Recently I vacationed with my family to Walt Disney World in Florida. We had a blast! My most recent visit was my 7th time to experience the magical adventures of Disney.
But, my most recent visit was as an adult with with my wife and three children. As an entrepreneur I could not help to observe the incredible ways Disney provides memorable experiences.
Here is what I learned and how I believe it applies to churches -
The entire Disney experience is driven by vision. Walt Disney’s vision was not to develop theme parks. His vision was to create experiences via theme parks, characters and thrill rides. Everything you read and experience is driven by the Walt’s dream to bring dreams alive!
In the same respect, churches should be driven by a singular vision. A vision that shapes the future. A vision that guides every decision, hire and behavior.
Ministry Application: The church needs pastors leading with a clear direction into the future!
I reserved our Disney vacation for November 2013 almost an entire year in advance. Within those highly anticipated months I received helpful emails. Not sales emails, but helpful vacation preparation emails.
This picture is an image of one of the packages I received from Disney before we entered DisneyWorld. It is impossible for me to explain the excitement this simple communication package created within my family.
The bands within this box are ‘Magic Bands’. These bands are your theme park tickets, room key and best way to charge purchases to your account.
Why does this matter? Because, the vision of Walt Disney would not be possible without clear and compelling communications. And it is impossible for any organization to communicate clearly and compellingly without systems.
Ministry Application: The church needs systems to consistently and clearly communicate their vision and what really matters.
First … I completely understand Disney is operating with a multi-billion dollar budget while many churches strive to pay bills at the end of the month. But, I am amazed how Disney develops and integrates new technology.
On numerous occasions I’ve heard senior pastors and church leaders boldly proclaim, “Why do we need technology?” Instead of resisting new technologies the church needs to ask, “How can we use these technologies to reach more people?”
Disney developed a mobile application helping every guest schedule their theme park adventure. Literally before I guided my family into a Disney theme park I was 100% organized and ready to help my wife and kids experience each park to the fullest.
Ministry Application: As the modern world continues to advance, church leaders need to invest in new technologies to communicate better.
Mark is the Founder of Be Known for Something. He is a thought leader in branding and marketing with years of success. Overtime Mark has helped tons of organizations ‘Be Known for Something.” What are your thoughts on the future of church communications? (Leave comment below)
Christmastime is here and hundreds of guests will attend your church. I wrote two posts to help you plan and execute a great Christmas guest experience. Read below:
In this post I reveal the missing ingredient to a great Christmas guest experience. The missing ingredient is easy-to-do, but often missing from the guest experience equation. What is the missing ingredient? FOLLOWING UP with guests.
I’ve shared tons of conversations on how-to ‘draw’ people back after their Christmas service visit. Relevant sermon series, big event, free resource, etc. Rarely do these ideas work.
The best way to ‘draw’ people back to your church after a Christmas visit is through following up with the guests.
Here are ways to follow up with Christmas guests:
Personal Phone Call
This is one of the single most effective ways to insure your guests return for another visit. A simple phone call says the Pastor of this church genuinely cares. And that matters, a lot, to your guests because this Pastor might someday be their Pastor.
If the Senior Pastor is not available, then a gender specific or stage of life Pastor from your staff should place this call. If they have lots of kids, perhaps the Children’s Pastor could call. If it’s a single mom, then the Women’s Pastor would be a good choice. But a personal call is your first and best follow up method.
Sincere Thank You Card
Nothing says “Come Again” like a sincere thank you. A handwritten thank you card is a genuine and unexpected way to say thank you to your first time guests. The thank you card is now a special way of communicating as all other communications are technology driven. This personal investment says you care they visited, and more importantly that they visit again.
Face to Face Meeting
Imagine that your guest is a family, brand new to the area, and someone from your men’s ministry calls and says, “Hey, I’d love to grab coffee with you this week.” During the meeting, spend time learning about the guest and providing information about your church and ways to get involved. Think that family will visit a second time? You can count on it.
