12 Father’s Day Ideas for Churches

12 Father’s Day Ideas for Churches

Each year, churches around the world pool their best resources, prepare their best sermons, and plan their best promotions for two big days: Easter and Christmas.

Of course, Easter and Christmas are sacred, important holidays that should be celebrated as such. And every Sunday is an important chance to share the Gospel and make our congregations and guests feel seen and cared for.

But there are two more holidays that present unique opportunities for churches: Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. By acknowledging these days, churches have…

#1 – An outreach opportunity.

One of the reasons that Mother’s Day has been reported as the third-highest attendance Sunday after Easter and Christmas for years is because families tend to honor Mother’s Day by attending church together, often at the request of their church-attending mothers or grandmothers.

People who don’t come to church very often might be present on Mother’s Day or Father's Day, and that’s a huge opportunity for churches to engage them.

#2 – A celebration opportunity.

There are mothers and fathers in your congregation who struggle to feel understood or connected. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be a time to celebrate the gift of parenthood and the joy it can bring. 

#3 – An opportunity to hold the hurting.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are painful days for a lot of people. There are those who have lost their mother or father, those longing to be mothers or fathers, or those who have strained relationships with their mothers or fathers.

But that’s no reason to skip acknowledging these days altogether. Instead, it’s an opportunity to acknowledge their pain and help them in their healing.

As non-religious holidays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day might seem to be irrelevant for churches to mention. But these two days contain these enormous opportunities for church leaders to engage their congregation and community, and it doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money on gifts.

If you’re planning to acknowledge Mother’s Day and Father’s Day at your church, here are a few ideas to consider.

1. A gift card for coffee or a local restaurant.

2. Give away a getaway.

Giving away a trip for two or an item that promotes relaxation—such as a hammock—is sure to be a hit.

3. A prayer service.

Pray for anyone who finds Father's Day (or Mother’s Day) painful for any reason and pray for strength and wisdom for all parents in the congregation.

4. Highlight your men’s ministry resources or events.

5. Root beer.

Some churches go all out with root beer kegs or a root beer float station for Father’s Day, but it’s okay to keep it simple too. Check out the root beer floats that Saint Peter's Lutheran Church put together below.

6. Breakfast after service.

What father wouldn’t appreciate a bacon station or donuts for dads setup? See how First Baptist Church Shelby set up their “Donuts for Dads” station below.

7. Handwritten notes.

You can even involve the kids or young adult ministry by having them draw on gift bags or write cards.

8. A hot dog station.

How about a full cookout/barbecue in the parking lot after service? Fire up the grill! Check out this example from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.

9. A family night package.

Think about what a family would need to have a fun night together. For example, put together a family dinner package with a gift card to a local restaurant with activity books for kids, a movie box with a movie rental, popcorn, and candy, or a s’mores kit that they can enjoy together.

10. Camp.

Crossroads Church does both a Man Camp and a Woman Camp.

11. A Father’s Day car show.

Here’s a great example from Celebration Church’s Father’s Day car show.

12. Host a Dad & Daughter dance.

Get inspired by these Father-Daughter Dance examples from Rock Pointe Church, Northland Church, and Cornerstone Baptist Church.

Take the Next Step

Don’t stop engaging people once the special holidays are over. In The Senior Pastor’s Guide to Reaching More People, you’ll find practical and actionable tools and even more ideas that you can use to reach more people in your church and community.

Download the free guide today to learn more about how to reach people and invite them into your church community.

What Barna’s New Data Says About the Perception of Church

What Barna’s New Data Says About the Perception of Church

Barna recently hosted a “State of the Church” event aimed at helping church leaders in specific cities understand what people think of the church in general.

One of the key questions they asked was the question of perception. In this instance, the data from these cities tracked closely with national averages.

Across the nation, a large percentage of unchurched people have negative views of the church, thinking that local churches are judgmental, hypocritical, irrelevant, disconnected from real issues in the community, and known more for what they are against.

The goal here isn’t to have culture agree with everything we do as churches. The very nature of ministry means there will be those who disagree with our beliefs and question our methods.  But where incorrect perception can be a stumbling block, leaders seeking to be good stewards should work to overcome them.

