HOW TO RETAIN VISITORS PT. 4 (SERMON)

So we are wrapping up this blog series on “HOW TO RETAIN VISITORS” and you can check out the previous 3 posts on 1st Impressions, Kids, & Worship.  Today we are going to tackle the sermon.  A recent study by Pew Research on the top reasons why someone chooses a church and the #1 pick at 83% of the people was the quality of the sermons.  Now if that doesn’t speak to the importance of being a good communicator I don’t know what will. Today I just want to hit 7 keys to delivering an effective sermon at you church.

1. Speak on Relevant Topics.

This seems like a no brainer right?!? Speak on topics people want to hear, but you would be surprised on how many speakers just speak on whatever they feel like.  Every great communicator knows you are not a great communicator if you ignore the very needs of the people you are speaking to.  Paul said it best in terms of connecting with his audience “When I am with those who are weak, I share their weakness, for I want to bring the weak to Christ. Yes, I try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some. I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings.” 1 Corinthians 9:22-23

So how do you know who you are speaking to and to discover their needs?

  • Get your staff involved.  I love bringing my staff into our calendar planning and we discuss what topics are important to our church.  This allows us to expand our reach within our community as each staff member has weekly interactions with so many of our members through serving and Life groups which in return hits a wide demographic.
  • Send out a survey. I also like to get direct feedback from our people and to do so we will have a survey card we ask everyone to fill out once a year.  The survey card actually hits many important ares of our church, but one part of the survey is a list of topics that they would like us to speak on.  This helps us specifically identify the needs in our church.
  • Have a strong prayer life. I feel like every year God speaks a theme into my heart for our church.  2017 the theme is #TheYearofGrowth as we are going to continue to grow physically, but most importantly grow spiritually as our roots get deeper. In 2016 we saw over 600 people give their heart to Jesus and I was really seeking God on developing all these people that are new to the faith in prayer He spoke that theme in my heart.  Seek God and I know he will speak direction into your church.

2. Add a Personal Touch.

Evangelism isn’t telling people what they need to do as much as it is telling them what God has done in you.  You have to share yourself with your people.  Being open with what God has done in your life builds trust with your listener and trust is what drops guards to allow them to receive what you are saying. As much as I wish people came up to me raving about how smart I am as I dropped some Greek or Hebrew knowledge on them it never really happens that way, but every time I share personally how I struggled or doubted and God moved someone is impacted.  Personal stories take it from a far fetched lecture to real experience that can also take place in their lives.

3. Add Humor.

This is probably the hardest thing to build into a message, but it so extremely necessary because laughter allows people to relax and get engaged. Now the better you know your audience the more you feel comfortable in this space.  A few things to think about is first you are not a standup comedian that needs to have an elaborate joke with a punchline so don’t put that pressure on yourself, secondly don’t  take yourself to seriously but be willing to laugh at yourself, thirdly thinking of a funny story or exaggerated examples that goes with your topic truly helps,  and lastly the more comfortable and relaxed you are on stage the funnier you are.

4. Add Applicable Points.

I like to build into every message either a “Take Home” or “Action Steps” which are practical points people can apply to their life.   It is one thing to give someone spiritual goosebumps and get them all amped on your fiery message, but it’s a whole new ball game when they actually start applying what you speak on. Many people want to apply the messages, but we use such broad strokes in our messages that they don’t seam practical.  So what I do is give them something physical to walk out the service to do in the week… Everything from joining a LifeGroup, to going on a date with your spouse, to writing out goals, to setting a specific devotion time, etc… We have to put action towards our faith.

5. Let Your Message Breathe.

Great messages unfold over time.  To many pastors throw their messages together at the last moment and in doing so haven’t given the message enough time to breathe.  I like to have my messaged outlined earlier in the week and finished no later than Thursday.  This gives me several days to tweak the outline and then two whole days to polish the finished message.  You will find humor is easier to develop after you have gone over the message many times, your transitions become smoother as work through them over and over again, and you are able remove material that isn’t really necessary.  Don’t wait to the last minute to write your message, but you have to build into your calendar planning and writing moments for your message every week.

6. Speak with Pace.

Pace is one of the most important factors to keep peoples attention.  Most speakers speak with a slower pace because they don’t truly know their material and so they are constantly going back to their notes.  I am a big advocate of speaking without any notes and I don’t even have a pulpit on stage.  I have confidence monitor set up in front of me that has my main points and scriptures. This allows me to have an effective pace and flow in my messages.  The key is not memorizing your messages, but knowing your message.  When you truly understand the content of each point and have went over your material enough you will be able to deliver what I believe is a more personal message.  No longer is your head down hiding behind a pulpit, but you are out front engaging your audience.

