Is Livestreaming Right For Your Church? A Short Guide

Is Livestreaming Right For Your Church? A Short Guide

Trends in the Church will influence your church.

I’m not talking about negative cultural trends or anything theological.

What I have in mind are actual, positive trends churches explore to share the gospel, make disciples, and engage their church members.

One of those trends is livestreaming, which makes perfect sense.

With countless people on social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, YouTube), and the cost-effectiveness of livestreaming, many churches have jumped into these waters face first.

This isn’t a good or bad thing.

It just is what it is.

What about your church?

Should your church start livestreaming your services, Bible studies, or events?

Well, it depends.

In this post, we’re going to talk about:

  • Three reasons why you should use livestream
  • Whether or not your church should livestream
  • How to livestream at your church

Let’s get started!

Three reasons why you should use livestream

It’s essential to know the why behind what you want to do.

So, why should your church use livestreaming?

Here are three of the most common reasons:

#1 – People watch (a lot) of video

Here’s something you may have noticed:

We are slowly becoming a video world.

Think about it.

Everywhere you turn, you have access to a screen that can play a video. From televisions throughout your home, to mobile devices (phones, iPods, tablets), computers at work, and screens in businesses and public places, videos are constantly vying for our attention.

Not convinced?

Then take a sip of these sobering statistics:

  • Nearly 58% of worldwide Internet usage consists of video streaming (Global Internet Phenomena Report)
  • 45% of people watch more than an hour of Facebook or YouTube videos every week (WordStream)
  • More than 500 million hours of videos are watched on YouTube every day (Business Insider)
  • 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every 60 seconds

Know what else?

We haven’t reached the limit of videos.

According to one study, video streaming is predicted to make up 82% of all Internet traffic in the next few years.

This deluge of video has molded the way everyone (including yourself) interacts with the world around them. In short, we are growing to prefer consuming video for nearly everything.

Now, don’t read these statistics and rush to pre-produce your worship service every week and broadcast it on Sunday.

Instead, my goal is to encourage you to see how livestreaming is one way you can tap into this shift in media consumption.

There’s more to video than changes in the culture.

There are two really practical ways livestreaming can benefit your church.

#2 – Reach absentees

Every week, you’ll have people who are unable to participate in your worship service for various reasons, including:

  • Shut-ins
  • Illness
  • Vacation
  • Business travel

Today, just because someone is absent, it doesn’t mean you can’t engage them with your ministry—live. Your church members will likely prefer to keep in touch with their church when they’re absent if possible. By livestreaming your worship service, you can help absentees stay connected while they’re away.

#3 – Reach more people

Livestreaming your services is one way you can reach more people.

Think about it.

Before visiting your church, the vast majority of people will check you out online first.

They’ll visit your church’s website.

They may see something about your church on social media.

In either case, when potential first-time guests can experience your worship service online, then they will feel more inclined to visit.

They’ll get a feel for your style.

They can see what to expect.  

By providing livestream of your worship service, you can help them overcome their fear of visiting your church for the first time.

Before making a commitment to livestream your services, there’s one question you need to answer:

Why does my church really need to livestream?

Livestreaming is no longer a trend or just something to be aware of.

It’s here.

Many churches are currently livestreaming their worship services or have experimented with it at some point. Since this is the case, other churches (maybe yours?) are now joining the livestreaming movement.

Before you make a move, hang tight.

For starters, just because a different church is livestreaming their services or just because you read the stats above doesn’t mean you should start livestreaming this week.

Here’s why:

When it comes to reaching people, every tactic works and every tactic doesn’t work.

In other words, the timing may not be right for your church.

From having someone who can take the lead in production to not being a good fit demographically for your church community, there are several factors involved in deciding whether livestreaming is right for you.

One deciding factor in whether to livestream is your church’s budget.

In short, do you have the money to invest in producing a high-quality livestream or not? For most churches, spending the money to create a high-quality livestream isn’t a good idea.

Is it possible to just stream your worship services with one of your phones?

Yes, you can technically livestream with your phone.

And yes, it is possible to do this because social media platforms have—in a way—made this possible since so many celebrities and brands shoot livestream videos with their phones.

But here’s the deal:

Production value is still important.

It’s not fair, but people in your community will hold your church’s production value to similar standards as businesses. They’re used to watching videos from individuals or businesses with big budgets. So, when they watch whatever you produce, they’re going to have—to varying degrees—similar expectations to something they just watched online.

What’s the moral of the story?

Don’t haphazardly step into livestreaming your worship services unless you’re ready to produce them to the best of your ability.

Still ready to move forward with livestreaming?

Well, let’s take a look at what you’ll need to make it work.

How to livestream your church’s worship service

To get started, there’s some essential equipment you’ll need:

  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Lighting
  • Livestream service

In this post, I’m not going to get into the weeds of the details. But here are some helpful resources you can refer to for guidance:

Now, regarding livestreaming your services, here’s what you need to know:

You can publish your livestream directly on Facebook and elsewhere, or you can use a service to schedule and simultaneously broadcast your worship service (or another event).

Here are some options to consider:

Is livestreaming right for your church?

This is a question only you can answer.

Remember, it depends primarily upon the size of your church, your church community, and your church’s budget.

Is livestreaming an option for every church?

Yes, it’s an option.

Is it right for every church to livestream their services or other events and classes?

It depends.

Think through the following questions:

  • Is your church ready?
  • Does your church have the budget for high-quality production?
  • Is the timing right for your church?
  • Do you have anyone in your church who can support this work?
  • Will the cost and time provide a return on investment for engagement and reach?

After you work through these questions, you’ll be well on your way to deciding whether livestreaming is right for your church.

