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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?

I have been talking a lot about social media in the church and its importance, but we also need to remember that social media is never a substitute for authentic Christian community.

With all the social media sites that you can connect with people these days (some pictured to the left), you have to be very intentional about not letting that be your only form of communication.  I recently read a blog post on this subject and I wanted to share some of the things that I took away from it.  If you would like to read the blog post, you can find it here.

The authors, Eric Geiger, Matt Chandler, and Josh Patterson start of the post by saying that our faith cannot be private.  They stated that while our faith and relationship with Christ is very personal, that does not make it private.  They go on to say that we have been “individually saved by Christ, but you are not the only individual saved.”  We were made to be in community with other Christians, to support each other, to share our highs and lows.  Geiger, Chandler, and Patterson say that “connectivity does not equate to community,” which is something we must always keep as our focused.  Just because we are connected with someone on social media does not necessarily mean that we are in community with them or have a relationship.

One of my best friends, Lauren, also writes a blog.  I can read her blog posts as soon as she publishes them, but it is not the same as hearing it from her.  It is very hard to have a strong relationship completely across the computer.  If the only communication that my husband and I had was across Twitter or Facebook, we would not have the same relationship that we have face to face.

We need to remember to be intentional in creating community with other believers.  We need to seek them out and set aside time to engage with them, face to face.  Christianity is not a journey that anyone can easily take alone.  Our communications as churches to our congregations cannot all be over social media.

The blog post closes with this thought:  “So although we are more connected then we have ever been, we also feel more alone and unknown then at any other time in human history.”  And I completely agree with this.  Communities are so much stronger when they are face to face, intentional and mutually investing in each other.

Don’t forget about creating relationships and community because Christianity is all about relationships, not just connectivity.

The Daily Proffitt

I was a little worried when I ordered Jon Acuff’s new book that it wouldn’t apply to me. After all, since the release of Quitter I’ve started a blog, entered full-time ministry and planning to go back to school in the fall. I feel like I’ve come a long way since I first cracked open the pages of Quitter, but I’m glad I was wrong. I’m a few chapters in and already gleaning a lot of really great things from the pages of Start. I can’t wait to share those gleanings here on the blog.

In the early pages Jon Acuff says something I’ve never considered. He says, “Before you start you need to first ask the question, ‘Where am I?’ You have to take into account where you are as you think about where you’re going.” These few sentences have me asking the question, “Where am I?”

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Here are my 8 Tips for the Social Church.  I hope that you find them helpful.

1.  Have a Voice
Even if there is a team of people putting out your social media content, you need to have a unified voice or else it will seem that your church does not know what it wants to be.  In your next social media strategy meeting, and yes, you should be having those, discuss your voice if you have not done so already.

2. Be Authentic
People can tell when you are putting on a show.  You have to be real with your followers.  One way to do this is by sharing things you and your church are passionate about.

3. Be Intentional
You need to have a plan or a strategy or else you are not going anywhere.  You need to have realistic, attainable, measurable goals for yourselves in order to see where you have been and to better focus on where you want to be going.

4. Use Visuals
We are visual people.  Photos catch our attention more than words.  And oftentimes photos communicate and touch us more than words ever could.  We respond to photos.  Photos evoke emotion, which leads to number 5.

5. Be Emotional
In the book Contagious, Jonah Berger says, “When you care, you share.”  Make your followers feel something and they will be more likely to share that post than one that did not make them feel anything.

6. Find your Magic Number
Many churches are trying to find their magic number for how many times they should be posting each week or even each day.  You do not want to post too often because then you will oversaturate your social media and people will start to tune you out.  On the other hand you cannot post too little because your followers will forget about you.  The number of times you should be posting is magic because it will differ for every church and every audience.  You need to practice and see how your audience responds.  Find what is best for you.

7. Engage
Answer questions.  Comment on and share other people’s posts.  Respond to comments.  Build a strong community and create a relationship.  Relationships are power for any company, but for churches in particular.

8. Do Not Delete
If someone says something negative about you, respond to it and try to fix it.  Never just delete it.  People want to be a part of the conversation.  They want to be heard.  If you delete a negative post without addressing it, you have lost an opportunity to reach out to that person and fix the problem.  If you make a mistake in social media, do not delete it.  Apologize, correct it and make it right.  And remember, if you delete, it’s never really gone.  Someone will find it, and covering something up usually makes it worse.

 

What would you add to this list of tips?