7. End EVERY Message with a Salvation Opportunity.

I have seen so many Pastors deliver powerful messages where you could sense people were ready to commit their lives to Jesus in the room, but the speaker just ends the service with no opportunity to except Jesus.  I am convinced many searching people leave Sundays still searching because as Pastors we didn’t communicate with them their first step. We live in a generation that wasn’t raised in church and to assume people know the sinners prayer is a mistake.  I cannot tell you the amount of people that have attended our church that don’t know what worship is, offerings is, who Matthew Mark Luke or John are let alone accepting Jesus free gift of salvation.  Every Sunday is an opportunity to expand the Kingdom of God and nothing is more energizing to a Church body than knowing they are part of a Great Commission church!

Lets be communicators that speak the life, the truth, and the hope of Jesus in ways that connect with our people week in and week out as we see more people come and then become involved in our church communities!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, leave a comment I would love to hear from you!

HOW TO RETAIN VISITORS PT. 3 (WORSHIP)

It is a great feeling seeing new guests walk through the doors of your church, but it is an even better feeling when you see them come back! We are breaking down effective ways to get your 1st time visitors to come back because retention is the only way to grow! Part 1 we broke down the importance of 1st Impressions and you can check that post out here. Then in Part 2 we looked at the immense value of an effective Kids ministry.  Today we are going to look inside the worship experience as we look at Worship and Transitions that create an inviting yet powerful Sunday experience.

A powerful Sunday service is intentional not accidental.  What I mean is that God truly blesses preparation and it is in being a steward of your opportunities that we see God move in powerful ways. Some churches argue that being organized and prepared takes away the authenticity of your worship experience and I see things very differently. I truly believe that when we honor God by giving our absolute best and working diligently to be stewards of the gifts He has given us that God actually moves in greater ways in our services.  So when you plan, prepare, rehearse, and deliver out of your spiritual gifts in a way that honors God and the people of your Church you will find that response from God is like the response He gave the Servant with 5 talents  “well done my good and faithful servant”.

So lets look at 6 ways to create a powerful worship experience for guests and members.

1. Begin with a Countdown

EVERY service must start on time no matter what! “Well Mike there is not that many people here yet so we are just going to wait until more show up”…. Ummm no! They show up late because they know you start late. It is unfair to a first time visitor that is there on time for you to start late because you are waiting for your regular attenders to get there.  What you are saying by doing this is that the members are more important than the guests, that running late is acceptable, and that your church is unorganized.

Start every service with a countdown that begins 5 minutes before the service is supposed to start.  We like to take advantage of this time and actually have created a 5 minute promo video for our church that is just B-roll of the city, our Sunday services, our Kids ministry, Baptisms, and our people hanging out.  It is a wonderful way to give a first time guest a preview of your church experience before you ever begin.

2. Start with energy.

Kick your worship service off with a high energy song.  This is the best way to get people pumped, get the morning blood flowing, and is a better environment to walk into as people start filing into your worship service.  I think that church should be passionate, fun, and have a lot of energy and the way you start really impacts the way you finish.   Now the problem many churches have is they are not able to pull off a fast song effectively and mainly it is because they don’t have enough musician to make the song sound full.  Luckily we live in a day and age where technology helps us out a great deal and that is through worship tracks.  Go on www.multitracks.com to find the songs you want to do and you can fill in the holes with tracks to give you a full sound and tons of energy.  Some people are scared to run tracks because they think the technology is too much for them, but you can even run your tracks from a iPad through an aux cable. Also don’t feel insecure about using tracks because very few worship teams have enough musicians to pull off everything you hear in a record so most fill in gaps with the worship tracks.

3. Build into Intimacy.

Worship needs to be worshipful and there is nothing like the sound of a whole church singing to our God in unity.  Your song selection is very important and you need to pick songs that are congregational which means they are easy to sing along to. So some great tips to figure a good song is first are the lyrics powerful do they get you pumped up and encouraged.  Secondly, does the song stay in your head after you hear it?  A great melody helps you sing along as you are hearing it and also the song stays with you throughout the day.

