Tag: communication

3 Ways to Create an Outstanding Experience for First Time Guests

3 Ways to Create an Outstanding Experience for First Time Guests

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

New experiences can be scary. Experiencing a new church can be really scary. Guests arrive at your church with questions swirling in their mind: What will the pastor say? Will my kids have fun and be safe? Will they make me do something weird? What if I get lost?

With that in mind, here are three ways you can alleviate first-time guest fears and create an outstanding experience for your guests this Sunday.

1. Anticipate

This requires putting yourself in the position of a guest. Think about the questions that a first-time guest may have.

  • What time does the service start?
  • What should I wear?
  • Where will my kids go? Will they have fun and be safe?
  • Where are the restrooms?
  • How early should I arrive?
  • What does a typical service look like?

Reduce the anxiety by anticipating these questions, answering them and preparing to address these concerns ahead of time. Practical ways to do this would be adding an FAQ to your website or a welcome video that includes what guests can expect. Share posts on your social media channels geared toward newcomers along with photos of your services and ministries. Place service times and directions in a clear and easy to find spot on your website.

2. Prepare
If you had a guest coming over to your house for the first time, what would you do? You would prepare! You’d probably make sure everything was clean, smelled good, and might even make a snack for them.

  • Make sure your campus is clean and tidy
  • Set up a First Time Guest Kiosk or Tent
  • Form a First Impressions Team to welcome guests
  • Create printed materials and have a gift ready
  • Reserve parking spaces specifically for guests
  • Review signage to ensure it’s clear from a guest perspective

It can be easy to overlook things that are familiar to us. Ask a neighbor or someone who doesn’t regularly attend your church to act as a “Secret Shopper” and fill out a survey about their experience. It can be scary to be vulnerable and ask for this kind of honest feedback but beneficial in the long run. Train your First Impressions team on the importance of cleanliness at your campus and to always be looking for ways to improve the environment. Empower your volunteers to take action whenever they see an issue and fight the “it’s not my place” mentality.

3. Welcome
Acknowledge your guests. Make sure they know you are excited to meet them and they are welcome at your church.

  • Have your Lead Pastor welcome guests
  • Assemble trained volunteers who are ready to receive guests and show them around your campus
  • Include a welcome to guests in your announcements
  • Give guests clear next steps on how to get connected at your church
  • Tell them where they can find more information about ministries
  • Invite them to join you again next week

Share your church’s vision throughout the service and in your first-time guest materials so guests walk away with a clear idea of who your church is and how they and their families can partner with you.

What do you think? What are other ways to create an outstanding experience for your guests?

3 Lessons for the Church from Chick-fil-A

3 Lessons for the Church from Chick-fil-A

Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

Have you ever noticed how there is always a line of cars wrapped around the Chick-fil-A drive-thru? It seems no matter the location or time of day, Chick-fil-A is always bustling with people eager for a chicken sandwich and waffle fries. Clearly, I’m not the only one who’s a fan. But I like Chick-fil-A for more than their tasty chicken. I believe many churches can benefit from taking a closer look at how Chick-fil-A has built a culture that communicates what they value.

Here are three lessons that any church can learn from Chick-fil-A.

1. Know What You Are About

The ‘Eat More Chicken’ tagline is effective because it’s simple, memorable and clearly says what Chick-fil-A is all about. They have always been about chicken and always will be about chicken, and they would like for you to eat more of their chicken. This idea is represented in every aspect of their marketing and advertising. While they might add new treats to the menu, they never deviate from who they are and what they do best.

Question for churches:

  • Is your mission statement simple and memorable?
  • Does your community know what you’re all about?
  • Is your mission clear in every part of your church?

2. Make Decisions that Reinforce Your Values

When other fast food restaurants are open 24/7, Chick-fil-A made the intentional choice to close on Sundays to allow employees time for rest, worship, and to be with their families. But they still generate more revenue than other chains open seven days a week with more locations.

In addition to a culture that values their employees, they also communicate their value of exceptional customer service with another simple yet memorable phrase: “My pleasure.” This oft-repeated response has been ingrained in their employee culture to the extent that consumers know to expect it.

With intentional words and actions, they communicate their family-friendly culture and a high regard for customer service.

Question for churches:

  • What words and phrases are uniquely part of your culture?
  • Are decisions based on what your church values?

