecting them to churn out great work for that Sunday, that you’ll be frustrated with the results. You’ll find that the further out you plan, the more effective the communication will be.
If you’ve never had a person in a communications role, there will likely be some challenges they experience early on.
They may have to come in and build some standards for what events and ministries get communicated from stage. They may need to provide some structure and deadlines in place for staff and ministry leaders to submit communication needs.
That can be an extremely challenging situation for a new person who wants to serve and make people happy, but is in a situation where they have to be able to say no to be effective in their role. Provide a platform to listen and hear the challenges and concerns they have. Give them advice or guidelines, and then give them your public support to other staff and ministry leaders.
If a communications leader position has never been on your radar, I hope you’ll consider it.
Thank you for what you do to help your congregation and community for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I’m usually an early adopter when it comes to new technology or social media platforms. Like many people, when I started hearing about Snapchat, I quickly downloaded the app to check it out.
I quickly discovered two things about Snapchat:
1) The interface is terrible. 2) I feel old.
I spent 20 minutes just trying to figure out how to use Snapchat. But here’s what was making me feel so old. The younger guys on my creative team LOVE Snapchat. They’re on it far more than any other social media platform. And to be honest, I just didn’t understand why! I didn’t see what purpose this could serve for me or our church.
How is it that a platform like Snapchat has over 150 million people using it each day? How is it that this has become the platform of choice for millennials?
Being the stubborn man that I am, I decided to fight through the initial resistance and try to figure it out. I needed to understand what it is about Snapchat that is resonating with so many people. And perhaps, I just wanted to feel young again…
So after using Snapchat actively for a week, my opinion dramatically changed about the use and potential of this platform. I truly believe Snapchat is a game changer for social media and it could be a game changer for your church.
There are intentional restraints within Snapchat that lead the content to be real-time instead of programmed.
These restraints can be frustrating for a church or organization running Snapchat. But the reality is, it’s those restraints that make Snapchat more engaging for people. It keeps the content from feeling automated. Theres far less noise on Snapchat than any other platform I’ve experienced.
The limitations of Snapchat do not make it impossible for churches to be successful. It does means that it’s going to require strategy and hustle.
It’s your chance to be you. Not the polished, perfect, photoshoped version of you. The real you.
Snapchat is a great place to have fun and share the personality of your church. You can’t hide behind heavily edited photos, videos, or paragraphs of text. What you see is what you get. But guess what? That’s the version of you that your audience wants to see anyway. Authenticity always wins.
Snapchat is far and away the most social platform I’ve ever used, because it provides multiple ways to engage with your friends and connections. You can:
So many of the barriers that get in the way of relational engagement on the other platforms do not exist on Snapchat. There is tremendous potential to build relationships and connect with your audience. That’s what SOCIAL media should be all about, right?
Photos and short video clips still drive the majority of the stories on Snapchat. However, there are other tools built into the app that allow you to personalize your story in new and creative ways with things like filters, captions, stickers and drawings. These tools expand the ways that you can share engaging content and stories with your audience.
If you’re just need another place to blitz people with announcements, don’t bother with Snapchat.
If all you’re thinking about is how much time or resources this will cost you, don’t bother with Snapchat.
If you’re looking for a place where you can listen, connect and engage with your community…
If you’re wanting your church to feel less like a brand and more like a community…
If you believe that God can use and infuse God-moments through digital connections…
Then Snapchat may be for you.
Recently, our team went all in with the launch of our Snapchat account at West Ridge Church. I’ve been blown away by the response and engagement we’re getting. You can follow by adding “westridgechurch” on Snapchat.
I’ll be sharing some behind the scenes of the launch with some examples, stats, stories and tips that can help you get started with Snapchat at your church. To stay in the loop, get these blog posts delivered to your email.]]>
Once I wrapped up a few highlight videos, the pastor I was working with shared that he needed some help in making some testimony videos. As the video guy, this is where I came in. However, there was one small issue… I knew how to hit record, make things look descent in the camera and make highlight videos, but I didn’t have the first clue about how to tell a story.
Nobody ever taught me anything about that. I never had anyone teach me about what makes some stories memorable and other stories forgotten.
What I had to learn and discover the hard way is that effective storytelling isn’t as simple as hitting the record button.