4. Share your heart.

You need to have moments where you have people on stage speak from their hearts and express what God is doing in their lives or what a particular song means to them. True authenticity is found when we are being open and real.  We personally have this take place in a few areas of our services.  Usually someone on the worship team will speak in between the 2nd and third song and then at the end of the set we will have another speaker come up and do a spiritual moment and close in prayer.  We are not just singing songs we are engaging God and by integrating sharing with singing it really enhances that experience!

5. Welcome Guests.

After the spiritual moment the speaker needs to go directly into the welcome.  We always welcome the first time guests (not pointing them out individually), we introduce ourselves, share our vision, highlight our worship guides and connection cards, and explain what is happening next in the service. From there we go into a 2 minute countdown before the pastor speaks the message. This gives time for people to get settled in their seats and for guests to fill out the connection cards.

6. Leave room for the Holy Spirit.

Though we plan our services very specifically we are also very sensitive to the Holy Spirit and leave room in our service that if we feel led we can go back into a song or share something more. Sunday services are all about people hearing, feeling, and experiencing God and sometimes we don’t know how or when that will happen so build into your services flexibility.  Not every service will need that time, but it is great to have it there when you do.  Don’t get in the way of God!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, leave a comment I would love to hear from you!

HOW TO RETAIN VISITORS. PT. 2 (KIDS)

We are breaking down part 2 of “how to retain visitors” and you can check out part one here. The reality is if we are not retaining a high percentage of our visitors then all our marketing efforts are in vain! I get Pastors all the time saying “we just got to get the word out on our church so people know we exist”. The greatest way to do that is word of mouth and the only way people are going to talk about your church is if they enjoyed their experience. When you retain visitors you are expanding your platform which leads to more word of mouth advertising.

The second part of this blog series I want to talk about is your Kids Ministry. Now I am not a Kids ministry expert, but I do understand its immense value and I am going to talk about the Kids Ministry through the lens of a Pastor.

So here is 5 important understandings about Kids Ministry:

1. Should be your first priority.

I personally, this may just be me, feel like this should be your first hire and definitely an area you need to get right out of the gate. The reality is a parent may love the worship experience, but if their kids hate their experience they are not coming back to your church. You can have the best worship and the best preaching, but if your kids ministry is falling apart your church is falling apart.

As Pastors we must understand the importance of having an out of this world Kids ministry and to do so we need to staff it properly and fund it properly. Find a leader who is a team builder, who is solution-oriented, and someone who is fun and enjoyable. Don’t settle and don’t just fill a hole. That may mean that other staff members may need to fill the role until you find someone that has the potential of growth to really run with the program. You also need to understand that a great Kids ministry also needs to be funded properly. Honor your families by providing the kids program with the resources they need.

2. We are not babysitting, but building leaders.

So many times churches can look at kids ministry as a place to put a few bodies to watch the kids until the adults are done with their thing. That is absolutely the last thing kids ministry is. As adults we try to tell ourselves that kids don’t have real problems yet the majority of adults are dealing with pains they experienced in their childhood. As a church it is our mission to disciple our young people and teach them to walk freely into the person God has created them to be. We have the privilege to radically change our communities because if our Kids walk in their God-given purpose then literally the future of our cities are changed for Jesus. That is why I believe every believer is called to kids ministry because every believe is called to our families and our communities!

I love the way our Children’s pastors structure our kids services to reflect what we do in our adult worship services. Our kids worship is comprised mostly of songs we do in our adult services so parents and kids are both singing the same worship songs. Our Children’s pastors work hard at aligning the topic of my message with the topic they teach in their services. Lastly and probably my favorite thing they do is at the end of their lessons they break off into small groups for a time of discussion and there they plug in the older students to help lead those discussions to the younger kids.

3. Communicate to the parents.

Parents love hearing about their kids and seeing what their kids doing! We live in a great day and age where there are so many ways to communicate what we are doing on Sundays and helping parents to get involved with their kids throughout the week. Social media is one of our favorite avenues through our main Kids Facebook page and also private parent only pages that we can post lessons, songs, games, activities, and pictures of the kiddos during church. Be active and post throughout the week to keep parents informed, but also peak the interest of people who have yet to come to your church.

Disclaimer: make sure you have permission from a guardian before you post any pictures of a miner online.

4. Security. Security. Security.

I can’t interject this enough parents are not going to trust you with their kids if they feel like security is not a priority to your church. You need to make sure you have a secure and efficient check in and check out system where kids are only picked up with matching tickets and by guardians that are in the system. You need to make sure no adult is allowed in the kids room without a background check or they need to be in the company of a kids ministry worker. Also it’s a great idea to position a security team at entrances and exits of your kids facilities. Parents notice when you take the safety of their children serious and it allows them to drop their guards so they can enjoy their worship experience in the adult service.

