5 Lessons about Church Giving that Amazon Can Teach Us

Way back in the mid-1990s there were a lot of companies gunning to be the leader in “online retailing.” (Who remembers Pets.com?) Amazon was an early leader. Since then, it has cemented its place as the “everything store” by offering a massive selection of items that are delivered at a shockingly quick rate.

Google is the search engine for knowledge. Amazon is the search engine for purchasing. 

In fact, 44% of all online shoppers go directly to Amazon to make purchases. [ref] When people give, our churches’ digital giving interfaces are being compared to Amazon’s. We need to learn about how this e-commerce retailer handles their customers and apply those lessons to our donors.

  • Reduce Friction // Have you ever noticed how easy it is to purchase something on Amazon? Over the years, they have focused on reducing the friction in the online shopping experience to encourage more people to spend with them. It’s beautiful to watch all the various pieces working together. Amazon Prime removes the “added shipping cost” from the “shopping cart” so we don’t slow down at check-out. They store multiple credit cards so you can decide where you want to charge individual purchases. The Amazon Dash buttons allow you to push a button and have common items ordered and shipped to you. The latest tool, Amazon Echo, literally allows you to call out orders from your home and they’ll ship them to you! Is your online giving system complex and hard to follow? Are you asking people to go through extra hoops that add to your convenience but to their annoyance? Is it easy to find how to give to your church on your website?
  • Send More Emails // If you are a regular Amazon shopper, you get a tremendous amount of email from them. Every time you order, you receive a confirmation email, a “your order is shipped email” and an “order arrived” email. You also receive regular marketing emails about categories of products they believe you might be interested in. If you browse certain items but don’t purchase them, Amazon will send you “recall” emails to bring you back to the site to purchase the item you were thinking about. You might not like all this email … but it works. It drives the behavior they are looking for. Most churches don’t send enough email. They are afraid to junk up inboxes. I’m not advocating sending the same amount as Amazon — just yesterday I received 8 emails and I didn’t purchase anything! — but I am saying churches need to send more. Obviously an acknowledgment email … but what about monthly statements rather than waiting for quarterly ones? Emails that show the impact of giving, or ones that show how people can set up a new aspect of online giving? These may move people from regular “one-time gifts” to “recurring donations.” Send more emails … it’s okay.
  • Invest in Long-Term Solutions // One of the things I admire about Amazon is their commitment to investing in long-term customer satisfaction rather than just chasing short-term trends. They have steadily sped up the delivery of their products over the years, reducing the time they call “click to ship” from days when they started to minutes in some instances today. This is an impressive feat for a company with 244 million customers. [ref] Investing in your digital giving solution is wise over the long haul. People are moving closer toward this approach than traditional donor channels from the past. It might take you a while to get it right, but people will be using this system for years. Gather your team and start working on this for your church. It’s not a short-term fad but a long-term shift that you need a solution for.
  • Don’t Miss Mobile // The Amazon app is a beautiful experience. It has a UPC scanner where you can walk into traditional “bricks and mortar” stores, scan items and compare the cost to purchase it on Amazon. I’ve purchased many items over the years after looking at them in the store and then buying them online. Mobile is the way people increasingly interact with the web. Your site needs to be “mobile optimized” so it works cleanly on a wide variety of phones, tablets and other interfaces that people carry around. In fact, your digital giving solution really should be seen from a “mobile first” perspective because all the trendlines are pointing toward that being where most people will interact with you.
  • Be Customer “Obsessed” // Amazon is crazy-obsessed with making people happy. They work hard to ensure customers love their service more than any other online store. It’s the first of their fourteen values and it permeates how they talk about and live out their mission. We know that when people give to your church, they are giving to what the Lord is doing — but sometimes it can feel like we ignore our donors out of a false sense of not wanting to show favoritism. Everyone who chooses to give anything to your church is vital to your mission. They are as important in making your services happen as that core volunteer who is “first in, last out” every Sunday. We go out of our way to treat volunteers with love and care … we need to do the same with our donors. On top of that, some of them have the spiritual gift of giving and, like other gifts, we want to see it exercised well within our churches. If we ignore people who give, we’ll miss the opportunity to develop those gifts!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

6 Places Where Vision Communication Must Be Clear

Clarity is the highest goal of all church communications. Our role is to cut through the clutter and deliver the message we are giving with as much precision as possible. In order to do that we employ a wide variety of tactics to persuade people towards the goals that we’ve set. In an effort to persuade our communications can slip to a place where they stop being clear and become just clever. We can become too self-impressed with how we’re communicating the message that the content of the message is lost.