7 Ways to Attract People to Your Church—This Month

7 Ways to Attract People to Your Church—This Month

Your church isn’t growing. You’ve been doing the same thing for months or years. You can’t remember the last time you witnessed someone commit his or her life to Jesus. You’re disappointed. You feel stuck. And you’re not sure if God’s at work in your church.

Here’s the deal: You’re not alone.

According to a recent study by Exponential and LifeWay Research, 6 out of 10 Protestant churches have plateaued or their attendance is declining. What is more, less than half of the churches surveyed saw fewer than 10 people commit their lives to Christ.

Now isn’t the time to give up, throw up your arms, and walk away. If you’ve been planting seeds in the life of people, it’s only a matter of time until God grows them and brings people to faith (1 Cor 3:6).

How can I be so confident? Simple.

God is faithful, and we’ve had the opportunity to help many churches break the 200 attendance barrier. In our work, we like to keep an eye on what churches are doing to attract people to their church with the goal of making disciples.

In this post, I’m going to share seven things your church can do to attract more guests this month.

Let’s get started!

1. Get ready for visitors

The first few minutes of someone visiting your church are crucial. I can’t stress this enough.

Here’s why:

Most people decide whether to return to a church within the first 6–10 minutes of entering the campus.

Faith Perceptions has found that friendliness alone won’t make guests return to a church, but an unwelcoming encounter is enough to send them packing.

I know you’re excited to reach new people for Christ.

But before you launch a new outreach campaign or invite new people to your church, your church has to be ready to welcome first-time guests. If you’re not ready, good outreach and marketing efforts will only make your church fail faster.

Think about it like this:

If you were a farmer and you prayed for it to rain, but you didn’t prepare your fields for the harvest, then you lost out. Or let’s say you’re a business owner; you make widgets and you launched a marketing campaign to sell 100 widgets, but you only have 25 on hand or your widgets are terrible. If that’s the case, then your marketing efforts will cause your business to fall flat on its face.

Not convinced this is true? Here’s something else to chew on:

For better or worse, most people will make a decision about your church within the first few minutes of their experience. What is more, if you don’t follow up with your visitors, then you run the risk of not connecting with them again.

Ready to get started?

Here are a few things you’ll need to get ready:

  • Your website
  • Parking
  • Signage
  • Church connection cards
  • A welcome plan
  • A follow-up plan

Let’s take a look at these in turn.

The first impression you make with any potential visitor is online.

Most people who are thinking about visiting a church will search online for somewhere to visit before thinking about stepping foot into your worship space.

To create a good first impression with your online visitors, here’s a list of  information you must have on your church’s website:

  • Location
  • Directions
  • Service times
  • Parking information
  • Childcare information
  • What to expect

Don’t take this information for granted. These are the most commonly searched questions by visitors.

If you need to, ask someone who’s not familiar with your church (even if it’s a family member or friend) to check out your website to see if they can easily find what they would look or if they were planning on visiting your church.

Alright, so someone has visited your website, and now they’re ready to visit your church. The next place you need to prepare is your parking lot.

To get your parking lot ready for visitors, here are 3 things you need to consider:

  1. Marking visitor parking
  2. Providing clear signs
  3. Placing parking lot attendants

These three tactics alone should place your church well on it’s way to preparing for visitors.

After people exit their cars, the next thing you need to think about is providing clear signs. Not only signs in your parking lot(s) pointing people in the right direction, but signs in your foyer and lobby letting visitors know where to go to get information or where your sanctuary is located.

Remember, visitors will be feeling nervous.

Make it easy for them to get around your facilities.

Now, there’s a good chance you have no information on your guests. To make sure you don’t lose touch with them after their first visit, be sure to provide church connection cards to capture their contact information.

Having a hard time getting people to share their info?

Provide first-time guest gifts for visitors to encourage them to share their info.

A lot of what I’ve been talking about deals with “marketing assets.” But even if you create eye-catching material, it cannot replace the importance of creating a welcoming environment for people.

From placing greeters and ushers at key locations to building a welcoming church culture, you want to prepare your church members to identify, welcome, and make visitors comfortable at your worship service.  

The last piece you need to prepare is your follow up.

You’ve led someone to your worship service.

You’ve created a great experience.

You’ve gathered their contact information.

Now it’s time to follow up with them to invite them to take the next step. We’ve covered this in detail elsewhere, so let me recommend reading The Best Follow Up Process for First-Time Guests.

Alright, your church is ready to welcome visitors.

Now it’s time to talk about attracting guests to your church.

2. Identify specific needs in your community

Think about the felt needs of your community.

Do you really know the needs of individuals or families?

Do you understand their common objections to Jesus?

Are you aware of what may compel them to visit your church?

Immersing yourself in your community is vital to reaching your community for Christ. As a church leader, you have to get to know the community you serve. If you’ve lived in the area for any length of time, you probably have a pretty good idea about some basic information, such as the schools, demographics, average income, family dynamics, and employers.

As you get to know your community, you want to build relationships and answer this question:

Why would someone want to visit a church—especially your church?

Apart from asking someone this question, a survey by Pew Research unearthed the top reasons why someone may visit a Protestant church in the United States:

  • To become closer to God
  • So their children will have a moral foundation
  • To make themselves a better person
  • For comfort in times of trouble

Based on this survey, there are really practical things your church can leverage to attract guests to your church. Here are just a few things that come to mind:

  • Preach a sermon series on drawing closer to God or parenting
  • Provide Bible studies or resources on living a “better” life
  • Offer counseling services or partner with a counselor
  • Build a healthy small group ministry to connect people together

These general ideas will just get you started.

After spending time with people in your community, you may unearth different needs or angles you can take to answer questions and provide guidance for people to learn to live and love like Jesus.