5. Have Fun!

Don’t take yourself to serious and get the children involved. Kids want to have fun! Laugh, dance, worship, play games…Have a blast!

To many churches look at kids ministry as an afterthought when it should be our first thought. If you make your kids ministry a priority a put the right staff in place, financially invest in it, and put in the time you will see your church grow and most importantly your young people becoming the world changers God created them to be!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, leave a comment I would love to hear from you!

HOW TO RETAIN VISITORS. PT. 1 (1st IMPRESSIONS)

I am going to spend the next several posts really breaking down the important areas to retain 1st time guests. Growth happens when new visitors come to our churches, those new visitors come back because they enjoyed their experience, and lastly when we transition attenders to contributors. We all want to grow our churches, but many times we are so focused on getting new people to come that we ignore the fact that those new people won’t come back because of the experience they may have had at our church. I know we all love our churches and for good reason, but we tend to look at our churches through our eyes and not the eyes and understanding of a first time guest.

So over the next several posts you are going to see me breaking down areas that I feel helps lower the guards of new visitors, allows them to feel comfortable, and creates an enjoyable experience where they can encounter God!

So lets look at the first area to retain 1st time guests which is your First Impressions. The reality is that people make a first impression of your Church within 8 minutes of being there. Let that sink in… Guests have made a decisions on whether they like your Church before the worship has ever started and before you have ever preached a sermon. Negative first impressions are the hardest thing for any organization to overcome and those impressions happen before they ever experience the product (now I know Jesus is NOT a product I am just talking organizational sense).

So lets break down 8 quick ways to enhance your first impressions:

1. Make sure your facilities are clean.

You may not be able to afford to have a brand new building with the newest furniture and equipment, but you can afford to make sure your facilities are clean. This is a MUST because a dirty building says several things: They don’t care, if they can’t take care of their building how can they take care of my family, and they must not be stewards of their finances so why should I give? Cleaning costs you nothing but time and yet it yields such a huge ROI. Also on a side note paint costs are so minimal, but can make a huge cosmetic difference in your facilities appearance.

2. Station greeters outside.

You have no idea the type of momentum you build by having friendly and excited people outside welcoming people as they come in. We have our greeters holding up signs that say Welcome Home, You Matter, You Belong Here, Sunday Funday, etc… and it builds such an energy from the start. They are also the first point of contact so they can direct a new visitor in the right direction immediately so the guest never feels lost.

3. Have plenty of signage.

You can never have to much signage. Some people don’t like to ask for help and signage still allows them to get around and feel comfortable doing so. Nothing is worse than being in a new place and not knowing where to go. Walk your premises from the parking lot into your facilities and think like a 1st time guest. Ask yourself “where would I go?” “where would I get lost?” and put signage in those places!

4. Open doors for everyone.

Have greeters at every single door and open every single door for every person that walks in. Our greeters are not door stops holding doors open, but we honor every guest by opening the doors for them. There nothing that feels better than being welcome every where you go by a friendly smile and an honoring gesture!

5. Worship Guides.

Worship guides are NOT for the members of your church, but for your guests! To many churches use worship guides as bulletins and they look like insider only pamphlets. Worship guides are there to welcome guests, explain your vision, show them the next steps to get involved, and have a connection card to get follow up information. Also worship guides should be the last thing they receive right before they walk into the worship center to grab their seat. If people are dropping off kids or getting coffee the last thing they need is to have a bunch of additional things to carry!

6. Greeters in the Worship Center.

A huge missed opportunity is that you should have members of your staff and worship team greeting in your worship center. A new guests feels extremely awkward sitting in a worship center as you can tend to feel like the new kid in the lunch room. The way you overcome that is to make sure your people are present before service begins in the worship center. Now I am not saying corner new guests with long conversations, but going around and just saying hello or glad you here is huge. You would be surprised how far just acknowledging someone will go!

7. Countdown Video.

Start on time every single time! I can’t say that enough and the best way to do that is to have a 5 minute countdown on the projection screen. Now we try maximize this space for guests by giving them a look at our church before It begins by having a countdown video that is filled with B Roll of our city, church services, kids church, people talking in the foyer, life groups, etc…

8. Welcome Guests from the stage.

Now this does not mean to point them out individually or ask them to stand up. It means acknowledge that guests are there. Speakers on stage need to introduce themselves, welcomes the guests and thanks them for being there, highlight the worship guides and the connection cards, lets them know what to expect next in the service.