Here are a handful of times that I’ve seen churches lose clarity when communicating with their community:

  • Family Ministry Environment Names // When a first time guest sees the names of your kid’s and student’s ministries do they make sense? If I have an infant do I take them to “WhizBangLand” or “GrowUpGang”? Too many churches employ clever ministry names that don’t make sense to people outside of the church. It’s the ultimate insider focused tactic to use names that are not self-evident to guests. Make sure people can clearly understand the signage and printed materials about your family ministry environments without having to interpret what they mean.
  • Campus Location Labeling // Too often churches attempt to be clever by naming campuses using relative locations to the original campus … Crossroads Church North, St. Paul’s East … the problem is that naming convention assumes that the new campus is a small satellite of something larger. Quickly after you launch people will attend the new location that have never been to the original campus … when you use a naming convention that points back to the first location it diminishes the work in the new campus. Pick an approach to labeling the new location that casts vision for the community for want to reach … Crossroad Church Essex County, St. Paul’s Uptown.
  • Graphic Design // Can I speak to the graphic designers for a minute? There is a difference between something looking amazing and it communicating clearly. Most of the great art I’ve ever seen is ambiguous and hard to understand what the artist is saying. The fact that I need to wrestle with the meaning of the piece is what makes it art. Your role as a graphic designer is to use elements of design to communicate a message. Communication leads … art follows. It would be prettier to have the super slender font on that flyer … but people wouldn’t understand that it’s talking about. This isn’t a tension to be managed … communication comes before beauty … function before form.
  • Next Steps // Once people start attending your church for a while they will be looking for their next steps to getting connected. Often I’ve seen churches call their first steps for new people some fancy name that just doesn’t make sense on the surface … Discovery Class, Engage, Connection. By definition, people who are new to your church don’t have any sense of your “integration process” and are just wondering what they should do first. At our church we call this environment First Step because we want it to be the first thing people who when they come to our church. This is also the case when you ask people to take any sort of “next step” in their spiritual journey. Make the right next step obvious and clear.
  • Financial Reporting // Report your finances in a way that can be easily understood by “non-financial” people. Use plain language, simple charts and clear commentary when talking about the financial state of the church. Financials are not self-evident to most people. We need to provide simple commentary that helps people benchmark what is happening in the life of the church. Bold clarity in this area will build trust with your donors and ultimately encourage them to give more to your ministry. If people don’t understand this part of what happens at your church they will be less likely to give. Active obfuscation of the truth is the shortest route to financial ruin of a church.
  • Online Calls to Action // Your church’s website probably has too many options on it. When people arrive at your site what do you want them to “do”? Are you focusing their attention on just a few next steps rather than a wide variety of options? Every ministry wants to be “featured” on your site … but if you “feature” them all you will just generate clutter and noise for your guests. Often we use our websites to move people to action in our church … asking them to donate, join a small group, volunteer for a team, connect with our team, etc … but when we pile on the “calls to action” each new ask erodes the impact of the last.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

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— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Movements Toward a More Outward Focus

I’m so excited to have Omar Garcia with us today. Omar is the missions pastor at Kingsland Baptist Church in Katy, Texas.

Omar arrived at Kingsland 12 years ago as the first missions pastor. The church had a great reputation in the community, with a great prayer ministry and great family ministry. However, everything at Kingsland was very inwardly focused. The church needed help in reaching beyond the church and into the community.

