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Marketing for Ministry

Are you wondering how to use online marketing for ministry?

Check out this powerful case study of a prolife group using online marketing to connect with people considering abortion.

Meet the Pro-Life Group Cracking Planned Parenthood’s Favorite Market

They do’t go into great detail about how they are doing it, but it’s clear they are using simple search marketing practices to intercept those looking for abortions.

What they are doing is exactly what any ministry can do: Determine what kind of online searches the people they want to help are making, and provide relevant content.

For instance, people searching for information about Jesus could be pointed to a local Alpha group. Read More→

Following Up From an Outreach Event

Got a call last night from a friend in a church I used to pastor. They’d just held their first men’s ministry Wild Game Banquet, complete with moose, elk, bear, deer, cougar and even a “mystery meat” that you don’t want to know about.

It was well-attended, with ninety men filling the meeting hall at the gun range to near capacity. The speaker, a local well-respected businessman simply shared his story. There were outdoors, hunting and fishing related door prizes. For desert they went to the onsite indoor range and allowed people to fire away on handguns, many for the first time. Of those in attendance, about a dozen were from no church.

So what do you do for follow-up of an event like that?

Without getting into an evaluation of the event, and the need to clarify if it is an outreach or fellowship event, and if outreach, what level (cultivating, sowing or reaping) it should function at, let me say a bit about follow-up. And let’s assume it was a sowing level outreach event, designed to plant some seeds and build some relationships but not necessarily call for an immediate response to the Gospel.

First of all, the follow-up needs to be planned pre-event. Part of the ticketing process would include email addresses. The ideal would be to have an online survey that people were asked to do before they left, as well as paper versions for those who preferred. Those who completed neither would be emailed a link to the survey that evening.

The survey would ask for feedback on the event: “We are planning to hold this event again and want to make it the best it can be. Please take a minute to give your feedback…”

One question each about the food, the program and the venue. An open-ended “Any other questions and comments?” and then the really important questions:

Please check as many of the following as you like:
Do you want to be informed when we schedule next year’s Wild Game Banquet?
Would you like to know about other men’s ministry events? [Note that it would be helpful at this point to have a unique name for your men’s min vs just calling it Men’s Ministry.)
Do you want to know more about what the speaker talked about tonight?

Then ask for name and email address.

Anyone who checked off the last point is contacted immediately, within 24 hours of the event, by someone who could indeed share more about what the speaker was saying. One idea is to have a second event for a small group of men where the speaker shares the Gospel on a deeper level. This would be attended by any non-church people who checked off this last item, as well as enough men’s ministry leadership to make a comfortable sized group. Alternatively, they could be offered an email series that they opt into that expands upon the speaker’s message. However I would lean toward the live contact at this point.

Those who check off the second last one are emailed or texted with a link to a page that gives them the chance to opt-in to an email series unpacking men’s ministry events.

Those who indicated a desire to be informed about the next year’s event are put in a list, emailed to let them know they are in the list (with the option of unsubscribing) and not bothered until the next event gets closer, unless they have checked off something else.

This is just one simple approach to follow-up. But note how it follows the principle of getting people’s contact info, with permission, allowing for follow-up appropriate to their current level of interest. And of course any email series the attendees are in will offer other gateways to other content that either moves them towards following Jesus or grows them in their faith.

Online Discipleship

I was recently asked to review an online discipleship site that a church has started using.

You can see it here: WalkWithJesus.ca 

Before I say anything else I want to commend the people who are putting this together. It is a good start to effectively leveraging technology for the Gospel.

A few observations:

  • It is essentially a curated content site, with a subscription to RightNow media (provided via the church) needed for some of the training.
  • The benefit of this approach versus simply pointing people to RightNow is that it gives some structure and leverages pre-existing content
  • The drawback is that once they are on RightNow the curation aspect is effectively gone
  • Likewise as it links out to other sites like TMM.io, BillyGraham, FreedomSession etc there will be an assumption of endorsement of all the rest of these sites’ teaching. It can get to be a lot to monitor.
  • The relationship with a Bible college is interesting and will give some added cred and impetus for some people to dig in
  • I’m not sure if any of the links are affiliate links that will generate a commission, but if so it should be disclosed

I especially like the fact that they have started to automate the baptism preparation process!
Most churches could do this so easily and save a ton of time. This is an example of what could be done with membership prep and many other repeated trainings.

