Wow.  It has been 91 days since my last post on this blog, and you know what?  I still do not have any new ideas about what to write about.  I have been thinking every day for the past 91 days about what to write on this blog, and I have gotten nothing, nadda, zilch.  And that makes me really sad.  I have enjoyed writing this blog, but maybe I just have nothing left to say on the subject.

Marketing and the church is a hard subject to discuss because there are many ways to do it wrong and there are many opinions on how much marketing is wrong.  It think that church marketing is a very real subject that churches need to invest time and thought into and maybe even money.

I still believe in church marketing, but I don’t know what else to say about it.

Do you have any ideas to get me rolling?  Any topics you’d like to talk about?  I am, as always, open to suggestions.

The Barna Group has published an interesting interview about a new look/trend of evangelism.  I found it to be very interesting and something that I had not thought of before.

In the article, the Barna Group published some figures from it’s research: “According to Barna research, only 4% of unchurched adults were invited to church by a friend and actually went, 23% were invited but declined, and 73% were never invited at all.”  At first I found this pretty shocking, but then I thought, “when was the last time that I invited someone to church.”  Hmmm…if other Christians are like me then maybe this statistic isn’t as shocking as I thought (sadly).

I would encourage you to check out this article about the new way that we can try and reach our non-Christian friends, neighbors and people we meet.  Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

Here is a really interesting article from Relevant Magazine on tithing.  The numbers in this article really shocked me.

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/what-would-happen-if-church-tithed

It is killing me.

You know, I would write every day, if I just knew what to write about.

Thinking of effective, shareable content can really be hard.  So, what ways are you using to create better content?

Here is an article talking about “10 Addictive Types of Content”

Here are a few that really stood out to me as content that could be very effective for a church:

Mega Lists
Everyone loves lists.  Your church could feature lists on a number of different topics.  “Our Top 10 Favorite Bible Stories for Kids,” just being one example.

Expert Interviews
This would be a great opportunity to use video content.  People want to learn things, this would give them a great opportunity to do so.

Infographics
You can make almost any information into a attention grabbing infographic.  People love infographics!  And, it’s more visual content that can connect the dots between what you are saying and what it means for your church.

Here are some ideas for what I think could be very addictive, traffic-driving, content:
-Feature member testimonies on your blog
-Introduce new members on Twitter or in your blog (creates a greater sense of community)
-Ask visitors to write up an explanation of their first time experience in your church.  It could surprise  you.

I encourage you to check out the article for yourself and determine which of these you could utilize in your church blog or twitter.  Also, what kinds of addictive content have you found that is not on this list?  I would love to know!

If you do not already get emails from The Barna Group, I would highly suggest it.  About once a month they publish research relevant to the Christian community.  This week they posted on “The Rise of the @Pastor.”  You can find the complete article here.

This article talks about the rise of religious content on social media, and also the rise of churches and pastors on social media, specifically Twitter and Facebook.  In the article, they state that “the Christian community’s voice has become a substantial one in the social, digital space.”  I find that Christian influencers are becoming more and more accessible to people through the use of social media.

Twitter is gradually becoming the dominant social media.  Church leaders included are jumping on the Twitter bandwagon.  I found this statistic very interesting:  In the last 24 months, the number of “church-based” users on Twitter has increased by 77%.  Wow.

Check out this infographic from Barna to see the rise in social media.

Social media helps pastors and churches to interact with people where they are.  This used to be in the coffee shops and out in the town, but now it is on the computer.  Churches and pastors need to be where the people are and where the important conversations are happening.  A majority of these conversations are now happening over social media.

If your church does not have a presence on social media, what are you waiting for?

Many people have differing thoughts on whether or not the church should be viewed as a business and use business practices.  I can see it both ways.  I think there are certain business ideas that a church can use successfully.  But I also believe that there are certain business attributes that a church should not have.  Today I wanted to bring up one general business tool that I think the church can use very successfully.  It is called a SWOT analysis.  SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.  This analysis can be a way for your church to determine where it stands in relation to the “market”.