Don’t be put off by the idea of meeting the spiritual and physical needs of your community. Jesus himself met the spiritual and physical needs of people, and he calls us to do the same today.

Share the gospel.

Find out the spiritual questions and struggles in your community.

Meet the physical needs of people.

3. Make it easy for people to plan their visit

As I mentioned above, people in your community are searching for a church online. Not only is it a good idea to provide basic information on your website, but many churches today have found success in promoting a “Plan Your Visit” option online for visitors.

Here’s how it works:

Make it easy for your website visitors to then physically visit your church by providing a simple, clear process.

Before getting into the details, here are a few examples of what I’m talking about:

To pull this off, you can add an app or have your developer build a dedicated page or pop-up.

Remember, many people who visit your church’s site are looking for a church. By adding a “Plan Your Visit” section on your site, you are letting them know you’re interested in having them visit your church, and that you want to make it as easy as possible.

The info you add in this section will be similar to what I suggested above (e.g., what time does your service start, what’s your address, what can I expect, and what should I do with my kids). But there’s one thing you should be sure to include: An automatic reminder.

When someone shares with you their email address, you can send them an automated message (email) reminding them what time your service starts and other details. This little feature will encourage people to follow through and not get cold feet.

4. Ask people to visit

Stop.

If there’s just one thing you take away from this post, let it be this point:

Most people will attend your worship service if they’re invited by someone.

Based on one survey, 82 percent of unchurched people would consider attending a worship service if a friend, neighbor, or coworker invited them.

This percentage is huge.

There are no other outreach events or tactics you can use that can even come close to matching these results. Don’t believe the hype from other ideas. Asking someone is still the single best thing your church members can do to reach more people.

In the business world, this is known as word-of-mouth marketing, and it’s just as effective. I know technology can make it feel easier to reach more people (like social media advertising), and it’s definitely worth pursuing. But don’t overlook the importance of challenging your church members to invite people.

Practically speaking, as a church leader, here are ways you can equip your church members to invite people:

  • Provide evangelism training
  • Offer simple suggestions people can use to ask someone to visit
  • Use invite cards
  • Create shareable social media content
  • Share stories/testimonies during your announcements or sermon

These tips are just the tip of the iceberg.

Here’s a list of 19 Ways to Encourage Your Church to Invite Others.

5. Optimize your church’s website

“If you build it, they will come.”

This promise may have worked well in the movie Field of Dreams. But it’s worthless advice for church websites.

Here’s the actual deal:

If you promote your church’s website, people will come.

When it comes to promoting your site, there are different tactics you can use, such as posting about it on social media, including it in your church’s bulletin, or mentioning it in direct mail.

These different tactics are helpful in the short term. But the most effective thing you can do to turn your website into a tool that regularly leads new people to visit your church is to optimize your website for search engines.

This tactic is referred to as search engine optimization (SEO), and for your church, it means optimizing your site to rank for local searches like “church + zip code” or “church nearby.”

Remember, as I pointed out above, most people in your community will check out your website before they visit your worship service. These people will not generally review pages of church options online. They’ll primarily take a look at the churches on the first page of their search results.

What’s the bottom line?

If your church’s site doesn’t rank toward the top of the first page of local search results, then there’s a good chance no one will find your site in search engines.

To optimize your site, there are several things you can do:

  1. Claim your local listings (e.g., Google, Bing)
  2. Claim your church on local directories
  3. Encourage reviews
  4. Optimize your site for relevant keywords
  5. Include your church’s name, address, and phone number on every page

Use these tips—along with other tactics—to optimize your site for search engines.

6. Run short-term outreach events

During the life of your church, it’s easy to start going with the flow of things.

Every week, your church does the same thing.

From gathering your people together for a worship service, Bible studies, or mid-week services, there’s a rhythm to the life of your church.

This isn’t a bad thing at all. But if you’re not careful, the rhythm of your church can be like sitting in a rocking chair that lulls you to sleep.

Thankfully, you don’t have to change your weekly rhythm to fight this morass and reach your community. You can arrange short-term outreach events to rally your church around a common cause.

The ideas are endless, so there’s no need to stick to an annual event unless you’re experiencing consistent results. Feel free to mix up what you’re doing to reach different people in your community. For example, if you want to reach families, then you’ll need to organize a family event. However, if you want to reach single adults or couples, then the outreach event you organize will be different based upon attracting that target audience.

Here are two free resources we created to give you some ideas:

  1. 13 Fall Outreach Ideas for Your Church
  2. 7 Summer Outreach Ideas

There’s one added benefit to short-term campaigns that’s easy to overlook:

This is also a great way to increase your volunteer base and train volunteers.

When putting together your plans, be sure to open up the opportunity to volunteer to your church. You might be surprised who steps up to help out.

7. Advertise on Facebook

Pop quiz:

Do you know where most people in your community socialize?

If you guessed social media, you’d be correct.

According to the Pew Research Center, 7 out of 10 adults in your town spend their time on social media—especially Facebook.

Practically speaking, to reach people in your community, your church needs to consider advertising on Facebook, since just having a Facebook Page no longer cuts it.  

For starters, advertising on Facebook probably isn’t what you think.

It’s not expensive.

It doesn’t require a ton of technical expertise.

And it’s not like sending a piece of direct mail—it’s hyper-targeted.

When it comes to advertising on Facebook, you can run ads promoting “Plan a Visit” or an outreach event you’re organizing. Or you can promote a piece of content you created—such as a sermon clip, a Bible verse image, or a short video—to be seen by more people.

Not sure if Facebook advertising is a good fit for your church?

No sweat.

You don’t have to sign a contract with Facebook or commit to spending thousands of dollars. You can test a short-term campaign for little money, and see what type of results it generates.  