  • Take ownership of ministry initiatives. // Omar wanted to help the Kingsland membership to stretch themselves and step into situations they never had before, locally and internationally, while demonstrating God’s love in practical ways. One of the first steps in reaching beyond the church’s doors was to challenge the community groups to take ownership of a local initiative. The church stepped outside of Katy’s upper middle class neighborhoods and into the inner city of Houston, forming an urban alliance with a church there. Omar took 45 moms and kids to deliver fans during the summer to elderly within these neighborhoods in Houston.
  • Care for your community in various ways. // Once the local initiatives took off, Kingsland faced the issue of remodeling their worship center and having to be out of the church for a Sunday. The staff discussed the plan of finding another place to worship that day and what building they could rent. But instead the initiative of Caring for Katy was born, which filled the problem of needing a place to come together to worship. On that Sunday, everyone stepped outside of the church, found needs within the community and determined how they would address them. Caring for Katy is now in its tenth year and reaches out to people throughout the Houston area to bring the love of God to them in practical ways.
  • Find passion among the staff. // An important part of finding success in initiatives like the ones Kingsland has done is to be passionate about seeing people grow in their relationship with Christ. Kingsland’s senior pastor is a passionate supporter of everything the community missions has done in reaching beyond the church. He recognizes that as his congregation grows in sharing their faith, they are investing in and contributing to the Kingdom of God. Often these kinds of outreach initiatives don’t work because there is no passion or full support from the senior leaders in the church. A senior pastor who is just as passionate about these projects as the groups doing them will encourage success and help provide resources needed for local missions.

You can learn more about Kingsland at www.kingsland.org and reach Omar at omar@kingsland.org.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Astounding Difference of Extraordinary Clarity

Dennis Richards is the executive pastor at Preston Trails Church in Texas. Listen in as he walks through how the church gained extraordinary clarity using Auxano’s Vision Framing Process and the difference that made in the life of their church. This episode is a great guide for your church to wrestle through what elements you need clarity on and how to move to action once you have it!

At Preston Trail we have a very clear understanding of who we are as a church. This clarity comes from an awareness of our mission (what we’re supposed to be doing), our values (the shared convictions that guide our decisions and reveal our strengths), our strategy (what we do to accomplish our mission) and our measures (how we know when we’re successful). The desired result in all of these is that the mission of Jesus would become the mission of our lives.

Play the podcast here.

Read more about Preston Trail’s Vision Frame.

Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about the Vision Framing process.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

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Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Engaging People with FOMO *Fear of Missing Out

Supply and demand is not only a fundamental economic principle, but a cultural assumption. When the supply of a product or service becomes scarce, it becomes more valuable. If there is an unlimited availability, it simply remains worthless for people. Is it possible to leverage scarcity to drive engagement at your church?

Engagement continues to be a critical factor that many churches are looking to increase impact. We want more people to engage in our services, on our service teams and in our mid-week groups. Scarcity is a powerful tool to help drive engagement and, ultimately, growth at your church. With “Sunday always coming” we give the perception that there is no scarcity to our activities, however, here are five ways to position our ministry to drive more engagement using scarcity:

  • Seating in Auditorium // Church works better full. It’s just true. Church leaders love Easter and Christmas because their auditoriums are fuller than normal. The feeling of only a few empty seats creates a positive vibe in the church. What if your church reduced the seating capacity at some “non-prime time” services to help create that sort of buzz every week? I’ve seen this done at some of the fastest growing churches in the country. They will offer a multiple service times but in the “off prime” services they will remove seats to compress the audience together. This could be done by either removing the seats or using “pipe and drape” to block off a section or two.
  • Group Start Up Windows // A common strategy for churches encouraging people to get into a mid-week group is by limiting the windows people can join. In the beginning, this seems counter-intuitive because it would appear that allowing people to join whenever they are ready is a better strategy. However, churches that limit the window for people to join have found that there is a focused energy on joining before the window closes which helps move people into a group. Our friends at North Point Church use an event called GroupLink to help encourage people to attend. They’ve been employing this strategy for almost two decades and have seen consistent growth in their group attendance.
  • Discount Cliffs for Sign Ups // Is your youth group heading out on a retreat in the coming season? Are you tired of everyone signing up in the last week to go? By providing a financial incentive to sign up early you’ll move some of your families to register sooner to get the lower price. The best practice is to have 3 different prices with a cost spread of about 15% for the lowest price which is the “super early bird” rate. Not only will this move your registrations earlier and help you plan better for the event but over time as you repeat this strategy you’ll notice a change in the registration trends and be better at predicting registrations. This strategy can be employed with any event where you need people to pay a fee to register.
  • Free Ticketing for Big Days // Christmas Eve and Easter continue to be critical times for churches to reach out into their community. Many leading churches will use some form of free tickets for these big days to encourage people to register ahead of time for the event. The scarcity of tickets “selling out” encourages the community to invite their friends early so that they can get their desired service time. It also helps if your church members ask their friends for a confirmed commitment as the scarcity of the tickets means that they need to actually register their intent. Free ticketing also results in the church gaining the contact information of every registrant before the event occurs. You can use this contact information to plan your follow up with guests before the event even happens.
  • Series Preaching // Prevailing churches package up their content into 4-8 week “series” that help provide a framework on what the church is discussing. Rather than just having one sermon after another, series preaching allowing the communicator to have a “story arch” that goes from one week to the other. This adds scarcity to our Sunday mornings as each series has a “beginning, middle & end” which encourages people to attend. Expanding churches use a collection of approximately 4-week long series on average which means they get 12 opportunities a year to engage with their community with a “limited time offer” on their sermons.

Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about engaging people in your church.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

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Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

7 Ways to Help Your Church Guests Feel Welcome Without Selling Out

We will do anything short of sin to reach people who don’t know Christ. To reach people no one is reaching, we’ll have to do things no one is doing. – Craig Groeschel

I know there are some church leaders who read that quotation from Craig Groeschel and throw up a little in their mouths. They’re convinced that their job is to preach the word and disciple people and not worry about stuff like guests’ experiences at services. In fact, some leaders look down their noses at churches that go out of their way to create environments that unchurched people love to attend. They’re concerned about growing Christ-followers and don’t want to worry about marketing, customer service, communications or similar issues. They just want to preach the word courageously and not concern themselves with pedestrian matters such as how people feel when they come to church.

The problem is that the Scriptures are clear that to worry about the outsider is core to being a follower of Christ. In fact, the entire weight of Scripture is about creating space for people who are outside of the faith to join us. Even in the Old Testament, we see God instructing his people to defer to strangers and make room for them at the table. In an age when faiths were divided along racial and ethnic lines, Jesus presented the crazy notion that anyone from any background can gain access to God through faith in him alone. (What a radical idea!) We see New Testament leaders attempting to live out a faith that created space for a broader community of people … they made space for outsiders.

“Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.” – Colossians 4:5 (ESV)

Today, that leaves us to work out what this looks like for our churches. How can we create spaces where people feel welcome at our churches regardless of their spiritual background? What can we do to ensure that unchurched people know they are welcome to our experiences every weekend? How can we do this in a way that doesn’t compromise the core of our experiences, if we’re concerned about that? Here are 7 ways to help unchurched people feel welcome that don’t impact our teaching or music ministries:

  • Create Helpful Signage // Do people know how to find their way around your facility? Can they easily get from their cars to wherever they drop off their kids to their seats in the main auditorium? Most churches I’ve been to don’t have enough signage. They assume people know way too much. Exterior signage lets newcomers know they are in the right place. Interior signage should guide them through the experience while reducing stress.
  • Introduce Platform People // When someone gets up to talk from the platform, make sure they introduce themselves or that someone else does a quick introduction. “Hi, my name is James and I’m one of the pastors around here.” A simple introduction helps unchurched people get a sense of who everyone is and helps them know who they should talk to afterward. When people just get up and start talking or leading without any context, it leaves guests wondering who the person is and why they are talking.
  • Expect Guests // You know that feeling when you go a friend’s house and it feels like they were ready for you? It feels great, right? What about the opposite feeling: when you go over to someone’s house and you get the distinct feeling that they aren’t ready for you? It’s easy to start wondering whether they want you over at all, isn’t it? The same is true when guests visit your church. Even a few things that anticipate guests communicate that you are ready and expecting them. Examples include signs in the parking lot for new guests, a gift ready for them at an information desk, or trained volunteers at the kids’ check-in who know how to handle new guests well.
  • Explain What’s Happening // Every church has some form of ritual or patterns that it follows. If we don’t take a moment to explain them to people, they can be confusing to follow. Don’t assume people understand what is happening or that they know how they should engage. Communion is a particularly thorny one for people … are they supposed to dip not sip or take a gulp and then some bread? Slowing down and giving a brief explanation of what is taking place goes a long way in making sure people feel welcome! Taking time to frame what’s happening in your church during the announcements is also an important part of making guests feel welcome!
  • Give Context to Passages // Many people don’t know the Bible but they want to understand it better … that’s why they are coming to your church! Don’t assume people know anything about the passages that you are talking about; instead, provide a little context. This doesn’t need to be heavy Greek or a never-ending history lesson, just some understanding of where the Bible verses you are talking about fall into the broader narrative. Give some context so people can dig into the content you are presenting.
  • Serve Their Kids Well // When parents come to your church, they usually look at the experience through the eyes of their kids. When you go out of your way to serve their kids, you also serve their parents. Often, kids are nervous when they go into a new space. Make sure your team is ready to receive new kids well. Have activities that can engage kids right away. Guests often arrive earlier than your typical church attendee, so make sure your team is in place in plenty of time to greet guests well. Work hard to make sure the check-in process is smooth, simple and secure. Family ministry is a critical area for churches, so lead this team well.
  • Fix Your Website // 46% of church guests said that a church’s website was important in picking a church to visit. [ref] It really is the front door to your church. Chances are good that your guests will check out your site before they check out your services. Make sure the basic contact information is easy to find, including service times, the location and the phone number to call if people have any questions. Let people know what to expect by answering key questions, such as how long the service will be, what people usually wear and what services are provided for kids. Make sure your site is mobile-friendly so people can use it on their phone or tablet.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Helps to Leading a Generous Church

