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Assimilation Growing Your Giving Base Outreach Visitors

Nothing Better Than a Personal Invitation

I spent sometime this morning listening to the Rick & Bubba Show on my way into town. They brought up something that I wasn’t aware of going on this Sunday. Sunday, September 18, 2011 is National Back to Church Sunday. Some interesting facts were shared.

“Only two percent of church members invite an un-churched person to church. Ninety-eight percent of churchgoers never extend an invitation in a given year.” –LifeWay Research

Categories
Church Management Leadership Priorities Visitors

The Real Cost of Free

One of the greatest fallacies in our culture is the perception of ‘free’.  That simple word sounds so good to people, yet few realize that it is actually a misnomer.  There really is nothing free.  (Except salvation through Jesus Christ, but even that cost Jesus his life.)

Every time something is offered for free, someone, somewhere, somehow had to pay for it.

Many churches are operating under the assumption that their volunteers are free labor.  The truth is that the free labor comes at a cost.  While it may not cost in dollars directly, the intrinsic costs of volunteer labor can be substantial.  Let’s look at a few examples.

Categories
Daily Thought Leadership Outreach Visitors

What are you doing for your community?

I was reminded late last week about a major connection we have with those around us, our Community.

This connection takes on many forms and can simultaneously be a blessing and a curse.  Strong communities are the life-blood of social interactions and allow us to enjoy the social, political, and economic aspects of being bonded together.  Unfortunately, at times, there are disagreements, divisions, mis-understandings within this connection.  (Sound like your church?)  I had this happen to me this week with an individual.  His decision for community involvement is to write on the community online forum he created that amounts to nothing more than political propaganda.

This being said, I was able to spend the weekend deciding how I would respond.  My decision is to not respond at all.

However, I did start thinking about how these types of connections affect our churches.  Our churches are a group of people from the community bonded together for a common purpose.  We come together as a body of believers for worship and to exalt our Savior.  We enjoy the fellowship of like minded individuals and the camaraderie that comes from our interactions.  At times, we’ll even express our desire to have others join our group.  For some, this is a true, unrelenting passion; while for others it amounts to nothing more than lip service as a response to what we perceive is a requirement.

How can our churches get beyond our walls and reach our communities?

I have often asked the question of pastors when we are talking about community involvement as follows.  “If your church were forced to close it’s doors tomorrow, would the community know your were gone, and more importantly, would they feel an impact?”

It’s a tough question to ask and we’ll introduce some ideas to help.  I’ll give you a sneak peak though, they involve being a part of the community without your hand out.

In the next few days and weeks, I’ll detail some ideas on how to make your church a light in your community.

Categories
Communication Visitors Web

10 tips for church Facebook pages

10 tips for church Facebook pages
By Diana Davis
INDIANAPOLIS (BP) | Take this quiz:

— If your church could make free public announcements to thousands of your own members’ friends, would you do it?

— If there was a simple way to help members and guests feel more connected to your church, would you use it?

Small and large churches across our nation are effectively using a Facebook organization page to enhance in-reach and outreach. Should your church have one?

Do the math. Ask for a show of hands to find out how many church members use Facebook. The average Facebook user has 130 registered “friends,” so if just 20 church members use Facebook, that’s potentially 2,600 people who could read posts about your church. One hundred members with Facebook could touch 13,000. This is multiplication at its best. Convinced? I interviewed several churches to compile these Facebook tips to help you get started.

— Tip No. 1: Begin well. Study other churches’ pages for ideas. Use tips from Facebook’s help section (http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php) to create your church organization page. Then ask church members and guests to “like” (join) your page so posts will display on their newsfeed.

— Tip No. 2: Keep it short. Want posts to be read? Keep them very brief. Give basic info to ignite interest and provide a link to the church website for more details.

— Tip No. 3: Add a graphic. Attract more readers by attaching your church logo, event logo, a photo or graphic to posts.

— Tip No. 4: Post regularly. Consider allowing several leaders or members to post. Two or three posts per week would be desirable.

— Tip No. 5: Keep it positive. Never forget that thousands of people may read posts. This is no place for whining. Positive posts convey the emotion and reality of true fellowship and confidence in God.

— Tip No. 6: Connect. Announcements help readers feel connected with the church. Tell about the upcoming men’s breakfast, kids’ camp or Easter celebration. Announce a new Bible class, staff member or benevolence project. Communicate weather cancellations or disaster relief.