I want to share a snapshot of Barna’s findings but also attach some recommended action steps to each fact.

My hope is that by shining a light on the data and highlighting one potential action step, you can move from information to application to transformation.

Whenever we talk about stats and trends, our goal is to help you take a step from “that’s interesting” to “that’s actionable.”

The stats are informative, and they should give you insights into your local ministry context.  But more than that, they should inspire action.

Stat: 41% say the church is known for the things they are against

You may have heard this before, and this perception is hard to fight. The fact is your church is lumped in with other churches to create a macro-perception that may not be fair.

Still, when the unchurched believe the church to be against them, they will struggle to see themselves as a participant.

Action Step: Use your social media channels to spotlight local organizations and businesses.

One simple thing you can do is to use your platform to spotlight others.  This may include other people, but you could also spotlight other organizations, non-profits, and businesses.  Use your real estate to show that you’re for others, not just for yourself.

There are few that do this better than Gwinnett Church with their #ForGwinnett campaign. It began as a capital campaign but has expanded to a movement, spreading to churches and communities around the world.  It’s messaging that sounds like this:

“For far too long, the church has been known for what it is against. We want to be known for what we are for. We are FOR Gwinnett.”

This approach extends to merchandise, sermon series content, and as mentioned above, extensive use of social media campaigns to spotlight local organizations.

Stat: 30% think the church is irrelevant to their lives

 When unchurched people think about church, they often don’t make a connection to their daily lives. People are struggling with issues and they don’t think the church addresses them. Church is for faith stuff, not work, school, money, mental health, and a host of other real-world issues. People in your community are asking questions they are not sure if your church is really answering them.

Action Step: Create non-Sunday content that is helpful to people’s daily struggles.

Hopefully, your sermon planning and delivery speak to the needs of the people.  But you can do so much more. Churches should be experts at creating and sharing “non-Sunday content” that reaches people where they are.

If your church is trying to reach parents of elementary children, you don’t have to limit your content creation to Sunday morning kid’s environments or sermons.  Why not create and distribute resources helpful to parents all throughout the week?

If your church is trying to help people battle consumerism or have a more healthy approach to money, why not create tools and content you can share throughout the week that have the chance to reach people at home or at work?

What if you published short videos answering questions like who is Jesus, why the Bible matters, or how to let go of anger?

What if you created resources to help parents connect with their kids or have fun together throughout the summer?

What if you talked about vocation, life’s purpose, burnout, or anxiety in short, sharable formats?

Don’t have to limit your influence to Sunday morning. When you enter conversations throughout the week with a content strategy designed to build trust, you’ll increase your perceived relevance.

A tool like FrontDoor could make this easier.  Choose unbranded, helpful content from the Content Library, set it up on a landing page with a few clicks so you can give it away, and use automated follow-up tools to invite people to take a next step.

It’s like a content-marketing system for churches, a way to use helpful resources to build trust and nurture those who aren’t yet ready to plan a visit. Here’s a video of how it works.

Learn more about FrontDoor here.

Stat: 23% say the church is detached from the real issues in the community

At first, this feels similar to the relevance stat, but there’s some additional nuance worth unpacking.

As people are more and more connected to their communities, the more they will disconnect from organizations that don’t feel like they fit. Think about local restaurants, boutiques, and events that fit nicely with the ethos of a community.  They are a part of what’s going on.  When you’re part of a community, you also are connected to the needs.  Those who aren’t dialed in could be perceived to be irrelevant and unaware.

Action Step: Get involved in local community organizations so you can better understand the real issues in the community.

What if you had a significant presence in the Rotary Club or the Chamber of Commerce or a local school council?  What if every staff member or key leader got involved with a local organization?  Demographic reports and impact studies are a great way to be introduced to needs, but there’s no substitute for up-close involvement in the community.  Getting involved personally, not just organizationally is a way to truly understand the needs of a community.

If you’re looking for something you can do in the next 10 minutes to better understand the issues facing your community, dive into the Know Your Community Report from Gloo.  This free resource will help you better understand the demographics and patterns of those living within a radius of your church. You’ll get insights into age, income, family, behavioral health, and more.

Get your FREE Know Your Community Report here.