While this method might seem outdated, you’d be surprised at how far a great door delivery will go. There’s a church near us that delivers quality chips and salsa to their first time guests. Nothing says, “Welcome to our Church” like a well thought out gift. They keep their door visit short. It’s not a witnessing opportunity. It’s a welcoming one. And it works.
Use the email address identified on guest information card and send a welcome video the day of visit. By sending the email with video the day of visit the guest will be surprised and valued. Personalize the text of email and provide an easy way for them to contact your church. The email and video should include why the church exist, the impact your church is making in the lives of people and how the guest can get involved.
Social Media Messages
Be sure to ask for Twitter and Facebook User Names on your guest information card and then “follow” or “friend” them. This is an easy way to keep your guests informed in a casual and friendly way. Be intentional and express your gratitude for visiting your church via Facebook and Twitter.
Following up with Christmas guests is crucial. Once they leave your services they are moving on to Christmas parties, presents and food! Beyond the Christmas holiday they return to busy school and work schedules.
A personal follow up gesture will go a long ways in increasing the ‘odds’ of people returning to your church.
Social media is a platform to build relationships with people. The best way to deepen relationships through social media is following the 80/20 distribution method. With this method, I encourage you to share questions and inspirational content 80% of the time. The remaining 20% is available to share informative content (IE – service times, event specifics, etc.)
The difficult part in social media is generating inspirational content. Informative content is easy. Creating inspirational content takes time. Below you will find 20 social media snippets to share with your church during Christmas. The snippets include scriptures, quotes, resources and questions.
Simply cut and paste share with your online audience during the month of Christmas!
“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” - Isaiah 7:14
“She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” - Matthew 1:21
“The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.” - Luke 1:35
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” - Romans 6:23
“The Son of God became a man to enable men to become the sons of God.” - C.S. Lewis
“Love has a name. JESUS. Love has a place. Our hearts. Love has a story. And it’s not finished yet.” - Unknown
“Where there is faith, there is love; where there is love, there is peace; where there is peace, there is God; And where there is God; there is no need.” - Leo Tolstoy
“The very purpose of Christ’s coming into the world was that He might offer up His life as a sacrifice for the sins of men. He came to die. This is the heart of Christmas.” - Billy Graham
“It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you.” - Mother Teresa
“Let’s approach Christmas with an expectant hush, rather than a last-minute rush.” - Anonymous
Looking for a good book to read during Christmas? Checkout God’s Blessings of Christmas by Billy Graham.
Here is a great book on Advent and Christmas by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Check it out here.
Watch this amazing video on what it looks like to experience a Simple Christmas - https://vimeo.com/31803230
How can we pray for you during this Christmas season?
What is your favorite Christmas song?
How are you intentionally blessing others during Christmastime?
What is your most favorite Christmas tradition?
Do you have a preferred Christmas dinner menu?
What is your most memorable Christmas experience?
This time last year I was working ‘around the clock’ on an exciting project! I spent numerous nights with no sleep. The special project was the Sayge Church Marketing and Communication Guide I released in January 2013 to help churches communicate better. I’ve never been more passionate about a project in my entire life! It was fun but very hard work!
But it paid off! Over 200+ churches purchased the Communication Guide and learned how-to communicate better while saving tons of time and money. From the beginning … my desire was to help as many churches as possible communicate better via the Communication Guide content.
That commitment is why I am giving your church the opportunity to purchase the Church Communication Guide for a one-time price of $299. You can instantly download over 12 marketing and communication training videos, 15 coaching manuals and 30+ done-for-you action tools and save $300 off the current price.
Until December 15 you can download the entire Church Marketing and Communication Guide for $299 - HERE.
Below is the list of training modules you will receive upon purchase. Every module comes with training videos, coaching manuals and done-for-you action tools.
MODULE #1: CUT THE CLUTTER TO COMMUNICATE WHAT MATTERS
- Learn how to craft a communication strategy that engages people.
- Learn how to create a communications calendar to make your vision stick.
MODULE #2: HOW TO IDENTIFY YOUR CHURCH’S GOD-GIVEN VISION
- Learn how to discover who your church could be and should be.