The best complement we get at Bloom is that we are friendliest church they have ever visited and we get this compliment almost weekly. That can be what your visitors say about your church and that will be one HUGE step forward in retaining first time guests!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, leave a comment I would love to hear from you!

7 Ways to Maximize 2017

I am so motivated by this understanding of Long Term dreams maximized with Short Term work. It is framed around this idea that there is no such thing as overnight success and our dreams take time. So we are motivated by where we desire to be 3, 5, 10 years from now and we maximize that by understanding we only get there one step at a time. We have to take long term dreams and put them into bite size goals. If we tackled every year understanding that it gets us one year closer to our destiny, instead of hoping and wishing that we will magically hit the dream lottery, then we develop the grit that it takes to succeed.

I am starting a series at our church called ONE YEAR: To Shift the Paradigm. It is centered around this understanding that paradigms are patterns. When we create goals we are striving to change our habits to yield a specific result. If we take every year as an opportunity to build off the last and we continue to shape our habits toward our long term goals then we will see our dreams unfold before our eyes.

So lets look at ways to maximize 2017….

1. Start your day off right.

How you start really does impact how you finish and you must get your mind fixed on where you want to end up. I start everyday in prayer with a specific purpose in mind. First I have to read the Bible and get Gods promises deep in my spirit. Secondly I let gratitude take over and start really focusing everything I am thankful for. Lastly I start declaring things in my life such as I am positive and optimistic, I have favor, I champion dreams, I am passionate, I am a servant, etc…. I also attach several scriptures with those declarations to align them with truth!

2. Create goals for the entire year.

You have to know where you want to be a year from now. As leaders we have to begin looking forward and we need to know where as an individual we need to grow and where our organizations need to grow. I create 2 sets of goals: I make personal goals and also goals for my Church. These are lofty goals because they will be completed over a 12 month period and also because as we come closer to completing those goals our organization will be growing beyond where we are currently at. I also place these goals somewhere that I will see them every single day to remind me of where I am heading and also encourage me as I start seeing goals get completed.

3. Set shorter benchmarks for your yearly goals.

Once you know where you want to end up you need to figure out how you will get there. You need smaller measurable goals that get you to your end result. If you are writing a book set a certain amount of chapters you must finish each week, if you want to lose weight then how many times will you work out a week and how many calories you will eat a day, or you want your business to be at a certain income level, set how many sales you need to make a week. You have to set bite size goals and they must be measurable. If you don’t have a litmus test then you have no way of knowing how you are doing.

4. Become an avid learner.

Set out to be a reader, podcast listener, or listen to audio books. You have to keep feeding your mind and you need to stay on the pulse of the market. Culture shifts and those who learn, observe, and absorb from successful people are able to catch the shift in the beginning stages and maximize success before the masses.

5. Care about people.

People are what every single business is about. The more you care about what you give to people instead of what you can take from them the more you will find loyalty and trust being built. At the end of the day people are the only commodity that matters and the more we invest in people the greater legacy we leave and the more fulfilled we become. Money, titles, accolades, or things can never fulfill your heart like truly making a difference in someones life.

6. Do NOT quit!

Work hard and I promise it will pay off, but quitting can never be an option. Dreams take time and they happen one step of a time. The greatest human regret is the gnawing thought of “what if”, what if I never quit or what if I tried that. Do not become another tragic story of the “what if” scenario.

7. End your days right.

Be with your family, listen to your kids laugh, and have conversations with your spouse. Go to bed reading something meaningful, write down a few thoughts in a journal, and end the same way you started declaring who you are through Jesus.

Let 2017 be the catalyst for growth as you shift the paradigms in your in your life!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed it, leave a comment I would love to hear from you!