21 Mother’s Day and Father’s Day Ideas for Churches

21 Mother’s Day and Father’s Day Ideas for Churches

Each year, churches around the world pool their best resources, prepare their best sermons, and plan their best promotions for two big days: Easter and Christmas.

Of course, Easter and Christmas are sacred, important holidays that should be celebrated as such. And every Sunday is an important chance to share the Gospel and make our congregations and guests feel seen and cared for.

But there are two more holidays that present unique opportunities for churches: Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. By acknowledging these days, churches have…

#1 – An outreach opportunity.

One of the reasons that Mother’s Day has been reported as the third-highest attendance Sunday after Easter and Christmas for years is because families tend to honor Mother’s Day by attending church together, often at the request of their church-attending mothers or grandmothers.

People who don’t come to church very often will be present on Mother’s Day, and that’s a huge opportunity for churches to engage them.

#2 – A celebration opportunity.

There are mothers and fathers in your congregation who struggle to feel understood or connected. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day can be a time to celebrate the gift of parenthood and the joy it can bring. 

#3 – An opportunity to hold the hurting.

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are painful days for a lot of people. There are those who have lost their mother or father, those longing to be mothers or fathers, or those who have strained relationships with their mothers or fathers.

But that’s no reason to skip acknowledging these days altogether. Instead, it’s an opportunity to acknowledge their pain and help them in their healing.

As non-religious holidays, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day might seem to be irrelevant for churches to mention. But these two days contain these enormous opportunities for church leaders to engage their congregation and community, and it doesn’t have to mean spending a lot of money on gifts.

If you’re planning to acknowledge Mother’s Day and Father’s Day at your church, here are a few ideas to consider.

1. A gift card for coffee or a local restaurant.

2. Chocolate.

Treats such as chocolate bars and Lindor truffles can be ordered in bulk.

3. Give away a getaway.

Giving away a trip for two or an item that promotes relaxation, such as a hammock, is sure to be a hit.

4. A prayer service.

Pray for anyone who finds Mother’s Day or Father’s Day painful for any reason and pray for strength and wisdom for all parents in the congregation.

5. Flowers.

You can buy flowers in bulk. It’s also common to give carnations in different colors to those whose mothers are living and those who have passed away. Remember to consider certain manners when it comes to giving flowers on Mother’s Day.

6. Bible verse keychains.

7. Set up a photo booth in the lobby.

Parents—mothers in particular!—love being able to take photos with their families. Here’s an example of a Mother’s Day photo booth that Southgate Community Church did.

8. A tea station in the church lobby.

Add cookies, scones, or chocolates if you’re feeling fancy. You could also host a special Mother’s Day Tea Party event.

9. Donations in honor of moms or dads.

Present a donation to a local pregnancy resource center or another charity with a purpose close to the hearts of parents.

10. Highlight your women’s ministry and men’s ministry resources or events.

11. Cupcakes.

It might sound messy, but these can be individually boxed to easily hand out. Christian Reformed Church set up this Mother’s Day cupcake tower.

12. Root beer.

Some churches go all out with root beer kegs or a root beer float station for Father’s Day, but it’s okay to keep it simple too. Check out the root beer floats that Saint Peter's Lutheran Church put together below.

13. Breakfast after service.

What parent wouldn’t appreciate a bacon station, donuts for dads, or muffins for moms? See how First Baptist Church Shelby set up their Donuts for Dads station below.

14. Handwritten notes.

You can even involve the kids or young adult ministry by having them draw on gift bags or write cards.

15. A hot dog station.

How about a full cookout/barbecue in the parking lot after service? Fire up the grill! Check out this example from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church.

16. Devotionals or pocket Bibles.

17. A family night package.

Think about what a family would need to have a fun night together. For example, put together a family dinner package with a gift card to a local restaurant with activity books for kids, a movie box with a movie rental, popcorn, and candy, or a s’mores kit that they can enjoy together.

18. Camp.

Crossroads Church does a Man Camp and a Woman Camp.

19. Mom’s Day/Night Out.

Have an event at the church that keeps kids entertained while moms get free time. 

20. A Father’s Day car show.

Here’s a great example from Celebration Church’s Father’s Day car show.