Also having basic training like Willow Creek’s Just Walk Across the Room makes a lot of sense.

Membership courses for the church could also be added easily.

I think this is moving in the right direction.
Good use of tech and pre-existing content.

I’d personally like to host all content via the church site versus pointing people elsewhere. Now, that couldn’t be done with the third-party content, but it’s really easy to make a video course about anything, especially if there are already sermons or classes being done in a church. Any church can do it.

I’d also like a clearer discipleship pathway and even greater simplicity.
(I’d suggest, ahem, DNA of a Christ Follower for reference…)
The challenge today is not in getting content, it is filtering content and simplifying complexities.
This site takes steps in both directions, and I expect they will go even further as they refine their ideas.

Good work!

Outsourcing for Churches

Usually when I write a post I like the title to be related to a frequently searched phrase in Google.

That’s not the case with this post. church outsourcing Google searches

As you can see, there may be a handful of searches that fit the “church outsourcing” phrase and none for the longer “outsourcing for churches.”

Now, these numbers are never precisely accurate, but you can safely conclude that pretty much no one is looking for ways to outsource tasks for their church.

There are some good reasons for this.

First of all, how could you justify hiring an overseas freelance outsourcer for admin tasks of some kind when people in your church need employment?

And secondly, with most businesses barely scratching the surface of what is possible via outsourcing, we can hardly expect busy pastors to be up to speed on the options.

But consider this: If you could outsource a task for a fraction of what you are paying right now to have it done by in-house staff, and either reduce your staff or reallocate their time to things that can’t be outsourced, wouldn’t that be good stewardship? What if you could outsource a task for the same price but have it done with much higher levels of consistency and excellence?

Just this morning I was online chatting with my favorite freelancer, Rehmat. He lives in Pakistan and is exactly 12 hours offset from me, so it is easy to remember what time it is for him.

I’m changing the design of a website, so I had him clone it to a different domain where I can then make the changes before he moves it over and replaces the existing site which is still live and fully functioning. Now, I could probably have done this myself, but it would have taken me a week and there is a good chance it would have gone sideways and required outside help anyway. We did in fact run into an issue, but he got it sorted out immediately. He also did work on another major task for me which will be tied off tomorrow. The cost has been $46 for me so far on these two projects and the total till likely be under $100. But the real value is the time saved.

And just in case you think I am being cheap, I’m actually paying $20/hour USD. In a country where the per capita income is $1500 per year, and minimum wage $209 per month.

I’m still thinking about how to outsource more in my business, but for now here’s a couple questions: How much time does your staff spend on your church website? How much is it costing you? What high value tasks, that only they can do, are not being done while they futz online?

How to Do Internet Evangelism

More than twenty-two million visits to the website each year.Internet Evangelism

6.8 million from countries closed to the Gospel or restricting the Gospel.

Seven to nine hundred individuals indicating a response to the Gospel via the website each day.

No, I didn’t make those numbers up. They come from a report I heard at an internet marketing and ministry gathering I went to in Chicago.

Several years ago, an atheist with a background in marketing and PR came to faith. She wondered how she could use her skills to serve. So she put up a little website to answer the kinds of questions she’d had before coming to faith- the kinds of questions her very patient and faithful Christian friend had researched and answered for her until there was nothing to do but follow Jesus.

Seven years later, those are the stats.

By the way, people are brought to the site with paid advertising, something that many churches are shy about trying. But with a cost of $3.25 per profession of faith, less than $10 for each person who professes faith and then engages in an online follow up series, that looks like money quite well spent.

At the day, which was attended by 180 people, a mix of internet marketers and ministry leaders, we heard both the story of this website, as well as an explanation of what they were doing to get those kinds of results.

The shocker: It was basic internet marketing, the kinds of things that good online business owners do in their sleep. The kinds of things that any church could choose to do this week.

How? Well that’s what this site is all about.