The Church Fuel Podcast Episode 2.2: Using Webinars To Reach New People

The Church Fuel Podcast Episode 2.2: Using Webinars To Reach New People

Brian Beauford, executive pastor at Grace Church south of Boston, joins Meagan for a conversation that can help churches of any size reach new people in the post COVID world. 

Guest: Brian Beauford

Brian helped plant Grace Church in 2005 and has helped it plant six autonomous churches and grow Grace Church into multiple locations with 2400 in weekly attendance. Brian is also the founder of several ministry-minded ventures and has a passion for helping busy pastors grow themselves, their teams, and their church. Brian writes about leadership, strategy, systems, and growth at www.MinistryLibrary.com

Pulling Business Practices Into the Church World to Create Webinar Wednesdays  

For most churches, the summer season presents prime opportunities for reaching and inviting new people into their church. When the COVID-19 pandemic reached America’s shores in the spring, it became clear that summer outreach strategies would have to change in the church world. 

Brian, who has one foot in the business world and one foot in the church world, decided to try something he has seen work for years in business: using webinars to reach new people and engage a fresh audience.  

How often should you have a webinar?

With so much noise in the digital space and the ease with which you can post new content, knowing how often to do something like a webinar is tricky. 

When everything first went online, Grace Church offered its webinar every Wednesday until July. Now they host a webinar once a month to ensure they provide high value with each topic.  

Brian also breaks down Grace Church’s outreach funnel.

First, they attend a community event, which in the online space has become their Webinar Wednesdays.

The second would be what Brian calls a Bridge Event. Before COVID made meeting in person near impossible, they hosted “Bridge Events” at their church. Now they host online seminars as a follow up to the webinar.

Finally, the goal is to get people plugged into church or tune into a Sunday live stream. 

Check out Brian’s slide deck for their online strategy.

Who is the ideal webinar attendee? 

The audience for your webinar should ideally be people who have no affiliation with your church, somebody whose attendance to an online event wouldn’t have interacted with your church before. 

Grace Church got people in the community to attend the webinars by running Facebook ads to people within 25 miles of the church who did not like their Facebook page.  

If you decide to use a strategy like Brian’s and need help following up with first-time online visitors, our Follow Up Course is a great resource. 

Deciding which topics to cover

Webinars differ from typical outreach events because it’s not as simple as catering Chick Fil A at the local park. Choosing a topic that is enticing to someone who hasn’t been to your church before can make or break who registers and shows up. 

Brian and his staff at Grace say they get many different ideas from a check-in survey they send to their members every month. The answers they get help drive their sermon series, drive outreach events, and drive a lot of what they do at the church. So they took that and decided to make webinars about the things their members said they were struggling with. 

Moving People From Webinar Attendees to Church Members

Whether it’s the church world or the business world, webinars are about creating engagement. They broadly cover a topic with the hope of moving people down the “funnel” to raving fans or loyal members. 

At Grace Church, a webinar is a one-time event that hits on a felt need. So for topics like talking to your kids about racism, the one-time webinar leads into a seminar, a four to six-week Zoom call meeting that will hopefully lead to regular involvement with the church.

Defining Success Is a Moving Target 

For something as fickle as creating online engagement defining success can’t be measured by the number of people who attend the webinar itself. 

Grace Church just opened up live in-person services two weeks ago, so they’re still trying to figure out who moves from webinars to Sunday services.

Brian does know that they’ve had over 800 people sign up for their different webinars since the beginning of COVID, and the vast majority of those previously had no affiliation with the church. 

Using Webinars For Outreach Is Here to Stay

The global pandemic has created a lot of trends that are only temporary. Discerning which ones are temporary and which ones are permanent has been the hard part for many churches. 

Using webinars as a strategic form of outreach is a permanent one. 30, 40, 50% of churchgoers that went in-person pre-COVID still aren't comfortable meeting in person. Brian himself thinks online is where most initial touchpoints will happen between the community and the church. He went as far as to say that there’s no way someone will get invited by a friend and just show up anymore. 

That’s why Grace’s new primary outreach tool is its webinars. 

To quickly implement webinars as a systematic outreach tool in your church, our eBook Streamline can give you all of the guidance you need.

Or, for a more in-depth approach, take our Systems Course so you can build a sustainable online outreach practice in your church. 

RESOURCES

Brian’s Online Outreach Strategy

Quotes from Episode 2.2

We want them to know about Grace Church and create engagement in the middle of the funnel. The seminar is really to promote engagement where we can have a discussion back and forth.” – Brian Beauford.

“I think online is now where the first time visitors are going to attend first. There's no way you're going to get invited by a friend and just show up now.” -Brian Beauford. 

“I love the idea that we can provide value and content outside of a sermon series. That the church can speak into different aspects of our community's lives and provide value outside of whatever your sermon looks like on the weekends when there's more to do throughout the week.” – Meagan Ranson.  

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The Church Fuel Podcast Episode 2.2: Using Webinars To Reach New People

The Church Fuel Podcast Episode 2.1: Moving Your Church Membership Classes Online

Episode 2.1 Moving Your Church Membership Classes Online

Bobby Williams, Lead Pastor at Ridge Church and Church Fuel Ministry Coach, joins Michael & Meagan to discuss what it looks like to move their Membership Class to an online platform.