Church leaders worry about money. They worry about the church being able to pay its bills. They see the gap between the vision they believe God has given them and the reality of the contents of the offering plate. They’re nervous about what will happen if they can’t finish the year strong financially. Most pastors go into ministry because they want to care for people. Then they are rudely awakened to the reality that they are actually running a small business.

Years ago, I listened to an interview with Willow Creek’s Bill Hybels on tape … that tells you how long ago it was … and he said something that has stuck with me: “If the only thing that is holding back the vision of your church is money, you need to get out and raise it!” Not rocket science but it stayed with me. Part of our role as church leaders is raising the financial resources necessary to accomplish the vision God has given us. It’s not magical or mystical … it’s just work.

In the same vein, I’ve seen so many people get fired up in their own spiritual lives by increasing their generosity. Living a life that is about giving instead of acquiring is a core discipleship truth that people need to learn. People win when we help them grow in generosity. In a world obsessed with consumption, our pastoral responsibility is to show people a better way to a generous life. Some church leaders don’t want to “talk about money” because of the stigma associated with it. They are robbing people of a potential spiritual breakthrough!

Here are some resources to help you increase the culture of generosity in your church:

  • Offering Talks // Taking a moment before you receive the offering to frame that experience is one of the ways you can encourage generosity without feeling like a used car salesman. As you thank people for being generous, they move toward being more generous. The resource below walks you through what makes a great offering talk. It even provides you with sample scripts to put into action right away.
  • Year-End Campaigns // The last 45 days of the year are a critical time in non-profit fundraising. Our culture is primed to give to “philanthropic causes” around the end of the year but most churches ignore the opportunity to see a 10-15% bump in their annual revenue. Think through a strategic plan to cast vision for giving to your church like any other non-profit that contacts donors during this time. It can help fund great ministry opportunities for the coming year. This resource walks through the essential steps for a successful campaign in the next Christmas season:
  • Major Campaign Initiatives // At some point in the histories of most churches, they need to cast a compelling “game-changing” vision and ask people to give far above and beyond what they normally give. Major giving campaigns that fund new campuses, new ministry initiatives or traditional bricks-and-mortar projects are still a mainstay. I’ve led two major multi-million dollar campaigns and from experience I can say that doing it with a trusted advisor is preferred over “doing it alone!” Find out some of the things they won’t tell you:
  • Tithe Challenge // What would happen if you asked people to take Malachi 3:10 at face value for 90 days? “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’” Then if people don’t experience the transformation we believe they will through generous giving, you return their offering to them. Sounds crazy, right? After studying a few other churches that did this tithe challenge, we’ve done it for the last three years. It continues to be a fruitful tool and people say their perspectives on generosity were challenged and changed because of it. Here are some questions I would challenge you to ask before deciding to head into a 90-day tithe challenge campaign:
  • Be Seen to Be Generous // People need to be led and taught in lots of areas of their lives. They need to be shown what it looks like to have an authentic prayer life and they need to see healthy relationships modeled for them. The same is true for seeing what generosity looks like. Churches need to model generosity on a corporate level as a part of the journey toward people being generous with us. One of my core convictions as a leader is that people are drawn to generous organizations … if we’re stingy with our resources then they will be too. If we’re generously reaching out and helping others around us, then people will follow suit. Listen to this interview with a leader of a church that is doing an amazing job leveraging assets in a tangible way to be a blessing to their community:

Read more from Rich.