Over to you
In attracting people to your church, don’t overlook the actual people in your community. It’s really easy to think of outreach and marketing in general terms. But as you spend time with your neighbors and community leaders, you’ll be able to take these ideas—and others—to form a specific plan to make disciples of people in your community.

It’s Not Always You: Why People Leave Your Church and How to Keep Them

It’s Not Always You: Why People Leave Your Church and How to Keep Them

People are thinking about leaving your church.

In fact, according to one study, 15 percent of church members have thought about leaving their church in the past six months.

These losses might not sound huge on the surface.

But take a moment to consider what would happen if you lost 15 percent of your members.

Would you need to stop a ministry?

Would you need to reduce your church’s budget?

Would you need to cut staff or decrease salaries?

Losing 15 percent of your members is a big deal.

The reasons people will leave your church range from good, bad, and ugly.

There are times you’ll lose people due to life or church transitions.

There are others times when people will leave over a difference of opinion.

But there are times when you’ll lose people because your church didn’t do well at keeping people connected—and these losses hurt because you know you could have done something different.

To help make your church “sticky,” I’d love to share with you the best practices in keeping people connected to your church.

In this post, I’m going to cover:

  • 5 unsurprising reasons why you’ll lose people
  • The 2 most common reasons why people will leave your church
  • 4 pillars of building Christian community
  • 4 key next steps you must provide visitors

Get out your pen and paper, and let’s get to work!

5 unsurprising reasons why you’ll lose people

You will experience change in your church.

Over the years, you can expect your church to go through seasons of growth, times of decline or stagnation, and transitions.

Before digging into why people choose to leave a church, it’s essential to know that some people will leave your church over the years for unsurprising reasons.

Said another way, when life in your church or the life of your church members goes through a change, expect to lose people.

Here are five unsurprising reasons why you’ll lose people:

  1. Life changes
  2. Church Relocation
  3. Pastoral transitions
  4. End of church programs
  5. Change in beliefs
#1 – Life changes

At some point, the members of your church will experience significant change.

When your church members undergo transition, oftentimes, these life changes will lead them to find a new church home.

Here are a few examples of significant changes to anticipate:

  • Relocation
  • Divorce
  • Marriage or remarriage
  • When a member of your church moves to a different community, they’ll leave your church.

Celebrate members who make these life-altering decisions, and help them to find a church home in their new community.

When a married couple divorces, expect at least one partner to find a new church home.

Regardless of what transpires during this difficult season, strive to provide ongoing support and counsel to help them gracefully walk through this transition.

What’s more, when someone gets married or remarried, there’s a chance he or she will leave your church to join the church of his or her partner.

#2 – Church relocation

If your church moves into a new building, you will likely lose some people.

According to research, when you move your church into a new building, you will lose people just because you’re in a new location.

Did you move to the other side of town?

If so, the distance may be too great for some people to travel. When this happens, they’ll be forced to find a new home church closer to where they live.

#3 – Pastoral transitions

At some point during the life of your church, you’ll go through a pastoral transition.

Pastoral transitions are common, and according to one survey, the average tenure for a full-time pastor is six years.  

When your church experiences a pastoral transition, you will lose people in the process.

Whether it’s because of the difference in preaching or the loss of a friend in the change, some people in your church will leave when a member of your senior leadership moves on.

#4 – End of church programs

If you stop a ministry, there’s a small chance you’ll lose people.

This isn’t the case for every program in your church.

However, it’s likely people in your church have grown fond of programs and ministries you’ve run for years,. So, when there’s a decision to end a long-lasting program, you’ll likely run into tension with members or see some of them leave.

#5 – Change in beliefs

Many churches don’t make big changes to their beliefs.

But if your church goes through a significant shift in your doctrine, then expect to lose people.

According to one survey conducted by LifeWay Research, 85 percent of respondents said they would leave a church if there were a fundamental shift in their beliefs.  

Feel free to tweak your style of worship, and perhaps redecorate your worship space. But know that if your church messes with the tenants of your faith, you should expect to lose most of your church in the process.

These are some unsurprising reasons why people in your church will leave.

Now let’s turn our attention to common reasons why you’ll lose people.

The 2 most common reasons why people leave your church

Not every time someone leaves your church is natural.

There are other times when you could have influenced whether or not someone stuck around.

To help the people you’re reaching in your community to stay connected, you have to know the two common reasons why they’ll leave:

  1. Relationships
  2. Service
#1 – Relationships

People will visit your church and become a member for many reasons.

But they’ll stay long-term because of the relationships.

According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center, having friends or family in the congregation is a huge deciding factor for many people choosing a church. For people 65 and older, it’s 45%, whereas for people 18–29 it jumps to 62%.

Your outreach efforts will connect with people in your community.

Your preaching, worship, and children’s program will be a draw for other people.

But first-time guests will be inclined to get connected if they build friendships with people in your church. Without these connections, your church will be a slippery slope—not sticky.

#2 – Service

Another big reason why you may lose people depends on whether or not they feel needed.

Your church is a living organism, and there’s a lot of work that goes into making it work.

If someone doesn’t feel like they’re a part of your church or needed to support what’s going on, then they’ll be more inclined to walk away.

Resolving these problems takes more than doing something differently.

You have take a step back and really take a look at what’s going on.

To help you keep people connected, let’s take a look underneath the hood of your church.

4 pillars of building Christian community

There’s more to keeping people connected to your church than tactics.

You must establish four foundational pieces:

  1. Supportive church culture
  2. Clearly defined church membership
  3. Define next steps
  4. Get a tracking system

These steps may not sound tantalizing, but they’re necessary.

Let’s take a look.

#1 – Supportive church culture

The most significant component of keeping people connected to your church is a supportive church culture.

