I’ve got a confession: I am totally overwhelmed by social media and marketing. It blows me away and I’d bet that you probably feel just the same way. Social media marketing is so confusing. I’ve spent hours trying to get a handle on it. It’s a drag. And I’m not sure I’ve made much progress to tell you the truth.
But I’m pretty sure I’m not alone, especially among churches and campus ministries. So I thought I would begin to blog my journey into the marketing world. Not that I intend to become an expert—an experiment is more like it—and put it into a blog.
Up to this point I’ve done web research and engaged with work by Chris Jefferson at Prodonos.com, Justin Wise (ThinkDigital.com), Ryan Wakefield at ChurchMarketingUniversity.com, and Hubspot.com. Each company has taken me deeper, but I’m still searching for the whole in the midst of all the pieces.
What I’ve found is many different approaches that form a miasma (a fancy way of saying a mess) of options, statistics, social media platforms and more “buy my product and you too can succeed” than I ever thought imaginable.
Here’s why I’m doing this marketing work:
This whole process is probably going to feel piecemeal itself as I learn pieces then figure out how to get them to work together as a whole. I’ll share those pieces with you as I journey this broken process. Hopefully my journey will help you and if you have insights, tools, and even things you’d never do again, share them with me and together we’ll push to the future.
Upward and Onward
by Stan Granberg - Originally published 09/28/16
"At what point did pastoral ministry become so draining, so challenging, that a gifted veteran would question his ability to go the distance or cause a bright and talented newcomer to consider dropping out of professional ministry?" Lilly Foundation, Sustaining Pastoral Excellence, p.
Today's pastors often feel:
As a result, the best people often shy away from professional ministry or they burnout and leave ministry as a vocation, sometimes even leaving God in the process.
If you're a minister, a church leader, a friend of a minister, or a church member, you owe it to your minister, yourself, and your church to help your minister engage in healthy soul care.
Recently I was blessed to be at a meeting of church planter executives where Alan Ahlgrim presented five levels of pastoral soul care. Every pastor should have plans for the first four levels and options for level five.
Friend to Friend
Close friends provide regular, personal interaction where they can speak into the pastor's soul with love and support.
Everyone runs into situations that challenge them beyond their current level of ability or maturity. Mentors provide pastors the investment of experience and expertise to help them meet the challenges of pastoral work.
These are retreats, seminars, and training events where pastors can learn from experts and each other to sharpen the myriad of skills pastors may be called to perform.
These are small groups of fellow leaders who commit from one to three years together to hold each other close, allowing them to reveal their fears, their doubts, and their missteps without fear of repercussions.
Covenant groups are not about fixing. They are about listening carefully, asking clear questions, and keeping each other out of the ditch.
Sometimes despite the best precautions, but most often because levels one through four were not exercised, pastors reach crisis where professional help and intervention is needed.
God has provided exceptional people who can help pastors in deep distress regain balance and wholeness to their life and ministry.
Share these five levels with your church leaders and pastor. You may save a life gifted for God's glory.
By Stan Granberg
Within our Kairos Church Planting network we say this, "Vision brings hope and a Plan brings confidence." This is a memorable way to recognize that we need to know where we headed and how we're going to get there.
We also say, "If it's in your head it's a dream; if it's on paper it's a plan." The power of putting something down on paper (yeah, that's figurative, as I'm writing this on my iPad) is amazing. More things will actually get done when we see it written then when they just rattle around in our minds.
If making a plan and writing it down are so powerful why is it that so many of us don't do it? My answer is we often overthink planning. We think planning means spending days agonizing over the issues, researching all possible answers, and preparing that way too long, no one will ever read it, doorstop of a plan. If that's what it takes--count me out! I can't do that kind of planning. Let's leave that to the Pentagon.
Instead I use this very simple 5 question planning process:
What needs to happen to move the ball down the field? There are always many things that beg to be done. This question helps us clarify what will actually help us do what needs to be done.
Why do I think this goal will move the ball? Answering the why question raises our confidence that we're putting our energies into something that will actually help us make progress.
What is the measurable outcome I'm trying to achieve? If your outcome isn't measurable how in the world will you know when you've accomplished it and how well it was done? By having a measurable outcome you'll know it when it happens. (Oh, and this makes celebrating the victory so much more satisfying).
What actions will get me there? By creating an action list you take the big, overwhelming thing and break it down into pieces you can handle. It's the answer to the old African question. "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!"
What's the logical sequence for those actions? Now you sequence those actions into the logical order that you can put into your work calendar. Now you know not only what you need to do but when you have to have it done by. For about half of us (yeah, us iNtuitives and Perceivers in the Myers-Briggs or Influencers in the DiSC) it gives us that deadline we often need to get us going.