5 Keys to Healthy Confrontation

The ability to confront issues is in my opinion one of the most important traits of an effective leader and yet this is one of the traits most leaders avoid.  Most people hate confrontation and in doing so will ignore problems that over time turn into toxic issues in your church or organization.  Confrontation is not a bad thing and if done right actually strengthens you, your relationships, and your organization.  Now how we get away from the fear of confronting someone is understanding some valuable keys to healthy confrontation.  So lets look at 5 keys to healthy confrontation:

1. We must understand NOTHING gets in the way of your organizations vision.

Like I hit home several weeks ago here…. Successful organizations are married to their vision and they don’t cheat on the vision no matter what the circumstances.  The reason why most leaders are scared to confront someone about an issue is that they are so scared they will offend or upset someone.  The reality is that it should bother you as the leader more that there may be discord, division, or sin in your organization than it bothers you that it may upset someone that your are addressing an issue.  You as the leader cannot let one person yield a negative return in your organization as they push away or detract 10, 20, or maybe more people from being apart of your church.  When you address an unhealthy issue you are turning a negative into a positive and they start yielding a positive return by either changing their unhealthy behavior or leaving which changes the environment of your organization.

2. Go in with a pure heart.

Confrontation never becomes enjoyable, but it does get easier when you understand your intentions.  The reason why we confront issues is because we want that person to be the best they can be and we desire to see them and the organization grow.  If you have no desire to resolve the relationship and to move forward working together then you need to end your working relationship.  You cannot effectively deal with issues unless you are willing to move forward in the relationship.  The truth of it all is the fact that when you are confronting an issue you are saying I care enough about our relationship that I want us to work and I want you to be effective.  If you didn’t care about that person you would just fire them and move on.  So make sure your heart is right toward that person.

3. Don’t let to much time pass.

Many people say that “Time Heals Everything” ummmm that is a big fat lie! Time makes things worse not better.  If you go to address something with a friend and you say that this happened several months back their reaction is going to be “you mean you have been holding all this animosity all this time and didn’t tell me?” because that is what time builds.  Now I am not suggesting handle and issue fresh off your emotions, but you need to handle it within a week or so of the incident.  To much time that passes causes us to sweep things under the rug or multiple incidents may occur after the fact because we never dealt with the initial incident.

4. Be clear.

You must clearly explain your thoughts and feelings and make sure there are no gray areas when the conversation is over.  To many times in our fear of confrontation we will beat around the bush and not say exactly how we feel.  In skirting around the issue we actually make the issue worse because the other party will leave the conversation not really understanding your feelings or thinking that issue is not really an issue.  Be clear with your thoughts and be clear with your expectations of them after the conversation.

5. Make sure you follow up.

This is so huge and yet so often ignored by so many leaders.  After you address an issue you need to follow up about a week later.  Some times people leave a conversation feeling one way, but as time progresses their thoughts may drift or other conversations with others are had that tend to have them looking at it in a different way.  A quick “how are you doing after our last conversation” or “Is there anything I can do to help with what we talked about” really reassures the importance of the relationship and reaffirms where you are going together in the organization.

Confrontation is not as scary as it feels when you set yourself up with the right heart and right mindsets to move your relationships forward. Lets see 2017 be the greatest year ever for our churches and organizations and not let anything get in the way of what God is going to do this year!

What is the hardest part of confrontation for you? Comment below….

VOLUNTEER STRENGTH=CHURCH GROWTH

Unfortunately many Pastors and ministry leaders are in a “do it myself so it is done right” mentality and what they don’t understand is that mentality is actually suppressing the growth in their churches.

Church is not and cannot be a one man show.

The reality is that many leaders in the Church believe that churches grow because they have great preaching and great worship, and those things are important, but they are just pieces of a much larger puzzle that makes the Church.  A charismatic leader that is the face of their organization may experience growth for a period of time, but it is not sustainable growth.  Paul said it best when he said  “But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part!” in 1 Corinthians 12:18-19.  Churches are strange when they are not functioning as a collective effort, but an individual one.  As leaders this is a MUST to understand and we need to make it a 2017 priority to build and develop our volunteers!

So lets discuss 3 reasons “WHY” volunteers are so important and then we will jump into 3 ways “HOW” to develop our volunteers.

WHY?

1. Every Believer is called to full time ministry!

Yep you heard me right! EVERY believer is called to full time ministry. The Bible never instructs us to be part time disciples, part time christians, and people who only follow part of Jesus’ commands.  Jesus actually tells us it is all or nothing and in that He called us all to minister to this world. Now not every member is called to vocational ministry, but we are all called to minister.  As Pastors we need to understand our role and the role of our church members which Paul outlines in Ephesians 4:12 “Their (Church Leaders) responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”.  Our role is to equip our people to do ministry and if that is the case then we must create opportunities for our people to walk in their gifts.

2. Everyone has greatness in them!

God created everyone with a specific gift, a specific assignment, and EVERYONE is a workmanship of God’s creation.  As leaders we need to help people discover this and understand this about themselves.  Many people in your church want to be involved, but they don’t think they have anything to offer.  Inspire the greatness inside of them and watch your Church go to the next level.

