COMMUNICATION & 6 Ideas That Will Increase It in Your Church

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D. and the 2017 Missional Coaches Cohort, 2/1/17.

  • Tips for  General Communication
    • Intentionally tell the story of your entire church & its people- what is the common ground that makes you call Powell home? How do you communicate the same to your congregation & your community?
    • Streamline and prioritize your message. An average person sees 14,000
      advertisements per day- make yours have an impact!
    • Develop “communication guidelines” that all ministries use for communication.
      • Include appropriate language
      • No Christian-ese, using “youth” or “students” exclusively, etc.,
      • Watch length, graphics, font, etc. to create a streamlined experience.
    • Create a timeline of when information needs to go out, so that announcements do not overlap or become cluttered. Know how often your church (and all its different ministries) are sending information out.
    • Check your engagement analytics regularly to gauge effectiveness during culture shifts. A person needs to hear something 7-12 times in a variety of ways before they “get it.”
  • Bulletin
    • Choose the most important items that the congregation needs to know
    • Make them visually appealing and uncluttered, especially new guest information
  • Social Media
    • Utilize your social media platforms regularly (schedule posts ahead of time)
    • Use social media for story-telling instead of solely marketing. This makes your web presence more appealing and informative to a new guest.
      • eg. Feature posts from a past event,
      • or member experience,
      • or “behind the scenes look” instead of marketing for events.
    • Engagement goes up (and more people are made aware of your church) when people who are already connected share posts from your page- so make your posts “share-worthy!”
    • Engagement rates are 18% higher on Thursdays and Fridays, and higher
      engagement occurs when posts/emails are made/sent in the early afternoon.
  • Group Texting
    • Group texting services (such as “EZ Text” or “Remind”)
    • Are great ways to keep “insiders” in the loop on sign-ups, short reminders, volunteer opportunities, etc.
  • Email
    • 66% of marketing emails are opened on mobile devices. Is yours mobile-friendly?
    • Keep the subject line short & catchy (30 characters or less)
    • The average person will spend 2-3 minutes opening emails on their mobile phone at a time- less is more!
  • Church Calendar
    • Be sure the church calendar is easily found (digitally preferably) and up to date.
    • Check language to be new guest friendly (times, locations, descriptions, etc.)
    • An online calendar should be available to everyone (but only editable by a select few).

© Bob Whitesel DMin PhD & #PowellChurch

CHOOSING A CHURCH & Americans look for good sermons, warm welcome

Choosing a New Church or House of Worship, by Pew Research, 8/26/16.

About half of U.S. adults have looked for a new religious congregation at some point in their lives, most commonly because they have moved. And when they search for a new house of worship, a new Pew Research Center study shows, Americans look first and foremost for a place where they like the preaching and the tone set by the congregation’s leaders.

Fully 83% of Americans who have looked for a new place of worship say the quality of preaching played an important role in their choice of congregation. Nearly as many say it was important to feel welcomed by clergy and lay leaders, and about three-quarters say the style of worship services influenced their decision about which congregation to join. Location also factored prominently in many people’s choice of congregation, with seven-in-ten saying it was an important factor. Smaller numbers cite the quality of children’s programs, having friends or family in the congregation or the availability of volunteering opportunities as key to their decision.

Perhaps as a result of the value they place on good sermons, church leadership and the style of worship services, many people – even in this age of technology – find there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction when seeking information about a new religious home. Fully 85% of those who have looked for a new house of worship say they attended worship services at a church they were considering, and seven-in-ten say they spoke with members of the congregation or to friends or colleagues about their decision. Looking for information online may be growing more common, especially among young people and those who have looked for a congregation recently. But online information still appears to be far less important to potential congregants than experiencing the atmosphere of the congregation firsthand.

The single most common reason people give for having looked for a new congregation is that they moved: Roughly one-third of adults say they have searched for a new place of worship because they relocated. By comparison, fewer people say they sought a new congregation because of a disagreement with clergy or other members at their previous house of worship (11%) or because they got married or divorced (11%). About one-in-five adults (19%) volunteered that they have looked for a new congregation for some other reason, including other problems with a previous church, changes in their own beliefs or for social or practical reasons.

These are some of the key findings from the fourth in a series of reports based on Pew Research Center’s U.S. Religious Landscape Study. The study and this report were made possible by The Pew Charitable Trusts, which received support for the project from Lilly Endowment Inc. The first report on the 2014 Landscape Study, based on a telephone survey of more than 35,000 adults, examined the changing religious composition of the U.S. public and documented the fluidity of religion in the U.S., where roughly one-third of adults now have a religious identity different from the one in which they were raised. The second report described the religious beliefs, practices and experiences of Americans, as well the social and political views of different religious groups. A third report drew on both the national telephone survey and a supplemental survey of participants in Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel to describe how Americans live out their religion in their everyday lives.

Read more at …

SOCIAL MEDIA & Online reviews of churches are growing, here’s how to react to them.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Larry Osborne once told me he likes “to get the bad news first,” constantly roaming the halls of his megachurch in Vista, California to talk to the average person and find out how they’re doing. Today in the electronic world of online reviews, church leaders should also be tracking what people are saying about their congregation online. In the business world online reviews have been able to make or break companies. And, the way things are headed there will be an increase in online reviews of churches. Read this article to understand the important aspects of online reviews and how to respond.

5 Unusual Ways Online Reviews Can Make or Break Your Company

Think online reviews don’t matter? Think again.

by Sujan Patel, Inc. Magazine, 8/10/16.

What’s more valuable to your business – a customer who purchases $50 worth of product, or the positive review left online by a customer?

With the power of word-of-mouth amplified by the web, and the impact customers can have on a business by leaving reviews, there’s significant value in customer reviews. Both positive and negative have the potential to dramatically impact your business.