Most of the time, even for long term, complex processes, you should be able to put all this on one sheet of paper. Do that and you've got a pretty simple but darn good plan.
Remember even an idiot with a plan is more likely to succeed than a genius without one.
Good luck. Why don't you sit down and make a plan right now. if it fits on one page (one side only) send it to me. I'll love seeing what you're working on.
By Stan Granberg - Orginally published 10/06/2016
Is that a bold question to ask? Why do I think I know so much that I can assume your church is not planting new churches? I do it with 97% certainty.
Before I answer the question here's a quiz for you to take:
Over the past eleven years Our Kairos team has talked to hundreds of churches in our fellowship of the Churches of Christ. The good news is that across those eleven years over 160 churches have contributed in some way toward planting new churches through Kairos Church Planting.
That's 1.3% of our current 12,260 congregations.
The bad news is that we are losing far more churches than we are planting and we can only expect the rate of decline to accelerate. Thus the question,
Why is my church not planting new churches? Here are five common answers we hear.
Our church isn't growing, how could we start something new?
For over twenty years now the general research is that 80% of American churches are declining or plateaued. The result is that when a church is not growing, it's difficult to imagine that growth of any kind is possible. Planting new churches is our research and development. New churches can help us learn how to grow again.
It's not a good time for us.
I've heard this reason many times. When I've followed it up with "When would be a good time?" the typical answer is 10 years. But what will be different 10 years from now if we do not make the decisions to change?
Can we control a new church?
What we mean by this statement is we want to make sure a new church will look, act, and think just like us. Yet, can we defend the idea that our existing churches are perfect? Have we truly made a perfect church?
New churches are engaged in a deeply creative process to engage our dynamic culture in faith. The best control we can offer is the trust that those we have raised in faith will pursue their task with humble obedience to God's word.
We don't know how.
Twenty years ago our knowledge of church planting was limited and individualized. Today, however, there is a great deal of information available.
Kairos has identified three seasons of planting, each with five critical tasks that will help a new church successfully come into being. Our challenge is not really knowing what to do, it is learning how to execute what we need to do. Contact Kairos for your first steps.
We can't afford it.
Individually, few churches can afford the cost of planting new churches (approximately $250,000 over three to five years). Yet God has not left us without resources.
First, what if we worked together with several churches forming a support group? By distributing the costs it becomes much more affordable. Second, we need to faithfully close many older, dying churches that have finished their course in order to plow those resources back into the future.
by Stan Granberg. Originally published 10/26/16
How many ministry job descriptions does your church have written?
Whoa! That’s a boring topic. My experience is that few churches have job descriptions written for more than their hired staff. But spending the time to write job descriptions for all your ministry leaders may be one of the best investments your church can make for your sanity, health and the well-being of your church.
Because churches are volunteer organizations we suggest using the name role descriptions over job descriptions. This name change helps people understand the volunteer idea a little more clearly.
The role description is your basic blueprint for success for every important, ongoing job that you want to get done. Here’s five ways that Ministry Role Descriptions will help your church:
You can download Writing High Quality Role Descriptions from the Kairos website. Throw a “writing party” for your ministry leaders to involve them in writing their own role descriptions. Add some food and fun to get the work done!
Have you noticed? The ministry of worship has changed considerably over the past twenty-five years.
This is particularly true in Churches of Christ where a cappella singing has been a defining characteristic, and even litmus test of faithfulness. Here’s the short-hand version of our change. Our tribe lived for a century with the presence of a song leader, someone who selects the songs, pitches them appropriately, and gets us started. After that, we’ll do the rest. Now we are recognizing that there is a far greater depth to the role of song leader. What many churches are looking for now is a worship leader.
What’s the difference between a song leader and a worship leader?
A song leader worked in a clipboard environment of worship planning. In the church of my youth we actually had “dear brother deacon” who stood at the back of the auditorium with a clipboard. His job was to check off everyone participating in the worship presentation—which included the song leader. If the song leader was ever late, brother deacon got mighty nervous. The key person in the worship experience was the preacher. The song leader was ancillary. In fact, as long as there was preaching, the worship event could be successful. Singing and music could be left out.
Today, the worship leader ministers in a richer, more expansive environment. In fact, the worship leader functions much like the conductor of an orchestra. The worship leader sets the stage, develops the atmosphere, and directs the people through the movements of the worship experience. The preacher appears on stage much like the featured soloist. We look forward to and applaud the soloist, but it is the conductor who has created the experience. That is what the worship leader does today.
Cole NeSmith, co-pastor and creative director at City Beautiful Church described the worship leader’s role this way: The true goal is to recognize, create, and amplify a culture of worship unique to where you are.”