In other words, you need to build a church culture that values reaching people with the gospel and building relationships with first-time guests. If your church embraces these tenants, then the tactics you employ will be adopted, and your church will make an effort to help people get connected.

You might be thinking:

What do I do if my church doesn’t possess these values?

First of all, don’t rush to make a change.

It takes time to change the culture of a church.

Take coal, for example.

On the one hand, a piece of coal is transformed into a beautiful diamond through the application of pressure over a long period of time. On the other hand, you will shatter this same piece of coal if you were to apply an intense amount of pressure through a single blow, like hitting it with a hammer.

This analogy isn't entirely applicable, but there’s an element of similarity.

To make a significant change in the life of your church (structure, programs, values) before your church is ready to accept the change could cause a big problem, whereas taking time to prepare your church can create a more positive acceptance of anything new you do.

Take the time to lead your church to care for the lost and build community.

In time, they’ll embrace these values.

#2 – Clearly defined church membership

One key to encouraging people to stay connected in your church is putting in place a high-threshold for church membership.

In short, church membership is more than a census. It is an attitude, it's a state of being. It's belonging to a covenant community of faith where talents are stewarded alongside other members of the body of Christ.  

Talk about the importance of church membership from the Bible.

Let people know what church membership looks like.

Provide your members with clear expectations and clarify expectations for your church and church leadership.

Participating in your church’s membership isn’t enough for most people.

They want to be a part of something much bigger than themselves.

#3 – Define next steps

After you know how to define church membership, you’re ready to define next steps.

A next step in your church is the next step a first-time guest or visitor can take to get further involved with your church and to grow in their relationship with Christ.

Gary Poole, the author of Seeker Small Groups, stressed the importance of next steps, saying, “It is essential for us to make clear ‘next step’ options available. Without them, the potential impact of each weekend element would be significantly weakened.”

This process needs to be simple, clear, and compelling. This way, everyone in your church and people visiting your church will know the next steps they can take.

To get a better idea of what I’m talking about, here are examples from different churches:

It’s ideal to make your next steps available online and in person. This makes it easy for anyone to learn more about the next steps at any time.

#4 – Get a tracking system

The last foundational piece you need to have is a tracking system.

I’m not saying you need to leave a “mark” on everyone who visits your church and track their whereabouts. But you will need a system to keep track of the members of your church and the people who visit.

Today, you don’t have to rely on spreadsheets and sticky notes.

You can use church management software (ChMS) to stay in touch with people and follow up with first-time guests. There are several software solutions you can use for your church.

The big idea is that you pick the one that best meets your needs and helps you keep track of people.

4 key next steps you must provide visitors

With your foundation in place, you’re ready to build a system to keep people connected with your church.

Here four key next steps you must provide:

  • Worship
  • Spiritual growth
  • Service
  • Relationships

Let’s take a look at the practical details!

#1 – Worship

The first step you need to take is to lead people to your worship service.

There are a host of benefits people experience when they regularly participate in a worship service. But one of the biggest things you need to be aware of is that regular worship attendance will cultivate a higher commitment to your church.

According to one study, people who attend a worship service once per week are twice as likely to be completely committed to attending their church than people who visit twice per month.

To encourage worship attendance, preach on this topic, include it in your membership class, and make this a part of your church membership.

As for first-time guests and visitors, you’ll need to implement a follow-up process.

After someone works up the courage to visit your church, it’s essential to follow up with him or her to thank them for visiting, and to invite them to worship with you again.

If you have a process in place, here’s how you can measure the effectiveness of your church’s follow up.

#2 – Spiritual growth

Another step you want to encourage people to take is toward spiritual growth.

For some people, the first step they need to take is committing to Jesus or getting baptized. You will need to consistently promote these two steps to your church. Leading people to commit their life to Christ and to publicly display their commitment through baptism is essential.

But here’s the deal:

Spiritual growth does not end with placing your faith in Jesus—it only begins.

As a church, you can help to cultivate the spiritual growth of your members through a variety of means, including:

  • Intentional Discipleship Relationships / Mentor Relationships (think Jesus with His 3)
  • Bible studies
  • Prayer
  • Resources

For Bible studies, your church can offer classes or short-term groups which meet throughout the year to study the Bible or theology.

Don’t think Bible studies are a good option?

Think again.

According to LifeWay Research, 19% of the people they polled expressed interest in their church providing more Bible study groups. Like any group or ministry in your church, Bible studies won’t be attended by everyone at all times. But it’s a felt need by a significant portion of your church.  

You can also encourage your church to read the Bible together as a whole. Many churches follow a Bible reading plan together, which can spur on conversation and accountability.

Everyone in your church needs prayer.

Be sure to provide an opportunity for people to seek out prayer from your staff, church leadership, or church members.

Another step you can help people to take in their spiritual journey is toward resources.

From selling books at a discounted rate to providing access to biblical resources from Rightnow Media, there are many ways your church can serve as a resource to your people.

#3 – Service

A third step you can lead people to take is to serve others.

In general, there are two ways to lead people to serve:

  1. By volunteering
  2. By getting involved in missions

As I pointed out above, people want to be a part of something.

They want to play a role—big or small—in furthering the work of the local church.

Make it easy for people to find ways they can volunteer.

Let them know via your website areas in which they can serve.

Set aside a place in your worship facility where they can get more information.

Make announcements.

As you put before your church how they can participate in God’s work, you’ll be surprised at how many will step forward to get involved.

Another step you want to lead people to take is to get involved in missions.

Being involved in missions is good in two ways. First, you’re sharing the gospel and providing relief for a community. Second, participating in missions work can also be a catalyst for people in their spiritual growth. Leading people to step outside of their comfort zone is an ideal way to lead people to grow in their faith by overcoming new challenges.