3. Care for Your Guests

Personal story: I was in the Chick-fil-A drive-thru about to pay and could not find my credit card although it been in my hand moments before. I frantically dug through my purse but it was nowhere to be found. And, like any self-respecting millennial, I had no cash. I apologized profusely to the cashier and told him I would park until I could find it and pay.

His response? “No problem. It’s on us.”

Talk about valuing your customer. It was an awesome gesture and made me feel like they cared about providing a great experience for me, rather than wanting something from me. They will receive more of my business through that move than any marketing ever could. And I told people about it! (Side note: I eventually found the card in the dark vortex that is the gap between the seat and the cup holder.)

Question for churches:

  • How can you give your guests an experience where they feel so cared for that they would share that story with a friend?

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I am not paid for the endorsement of any product or company on my blog. I am just a satisfied customer who wants to share my experience.

The Weekly Communications Checklist [Free Download]

The Weekly Communications Checklist [Free Download]

Photo by Mike Enerio on Unsplash

A simple weekly checklist can be a very effective tool, especially if your church is beginning to prioritize and improve communications. It gives you an outline to stay on track and organized throughout the week.

Here’s a free example to download. Weekly Communications Checklist

You can work from a simple Google document or put the checklist into a task management tool like Asana. I have an Asana project titled “Weekly” which includes recurring weekly communication tasks and any tasks to be completed by the week’s end. More complex projects, like sermon series or marketing campaigns, can be organized into their own projects.

 

How do you stay organized throughout the week?

 

Disclaimer: I am not paid for the endorsement of any product shared on my blog. I am just a satisfied user who wants to share my experiences with great products. 

3 Ways to Use Asana for Church Communication

3 Ways to Use Asana for Church Communication

Photo by Lukas Blazek on Unsplash

I love organizational tools. Naturally, I look for ways to stay organized online. Enter Asana. It’s a collaborative project management tool that I’ve found really useful.

Here are three ways you can use it for your church communications:

Big Days

For big Sundays like Easter and Christmas, I’ll create a new project outlining all tasks including marketing, internal communication, service planning and design. I use the subheadings to segment the project into major “buckets” and assign tasks to team members along with the due date. It also allows you to add comments, links to documents, and screenshots to specific tasks. This keeps everything related to the day organized and in one central location.

 

 

Weekly Tasks

I have a project labeled “weekly” for recurring weekly tasks (mind-blowing, I know) and any additional tasks that might come up. It’s a simple way to ensure nothing falls behind and provides structure to my week.

 

Meetings

I like to use an Asana template to take notes in meetings with teammates and volunteers. It covers standing topics, the weekly agenda, and items to follow up with at future meetings. It’s a useful way to share meeting information with your team and keep everyone on the same page. Plus, action items that come from the meeting can be added in and assigned to the person responsible.

 

So there you have it. Three easy ways to get started in Asana. What about you? What project management tools do you use?

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I am not paid for the endorsement of any product on my blog. I am just a satisfied user who wants to share my experience with great products. 

4 Ways to Use Push Notifications

4 Ways to Use Push Notifications

There’s a lot of debate happening around church apps right now. Critics say that a well-designed, mobile-friendly website eliminates the need for a separate app. And there are certainly valid reasons why churches shouldn’t launch an app, like additional the cost and maintenance.

However, one reason I love having an app for our church is the ability to send push notifications. These quick little messages allow us to communicate and stay in front of our church throughout the week.

Here are four ways to use push notifications in your app.

1. Inclement Weather Closings
This is especially important in my state of North Carolina where Southerners (like myself) tend to launch into a mild panic at the first flake. With a push notification, we can quickly let our church know if services and ministries will be held or cancelled.

2. Sunday sermons
Recently, we started sending out a notification when our Sunday sermons are ready to view. This is typically on Monday or Tuesday. With fewer people attending church every Sunday, it’s a helpful reminder and way for people to stay engaged with the teaching series.

3. Online Bulletin
Every week we create a quick online bulletin post that is linked directly in our app. Sending a push notification on Sunday morning with a link to the bulletin acts the same as if we were to pass out a physical bulletin as people come through the door.

4. Big Day Reminders
Have a baptism service coming up? Need to remind folks to reserve tickets for Christmas Eve? A push notification is a fast and easy way to send reminders for the big days happening at your church.

What do you think? How do you use push notifications for your church?