It’s more than just picking out the right camera, or buying the right editing software. It’s about tapping into the power of storytelling.
It took me awhile to learn that the effectiveness of your video is far more dependent on how you’re crafting the story than it is on what equipment you use or budget you have. If it was all about the budget and equipment, you would think films like Battleship (where they had an estimated $220 million budget) would have been the best movie of the year. Turns out, if the story isn’t compelling, it doesn’t matter how great the equipment or budget is.
That’s great news for many churches out there! Stories play a crucial role in our churches today, just as they have since the beginning of time. It was Jesus’ chosen method of teaching as He did throughout scripture with parables.
If we can become more effective as storytellers, we have an opportunity to create compelling videos that are effective for our churches.
I define story as “the journey and response of a character facing a conflict.”
For some context, here are a few stories we’re sharing right now in my church.
Sometimes, the character is a person. That story may sound like: a man, whose life was falling apart with drug and alcohol abuse, had to take a bold step to keep his life and family together.
There are times where the “character” may be your church. As an example, our church is adopting a new village in Guatemala. That story for us would look like: the journey of our church, transforming a village in Guatemala that is consumed with poverty and a lack of clean water.
Other times, the “character” is broad and the goal is that the audience puts themselves as the protagonist in the story. For example, that may look like: a person who thinks they have nothing to offer God or the church has the opportunity to serve and use their gifts.
Every story is different. But at the end of the day, stories tell the journey and response of a character facing conflict.
Now that we have the concept of what a story is, there are 4 specific questions that I believe every effective story answers. These are the questions I work through before we ever hit record on the camera.
What’s the conflict or problem that the character is trying to solve?
Conflict is simply the struggle between two opposing forces. That might be an internal conflict or an external conflict.
Without conflict, you don’t have a story worth telling. Think about what kind of story Star Wars would be if Luke Skywalker never dealt with his past and never faced off against Darth Vader. Think about what kind of story Shawshank Redemption would be like if Andy Dufresne never ended up in jail for crimes he didn’t commit.
Conflict shapes who we are as people and is the key to relating to our audience. When you skip over the conflict, you cripple yourself as a storyteller. When your story sounds too-good-to-be-true, it’s too hard to relate to.
As you identify the story you want to tell, first, identify the conflict in the story.
For the internal or external conflict in the story, what was or what could be the solution?
What’s going to fix the problem that the character is facing?
Here’s the cool thing here. We serve a God who is in the solution business. We have the Bible that lays out the very word of God which provides a path for us. In the stories we share, we can point to Jesus as the solution.
This was groundbreaking for me, because it changed what I looked for in the type of stories we were sharing as a church. Instead of just focusing on the most sensational stories, I began searching for the simple but relatable stories of people who were facing a conflict and found a solution in something that we had to offer as a church.
After you identify the conflict in the story, find the solution – whatever that is.
Without it, your story won’t connect.
There is a bridge between the conflict and the solution. What lies in between the conflict and the solution is barriers. These barriers are the things that so often hold us back from reaching the solution to the conflict. Those barriers that get in the way might be things like fear, anxiety, hopelessness or doubt.
When you speak to the barriers in the story, you have the opportunity to create a “that’s me” moment with your viewer, because you can speak to the very barriers your audience faces in their own lives.
Question #4: What is the call to action?
Sometimes we need another character, a guide, or an external force for us to overcome those barriers and seek the solution.
When you find the call to action in the story, you identify the thing that compelled someone to change and overcome the barriers they face.
This is critical for us as the church to zone in on this, because the answer to what compelled someone to change is often the same next step that others need to take in their own lives.
WE’RE ALL STORYTELLERS
I found that as I focused on identifying the clear conflict, solution, barriers and call to action in the story, the impact and reach of the stories we were telling was greater than ever before.
By answering those questions, you have the building blocks for telling meaningful stories that can inspire your audience.
We’re all storytellers. Now go, and tell your story.
Where I serve at West Ridge Church, we take staff health very seriously. So much so that our Pastors and Directors are given a 1 month sabbatical after serving for 5 years, and a 2 month sabbatical after 10 years. This paid time away is provided for spiritual refreshment and professional growth. It’s a reset button so desperately needed for a life in ministry.