Right now, I now of five churches looking for worship ministers. All of the them are a bit “angsty” about the fact that worship leaders are so hard to find. As we’re going through that search at our church, here are five criteria that stand out when hiring a worship leader.
I pray these reflections are useful to you as you consider your church and the ministry of worship.
by Jared King, Missio Church, Seattle
I am not much of a handyman. In fact, my wife is the handyman around our house. But even I know that having the right tools makes building much easier. And it certainly is true of building a church. The difficulty in church planting is that there are more tools now than we know what to do with. It seems like every week someone comes out with the new “latest and greatest” tool to help you form teams, lead people, disciple leaders, and raise funds. The hard part is discerning the tools that are right for you in your season.
The 5 Capitals
Mike Breen’s 5 Capitals is the tool that has been most useful to us during our groundwork phase of church planting in Seattle. It is a tool to help you understand the nature of connection between yourself and individuals, organizations, nonprofits, churches, ministries, etc. It’s easy to form relationships and connections that produce little substance. The reason most of our connections produce so little fruit has less to do with the heart of the connection, but, rather, a lack of understanding the nature of the connection.
Breen outlines five different capitals that we are in charge of stewarding for God’s Kingdom as disciples of Jesus. What are the 5 Capitals?
Any business owner or church planter knows to invest in making connections. This tool helps to clarify within relationships how two partners can work together to advance kingdom work. It changes conversations from, “Hey, we should get together more often to encourage each other,” to “Please use our copy machine whenever you need to print anything. And thank you for babysitting our kids last week!” Building anything of substance requires all 5 Capitals. You can either try the uphill battle of growing your own capital, or, identifying where you can invest in others and how others can invest in you.
If they’re unchurched why are we talking about how far they'll drive to church at all?
That’s a fair question, so let’s talk about those who are becoming believers or who are new believers. When people cross that mental barrier of resistance and decide to explore faith they’re eventually going to attend a church worship gathering.
So how far will they go?
I’ve worked with church planters for the past twelve years, so I have a lot of anecdotal evidence, but I also have some research evidence that gives us a strong clue of how far people will go.
When I was teaching at Cascade College in Portland, OR in 2002, one of my students mapped the directories of people attending nine Churches of Christ congregations in the Portland Metro area. This is what he found:
Remember, these were highly committed Christians and highly committed to their specific, home church. When it came to people who are becoming Christians, the distances shrink dramatically.
People becoming Christians will typically live within 2.5 miles from where they will attend a church.
Remember, people who are becoming Christians are trying out faith. They want to see if faith makes sense in their life, if it fits their lifestyle. They don’t have strong attachments to any particular faith brand. “Becoming believers” will typically go to a church that:
To the person becoming a believer, one church is about the same as another, thus the 2.5 mile radius reflects the distance new people tend to travel to church.
The distance can go out to 5 miles when there are nearby connection points, such as neighbors who attend that church or a small group that meets nearby. These near-neighbor connections provide a conduit to the more distant worship gathering.
Beyond the 5-mile zone there has to be a strong, specific reason for people to travel that distance to church: brand loyalty, a specific worship experience or preacher, a family special need being met, etc.
If your church wants to reach new people, here are some ideas for reaching those who live near where you meet.
Hope these ideas help you think and act more carefully to those people who live close to your meeting place.
A Process for your Church Leadership Team
How does your church make decisions? Who makes the decisions? How timely are decisions made?
Step 1: Values
Your core values give your church its sense of individual identity, provide direction, and are foundation upon which decisions are made. Run the decision through your core values. Ask these two question to help you discern whether you can say yes to a decision.
1. Is this decision consistent with and connected to our core values?
Step 2: Mission
Now you are looking at how this decision connects with your church's mission, the statement that describes why your church exists. Your mission statement answers the question, Should we say yes to this decision?
Step 3: Vision
Your vision is what you wish to see come to being in the next few years. Ask the question, Does this decision contribute to accomplishing our vision? At this step you are answering the final question of, "Will we say yes to this decision?"
Can We Grow Again?
by Stan Granberg, PhD
I received a call recently from a church that began with this, “We’re tired of years of decline and want to know if anyone can help us grow again.” What a great statement and a statement that can break your heart. Yet I hear it over and over again. My perspective is that there is a dawning desperation among many church leaders. No matter what they do, it seems like people continue to leave their churches and few guests stick around to replace them.
Score the following statements using this system:
1 point= Nope. This isn't us.
3 points=I hope this isn't us
7 points=This could be us
10 points=Oh dear. This is us!
How did you do?
No matter where you find yourself scoring, there is help. I encourage you to contact the Heritage 21 ministry for a free consultation about what next steps your church might take.
Heritage 21 can help you update your legal documents, better understand your challenges, and suggest options for a God-honoring future for your church.