2 Easy Ways to Improve Staff Communication

2 Easy Ways to Improve Staff Communication

One trap of church communication is to focus so much on communicating with our church and community that we neglect clear communication with our staff team.

While staff members may not need to know every event or detail, it is wise to give periodic updates about your church calendar. This helps prevent silos and gives leaders an idea of what’s happening outside their ministry area.

Here are two easy ideas to help your staff have better internal communication.

1. Create a Monthly Staff Update

I started putting together a monthly update email. I call it “Staff Sync” because the goal is to keep our staff in sync for the month. (See how I did that?)  I send it out at the first staff meeting of the month. You can pass it out or email it, depending on what’s best for your staff. This could vary depending on your staff size.

This is pretty high level and gives key dates about upcoming events, sermon series and it has a section directly related to staff items. You can also add fun stuff like staff birthdays and trivia questions. Some months contain more information than others. I always add a reminder about making sure all communication requests are submitted by the necessary dates.

2. Make your communication plan available.

We use Google Drive to share and store files. You can use a tool like Google Drive or Dropbox to upload your communication plan and make it available to your team. This allows them to see what’s coming up and how it’s going to be communicated. I update the plan directly through Google Drive so it stays current. The plan includes the church-wide calendar and a communication outline for each week.

There you have it! Two easy ways to have better staff communication.

 

What about you? How do you keep your staff updated?

 

How to Add a Communications Volunteer

How to Add a Communications Volunteer

No Communications Director is an island.

There are too many moving parts for one person to do it all with quality and excellence. Plus, you will burn out in the process. But it can be difficult to hand off areas to a volunteer. What if they don’t do it like I would do it? What if they are inconsistent? The best way to set up your volunteers (and yourself) to win is with a clear volunteer process and defined roles

I recently decided to add a volunteer role that wasn’t as specialized as a graphic designer or videographer. I needed a person that could do everything I do, and help in creating content and planning for the year. I created the role of Communications Coordinator. There was a gal in our church who had a similar role in her job. I asked her to come on board.

Here’s what that process looked like.

1. Set up an initial face-to-face meeting.
Setting up a meeting with your volunteers is important. This gives you an opportunity to cast vision, explain the role, and hear feedback from them. Ask them what they want to do and how much time they can commit to each week. This sets up expectations for you and them. You should walk away from that meeting with clear action items and a scheduled time to follow-up.

2. Follow up within 36 hours.
For me, this is usually done via email. In this email, I will give an overview of our meeting, action items and next steps, and a date for our next face-to-face meeting.

3. Give them the tools they need.
I set up our Communications Coordinator with an Asana account, access to the guidelines, and tools we frequently use to communicate.

4. Let them do the job.
For the control freaks out there (myself included) – don’t micromanage. You’ve set them up to win and now it’s time to let them do the job, and even do things their own way. Often the best ideas come from our volunteers – not our staff!

5. Provide feedback.
Build in touch points for feedback. I tend to give frequent feedback in first 3-4 weeks with a new volunteer. Highlight and appreciate the great work they are doing and offer suggestions to make things even better. Ask your volunteers if they have all the resources they need to do the tasks and if they gave identified any gaps. You also should ask questions to evaluate if this is really their ‘sweet spot’ for ministry based on their unique skills and gifting.

If you’re feeling like you can’t do it all alone, you’re exactly right! And that’s okay. You need teammates, and hopefully this process gives you a good place to start.

 

What about you? What’s your process for adding volunteers to your team?

How to Create Social Media Content From Your Pastor’s Sermon

How to Create Social Media Content From Your Pastor’s Sermon

Social media is relentless. Each day requires fresh content to engage with your audience. Luckily, one of the most valuable sources of content is readily available to you every single Sunday – the sermon. Every week you need new content and every week your pastor creates it.

Here are a five ways to repurpose the Sunday sermon for social media.

1. Verses
Keep the main passage of Scripture or supporting verses in front of people through the week. You can simply post the text or turn them into images using Canva or Over (App). See an example

2. Quotes
Take the memorable quotes from the sermon and turn those into images. See an example

3. Video Clips
You can do this easily in iMovie or a similar program. Clip a short (3 minute or less) snippet that can be easily understood, even without the context of the entire sermon. Post to Facebook. See an example

Tip: Upload directly through Facebook, rather than linking to Vimeo or another site. This will give you greater reach.