- Receive a step-by-step guide to lead your team through crafting a clear vision.
MODULE #3: KEEP THE MAIN THING THE MAIN THING
- Learn how the vision of church hangs on the wall while systems happen down the hall.
- Learn how to create systems that consistently communicate what matters.
MODULE #4: HOW TO PUT TOGETHER A CREATIVE COMMUNICATION TEAM
- Stop losing sleep and doing it all alone. Learn how to create and unleash a team to execute your communication strategy in the church.
- Receive out-of-the box detailed job descriptions and done-for-you system.
MODULE #5: BUILDING POWERFUL FEEDBACK LOOPS
- Feedback is the secret sauce of champions.
- Learn how to hear about issues before they become a church-wide communication problem.
MODULE #6: BECOME A BETTER STORYTELLER
- Learn how to lead with compelling stories that inspire people to make commitments.
- Discover how to capture and celebrate the stories of your vision in action.
MODULE #7: 8 KEYS TO REMARKABLE GUEST EXPERIENCE
- Learn how to quickly evaluate your church from the street to the seat.
- Learn how to breakthrough barriers that prevent guest from returning.
MODULE #8: MULTIPLY THE REACH OF YOUR MESSAGE
- It’s not about bombarding people with status updates or creating the next viral video.
- Learn how to cultivate digital conversations that deepen relationships and trust.
MODULE #9: EVERY INTERACTION IS IMPACTFUL
- Each experience is a chance to either embrace or reject your vision.
- Learn how to remove unnecessary distractions that keep people from becoming the church you want to be.
MODULE #10: HOW TO KEEP YOUR FRONT DOOR FROM BECOMING A BACK DOOR
- Your online presence is the first interaction a person will experience with your church.
- Learn how to create a web experience – not just a website.
MODULE#11: 17 RELEVANT WAYS TO ATTRACT PEOPLE
- Leave behind ineffective marketing gimmicks.
- Lean how to build awareness through authentic, done-for-you resources that engage your community.
MODULE #12: THE #1 WAY TO STUNT LIFE-CHANGING COMMUNICATIONS
- Your relationship with your creative and communications team is the missing ingredient to advancing the cause of your church.
- Learn how to cultivate the key relationships that reduce anxiety and lead your church with clarity.
If you have any questions you can contact me here. Or you can download the entire program HERE for $299 until December 15.
If you purchase the Communication Guide and are not satisfied, I will refund your investment.
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 experience guests encounter with your church should directly connected people to the purpose and future of your church. This is true … especially during the Christmas services. Guest experiences play a significant role in how people think about your church. The good news is you can improve your guest experiences without spending a ton of money during Christmastime! You don’t have to have state of the art parking centers and interactive lobby displays to create a welcoming environment for your first time guests. Sure guests are wowed by technology, but they are wooed by people.
Here are 3 easy steps you can take to be sure your guests feel right at home from the street to the seat:
#1 – Help Your Guests Before They Arrive
Use your website to provide easy to find information about what your guests can expect.
A First Time Guest targeted website landing page (IE: www.yourchurchname.org/FirstTimeGuest) is the easiest way to help your guests find the information they are looking for.
In one simple click, guests should find:
- Worship Service Times
- Dress Attire
- Children and Youth Ministry Information
- Welcome Video from Pastor
- Links to Beliefs, Events and Other Opportunities
#2 – Make Parking a Memorable and Pleasant Experience
When it comes to parking your guests, think DisneyWorld, not the DMV.
- Signage is key. It should be clear and concise.
- Have a professional and friendly parking team.
- Genuinely welcome guests as they get out of their car and ask if they need any information.
#3 – Create Three Easy Steps to the Worship Center
Finding the balance between being welcoming and overbearing is key. Believe it or not you can over-greet first time guests, which comes across disingenuous. Use these three landmarks when thinking through a comfortable transition from street to their seat:
- Front Door Greeters. Greeters should be looking out the front doors (not talking to each other) and should step toward the guest, make eye contact, shake hands and say “Good Morning.” This is not the time to pass out advertisements for upcoming events.