#4 – Relationships

A last step you want to encourage people to take is toward getting involved in relationships.

When it comes to helping people make friends in church, you can provide opportunities for this to take place—but you can’t force friendships to happen.

One way many churches foster relationships is through small groups.

From providing ongoing small groups to short-term group options, there are a variety of ways you can lead people to participate in small groups in your church.

There’s one more step you can provide:

Pastoral care.

People in your church or visiting your church will at some time desire pastoral care. They’ll want to talk through their problems with a pastor, and making this option available can be a huge relief for some people.

Keeping people connected to your church

There’s more to keeping people connected to your church than tactics alone.

You must …

  1. Build a solid foundation
  2. Put in place key pillars
  3. Provide clear next steps for visitors

After working through this process, your church will be better able to help people stay connected.

Case Study: How to Use a Giveaway to Encourage Spiritual Growth in Your Church

Case Study: How to Use a Giveaway to Encourage Spiritual Growth in Your Church

If you’ve ever been to a conference or even to a child’s birthday party, you know that not all giveaways are useful.

There’s a goody bag of plastic doodads that were presented to you without any context, and you’re not sure what to do with them (besides throw them in the trash).

But when Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, GA decided to do a giveaway, they made sure it had purpose.

It all began when Dr. Vic D. Pentz, former Senior Pastor of Peachtree, sent out an introductory column to the congregation titled, “Can’t Wait for Sunday.” In it, he gave a preview of how meaningful the giveaway would be: “This Sunday I’m giving you a gift. It’s a book that changed my life.”

Have a Clear Purpose

There’s much to learn from and a few actionable steps any church can put into practice based on the way Peachtree Presbyterian did this giveaway.

First, there was a clear purpose in place before anything was handed out to the congregation.

Peachtree decided to give congregants copies of Kenneth Boa’s book, Handbook to Prayer: Praying Scripture Back to God. Why? The book had a major impact on the spiritual growth and prayer life of the Senior Pastor, and he wanted the congregation to experience growth as well.

The church was also about to introduce a new series on prayer titled, “Just Lift a Finger” based on the famous image on the Sistine Chapel ceiling of Adam’s and God’s fingers inches apart. “God is so very near, just waiting to touch our lives with His grace and power,” Dr. Pentz said to the congregation. “All Adam has to do is lift his finger. Any time, day or night, you can too.”

Not only would Handbook to Prayer help the congregation learn to pray Scripture, but it would also help them apply and put into practice what they learn in the prayer series on Sundays.

Have a Clear Presentation

The Senior Pastor of Peachtree Presbyterian introduced the Handbook to Prayer giveaway to the congregation first in writing, and then at the start of the sermon series.

In the sermon, he explained the spiritual discipline of praying Scripture and the power of prayer. He then tied in the giveaway of Handbook to Prayer to equip the congregation to practice what they’re learning.

You can listen to the three sermons in the series here:

  1. Can I Pray My Way to Happiness?
  2. Do Prayers Really Change Things?
  3. Why Does God Want So Much Praise?

Peachtree handed the handbook out at the door as people came in—allowing them to use them during the worship service and take their copy home after service. They started with 3,000 copies and eventually needed to order 1,000 more.

The congregation was given clear instructions for how to pick up their free book, what the book will teach them, how it’s important for their spiritual development, how it ties into the sermon series, and a specific way to use it.

Have a Clear Call to Action

Dr. Pentz’s presentation of the book led the way for an action step that he laid out in the first sermon of the prayer series: “What if instead of just working harder, you started working smarter by spending ten minutes a day in the presentation of God, meditating on scripture and in prayer? Use the Handbook to Prayer we’ve given you to do so over the next six weeks.”

Peachtree Presbyterian called this initiative “The Peachtree Challenge.” The congregation’s challenge was to spend at least ten minutes each day in focused prayer and meditation on God’s Word over the next six weeks using the Handbook to Prayer. “Imagine!” Dr. Pentz said. “With Ken’s book as our guide, we’ll have thousands of us beginning our day in the Word and lifting up our lives, families, city, and world to God.”

Dr. Pentz encouraged the congregation to be creative with the challenge, doing their daily prayer and meditation in parking lots if they had to. A challenge like this one gives those who might be new to the spiritual discipline of prayer a simple way to start. It encourages the congregation to make prayer a habit and a priority.

When it’s time for your church’s next giveaway, remember the case of Peachtree Presbyterian. A giveaway with a clear purpose, presentation, and call to action will help your congregation understand, apply, and grow from the gift you’ve given. If you’re not ready to give a book to your entire congregation, giving a book like this to new graduates or new leaders is helpful and impactful as well.

Which spiritual disciplines are you teaching at your church that a resource giveaway could help with? What can you do to make sure your church’s next giveaway is clearly presented and purposeful? How can you provide a clear call to action that helps your church use what they’ve been given to grow spiritually?

For information on how to order Handbook to Prayer in bulk for your church, contact Heather Cottingham.

3 Social Media Principles Your Church Should Live By

3 Social Media Principles Your Church Should Live By

Knowing what to share on social media can feel overwhelming.

Every time you open your social media accounts, you’re encouraged to share something:

  • Facebook asks: What’s on your mind?
  • Twitter’s wondering: What’s happening?
  • LinkedIn’s requesting: Share an article, photo, video or idea

It doesn’t matter what social media platform your church uses.

All of them are on 24–7–365, and they are always asking for you to share something.

(This makes me feel a bit anxious just thinking about it.)

Before moving on, take a deep breath.

Even though social media platforms are vying for your attention, you don’t have to feel overwhelmed by their constant demands. There’s a way your church—even if it's “small”—can effectively engage your congregation and reach new people without breaking down in the process.

