Categories
Church Management Church Thoughts

Are you Making a Good First Impression?

I started my career post college as a golf pro. I was the one standing behind the counter at the course taking money, scheduling tee times, etc., etc. Some guys would think that is a great job… I’d beg to differ, but that’s another story.

There were quite a few things, however, that I picked up working at various golf courses that have had a transcendent impact into how I view ministry and ministry operations.

I remember vividly working at a golf course for a pro who evidently showed how stressed he was on a daily basis. While he was far from the best boss I’ve ever had, he did share with me something that has stuck with me. A small statement that I have remembered and used to this day.

“Josh, there are hundreds of golf courses that guys can choose to play. There are many within 40 miles that are very similar to ours, they are well maintained, provide challenge, and are in the same price point.

What is it that brings people to our course and keeps them coming back with all the alternatives? The SERVICE they receive when they walk in the door.

Categories
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
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
church technology Communication Web

What does your website say about your church?

The question is very simple.  When someone visits your church website, what impression are they getting of your church?

We visit church websites from around the country trying to get a pulse on what people are doing.  We see some great, some good, and many terrible!  In a day where the Internet is so prevalent, churches must keep up with the times and have a website that accurately reflects who they are as a congregation of believers.

Are you using a free, or cheap stock template?
For many churches, this is an unfortunate reality.  What a cheap template says to your visitors is that you don’t care about reaching new people and you really just want to have something online because a guy like me posted something in a blog.  Hogwash!  Take into account that 85% of new visitors are looking for churches on the web BEFORE they step foot in the door or will look in the phone book.  What image is your website giving potential visitors about your church?

Relevant Content?
One thing that will kill a church website faster than anything is a lack of content.  People want your site to be a resource.  Think of your website as a secretary/receptionist that works 24/7, doesn’t take breaks or ask for days off. Train your congregation to utilize the website as a source of truth for answers.  Keep the content on the fresh and current.  Put links to articles or other sites you find online that you think may be of interest to your church members.  Oh yeah, GET YOUR CHURCH ON FACEBOOK!

FACEBOOK
While some may say that Facebook is just for kids, I’d beg to differ.  Did you know the average age of facebook users is 38 years old and 61% of facebook users are over 30?  Also, where else can you have direct access to share your message with people who have given you permission to tell them, any time, for free?  Get our free article on ways to use facebook for your church.

A Web Ministry
We meet with pastors everyday, and I repeatedly tell them that the website has to be used as a ministry of your church.  You can think of it on the same level as your student or adult ministry.  It is, after all, a major communication tool for your church.  In many ways, if used correctly, your website can be a major ministry tool for your church.

Let me suggest this.
We have years of experience getting churches online, and utilizing the web as a ministry tool.  Take a minute to contact us and tell us a bit about your church here and one I will call you personally to discuss how to increase your web ministry presence.

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.

Categories
Church Management Facility General

Are Your Guests Willing to Come Back?

Lifeway put out a good article last week about your church and it’s openness to guests.  Of course we all say we’re friendly, we all say our doors are open and inviting, and we all SAY that guests are important to us.  But is that portrayed in how we’ve aligned our priorities of our worship services?

Did you know that your guests have made up their mind whether or not they will return to your church in the first 10 minutes of their visit?  What does that tell you about the extensive time and money you put into worship, drama, powerful sermon illustrations, etc.?  Don’t get me wrong, those are all great, but what are you doing to capture your guests in the first 10 minutes of their visit to help assimilate them into the church family?

Here are some ideas: