Brady Shearer is the founder of Pro Church Tools, a site that helps churches grasp the essentials of church media. You can grab the free Pro Church Toolkit complete with e-books, videos, and a 10-week course here - http://prochurchtools.com/toolkit/
Eric Murrell is the Communications Director at Long Hollow Church in Hendersonville, TN.
According to LifeWay Research, a group of 1,000 Protestant pastors indicated Christmas is the second most attended service of the year. Every Christmas or Easter churches are filled with people whom only attend church twice a year. This is exactly ‘why’ churches must be prepared for each of these guests.
Here are 4 common mistakes churches make preparing for Christmas:
Lack of planning
Let’s be real … church leaders are the ‘busiest’ people during the Christmas season. Think about it … your regular ministry roles do not cease as your calendar is jam packed with Christmas parties, events and gatherings. One of the main reasons the church is not ready for Christmas is due to a lack planning.
The lack of planning time is devoured by busyness. To be fully prepared for Christmas it is necessary to eliminate every distraction. If you want to be ‘ready’ for Christmas, meetings are required. These meetings help you think ahead and aligns your team and volunteers.
Lack of communication
The attention span of people is insanely short. During the Christmas season their attention span is drastically decreased with shopping, dinners, travel, etc. This is one of the best times to communicate clearly and precisely as a church.
Without a doubt, one of the best ways to communicate with people who do not attend your church is through your people! People want to attend church. Check out this stat -
“Eighty-two percent of the unchurched are at least somewhat likely to attend church if invited.” – Dr. Thom Rainer, The Unchurched Next Door
“Only two percent of church members invite an unchurched person to church. Ninety-eighty percent of church-goers never extend an invitation in a given year.” – Dr. Thom Rainer, The Unchurched Next Door
Being prepared means you are giving your church members easy ways to communicate with their friends, family and neighbors.
Lack of follow-up
Follow-up? Yes! The churches who are prepared are ready to connect with people beyond the Christmas service experience. What if tons and tons of people attend your church and have a great experience? Are you ready to follow-up with these guests to ensure they return?
I get it … After the second, or third, or fifth service you are ready to deflate and relax! However, hundreds of people are seeking a reason to come back to your church. By planning ahead your church can integrate systems to follow-up with guests while you enjoy your break!
Lack of praying
Although planning for, communicating to and following-up with people is advocated and needed; praying for people and your services trumps any strategic action. A fancy sermon, well-executed creative element, astounding children’s program will not break the hearts of people. Only, the Spirit of God will break the hearts of people.
Prayer is the real work. Again … I am a huge fan of being prepared for the Christmastime. But, please do not allow planning, preparing and promoting quench the amount of time you spend praying for people and your Christmas services.
What would you add to the list of common mistakes in planning for Christmas?
Guest Evaluation Resource
You have approximately 3-4 weeks to plan for your Christmas services. But, you need to start preparing now. Download my checklist and evaluate your Guest Experience this weekend and make improvements to make sure the Christmas experience is memorable!
Honestly … You can spend hours creating an experience evaluation checklist or you can download the done-for-you evaluation checklist I created for $20.
The concept of a brand is a little bit elusive, especially as it relates to Church Marketing and Communications. Some people think the brand is the logo or the artwork you use in advertising media. Some leaders talk about brand identity in relationship to strategy. Some talk about a brand it terms of its projected image.
The reality is that your brand is the positive collision of all those things. It’s who you are, who you say you are, and who your audience says you are.
But sometimes it’s hard to think of a church in terms of a brand. So here’s a quick way to think about it.
You have a vision, given by God, that guides your church. It’s who you are; who you were meant to be.
You communicate messages to your audience via sermons, announcements, social media, your website, events, etc. That’s who you say you are.
Your audience has a perception based on your communication messages. It comes by way of their own personal bias, past experiences, expectations, personalities and general word-of-mouth. That’s what determines who your audience says you are.
If you communicate well, then your vision, your communicated message, and your audience’s perception will work together to create the brand you desire. To do so requires that you know each of these very well.
Brand Identity is a critical component of any communication strategy, but especially a church communication strategy. Church communications matter because what the church communicates matters.
How does your church develop a positive brand with your church and community? Leave a comment below.
As a Communications Pastor, one of the dilemmas I often face with volunteers was that they quit. I would spend my time finding them, investing in them, and training them, and then, suddenly and without warning, they would leave.
Sometimes their reasons for leaving were real life reasons. They got a job transfer, had a baby, lost a spouse, etc.
But more often than not, they stepped down because they did not feel informed, appreciated, or valued as a team member.