According to a study from Dimensional Research and Zendesk, 90% of customers surveyed claimed that positive reviews influenced their buying decisions. A whopping 86% said their buying experience was influenced by negative reviews…

Here are some ways I recommend approaching reviews – both positive and negative – to have a measurable (positive) impact on your business.

1. Reviews in Organic Search

A simple search query can make or break your business – and customers are searching every day. When you type in “BRANDNAME Reviews,” what kind of results do you see for your business?

… I recommend tactics like creating a testimonial page on your website optimized for “Brand Reviews.” I also recommend:

Read more at …

SOCIAL MEDIA & A list of church apps for mobile smartphones #DJChuang

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: For insights on social media, as well as the growth of the Asian American community in North America, follow my colleague, D. J. Chuang’s insightful blog. The following is a recent article.

by D. J. Chuang, posted in church internet and tagged apps mobile on July 22, 2016 (updated 1 day ago)

With so many people with smartphones, there are now so many church apps too. Most church apps have custom branding & design specific to a church; common features include: sermons, events, announcements, church info. Less common features: Bible, prayer, social. Some vendors focus on just developing customized church apps; other vendors have church apps along with other services they provide. In the mix are all kinds of different features and a variety of pricing models.

List of church apps

List of church apps + other services

My personal opinion is a good church mobile app must have online giving that’s easy to use baked in (aka frictionless). And for that, I’d recommend eChurch by PushPay as the platform to look at first; they have excellence and high-touch customer service. [disclosure: I may receive a small referral fee if you’re a satisfied PushPay customer.]

Read more at …

MARKETING & 5 Common Pitfalls in Non-Profit Marketing

by Roman Kniahynyckyj, JULY 11, 2015.

lw_5_pitfallsWhen it comes to increasing donations for your non-profit organization, begging, pleading and coercion are not the answers. In fact these techniques are more likely to turn potential donors away. Here are some solutions to addressing common pitfalls to avoid in online marketing for non-profits…

1) Not Being Social...Pick one channel. Facebook is probably a good place to start. Setting up a social channel isn’t the end though. You may not have a lot of people interacting with you but when someone does ask you a question or comment on your page it’s important you respond appropriately…

2) Not Telling a Story.  Sharing a heart felt story about how donations have been used offers a powerful trigger for other potential donors… Help your website visitors understand and envision the impact of their donations. The more personal stories and long term community impact you can show the more likely you’ll keep people reading and move them towards a donation.

3) Not Creating A Wish List… Creating a non-profit wish list is a useful way to do this. Remember, any ‘ask’ must have a solid rationale for it – if you are asking for a new office computer make sure you let folks know your current computer is almost obsolete or is having trouble running the latest software.

4) Not Offering Social Proof.  In addition to showing where the money goes it’s important to show how the money already raised is being put to work. One of the best ways of offering this sort of social proof is through infographics that can be shared. Infographics are the perfect way to present a variety facts, figures and ideas in an easily digestible format…

5) Not Making it Insanely Easy to Donate.  If your website visitor has to click more once to get to a donation page from any page on your site they’re clicking too much. You will certainly have some visitors landing on your site ready to donate. If someone is ready and willing to donate don’t make it a challenge for them.

Read more at …  (image: )

SOCIAL MEDIA & How Frequently Should Churches Really Post On Social Media? • #djchuang

by Jeremy Smith, 5/23/15, author ofBy The Numbers: A Longitudinal Study on the Digital Ministry of America’s Largest Churches

There is this notion floating around which has gained ground that a magic number exists for how frequently a church should post on different social media platforms to get the best reach every day…

I decided to take this into my own hands and evaluated 12,253 social media posts in December 2014 on three different social media platforms from the 100 largest churches in America in 2014. I assume that these churches are looking to innovate, pioneer, and devote resources to reaching people digitally. Here is what I found:

  • Not a single church posted every day of the month and the average church posted about 3 times a week.
  • 27 churches posted a frequency of at least once a day, 6 of them at least three times a day, and 1 church reached more than five times a day. The average was once a day.
  • Only 20 churches tweeted a frequency of less than once a day whereas 18 churches tweeted five times a day and 2 churches as high as 12 and 16 times a day. The average church posted three times a day…

Read more at …

TRENDS & What Are We Looking For? Top Google Searches & Ways the Church Can Respond #LifeWay

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “LifeWay Research has looked at the top 10 Google searches and suggested how Christians can address each one. Google searches tell us in what people are interested and what questions they may have about those topics. Read this helpful article with suggestions about how the church should respond. Below are the top three searches and LifeWay’s advice for Christian leaders.”

3. Ebola

Why were people searching? The deadly disease became an epidemic in West Africa before isolated cases spread to the U.S. and other Western nations.

What can the church do? Thank God for the work of missionary doctors, nurses, and other Christian medical-relief workers who risked their lives to fight the disease, many of whom were named as TIME‘s Person of the Year. Christians can also work to empower the people in those nations to improve their medical care and societal structures.

2. World Cup

Why were people searching? The 2014 World Cup in Brazil saw Germany capture its fourth championship in the world’s most celebrated soccer tournament. The final match between Germany and Argentina was the most watched soccer match in American history.

What can the church do? We should recognize the growing impact soccer has in our nation, which is due in part to the influx of individuals from other soccer loving countries. The world is coming to us.

1. Robin Williams

Why were people searching? The famous actor and comedian committed suicide at his home this past August.

What can the church do? Be more open and honest about mental illness, including its presence in our pews. Our mental health issue offered numerous resources and help for those looking to minister to the 1-in-4 Americans who suffer from a mental illness.

Read more at …