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?

mice

Twitter is getting huge!  Twitter currently has 554,750,000 active, registered users (more stats here).  With the popularity of Twitter rising, there has been more buzz about whether or not churches should encourage using Twitter during church.

Some churches will post tweets about their church in the lobby, some will have hashtags encouraging conversations on the sermon topic for the day.  I have recently read a few articles on the subject and I wanted to share some of their thoughts with you.

In this article, the author, Scott Williams, says, “Tweet and Tweet Often!”  These are his top 5 reasons that you should use Twitter during church:

  1. You can share the Pastor’s message on God’s word in real-time
  2. If the pastor says something that has an impact on you, causes you to think, or moves you in some other way, it is likely that one of your Twitter followers will be moved by it as well
  3. The great commission says go into all the world, this can be applied to the Twitter world as well.  You can be tweeting the Gospel!
  4. You will have a storehouse of thought-provoking thoughts
  5. Tweeting great thoughts from the sermon can help cut down on “Sermon Attention Deficit Disorder (SADD)”

Williams closes the article with this thought: “remember God’s Omnipresence applies to Twitter as well.  Get Your Tweet On!”

Another article on the subject, written by Purva Patel, has some other ideas and examples.

Most pastors find that Tweeting during services can make church more interactive and can appeal to the younger demographic.  It can make them feel like they are a part of the message.

One way that the Woodland Church is using Twitter in church is the church staff reviews tweets coming in during the sermon and will post them on a board behind the pastor.  The pastor ignores the tweets during the sermon, but afterwards he will answer questions that came in through Twitter (I think that this is the coolest idea!).

Some people have found that tweeting during services can be distracting.  Craig Hayes, pastor in Fresno, says, “If two people are talking at the same time, somebody’s not listening…You cannot do two things at once and expect you’re not going to miss something.”

There are many pros and cons to using Twitter in church.  I am definitely pro-Twitter in churches.  It can help the congregation feel like an even more important part in the community and the conversation.  I think the idea of having the Pastor answer questions coming in on Twitter is a great idea because it can really help get deeper into the sermon topic.

What do you think of churches utilizing Twitter during services?
Have you seen any examples of churches using Twitter really well?

Churches are like people. 
They come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and like people, it’s what is going on in the inside that matters.

The photos came from the following websites:
http://www.christculturenews.com/10-largest-churches-in-america/
http://fineartamerica.com/featured/pioneer-church-at-christmas-time-utah-images.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Christ_Church,_Detroit_MI.jpg

I just finished a book title “Contagious.”  It was written by Jonah Berger and it is all about the power of word of mouth.  Oftentimes word of mouth is more powerful than visual advertising.  Here are some things that really stood out to me from the book.

One example Berger used to illustrate the power of word of mouth is a hot dog diner in New York.  This looks like a regular diner.  In the back corner there is an old-fashioned telephone booth.  If you go in this booth and dial a 2 on the rotary dial phone, the back panel opens and you enter into the “Please Don’t Tell” bar.  This bar has no visual advertising.  You might think that they have no business, but no.  They are reservation only.  They open over the phone at 3:00pm for reservations, first come first served, and they are booked for the evening by 3:30pm.  That’s pretty powerful word of mouth.  How effective are our churches at using word of mouth?  Do we focus on visual advertising too much?

Another important thing to remember:  “When we care, we share.”  If you want your thought or product to be contageous, it must be emtional.  It must make people care.  In a study that Berger did he found that “awe-inspiring article are 30% more likely to make the Most-Emailed list.”  What is more awe-inspiring than the Gospel?  When marketing messages, we should focus on feeling, not information.  It’s like the 180 Second of Vision blog post I reblogged the other day.  Instead of just standing up on Sunday mornings and giving all the information of the announcements, we should tell people why the announcement matters, make them care about it.  Berger goes on to say that “activating emotion is the key to transmission.”  Think of how many more visitors or people you will have attending different events if you make them care about it.  Then they will be more eager to share it and bring more people.

These are just a couple of things that I drew from the book.  It really was a great book to draw practical examples from of how powerful word of mouth can be.

 

Sheep logoI hope you noticed the new logo/photo for this blog.  I designed it myself my junior year of college along with the tagline, “helping to strengthen your flock.”

I wanted to take a second to explain to you why I designed it the way that I did.  Yes, it is supposed to look had drawn.  I was not going for perfection.

The Lord is our shepherd, we are his sheep.  As his sheep, we will never be perfect, but we can be strengthened in Him.

That is why a sheep, and that is why it is hand drawn.  It is not perfect, just like we can only be perfect through Him.

So, what do you think?  Do you like the new logo?

I have been trying to read more blogs for inspiration. I have had a bit of a writer’s block when it comes to blogging about church marketing. I am still very passionate about the topic, but without being in school or in a church that does a lot of church marketing, I find it hard to find topics to write about. So, I have gone searching for content. One blog that I have been reading is Leadership Freak. While it is not directly about churches, I definitely think much of what he writes about can be applied. I really enjoyed his blog post today titled “How to Get Where You Want to Grow.” I encourage you to check it out.

I want to highlight a couple of things that the blogger mentioned. First he says that “everyone wants to grow but now everyone wants to step from the known into the unknown.” Doing something you have never done before takes a huge leap of faith. But, how are you ever going to grow if you never do anything new? If we keep doing the same old things day after day, we will keep getting the same results. Someone once said that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results. How can our churches expect to grow if we are not taking a chance and giving us a chance to grow?

The blogger gives four steps for if you want to grow:
1-Hang with people out of your league
2-Say yes and I’ll try
3-Trust
4-Evaluate after, not during, stretch experiences

I think these are four very important things to remember. Especially for those in churches. The first idea is that of mentorship, in my opinion. You need to hang out with people who you want to emulate and who do things better than you do. This gives you an opportunity to learn and grow. One way a church leader could apply this is by meeting with pastors in churches bigger than their own. The next two points go hand in hand. You must trust, say yes, and try things. You cannot be afraid to try new things. If you are too afraid to step out, then how can God provide dramatic results and growth? And finally, see it through. Complete your goal and then look back and evaluate it. If you are always evaluating as you go, then you can lose the point of why you stepped out in the first place.

The blogger sums the who idea of how to grow very nicely: “We never grow until we do something we have not done before.”

So here’s my challenge, do something you have never done before and see where it takes you. You may be surprised.

Hey Everyone!
I have done some new things with my blog and I hope you enjoy it!

Check out the new design.

Other new things:

A Facebook Page
https://www.facebook.com/ChurchGrowthBlog
like the page and get all of my blog updates!

A Twitter Feed
https://twitter.com/wnt2basheep
get blog posts when they are posted, other stories about church marketing, church life, and all kinds of other church things

A new page on the blog for recommended books

Links on the side for helpful blogs and other websites for church growth

Last but not least, a new blog post coming tonight!

I am really excited about all of these changes and I hope that you enjoy them too!