21. Mother & Son or Dad & Daughter dance.

Get inspired by these Father Daughter Dance examples from Rock Pointe Church, Northland Church, and Cornerstone Baptist Church.

Take the Next Step

Don’t stop engaging people once the special holidays are over. In The Senior Pastor’s Guide to Reaching More People, you’ll find practical and actionable tools and even more ideas that you can use to reach more people in your church and community.

Download the free guide today to learn more about how to reach people and invite them into your church community.

Five Simple Ways to Actually Reach People Online

Five Simple Ways to Actually Reach People Online

Churches have always looked to accomplish two primary tasks. It’s the challenge given to us by Jesus to go into all the world and make disciples. Right there in that one sentence are the two basic jobs to be done by every local church.

  1. More growth. We are called to help the people in our congregation grow deeper in their faith, following Jesus with their whole lives. This is the call to discipleship.
  2. More people. We are called to go into the world and make new disciples. This is the call to evangelism.

In 2020, we were forced to examine new ways to do both of these tasks.  We’re wrestling with important questions, including…

  • Can you truly disciple people digitally from a distance?
  • What does engagement really mean?
  • How can we reach new people online?

A lot may have changed in your church, but your mission is still the same. We’re just looking at the opportunities ahead of us and trying to make sense of it. Besides, the challenges before us are really just opportunities for those willing to embrace some new ways of doing ministry. I want to share five practical things you can do today to begin to engage and ultimately reach new people online.  These ideas are not expensive (in fact, they are all free). This list is the beginning of a simple strategy you can use to truly reach people online.

#1 – Really get to know your online audiences.

Just like shepherds should know the condition of their flocks, pastors should really be in tune with what is going on in the lives of the congregation Just like missionaries must first understand the context where they are called to serve, pastors should seek to truly understand the ups, downs, struggles, pain, and issues facing those who live in their community. If you want to reach people online in your geographic area, how well do you really know them? How well do you understand them? And how accurate is your information?

Here’s a free, customizable report based on your zip code that will give you a ton of information. 

You can dive into demographics, family status, relationship with money, and even learning style. It’s a good starting point for anyone wanting to better understand their mission field.

#2 – Start sharing helpful content.

Since we engage with so many churches around the country inside the Church Fuel membership, I get to read a lot of church email newsletters and see a lot of church social feeds. And it probably wouldn’t surprise you to know that most of the information is announcements. Churches have gotten really good at talking about our own stuff. Our services. Our programs. Our events.  Our new series. Justin Nava sums it up well with this appropriately snarky post:

Your new series? The outreach events? The church programs? Those are great things, but unfortunately, that’s not what people in your community are searching for online (or clicking on or sharing). That stuff is important to YOU but not interesting to them. What kind of stuff am I talking about.  Here’s a list of posts I wish churches would do.

  • 10 Local Shops We Love
  • New in Town Guide: The Most Important Things to Know About (City Name Here)
  • The Five Best Places to Go For a Run
  • Where Kids Eat Free in (City Name Here)
  • The Best Staycation Ideas in (City Name Here) Back to School Checklist for Kids and Parents
  • Best Spot for Watching Fireworks in (City Name Here)
  • A 21-Day Christmas Devotional Guide
  • 10 Things to Be Thankful for in (City Name Here)
  • Local Non Profits Who are Serving our Community Well
  • Can’t Miss Activities this Fall in (City Name Here)
  • Hometown Tourist: 5 Ways You Can Act Like a Tourist Near (City Name Here)

Can you imagine how your church would be perceived if you began publishing more content like this? It’s not that we should never talk about our new series or post about our events…those things are really important. But they are like posting selfies all the time. Use the other camera on your phone and start talking about stuff that is important to your audience.

#3 – Ask your church members to share helpful content.

Here’s where it starts to get interesting. Once you share something helpful online, now ask your congregation to share it.  This is how you expand your reach. This is how you knock on people’s doors. If the content you create is truly helpful (like the stuff on the list above), your church members will want to share it. You’re giving them a pretty easy task, one that might even make them look good as they complete it. They just need a gentle reminder and some clear direction.