Learn more about becoming a generous church. Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Communication Tasks to Stop Doing

How your church presents itself visually is incredibly important. People are increasingly visual learners, so your church needs to ensure it presents a compelling visual aesthetic in everything you do. Even if you have a graphic designer on your staff, the increased visual needs can be difficult to keep up with. You need to keep things fresh and current, and in order to do that you need help.

In the past, we’ve talked about using Virtual Assistants in local churches. Today, we want to challenge you to “outsource” some of the graphic design tasks your church should be doing to a third-party design firm. We strongly endorse Design Pickle. They provide flat rate, unlimited design services for a fraction of what it costs to hire a full-time designer. We’d encourage your church to check it out — drop by this site to learn more. Here are five design tasks you should consider outsourcing right away:

  • Social Media Graphics // To keep people engaged on social media, you need to keep feeding Facebook, Instagram and whatever other networks you connect on new visuals. Take images of your senior pastor teaching and combine them with quotes from the messages for compelling quote squares. Repurpose the announcement slides from your weekend services into social media infographics that remind people about upcoming events at your church. Both of these tasks are really template driven and disappear so quickly — it’s best to outsource them to another firm rather than having your team do them.
  • Repurposed Series Graphics // Many churches create compelling series graphics that entice people to attend their church. Often a core look is created and then derivatives of that image are produced (e.g., cover for the program, Facebook cover, website header graphics, email header, Twitter square, etc.). Rather than having your team do all the “downstream” work, have them focus on the core creative work and then pass the “repurposing” on to a third-party group to do.
  • Department Flyers // Your youth department has new events every few weeks. They need great looking flyers but you don’t want the youth ministry staff spending time making their flyers look pretty … you want them building up leaders and reaching students. Have your team pull together the event name, description “blurb,” and date/time/location details, along with a couple other advertisements they like, and give them to a firm like Design Pickle to do the work. The student team will be happy because they will get more design time and variety. If you have a communications department, they will be happy for not having to dream up a new approach every time.
  • Sunday Morning Slides // Many churches have a “slide rotation” that plays before every service. These pre-service ads often include information about upcoming events, images of staff and general information about the church. Keeping these images up to date can be a pain, as the information on them is constantly in flux. (Not to mention that not many people are sitting in most auditoriums before the start of the service, meaning the design team has low motivation to do these graphics!) Why not email the changes on these graphics to a third-party firm every week and have them turn around what needs to be done?
  • Internal Reports // You know that boring chart you send to people every month? How about that monthly report you do for your leadership team? What about those slides at your quarterly staff meeting? The people receiving your internal communications deserve it to look great. Often churches with great “external facing” graphics have really crappy looking internal communications. That shouldn’t be so! Excellent communications with your team breeds excellence as they interact with their teams. Send those internal communications pieces to a low-cost external firm to make sure they look great and communicate what you want them to.

The key to any third-party service like outsourced graphic design is thinking of it as a way to increase your reach and impact — not just as a way to decrease cost. You’re doing more for less. Look for strategically important graphic design tasks that are regular and repetitive … those are great candidates for passing off to another firm.

> Read more from Rich.


Would you like to learn more about improving your communications? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

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Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

4 Ways to Lead Change with Your Team

You have a meeting coming up with your team in which you need to walk them through a change at your church … how should you structure the information? The way you communicate change is a critical part of the process.

The following approaches work well as frameworks for presentations in meetings. You could also use them in any communications to your team: emails, voice memos, ebooks, etc. When you are in the middle of a “change management” process, you need to communicate information over and over … don’t get stuck in a rut! Use a variety of approaches to explain why change is critical at your church.