Below I’m going to share with you three social media principles your church should live by. Before we dive in, let’s take a moment for a public service announcement.

Social media platforms and principles

Here’s what you need to know about social media:

The platforms are different, but the principles remain the same.

Every social media platform differs in some way.

From Facebook to Twitter to Snapchat, the social media platforms influence what you share and how you interact with other people.

For example, on Twitter, your tweets are limited to 280 characters—news breaks faster, and engagement is near instantaneous. Whereas Facebook’s user base makes it ideal to engage with your church and connect with people in your community. When it comes to posting on Facebook, unlike Twitter and Instagram, it’s best not to use a ton of hashtags.

Here’s the deal:

The social media platform you use will determine how your church should use it.

In other words, what posts work well on Twitter or Instagram may not work as well on Facebook or Snapchat.

So you’re probably wondering:

What works well on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, etc.?

Technically, there are ways you can optimize what you share on every social media platform. But I’m not going to walk you through the weeds of details today.

Instead, I want to share three social media principles that will influence how your church engages in social media. By building your social media strategy on these principles, in time, you’ll increase your engagement and reach more people in your community.

#1 – Share life in your church

Life in your church doesn’t start on Sunday, and it doesn’t end by lunch.

Assuming your worship service lasts for 1 hour, every member of your church still has another 167 hours of life to live throughout the week.

Know where they're spending their time?

If you guessed social media, you’re right.

According to Social Media Today, the average person in the United States spends 2 hours per day on social media. Here’s a breakdown of these eye-opening statistics:

  • Facebook: 35 minutes
  • YouTube: 40 minutes
  • Snapchat: 25 minutes
  • Instagram: 15 minutes
  • Twitter: 1 minute

Don’t lose sight of the importance of leading people to have face-to-face conversations. As a church leader, you want to ensure that people in your church are building relationships with other people in your church. This is what being the church is all about.

Here’s one thing you also don’t want to overlook:

People spend a lot of time on social media.

This isn’t a judgment, just an observation.

So, if you want to engage with your church and reach people in your community, you need to go where they’re spending time—and that’s on social media.

One of the best ways to do this is to share what life in your church looks like. From church activities to the everyday life of your pastor, staff, and volunteers, be purposeful to share what’s going on.

Remember, social media is about being social. Sharing the life of your church isn’t about promoting your church per se. It’s more about sharing material that will engage your church and be seen by people in your community, which will lead them to check out who you are and see what you’re all about.

#2 – Celebrate life in your church

Jesus is alive!

He is building his Church (Matt. 16:18), and he is at work in your church and community.

Think practically about this for a moment.

In your church, God is doing a lot of work:

  • He is giving people new life in Christ
  • He is restoring broken marriages
  • He is delivering people from crippling anxiety and depression
  • He is building a loving Christian community
  • He is giving people purpose
  • He is growing people in their faith
  • He is leading people to be generous with their time and money
  • What’s the bottom line?

There’s a lot for your church to celebrate.

Be prepared to capture these celebratory moments. Make a plan to share what’s going on.

Sidenote: If the nature of the story is personal, make sure you also obtain permission to share.

Here are celebratory examples for many churches:

  • Baptisms
  • Baby Dedications
  • Commitments to Jesus
  • Service in your community
  • Volunteers
  • Staff

To share the everyday life of your church, be prepared ahead of time by having a staff member or volunteer take pictures or shoot videos of an upcoming event.

During the event itself, get someone else (staff or volunteer) ready to share photos and videos on social media. It's ideal to share on social media what’s going on as it’s going on—this is all about being social.

#3 – Share your church’s worship service

In your church, you have an endless amount of material you can share—especially content from your weekly worship service.  

There are a variety of benefits to sharing your worship services on social media, such as:

  • Boosting engagement
  • Increasing awareness
  • Inviting people to participate
  • Giving people a taste of life in your church
  • Reaching new people
  • Connecting with absentees

Speaking of reaching new people, sharing your worship services on social media or online for others to see will help first-time guests feel more comfortable.

Think about it.

It’s intimidating for first-time guests to visit your church’s worship service—even if a close friend personally invited them.

They’re entering foreign territory.

They don’t know what to expect.

They’re not sure how they’ll fit in.

The burden of “what if’s” can be crushing for potential visitors. But you can answer many objections, and help first-time guests feel more comfortable by sharing your weekend worship services on social media.

There are many ways you can share your worship service. Consider posting:

  • Photos
  • Livestreams
  • Service times and information
  • Quotes
  • Sermon audio or videos
  • Worship music
  • Behind the scenes
  • Church life updates or upcoming events

Again, it’s best to share life in your church as it’s taking place.

During your worship service, prepare your staff or volunteers to capture photos or videos of your worship service and have another person ready to share the goods on social media.

Over to you

If there’s one thing you take away from this post, let it be this:

Social media is all about social.

Everything you share doesn’t have to be professionally produced. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good idea to share high-quality material. But it’s essential to capture the daily moments of life in your church as they’re taking place.

Don’t overly stress about the quality of what you share. Instead, focus on being social and connecting your church—building relationships and reaching your community.  

How to Create an Inviting Culture in Your Church

How to Create an Inviting Culture in Your Church

Anything having to do with religion or the church can be really uncomfortable for most people to talk about. Maybe the only experiences people in your church have ever had with talking about church or inviting someone are downright painful.

So, rather than reliving an uncomfortable experience, they do nothing. They shy away. Not because they don’t want to invite people to your church, but because they don’t know how.

Instead of getting upset with your people, this is a great opportunity to teach them how to invite. This doesn’t have to be a weird thing. And you have the chance to show your people that. Inviting can become a normal part of your church’s life.

Here are five simple ways you can create a culture of invitation within your church.