When you post stuff like this to your channels, you’re reaching people who have probably already engaged with your church at some level. Maybe they have liked your page in the past. But when your members share on their pages, you’re reaching their audiences. You’re branching out to people who may not have a direct connection to your church.  In a small way, you’re going into the world.

#4 – Make it EASY for your church members to share helpful content

When you ask your people to take action, make it very easy for them to follow through. Here are some ideas:

  • Don’t just ask them to share, write a few sentences and ask them to copy and paste.
  • Create an image for them. Or a handful of images so they can choose what is most relevant.
  • Rally everyone at a certain date and time (even if it’s a little cheesy) like “Share it Saturday” or “Talk about it Tuesday.”

Remember, when your members share this stuff, you’re knocking on new people’s doors. Ask them to do it, but work very hard to make it easy. Tactically speaking, I’m a big fan of creating a page like yourchurch.com/invite and putting all your congregation-facing inviting resources in one place.

#5 – Start having normal conversations with people who engage.

If this doesn’t really sound like Biblical evangelism or discipleship, you’re right.

Everything here is like a knock on the door. But once someone opens the door by engaging with this content, you have an incredible opportunity.

Now you get to engage.  Now you get to follow up. You’ve said hello, now it’s time to have a conversation. So make sure you have people ready to engage online, by liking comments, saying hi, and asking questions.

Not in a weird way, but like a normal human. You could even create a volunteer team or utilize volunteers to do this.

By no means is this a comprehensive strategy.  And by my own admission, this is a very “light” way to “reach” people online. But my goal is to give you a specific way to initially connect with people.

Simple Tips for Using Email During the COVID-19 Crisis

Simple Tips for Using Email During the COVID-19 Crisis

Even though most communications professionals talk about social media, email is still the best way to communicate with your congregation, particularly during times of crisis.

Any communications strategy should certainly include social media, but you might not want to rely solely on it.  Email, even though it can be boring, can also your best opportunity to share your message.

5 Reasons Email Works

  • It gives you more space to expand your thoughts, share important information, and tell stories.
  • You can include multiple links.
  • It doesn’t disappear from feeds quite so easily.
  • People can easily save.
  • It’s easy to forward and share.

Even as you look to communicate instantly on social media, don’t forget that email is one of your most useful tools during this time.

On the first Sunday of digital services, one of the largest churches in the country closed the online service with this encouragement:  “If you’re not on our email list, make sure you go to our website and give us your email address…it’s how we can stay in touch and share important updates with your family.”

Here is one of the nation’s largest churches, with more resources and creativity than most, encouraging viewers to sign up for email updates.  They know email is one of the most effective communication methods.

Times of uncertainty are not the best times to experiment with new communications platforms and mediums.  Instead, you want to rely on approaches that are familiar to your congregation.

Email Tools

If you use a Church Management System like Planning Center, Church Community Builder, Realm or one of the many providers, you have the ability to email your congregation. 

Keeping this database accurate and up-to-date is an important responsibility as your email database will be a primary source of communication.

In some cases, you can connect your database to a third party software like Mailchimp, MailerLite or Convert.  Email lists like this give you the ability to create quick sign up forms and will help you understand who is opening your emails.

Here are some email marketing companies that do a great job.

Email Style

When you create your email updates, know that you don’t have to use a ton of graphics, templates, or fancy style. 

Think about the emails that hit your Inbox. You immediately think the ones with a bunch of graphics and formatting are from companies selling something. The messages from a real person with mostly words feel more like a personal message.

Here are some other tips for crafting email messages to your congregation.

  1. Write like a person. When you’re crafting your emails, write like a regular human being, using regular words and phrasing.  You’re not writing a dissertation or a government report…keep it personal.  
  1. Send church emails from a person. Don’t use admin@churchname.com or worse, noreply@churchname.org as your sender. These emails are more likely to go to the spam folder.
  1. Write to a person. Just like you should write like a real person, imagine you’re writing to a real person (not a group of people). 

Great Examples of Email Messaging

Check out the insanely practical ways that churches have announced major changes via email. (What about you? Find and share more ideas online at covid.church)

Permission to Stay Home, Andy Stanley.  This email went out the week before services were cancelled. 

COVID 19 Update, Andy Stanley.  This email announced the move to digital and gave three reasons.