A SWOT analysis can help you get a big picture and can help you realize some places that might need improving.  It can be a starting point for a strategic plan and other goals for your church.  When doing a SWOT analysis, the strengths and weaknesses are an internal evaluation.  You are looking inside your own church and determining what you do well.  One way to do this would be to look at your successes and your failures for the year.  This can help you see the strengths and weaknesses that caused those successes and failures.  Analyzing your strengths and weaknesses helps your church know what they are doing well and what needs to be addressed.

The second part of the SWOT analysis is the opportunities and threats.  And these are comparisons of your church to the “market” or the churches in your area.  You will want to find certain churches to compare yourselves to.  You might think of this as your “competition”.  You might look at churches of your same size, target audience, denomination, and so on.  Once you figure out the market you are in, you want to see what the market is doing.

The first thing you want to look at is the opportunities.  What is happening in our market that could be an opportunity for us?  Did a church in the area just cancel its Sunday night service?  This may be an opportunity for you to start one.  Is anyone targeting the new families that are moving into the area?  No, then this could be an opportunity for your church.  This is an opportunity to ask yourself where the holes are in the market and number one, if your church can fill them, and number two, how they can do it.

The last thing you look at in the external analysis is threats.  This one can be a little harder to see at first.  A threat  could be another church doing vacation bible school the same week at the same time as you.  When trying to find your threats, you need to be very competition focused, which can be hard in a church setting.  But competition is not only the other churches in your market it could be the environment as well.  For example, your youth minister is thinking about starting a Wednesday night youth service.  A threat to this would be that the bowling alley in town is going to start doing dollar bowling nights on Wednesday nights.  This could be a threat to the attendance of your youth service.  The goal of seeing the threats is to change them into opportunities.  The youth minister could do a kick-off event at dollar bowling night, or they could turn it into “Bible Bowling”.

Doing a SWOT analysis in your church can help you in several ways.  First, knowing your threats can help you narrow down what you are offering.  It can also help you turn those threats into opportunities.  When you act on the opportunities, these can turn into your strengths.  Knowing your weaknesses can be a viewpoint into your threats.  You can ask yourself, “We know that we are weak in this area, so how is this going to hurt us?”  Knowing where you stand internally and externally can help you grow intentionally by being aware and continually making changes based on your SWOT analysis.

Have any of your churches ever done a SWOT analysis?  Did you find it to be a good tool?

Are you walking around in the dark without a flashlight?

Your church is if you do not have a vision.

From MindTools.com:  “The vision statement communicates both the purpose and values of the organization. For employees, it gives direction about how they are expected to behave and inspires them to give their best. Shared with customers, it shapes customers’ understanding of why they should work with the organization.”

Does your church have a way to inspire and direct your congregation?  If you do not have a vision statement that is over-communicated to your congregation, then how do they know what your church is all about?  How do they know what their purpose is within the church?  You’re asking them to follow you around in the dark and neither one of you have a flashlight or know where you’re going.

I encourage you to think of a mission and vision of your church and make sure it is well communicated.  This way the leadership of the church has a flashlight and so do all of your members, so no one is bumping around in the dark.

In order for your church to grow, you need to be ready to grow.  One way to do this is to make sure that you are visitor friendly.  I recently heard that the people in a congregation will usually only invite their friends if they think their friends will be able to follow what is going on in the service.

So ask yourself, if a visitor walked into your church, would they be able to follow along?  Would they understand what is happening?  Try to look at your church and the services through the lens of a visitor.  You must over communicate everything.

I would suggest doing it now, so you are ready for those visitors.  Some people in the congregation might not understand the over communication.  They might say, “Why do you have to tell us what we are doing every week?  We already know what is going on.”  They may know what is going on, but maybe a visitor will not.

Also, you need to have some way to connect with visitors, but also give them a way out if they are not comfortable being singled out.  A good way to do this is tell them where the pastor or staff member will be to greet visitors.  That gives them the choice to either go and introduce themselves or sneak out if they are uncomfortable.  The goal should be to make their transition into your church comfortable and painless.