Once I learned that if I spent, some time staying connected to my volunteer team, they would stay on my team I changed my volunteer management style. I paid attention to recruiting, training, investing, managing, encouraging, appreciating, and praying for my volunteers.
But overtime I realized I did not have the bandwidth to manage all of my volunteers and still do my job well. And then I had this crazy thought.
What if I found a Volunteer Coordinator that had great leadership skills, understood the world of church communications and had 10 to 15 hours a week to give as a volunteer?
And that’s exactly what I did.
I found a stay-at-home mother willing to volunteer 15 hours a week as a volunteer coordinator while her children attend the church childcare. It was a perfect fit.
Volunteer Coordinator Role -
- Meet with Communications Pastor Once a Week to Plan and Review
- Connect Regularly with Volunteer Team on Projects
- Host Training Events to Help Volunteers with Roles
- Celebrate Volunteers with Small Gifts, email and Social Media
- Provide Communications Pastor with Frequent Updates via Project Management System
Turning over such a vital leadership roll to a volunteer can be a scary notion, but it doesn’t have to be. God has given each of us skills, strengths, gifts and time to use for His Kingdom. We would be very shortsighted as leaders not to help the people in our churches use those gifts by serving in roles where they are qualified to serve. I could have never done my job effectively with a Volunteer Coordinator leading a team of great volunteers.
What is your church’s philosophy about volunteers in high capacity roles?
Your church website will likely be the first place most of your guests visit before they ever step a foot into your front door. In fact, you should think of your church website AS the front door, the digital front door to your church.
So before you sink another minute or another dollar into your guest experience, you should think about how your website is doing in this department. Not only is it your digital front door, but it is likely the hub of communication for your church. It is an integral part of your communication strategy and should be planned and executed with great care.
Here are 5 Things You Should Do Before you Create a Website -
- Develop a communications strategy on how your church will use the Internet to reach more people and build online community. This is the first and most important thing you need to do before even thinking about a website design and development project.
- Go out and get 3-4 quotes from legitimate web companies. (Contact Me for a list of great web companies.) Hire the experts.
- Spend the money – You really do get what you pay for. This is the most important communication tool you have. Do what it takes. Cut your budget elsewhere. Ask a church member to help fund it.
- Know the basics. Yes. You are hiring experts. But you should still be familiar with the basics of what every website should have.
- Designate one person or a team to be responsible for the maintenance of the website.
Develop a strategy on how you want to use the Internet as part of your overall church communication strategy. Utilize all it has to offer to communicate with, connect with, and build relationships with your audience.
Jonathan Pearson – Communications and Online Pastor
Jonathan is a millennial determined to leave the world in better shape than he found it. He is the Communications and Online Campus Pastor at Cornerstone Community Church in South Carolina. Also, Jonathan is the co-creator of Millennial Leader, an online community for young leaders.
Blog | Twitter
Video Notes -
How do you maximize your church communications with a limited budget?
- Maximizing and using free resources.
- Know your culture and use free resources to connect with the audience.
- Focus on what works and what you do best.
What is the greatest challenge you face as a church communications leader?
- Helping people realize their “ministry” is not the only “ministry”.
- Remember – If you communicate everything, you communicate nothing.
- Primary role in Church Communications is to communicate the vision of church.
How do you develop a holistic church communications strategy?
- Three Terms of Communications Strategy – Know Culture, Context, Consistency.
What one piece of advice would you give a church communications leader?
- Clarity trumps wittiness. Be clear on what you are communicating.
- People respond to a clear message.
What part of video was most helpful to you?
Why do church communication and marketing strategies fail? It’s very simple.
Because churches develop communication strategies before taking time to identify their vision.
Without vision identification, all you have left to communicate is a list of uninspiring and unfocused ministry events. If you want to have a Church Communication Strategy that is effective, think vision first, strategy second. Your vision should drive every way you communicate. It is the most important part of the strategy. It is the heart of it.
Develop your strategy without vision, and it will soon become a piece of paper under a pile of other papers.
Vision First, Strategy Second
Click here to subscribe to Sayge and receive hands on exercises to help your church identify their vision and develop a marketing and communication strategy to advance the vision.
What is the greatest challenge you face in Church Marketing and Communications?
Our team at Sayge Church Communications Training eagerly want to help church leaders master the basics of Church Communications and communicate what matters. We offer a monthly training program giving church leaders how-to tools to communicate effectively with their church and community.
Would you please consider taking a one question survey to help our team provide you ongoing training content? We want to know the greatest challenges you face in church communications. IE – recruiting volunteers, lack of resources, the need to develop a communications strategy, etc.