So on April 1st, I removed my email and calendar from my phone and computer and kicked off a month like I had never experienced before. During the month, I:
I’ve walked away from this month feeling rested and energized for the season ahead of me. I’m so thankful for our Senior Pastor and Elders who have set a tone for staff healthiness.
When you’re in the midst of daily ministry, it’s easy to lose sight of the toll it takes on you. Having a regular rhythm for rest and sabbatical is critical to fighting burnout.
The mark of a leader is defined by what happens when you’re gone. This sabbatical rhythm is a reminder to build healthy and sustainable teams that are built with the foundation of a solid team, not just a person. It’s a powerful exercise for leaders to have to build a plan for being away for a month!
What a great way to show your staff that you have their back and that you’re all on the same team. Leaders: you can strategically use this time to give your team some leadership opportunities, develop them, and discover what is healthy and what needs work once you get back.
Perspective can change everything. It can be incredibly challenging to get solid perspective when you’re always trying to keep your head above water preparing for the next Sunday. A sabbatical can help create space to move out of survival mode and rethink what you need to start, stop and continue in your work and your life.
Are you a part of senior leadership in your church? I would challenge you to consider making this a part of what you do as a staff. Your team will thank you. Let me know if you have any questions about this process with a comment or email at email@example.com.
Are you not a part of senior leadership in your church, but think this is something they should consider? send them this link: http://philbowdle.com/sabbatical
So what can churches do to reach this Millennial generation? Is it a new program or service? Is it adding some cool moving lights or starting new social media accounts? Maybe it’s just copying what the biggest church in town is doing?
In an effort to reach Millennials, many churches violate the foundation that will make them effective. That foundation is authenticity.
Some call the young generation of 18-34 year olds “Millennials.” I just call them the authenticity generation. From an early age, this generation has been constantly bombarded by messages and marketing from businesses, organizations, politicians and churches.
Here’s the superpower that this generation was born with: they can sniff out whether you’re being authentic or not. They know when you’re just trying to sell something to them, get something from them, or be someone that they aren’t. This superpower is what draws them to certain organizations or people, and what turns them away from others. The current political landscape in 2016 is a testament to this power of authenticity.
So what does this mean for the church?
If we’re going to effectively reach Millennials, we have to move beyond gimmicks and tactics. It means we have to take a hard look at the very heart behind the unique calling God has placed on us as leaders and churches.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with cool lights, louder music, marketing campaigns or any other methods that churches can use. The problem is that churches try to add gimmicks and methods in an attempt to attract a younger audience, when those methods don’t fit who they authentically are. You can’t just copy something that’s working in another culture or church and assume that it’s going to work the same way for your unique culture.
Let’s be honest. Your church does not need to be on Snapchat if you’re average attender is 65 years old, and the person running your Snapchat isn’t much younger. Just because you can, doesn’t always mean you should.
Everybody knows that no one is perfect. So why do we spend so much time trying to give the perception that we are? While we may seek the respect and adoration of our audience through giving off this perception of perfection, we actually miss out on real opportunities to connect and relate to them.
Is there a disconnect between what your website says you are and what you actually are? Are you communicating to your guests that you are a young/hip/diverse church, only to have them arrive and find something completely different?
The authenticity generation wants you to be you. If you’re not what you want to be, pray bold prayers and make bold changes to become who God is calling you to be.
It’s far easier to start a new program for Millennials than it is to make bold changes as a whole church to reach the next generation. Many churches try to outsource their outreach for Millennials through some add-on program or service, and keep everything else the same. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with targeting a certain demographic with a program or event. I would caution you that this method can trick you into believing that you’ve solved the problem. The reality is that you may have only delayed the inevitable fact of making some hard decisions and changes that will make you more effective for reaching the next generation and beyond.
If you’re not content with how your church is reaching Millennials, it might be time to figure out why. Then, and only then, can you begin to wrestle with changes you may need to make.
Leaders. We’re more drawn to your imperfections and scars than your perceived perfection.
Millennials are searching for something from your church. It’s not excellence. It’s not coolness. It’s not perfection. It’s authenticity.
Embrace the calling we all have in ministry of being a church full of imperfect people, chasing after a perfect God. Authenticity always wins.]]>
The very mention of the word brings back memories of being stuck in a pew, listening to someone read from a bulletin for 15 minutes about everything on the church calendar that week.