4. Sermon Bumpers or Video Stories
Did you create an awesome sermon bumper? Share that bad boy! Folks love to watch these again and it’s a great way to share what happened on Sunday for those who missed it. See an example

5. Next Steps
Did your pastor talk about the importance of serving others? Create a post encouraging people to get involved with a volunteer or mission team. Emphasize Sunday’s application by creating a clear next step for your audience to take. See an example 

Bonus tips:

  • Ask your pastor to send the manuscript or outline to you each week.
  • Take notes during service to remember quotes and verses.
  • Use tools like Hootsuite and Canva to schedule posts and create images.
  • Plan out your content for the entire week. Don’t try to remember to post each day.

What about you? How do you create and plan social media content each week?

Why We Switched to a Monthly Bulletin

Why We Switched to a Monthly Bulletin

The bulletin. The word brings dread to church communicators everywhere.

Like many churches, we created, proofed, printed and folded hundreds of bulletins each week only to watch them be tossed into a trash, left in seats or crammed in Bibles to be thrown away later.

Surely there’s a better way!

In January we took the plunge and made the switch to a monthly bulletin.

Now we produce a monthly news that highlights major events and a story. We pass it out on the first Sunday of the month and make it available at our Guest Services all month. Each week we pass out a simple front and back card with our current series branding, information for first time guests and a perforated tear-off for a connection card.

Here are a few reasons why we made the switch.

1. We launched an app
The app is now the primary way for our regular members and attenders to see upcoming news and events. It’s geared toward our internal audience and we continually push people to check the app and use it to connect with us.

2. The bulletin didn’t change week to week
We emphasize small groups, volunteer teams, family ministries and missions. This means we don’t have significant programming changes week to week. If something does come up, there are other effective channels (email, social media, push notifications) we can use to get the word out.

3. It forces us to plan
All communication requests have to be submitted by the 15th of the month prior to be considered for the monthly news. The monthly method eliminates last-minute promotional requests and ensures details are mapped out well in advance.

4. It allows us to share stories
Every month we include a life change story or highlight a mission team. This gives us another avenue to share the mission of our church (connecting people to Jesus for life change), rather than simply pumping out more events and ministry leader requests.

How’s it working so far? Great! We’ve received positive feedback on the switch, saved money and can use time more effectively throughout the week.

There are no formulas for church communications – it all depends on your context and audience. For us, the move to a monthly bulletin has been the right one.

What about you? Does your church do a weekly bulletin? Are you ready to switch to a monthly?

Resources:
Monthly News – Example
Weekly Bulletin – Example

Case Study: Easter 2015 Communication

Case Study: Easter 2015 Communication

You made it. Another round of planning, prepping and praying for the biggest Sunday of the year under your belt. Congratulations!

We had an incredible day at Southbridge Fellowship with our highest attendance ever and saw more people accept Christ than at any other service in our history.

Here’s a quick look at what we did for Easter:

easter-2015
Aerial view of our 2015 Easter service

The Service – This was the second year of outdoor Easter services. We currently meet in a movie theater and use the adjacent parking lot to bring in a stage and chairs to host the outdoor services. One benefit to this approach is the amount of people who find out about our church simply by driving or walking by. My favorite story was from two young women who were originally on their way to Target saw the gathering and decided to attend. One of them made the decision to trust Christ during the service! How awesome is that?!

Design – We drew inspiration from vintage Billy Graham era posters and hatch print design. The outdoor service and gospel focus reminded us of revival days so we took the concept and ran with it. Web banners, social media graphics and print pieces were created from this design.

Promotion – Our promotions focused on visual and easy to share social media content and personal invitations. We shared videos and graphics on our social networks leading up to Easter. Our social media efforts were a combination of organic and promoted posts. We spent about $50 and reached thousands of people.

We handed out invite cards multiple weeks before Easter with an announcement from our Lead Pastor about the importance of personal invitations. We produced a silly video with the help of our Children and Youth Pastors to give tips about how to (and how not to) use invite cards.

Results – Over 1,100 people attended and many people accepted Christ as their Savior!

Easter can be an exhausting day when you work at a church. Take some time this weekend to rest, recharge and reflect on God’s work …and then get ready ’cause Sunday’s coming!

How did your church celebrate Easter this year?

 

 

Here’s a look at some of our social media posts: 

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