3. It is all about the details!

People make a 1st impression within 10 minutes or less of visiting your Church.  That means that they have already made up their minds whether they like or dislike your Church before the music starts or the preaching begins.  Negative 1st impressions are the hardest things to overcome and change yet it is one of the most over looked understandings by Pastors.  People make an impression based on how they we greeted outside, how they felt checking in their kids, how helpful people were instructing them on where to go, how clean the facilities are, how the felt sitting in the worship center, etc…. Do you see that they make their 1st impression based on the interactions with your volunteers NOT your staff?

HOW?

1. You must have an easy assimilation process.

We use a membership class system at our church, but our membership is not for political reasons as it is a way to express in detail the vision and structure of our church.  We want people understand the heart behind the church they are apart of and why they are serving.  However, membership classes are not for every church, but you need to find some system to assimilate people that are interested in serving because you cannot physically go up and ask every single individual personally to start serving.  Once you have figured out your process you must have everything point to that process from your 1st time visitor letters, worship guides, announcements, social media posts, to the first question your staff and leaders ask people.

In our assimilation process we have everyone take a personality test and a spiritual gifts test as we have correlated their spiritual gifts with specific areas in our church they can serve in that matches their gifts and interests.  It is important to place people where they fit not just placing people to plug holes.

2. You must train and equip your volunteers.

You need a very detailed training process for each volunteer that makes them feel confident in their abilities to run with something by themselves.  There needs to be an extensive training, a time of job shadowing, a time where they lead while a trainer is present, and then they lead on their own.  It is our job to lower their stress and build their confidence and this happens in training.

We must also make sure we equip them to serve at their best every single week. Most volunteers quit because of a lack of organization and a feeling that things are done with a lack of excellence.  Give them time to rehearse and be prepared and make sure they have all the resources and materials they need to do their jobs at a high level.

3. You must celebrate your volunteers.

This may seem like a no brainer, but I see to many pastors getting in manager mode as they just fill schedule blocks with bodies.  As leaders we must remember we are in the people business NOT the Sunday service business.  It is easy to get caught up in the pressure of pulling off a Sunday experience every single week and forget the very people that make it happen every single week.

So lets make our people feel so incredibly special! I tell our staff I want us to honor our people so much that they can’t experience that anywhere else.  That they leave every Sunday and every event with a huge smile on their face and joy in their heart.  We love to honor our people in so many ways like making sure we have snacks set out for everyone on a Sunday, sending out thank you cards, honoring a volunteer of the week online, caring enough to ask about how they are doing in their personal lives, celebrating the wins on a Sunday, constantly telling people thank you and complementing them, hosting a volunteers banquet, and the list goes on and on.  Make it a point to make honor such a priority and watch the morale of your people skyrocket.  Morale boosts momentum and momentum boosts growth!

Our church at Bloom is not my church it is every members church and I am so blessed that I get to do life with every person that calls Bloom home.  I am so honored to see every sacrifice that our members make for the Kingdom of God and they make our church greater as they walk in their God-given gifts!

What is your biggest challenge with volunteers?

HOW TO MULTIPLY YOUR CHURCH GROWTH THROUGH MARKETING!

Being a church planter I know what it is like to need to connect with people and build your church.  I also know what it is like to have very little funds to market and advertise yourself.  But here is the kicker you don’t need large advertising dollars to grow your church and to get your name out there.  At the time of writing this we are less than 4 years old and when we started we had 21 people on our launch team. Since then we have grown to over a thousand people calling Bloom their church and I haven’t spent any money advertising our church except for online.  No mailers, no radio, no television, and no billboards. We live in a day in age where social media if used right is the easiest way to connect with people in their homes and grab their attention in ways no other medium has been able to do!

So let us look at how you can do that as we dive into some do’s and don’ts when it comes to using social media!