1. Make Sunday service your priority.

Yes, we know that Jesus commissioned us to “go” and make disciples, but He also called us to gather together as a local church (Hebrews 10:25).

The reason this is so important is not to make your church look great, but to create an environment guests want to come back to. You don’t have to have fancy lights and a rockstar worship team to do this either.

You just need people who care about people.

If your pastor cares about people, he will preach gospel-centered sermons. If your staff cares about people, they’ll strive their best in their individual ministry areas. And when your church cares about people, they will want others to experience a Sunday at your church because it adds value to their life and personal faith.

If you need further help with this, here are five practical ways you can improve your weekend services.

But anyone can invite someone. How do you get someone to want to come back?

2. Practice Hospitality

It is easy to say your church is friendly. It is another to actually be warm and inviting to people who have never stepped foot in your building.

People want to feel seen, heard, and like they matter. And it is so easy to do this!

The best way to lead is by example.

Look around on a Sunday morning and ask: Who is standing around your lobby alone? Is anyone looking around or up at signs to try to figure out where to go? They’re likely new. And that’s a great opportunity for you to go up and greet them personally. You don’t have to ask for them to commit to membership on the spot—just welcome them and ask about them and what brought them to your church.

A great way to encourage others to have a warm and inviting mentality is to make personal asks. Something like…

“Hey Laura, I haven’t seen that woman in our cafe before. I think she’s a new guest. I think you are very approachable and would be a great person for her to connect with. Would you mind connecting with her?”

This is one of the most powerful strategies you can use to encourage and develop your existing members as leaders and to create that culture of inviting without adding shame or guilt to the mix.

3. Be completely present.

Recently, due to some serious health issues, I hadn’t made it to church in about a month or so. I was so excited to finally be feeling well again and to be back together with other believers, worshipping in song, and learning more of God’s Word from my pastor.

I came back to a few unsympathetic “it’s been a while” remarks and some people who greeted me, but looked like they were in a hurry and weren’t interested in talking to me. I felt unseen, unheard, and unimportant. And this was a place I was on staff at one point! I considered these people my family.

Imagine that being a guest at your church.

What reason would they have to come back?

People notice when you are glancing at your phone, your watch, someone else, or are hurriedly rushing through a conversation. You make time for the things that are important and people can sense when they are not important to you. That’s not to say there aren’t times where you have a lot going on and that happens—we’re human. But there are far more grown adults who still are on their phones in the middle of a meal with others than those who are not. This is not okay.

Let’s get practical. How do we avoid doing this when we have so much on our plate? Here are some tips:

  • Learn to listen. Listening is much more than hearing someone talk. Forbes has 10 great steps to learn to become an effective listener. People will come back to someone they feel listened by.
  • Let someone completely finish what they are saying before adding in what you have to say.
  • Be aware of your body language. Are your feet pointed towards the door? Are you being attentive? Nodding while the person is talking? Does the other person notice you are listening to what they are saying or is it like they are talking to a wall?
  • Are you dialed in to what the other person is feeling? Are you empathetic to what the other person is experiencing, even if you can’t fully relate to what they are going through?
  • Are you giving the other person the gift of unhurried time?

You can always ask a trusted friend (or spouse) how they feel like you listen and then to evaluate you using some of these new techniques. Even the best listener can always work on becoming a better one.

4. Be involved

Here’s what I mean.

It’s easier than ever to not have to leave your house. You can get groceries to delivered to your house, have your close friends over to watch a college football game, and continue to get into the same routine with the same people. We’re not against this, but try broadening out.

City Church in Tallahassee, FL does this well and we even have a case study on it in our Church Fuel Resource Library.

Here are some ways you can try to broaden your horizons:

  • Instead of forming an IM soccer team with your church, grab one or two friends and join an existing team.
  • Take a group exercise class to meet new people.
  • Take your dog to the dog park or dog events to meet other pet owners.
  • Get to know the local businesses in your area. You can build great relationships with them and even partner with them to do an event.
  • Volunteer at high school events to give parents a break to be able to actually watch their kids at their sport or performing art.
  • Partner with an event your city does every year (this could be anything from an Easter Egg Hunt to a local concert).
  • Go to local bookstore readings to get to know the literary scene better.

The great part about this is you don’t have to go out of your way to “evangelize.” People can tell when they’re a project and that’s not how you want to come across.

If you get involved in your city in things you already have an interest in, it becomes very natural to build relationships with people. And once they can see that you are a normal person that likes the same things that they do, you may completely change their perception of the local church. A little intentionality goes a long way.

4. Teach your people how to invite.

Most pastors assume their people know how to invite, but this may be foreign to some people.

You can talk through some of the points we’ve mentioned in this article to your church. If you don’t want to do this during a sermon (which we think is perfectly normal), you can mention these during member meetings, volunteer trainings, and small groups.

Andy Stanley also mentions to North Point regulars that they should look for three cues. When they are talking to someone else and they hear one of these three sentences:

  • Things are NOT going well…
  • I was NOT prepared for…
  • I am NOT from here….

Then that clues them in that that is a great opportunity to invite. You can point these out to your church as well.

Elevation Church also created graphics for their church to share on social media. This is a great and easy way to have your church share what is going on in your church on social media. You can even encourage people to tweet during the service!

Choose one of these action steps to begin creating a culture of invitation in your church today. What will you work on? Let us know.

Take a Next Step

The #1 barrier to church growth starts with you.

If the senior pastor, or church leaders, are not intentionally taking the time to get better, no one else will follow suit.

We know it can be difficult to know where to begin or even where to go to grow personally. That's why we developed a FREE resource for you.

The personal growth plan. All of us on staff at Church Fuel use it because it's that useful.

Take some time this week to fill this out and make your personal growth plan.

Get the free download below.