Growing up in the church, I can’t remember a time where I’ve heard someone say, “Wow, those announcements were powerful today.”
That presents a challenge for us as the church. We have life-changing opportunities for people to take advantage of, but they are often getting tuned out, ignored or forgotten during the typical announcement time.
Churches are making the dangerous assumption that if it’s important to us, it must be important to the audience. We assume if it’s announced from the stage, it’s remembered in the seats. Reality is, that’s just not the case.
What’s the difference?
Announcements are information rich and inspiration poor.
Next steps offer a relevant, clear and compelling call to action for your audience to respond to.
So how can we handle sharing the important opportunities that we offer as the church?
Your church is looking to you to help them decide what they need to know. But if treat everything as important, nothing will be important.
Communication standards may look different at every church, but it’s critical to have consistent framework for deciding what will get stage time and what will not. As a starting point for standards, I think each message needs to fit into at least one of these three categories:
Using these standards will remove a lot of the noise that clutter out the most important next steps you offer as a church.
Just because it’s worthy of being announced, does not mean that the message is clear and compelling. Before something hits the stage, it’s important to answer these questions:
It’s hardly a new concept, but a great place to start for anything you’re sharing from stage is to answer the who, why, what, when, where (in that order). Oh, and here’s the challenging part… Find a way to do that in about 30 seconds or less.
Don’t get stuck in a rut for how you communicate your next steps. If you’re sharing your next steps in the same place, at the same time, in the same ways each week, your audience is likely already tuning them out.
Once you decide what you need to share from stage, creatively think through what method would be most effective for communicating that next step. Here are some methods you can add to your toolbox that aren’t the standard talking head on stage:
Quit doing announcements, and help someone take their next step today.]]>
Creatives often find themselves feeling under-appreciated, overwhelmed and ill-equipped to do their job well. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “my pastor/boss just doesn’t get it.”
On the other hand, I hear consistently from Pastors that they feel like creatives only care about their work and not how it fits into the church as a whole. They don’t feel the support, don’t give the benefit of the doubt to leadership, and are rarely happy with what they have.
Here’s the bottom line if you’re working on a creative team (or anywhere on a church staff):
If you can’t support the Pastor and the vision and mission of your church, go find another job. Seriously.
Get out. Leaving your role on a church staff because of this doesn’t make you a bad person, or a bad Christian. It just means that you take unity seriously. Scripture has a lot to say about unity as believers in the church (1 Corinthians 1:10, Ephesians 4, Psalm 133:1, 1 Peter 3:8)
If you find yourself in this place, don’t take away from the vision and direction that God has given the Pastor of your church. Don’t go out swinging. Quietly move on and find a place you believe in and can give 100% of your heart and efforts to. Wasting your time and energy talking about what you think the Pastor should be doing right now gets you nowhere. If God wanted you to be the Pastor, He’d put you there.
Deal with it. There’s no perfect Pastor and no perfect church staff.
I would encourage you to fight for unity. Guard your words and thoughts, and don’t be the source of division within the staff. Make the effort to bridge the gap where there’s a disconnect with your Pastor.
So many creatives live in consistent frustration because they have in their mind that they want their Pastor to be like someone else. Support your Pastor for who they are, not who you want them to be. Learn what’s on their heart and have their back. You might just be surprised by how that opens up dialogue to help your church be more effective.
Protect it. Thank God for it. And continue to fight for it each and every day. Guard the meetings after the meetings and lead the way in fighting for unity. This doesn’t mean you blindly support everything. It does mean that you build the relational equity with your Pastor and leadership to push back where necessary, give your opinion when needed, and at the end of the day support the decision that was made.
I’m incredibly blessed to work at a great church with humble, Godly leadership. It’s the healthiest staff I’ve ever been a part of.
For me in my role as a Creative Arts Pastor, the #1 thing that can create disfunction with my team and our Pastor/leaders is disunity. That’s why in hiring our team, the most important aspect I looked for was not talent, but it was assembling people that had a church-first attitude and mindset. That’s been THE KEY to the success of our team and ministry.
There’s a healthy tension that lies between the Pastor and creatives in planning services and the creative work of the church. At the end of the day, the most important thing to me is that my Pastor knows my team and I have his back and support him.
If you’re not there, and know you can’t get there, it might be time to quit your job.]]>