  1. BE YOURSELF! Nothing is more damaging than trying to be something you are not online.  Many churches think that they must be “cool” to reach this next generation and to grow their church so they copy the style of other churches that they think are “cool” and brand themselves that online.  The problem here is when people attend your church you look nothing like that in real life and that is called false advertisement. The goal is to build a community not have guest flood through your doors never to come back.  Many times this happens because a Pastor will put a young person in charge of social media and they post what they personally like not what is aligned with the identity of their church. What we don’t realize is people don’t want “cool” they want “authentic” they want to connect with something that is really where they can see our real hearts and passions for Jesus and this world.  I love Rick Warren but I venture to say that not many people have ever confused Rick with being hip, yet his church is filled with young people.  Why is that? Because Rick is extremely authentic and when Rick speaks you know he cares!  Authenticity is the only thing that builds trust and trust is what builds loyalty.  So just be you!
  2. QUIT SELLING YOURSELF.  Become a voice online that people want to listen to not ignore.  So many organizations online only see social media as a selling platform and not as a way to connect with people and invest in people.  Social media is not a place that you advertise yourself 24/7.  It is not the yellow pages, it is not craigslist, and it is not an announcement board.  It is literally your fist opportunity to build a relationship with someone, pour into their lives, and see that relationship go from online to in person.  If we can understand that then we start producing content that reflects that.  Create content that encourages people, inspires people, makes people laugh, and gives people hope.  Make content people want to see and want to share because it is meaningful to them.  Now I am not saying that you should never advertise something, but I am saying for every post that is an “ask” there needs to be 3 to 5 posts that are “gives” where you are giving them meaningful content!
  3. BE CONSISTENT. Social media is not a quick game!  It takes time and commitment and you must be committed for the long haul. People slowly start following you and it slowly starts growing, but when it does it gets faster and faster.  Most people quit after several weeks, but it is like anything of value it takes discipline to go the distance.  Also, you need to be posting regularly.  Now some people will tell you there is some magic formula that you need to post “x” amount of times a day at these exact times.  I have found that every community is different and so we try to post 1 to 2 times a day on average.  Some days may be more, but that is a good goal to shoot for and if you go on your Facebook page under analytics you can get a break down of what times your post are viewed the most to help you know when to post!
  4. BE VISUAL. Post things that are visually appealing.  Post pictures and videos.  Make the majority of your content something that catches people eyes. Make sure you are posting pictures of your people.  Studies have shown that we will naturally look at a post with people in them more than post without.  Post pictures of your people doing church, highlight a volunteer of the week, post about a small group, worship, greeters, a picture with of the pastor with a sermon quote, etc… These are great visuals that allow people to get a first look at your church without ever visiting which causes them to become more comfortable when they do come. Facebook live or do quick videos of the Pastor sharing a bit about his message coming up or a quick story about a win that has happened in the church.  This is the perfect place to show a broad audience who you are as a church community.
  5. CHECK-INS ARE GOLD!  Every week we make it a point to say from the stage “make sure you check-in online to let all your friends and family know that Bloom is the place to be on Sundays”. We have had more people come to our church based on seeing a check-in than probably anything else.  Seeing a check-in is basically seeing a referral from people that you know and trust.  Think about it this way when you are on Facebook and you see one of your friends’ check-in somewhere and talk about their experience what is first instinct.  You click on that page to see what it is all about for yourself.  That is free advertising and if you have been producing quality content then they are going to like what they see and that will get them to follow your page.  If they follow your page long enough and your post keeps investing in them then that follow will turn into a visit.  Check-ins are gold!
  6. TOOLS. Let me give some quick tools to leave you with.
    *First thing you need to do is download the WordSwag app.  Most peoples complaint is that they cannot create good graphics and WordSwag is the perfect tool to create content fast and easy for social media.  There are so many tools that a beginner can use now that just didn’t exist 5 to 10 years ago.  There is also website like canva.com to help you create all sorts of graphics for your church.
    *Boost posts on Facebook.  We try to boost a post on Facebook about every 2 to 3 weeks to get past the Facebook algorithm that limits your posts reach.  So we will boost a compelling video, huge event, powerful sermon quote that goes out to all our followers and their friends.  This allows us to expand our reach and we also gain new followers.
    *Ask questions.  Conversations should be had online so make posts periodically that asks questions for your followers to respond to.  What is your favorite worship song, bible story, Christmas movie, etc…. Conversations make people feel more involved.
    *Respond to comments and messages quickly.  Be involved in the conversation and always interact when people are taking their time to interact with you!
    *Lastly visit the pages of other healthy churches to get an idea of the content they are producing and then use that as an inspiration to know what type of content to build to reflect your church.

We truly do live in a great time when our ability to get our message out is easier than ever and when we can build a platform that can reach more people than ever before.  Get online, post valuable content, be patient, and watch your platform start to grow!

If you have any questions about social media comment below and also I would love to hear about any of your social media “wins” your organization has experienced!