I think you’ll find that you’ll get more visitors when you are prepared for them.  When you are prepared for growth to happen, that is when it is more likely to happen.

Conflict.

It’s true.  It happens to everyone.  And it shouldn’t be the dirty word of the church.  We should not pretend that everything is great and that we do not have conflict because that is simply not true.  We need to talk about it because every church experiences it.

Every relationship goes through conflict.  Sometimes conflict can even make relationships stronger.  Think about all the relationships that there are in the church.

Yep, that is a lot of opportunity for conflict.  One very important thing that we need to realize is that conflict is a reality for every congregation, no matter how loving or caring they are.  It’s just going to happen, there will be conflict, we cannot prevent it.  We might as well accept it and learn how to deal with it.  Since every relationship is going to have conflict, the way conflict is dealt with can be a way for the church to prove that it is different.  And to show the love of Christ.

Here are some ways that churches should handle conflict (between members, between leadership, between other church, etc.).

1-Take a deep breath and pray
A good way to pray away conflict is by taking a deep breath and praying the fruits of the spirit.  “God, help me to be loving, to find joy in the situation, and to seek peace. Give me patience.  Help me to be kind, good, and faithful.  And most important give me self-control.  Help me to be long to listen and slow to speak.”  That is just one idea.  But prayer is a must.  Any way to get you focused on God and to set your heart right.

2-Try to figure out your own part in the conflict
Ask yourself, what you did wrong, how you reacted badly, what was your role in this conflict.  You need to get the log out of your eye before you can try to address the speck in your neighbors eye.  So, analyze yourself first and be ready to admit where you went wrong.

3-Address and resolve the conflict face-to-face (with that person!)
This step is super important.  Don’t complain on Facebook or other social media about the problem (it just makes it worse).  Don’t tell everyone else about the problem, unless you are prayerfully seeking council.  Don’t look for people to back you up.  Talk to the person involved face to face so that nothing gets lost in translation.  Also, address the problem one on one.  Do not take anyone with you.  The person could feel gained up on and will most likely not be willing to talk to you.

4-Be willing to forgive
Always take a heart of forgiveness with you into any of these discussions.  Focus on loving the person and restoring the relationship, not attacking them for what they did wrong.  Love first.

5-If face to face, one on one does not work, find a mediator
If you have tried to talk to the person one on one, face to face, and they do not care, or you cannot resolve the conflict between the two of you, ask them if you can bring in someone you both trust to help you resolve things.  Don’t just bring in your closest ally and not tell the other person, because again they will feel ganged up on.  Find someone you both trust and you both think will help you resolve the conflict.

Do you run into conflict in your church often?

Do you have any other helpful tips?

Do you think the size of the church should matter as to whether or not a church should have small groups?

Can a church be too big or too small for small groups?

It is my opinion that small groups can be incredibly powerful for any size church.
For big churches, small groups can be a great way for people to feel connected to a church and a community when that might otherwise be hard.  It can be an opportunity to get on the deeper level, which is why I think it is also important for small churches.  In smaller churches, they usually have bigger sunday school classes of all ages because they don’t have as many people to teach, or maybe if they split up the groups would be too small for sunday school.  In smaller churches, small groups can be a good way to break up into age groups or even interest groups.

In any church small groups can be good because it gives people another chance to interact with the gospel.  I currently attend a small church with attendance usually around 50-80 people.  And we do not have small groups, but I wish we did.  I teach the children’s sunday school class, so I miss the opportunity to be fed in a smaller setting than the sunday morning service.  It would be nice to have a time to dig deeper with a smaller group, which I do not get during sunday school because I am teaching.  Therefore, sunday school can give your teachers a chance to get involved with other adults.

This also leads to the question of what the size of the small groups should be, but that is a question for another time.

Do you think the church size matters when it comes to the importance of small groups?