No Services This Sunday, Dan Sweaza.  Great email announcing the change and answering questions.

A Pandemic Is A Terrible Thing To Waste, Andy Stanley. Connected people to their livestream, and encouraged people to invite their friends.

Are You Remotely Prepared?, App Sumo. Practical life advice laid out in a way that is helpful, informative, and of high value.

A Note To Our Community, Fab Fit Fun. A message of hope that continues their company’s mission statement of bringing “happiness and well-being to your doorstep”.

How To Help…A Note of Encouragement, Light & Airy. With the mission of helping people find & capture the magic in every day, they took an empathetic and practical approach to how you can of things you can do to help others and ways to find joy or be productive when you’re at home. Practical value and with a message of hope and help.

Cancelling Easter, Restoration Presbyterian Church.

How to Build an Email List for Your Community

Building an email list can be super simple or complex depending on the amount of emails and the methods you use to go about getting them.

Here are some ideas to start building an email list:

  • Capture people's addresses from inside and outside your church: Add an opt-in form to your website.  Opt-in Monster is a powerful and popular tool for lead generation.
  • Create resources that would be helpful to your community and give them away for free on your website. It could be resources for parents and kids, devotional guides, or community-driven news. Ask for an email address in return.  
  • Ask for people to subscribe to your emails at the end of your message. Give them an email address to “opt-in” to, use a service like text-in-church and give them a phone number, or create an online form for them to fill out after service.

This is a great opportunity to share messages of hope, helpful information, and ways to be like Jesus throughout the week. How are you using email to love others and point them towards Jesus? Share your story in the comments below.

Optimizing Your Website During the COVID-19 Crisis

Optimizing Your Website During the COVID-19 Crisis

As a church, you want to be a source of peace, hope, and stability in uncertain times. As preachers, teachers, and gospel-believing church leaders, we know the power of words. Now more than ever, people in our congregations and communities need a word of encouragement and clarity, without downplaying or dismissing the seriousness and complexity of the situation. 

We simply aren’t experts when it comes to handling a health crisis… no matter how many podcasts, articles, posts, or tweets we’ve been exposed to. 

We are, however, called by God and empowered by His Spirit to lead our churches in love for the glory of Jesus’ name.

Be sure that words and tone of church communication relay a message of unwavering hope and unselfish love. You love your community and the church wants to take necessary precautions to promote the wellbeing of everyone in your zipcode and beyond. 

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:23–25

Your home page is the front door to your church. 

Today’s best practices emphasize the power of first impression and ease of finding relevant information on your website. If that’s right under normal circumstances, the importance of that fact just grew exponentially in size. Right now, just about any site you visit has COVID-19 information front and center. 

This should especially be the case for churches—a place for gathering and for seeking help and hope in tough times. Provide a clear message and plan for how you will communicate and meet, along with how people can get in touch with you too.

Update your landing page to share the most important and urgent information. This is an opportunity to be informative and connective.

Review your analytics to see what people are looking for by noticing what pages they’re visiting. Most likely they are searching for service information and resources

Kem Meyer recently shared a great strategy for how to handle your landing page:

  • Create an interim landing page.

None of the “usual” stuff matters right now. Get rid of unnecessary events and content.

  • Answer two questions: 
  1. What is your simple response to COVID? 
  2. How are you retooling your people and your resources to help others?  

Also consider making one of your main CTA’s prayers. Add it to the copy of your page, or as a menu item. Tools like YouVersion’s new Prayer app can help your church pray together, even if you can’t meet together.

Examples of Website Messaging

Check out the insanely practical ways that churches are using their websites. 

Look at how The Action Church has positioned themselves as a source of information: 

  • Include a list of COVID-19 community action resources 
  • Add service information on the landing page. Whether it’s a “watch live” button, or a link to another page detailing service information, you need to make the information that people are looking for insanely easy to find.

Check out Elevations Call To Action: https://elevationchurch.org/

You can expect that you’ll have a lot of new visitors on your website. A church in Virginia noted that of their recent website visitors, 93% of them were brand new. Make sure that you’re prepared to capture their attention and information so you can connect with them.

Just remember: Keep it simple, keep it brief, keep it real, keep it helpful.