- Welcome Center Greeters. Volunteers should personally walk the guests to where they need to go next, whether it’s the children’s area, student area, or even the worship center. First time guests should never be pointed toward anywhere, but should have a personal escort combined with a friendly conversation.
- Worship Stage Announcement. This is most likely your last chance to welcome your guests. Seize the moment to give them a genuine welcome and tell them what you want them to do next. (IE – Fill out a guest card, download a mobile application, visit a welcome center, checkout your website, etc.)
Are you ready to provide a great guest experience to the hundreds of people attending your services? I created a simple and done-for-you Guest Experience Evaluation Checklist to help you enhance this important guest experience. You can download the checklist for $20 by clicking the link below.
If you do not know what matters, you will communicate everything. If your church does not understand what matters, they will not do what matters.
Over the past 10 years I’ve worked for and with hundreds of churches in the area of communications. That means I’ve connected with tons of communication leaders. One of the ‘buzz’ phrases I hear often is “church communications is a grind”. At times the phrase is communicated in these words “It is tough working in the trenches of church communications”.
First, I want you to know I too have used these phrases.
I completely understand church communications is not an easy position within the church. The communications director is oftentimes overworked, under resourced and unappreciated.
But, using phrases like “church communications is a grind” and “It is tough working in the trenches of church communications” do our role as communication leaders an injustice! Ponder these two phrases … Neither are remotely positive.
In fact, these phrases communicate a position of pride, bitterness and entitlement. What if we changed the phrases to “church communications is a joy and privilege” and “It is fulfilling and thrilling to work in the area of church communications.”
Listen … The role of a church communications director will continue to be sought after and valued as churches recognize the value of effective communications.
It is our role to be an ‘advocate’ of church communications, not a ‘victim’.
What should I wear? Will I fit in? Will our children have a great experience? Do I have the right Bible?
These are questions people ask before they even step foot in their vehicle and depart for a first time visit to your church. It’s easy for church leaders to forget the emotions people face when visiting a church. It just happens.
Have you ever asked, “Why do people visit our church and never come back?” Maybe the guest did not have a good experience? Maybe the visitor did not receive follow-up contact?
Whatever the reason … As church leaders we must ensure our guests encounter a great first-time visit!
Here is a list of areas to evaluate -
From start to finish, you need to show your guests they are welcome by providing them an ideal visitor experience. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can do that:
These days, the guest experience begins on your website. The Internet is your new front door. People will visit your website before visiting your church. Ensure your website is guest friendly.
Whether you are a mega church or a church plant, parking is the first “real-time” impression. Make sure a team of parking lot attendants are present and making a great first impression.
As people enter the doors of your church, greet them with a genuine handshake/hug and smile. Do not barricade or bombard people. Make the entrance accessible.
Have a very clear location where guests and members visit to receive information. Make sure information is readily available.
Make sure you consistently communicate the heart of your church throughout the service. Communicate easy ways for people to get involved.
This is a major area church leaders often neglect. The guest experience does not end when the guest leave the church campus. It only begins.
So how do you create a great guest experience? You evaluate every area of the experience. Evaluating your guest experience will help you give future guests a memorable experience and reasons to come back! Wow! Why would you not spend time evaluating the guest experience?
I created a helpful resource just for you. It is a Guest Experience Evaluation Checklist. The checklist is insanely easy-to-use and will improve your guest experience immediately!
Here is how-to use the checklist -
- Download the Evaluation Checklist
- Print and Distribute Evaluation Checklist to Selected Church Members, Staff and Local Community Members
- Ask the Team of Evaluators to Evaluate Experience and Send Back Checklists
- Review Checklists and Identify the Top 3 Action Steps to Improve Your Guest Experience
Checkout a couple of screenshots of the checklist -
As you can see the checklist is very detailed! The resource is completely done-for-you and simple-to-use.
You can download the checklist for $19.95 for the next 7 days + receive a coaching guide with other great ways to improve guest experience.
After 7 days the checklist will not be available for individual download.