  • The List // Create a list of items related to what you are talking about. The order doesn’t matter, but together the items should cover the entire topic. (Clearly, we use this framework all the time at unSeminary.)
    • Helpful: When there is a wide variety of items to present. Easy for people to jump in and out of.
    • Limitations: It can feel like a “fire hose” of information that people are left to categorize on their own.
    • Examples: 6 Changes Our Church is Making to Summer Camp; 12 Reasons We’re Canceling Sunday Evening Service; 3 Tools for Inviting Your Friends Next Weekend
    • [Click to download List PowerPoint Template]
  • Chronological // Take people on a journey! Start with what happened first and then lead them through the timeline of what happened next and finally to where things are going.
    • Helpful: This approach can be particularly helpful in “change management” situations because you can show how the future is connected to where the church has already been. This will reduce some people’s anxieties.
    • Limitations: Choose the “starting point” wisely. It needs to be the agreed upon beginning to move people towards where you are headed. If you start in the wrong part of the story, you’ll lose some people.
    • Examples: How Summer Camp Has Evolved Over the Years; The Story of How People Grow at Our Church; How Bill Got Connected to Our Church
    • [Click to download Chronological PowerPoint Template]
  • Compare & Contrast // Draw out the differences between two ideas or approaches to show where you want to go.
    • Helpful: This works particularly well when people have experienced what you are comparing. Take people to a church that is excelling in one area and compare it to how your church is performing in the same area.
    • Limitations: This approach can be distracting if the comparison isn’t crystal clear because you’ll spend most of your time bringing people up to speed, rather than focusing on how it should impact your church.
    • Examples: Lessons Learned from Walt Disney World to Apply to Our Camp; A Survey of Service Times from 10 of the Fastest Growing Churches in the Country; How Chick-fil-A Grows and What that Means for Our Church
    • [Click to download Compare & Contrast PowerPoint Template]
  • Problem & Solution // Explore the problem your church is facing and then present the solution to relieve it! “Aggravating” the problem is key to this approach. People need to feel and understand the problem before they will move forward. We change when the pain of staying the same is bigger than the pain to change.
    • Helpful: Great for when the stakes are high and change needs to happen quickly. Draws a stark contrast between what is and what needs to be.
    • Limitations: Use this approach sparingly and wisely. When done effectively, people will feel the pain associated with not changing. However, sometimes that pain generates unpredictable responses in how people respond.
    • Examples: Camp Is Broken … This is How We’ll Fix It; Better Uses for Sunday Evenings at Our Church; What Happens When People Stop Inviting Friends to Church
    • [Click to download Problem & Solution PowerPoint Template]

> Read more from Rich.


Want to learn more about communicating for change? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

Download PDF

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| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

6 Bad Habits Affecting Your Church Announcements

Announcements are a great tool for moving people to action. [I wrote all about this in my ebook called Effective Announcements.] However, it can be difficult to keep them fresh and creative every weekend. Even worse, the people who do them can get lazy and some bad habits sneak in that undermine their effectiveness. Here are some of the bad habits for church announcements I’ve seen over the years:

  • Constant weather updates // Commenting on the weather all the time is verbal diarrhea for church leaders. It’s a crutch when you don’t know what else to say … don’t do it! Add a high-value transition, like commenting on what just happened in the service rather than what a great day is it outside.
    • BONUS: The same is true about over-commenting on sports. Use it sparingly!
  • Last-minute additions // It’s Sunday morning and someone from your kids ministry pleads with you to sell a special event happening on Tuesday evening. Don’t do it! Last-minute additions never pay the response dividends that people are looking for and they short circuit a well-planned communications strategy. Remember … it’s always bad to add!
  • “Blessings” and other insider language // I don’t know what it is about doing announcements that makes people add all kinds of “churchy” language. Rather than talking about how great the youth event was … they talk about what a blessing it was for the youth to fellowship in that way. WHAT? Use language that makes sense to people who don’t normally attend church. (And stop taking up those “clap offerings”!)
  • Shielding your eyes from the light // You go on stage and there are bright lights so people can see you. But you want to be able to see them, so you make a “hand over your eyes” shield. Stop that! It takes people out of the moment, reinforces the fact that those lights are there, and makes people feel disconnected from you because they can’t see you.
  • Not introducing people // Who are all those people on stage with you? If you’ve ever visited a church and not known who is on stage, you’ll know how disorienting it is. Take 10 seconds and introduce everyone … it puts first-time guests at ease.
  • Weird prayers // One of the reasons we pray in public is because it models what a “normal” prayer life is like. However, some church leaders fall into the trap of trying to impress people with big words or overly complex prayers. Don’t do it … model a prayer life that uses normal language to connect with God. It’s a simple way to help people take their next steps in this vitally important part of their spiritual lives.

> Read more from Rich.


Would you like to know more how to use announcements in a powerful, positive way that reinforces your vision? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.