— Tip No. 7: Develop a relationship with the reader. Be authentic and encouraging. Tell the story of God at work in your church and in individual lives. Encourage readers to comment or add photos. Their personal enthusiasm and involvement will add excitement and draw readers to your church and to God.

— Tip No. 8: Use video clips. Professional video isn’t necessary; a Flip video camera will do. Record one- or two-minute clips of members sharing life stories about God’s power. An Indiana church posted a hilarious video of a tithing rap. Introduce the upcoming sermon series, peek into a youth Bible class or show senior adults exercising.

— Tip No. 9: Different groups, such as a Bible class, worship team or youth group, could have another Facebook page for communication. My neighbor noticed an announcement from our women’s ministry on my Facebook and asked about attending a Bible study.

— Tip No. 10: Wait a minute before posting. It takes seconds to write a post, and it’s online immediately. Before submitting, re-read carefully to check tone, grammar and spelling. It represents God and His church, so do it very well. Pray for God to use it to touch lives, then hit “post.”

Of course, this doesn’t take the place of face-to-face outreach and fellowship, but it may enhance your church’s impact. Half of active Facebook users log in on any given day. If your church members’ Facebook friends log in tomorrow, will they learn something about what God is doing at your church?

Diana Davis is author of “Fresh Ideas for Women’s Ministry” (B&H Publishing) and wife of the Indiana Baptist Convention executive director. Visit her website at www.keeponshining.com.

Categories
Communication General Priorities Visitors Web

Churches have websites but many aren’t utilizing them, LifeWay survey finds By David Roach

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) | Though most churches have a website, there is a divide between congregations that use their sites only for one-way communication and those that maximize their online presence with interactive technology.

That is the finding of a new LifeWay Research study sponsored by Axletree Media, one of LifeWay’s partners in its Digital Church initiative designed to enhance delivery systems and keep up with the digital needs of the church.

The survey of 1,003 Protestant churches found that while 78 percent have a website, less than half of those congregations use their sites for interactive purposes like obtaining and distributing prayer requests (43 percent), registering people for events and activities (39 percent) and automating more church processes (30 percent).

A majority of congregations with a website use it for one-way communication, the survey revealed. A full 91 percent provide information to potential visitors online and 79 percent provide information to the congregation. Fifty-seven percent encourage increased attendance and involvement among the congregation and 52 percent solicit interest in ministry or volunteer opportunities.

“Many churches are using their website like a Yellow Pages ad characterized by basic information and infrequent updates,” said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research. “This is in sharp contrast with churches that use their website like a bustling church receptionist registering people for upcoming events, collecting prayer requests and obtaining volunteers.

“There is nothing wrong with using a church website to simply give directions to the church or state the church’s beliefs,” McConnell added. “However, we must realize that more and more people expect to be able to interact online without having to drive or make a phone call to the church.”

Larger churches are more likely than their smaller counterparts to use their websites interactively. Among churches with a website, 69 percent of churches with 500 or more in average worship attendance register people for events or activities online, but only 25 percent of churches with one to 49 attendees do the same. Fifty-two percent of congregations with 500 or more attendees seek to use their website to “allow more processes at (their) church to be automated,” compared with 15 percent of churches with one to 49 attendees.

In contrast, large and small churches are about equally as likely to use their websites to provide information to potential visitors. There is also little difference between large and small churches using their websites to provide information to their congregation.

The study also found differences in the frequency of website usage. Forty percent of churches with websites update their sites once a week and 15 percent update more than once a week. But nearly half of churches with websites (42 percent) update them only once a month or less. That includes 7 percent that update once a year or less.

Among the factors that keep churches from providing more content and services online are limited time among church staff (46 percent), limited financial resources (41 percent), limited time among volunteers (39 percent) and little interest expressed by the congregation for more online content or services (35 percent).

Bill Nix, CEO of Axletree Media, lamented that more churches do not take advantage of online ministry resources.

“With the low cost of online technology today, any size congregation can build and maintain a helpful website,” Nix said. “Plus, updating a website has become so easy that no church needs to feel like it lacks the technological savvy to have a presence on the Internet.”

Digital photos are the most common technology utilized among churches with websites and the only technology used by a majority of those congregations. Eighty-two percent use digital photos in their online ministries, 47 percent use digital audio files or podcasts, 31 percent utilize digital video files, 26 percent use text messaging, and 26 percent of congregations use blogs.

The poll was conducted Sept. 8-20.

David Roach is a pastor and writer in Shelbyville, Ky.