Guest: Bobby Williams

Bobby Williams, Lead Pastor at Ridge Church and Church Fuel Ministry Coach, joins Michael & Meagan to discuss what it looks like to move their Membership Class to an online platform.

Even before COVID, Ridge Church had made the decision to make their Membership Classes (or what they refer to as Partnership Classes) online to raise the bar  in what it meant to be a partner with Ridge Church, but lower the bar what it takes to go through the process.

WHY A MEMBERSHIP CLASS?

Your Membership class is an important part of helping your church members become aware of their personal impact on the church and the community. Most people desire to make more of an impact than just showing up on Sunday, but often don’t know how. 

Your Membership class can not only onboard new members in the mission and strategy of the church, but also their own mission as a key player. 

REDEFINING MEMBERSHIP

(05:10 – 06:17 ) Bobby shares why they use the term “Partnership” rather than “Membership”. To be a member of a gym, you pay a membership fee, but if something breaks you don’t have to fix it. But being a part of a church is so much more than being a member. The word “Partnership” implies that you have ownership and are in it together.

WHAT MAKES UP A MEMBERSHIP CLASS?

(06:19 – 08:16 ) Earlier in the episode, Meagan defined membership as information, doctrine, and expectations. Those three categories are critical to partnership with a church. These help you understand what you’re getting into and what you’re becoming a part of. 

A membership class, in its simplest form, is sharing the way things work. Bobby shares how a membership class provides practical value for people to raise their hands and take ownership in their church. 

WHY GO ONLINE

(09:40 – 12:14) Bobby shares why Ridge Church decided to take their membership class online, even pre-COVID. Revising their Membership class strategy allowed Ridge Church to raise the bar in what it meant to be a partner with Ridge Church, but lower the bar in going through the process.

On-demand has become an expectation in most areas of our life. Creating an on-demand process for a membership class allows members to go at their own pace, in their own time. Taking membership classes online allows you to simultaneously make something meaningful and accessible.

At Church Fuel, we create online courses and allow people to go through them from their own homes and offices.

Check out some of our members' favorite courses:

Follow-Up Course

Giving Course

Systems Course

Breaking 200 Course

WHAT DOES ONLINE LOOK LIKE

(12:30 – 17:30)

Bobby shares how Ridge Church structures their online Partnership Classes. Open Enrollment is held once a quarter (4 x’s a year) for a new member to opt-into at a time that works for them. The class is held through a series of 10-12 minute videos, on an unlisted Youtube Channel. Once a member has completed the video series & the subsequent forms associated with each video, they are invited to attend the after-party that occurs at the end of the quarter to ask questions, and connect with other members of Ridge Church.

Bobby also breaks down the sections for their Partnership Class:

Sections

1: Who We Are

2: What We Do

3: Structure & Strategy

4: What You Should Expect From Us

ADDED VALUE TO ONLINE

(17:30 – 24:25) Meagan & Michael discuss that by providing informational content online, your in-person time can be completely focused on relationship building. Church, as we’ve come to know, is not just facing forward and listening to someone talk for 30 minutes. It’s corporate singing, connecting with others, etc… The same idea can apply to our membership classes.

Provide the information and online and spend your in-person time together to celebrate and connect.

Bobby shares how they can continue to engage members who have either moved outside of the area, or discovered Ridge Church outside the local community by utilizing Online Partnership Classes. Without the constraint of distance, they can share the DNA and Culture of Ridge Church to any person, anywhere. 

RESOURCES

Ridge Church Membership Class Outline

Ridge Church Sign-Up Page

Ridge Church Partnership Class Video (available Oct 23, 2020)

Connect with Bobby at Bobby@churchfuel.com

Read or download a free PDF Transcript of this episode HERE

Quotes from Episode 2.1

“Creating an on-demand process for a membership class allows members to go at their own pace, in their own time” – Bobby Williams

“Changing “Membership Class” to “Partnership Class” implies that you have ownership and are in it together.” – Bobby Williams

“When you provide informational content online, your in-person time can be completely focused on relationship building.” – Meagan Ranson

“Provide information online and spend your in-person time together to celebrate and connect.” – Michael Lukaszewski 

“Taking membership classes online allows you to simultaneously make something meaningful and accessible.” – Michael Lukaszewski 

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Your Answer to a Dreaded Question About Your Church

Your Answer to a Dreaded Question About Your Church

It’s a dreaded question.

It’s tough for any organization to answer. It’s particularly difficult for churches. 

What does your church do?

Most of us who grew up in the church just stare back in disbelief. We ponder many questions about the church. How do we serve more effectively? How do we reach more people? Who should lead churches? We rarely ask ourselves, “What does our church do?”

So invariably we don’t have an answer when asked—at least one that clearly communicates with those we want to reach. Maybe we respond with something full of Christian jargon.

  • We worship Jesus. 
  • We preach the Bible.
  • We reach the lost.

Those all may be correct statements (and I hope they are), but they’ll make someone who doesn’t go to church regularly scratch their heads in confusion. 

Or maybe we go into a long diatribe that explains every facet of our church strategy.

Many unchurched people today have little background in the church. According to Barna Research, the percentage of people who call themselves atheists, agnostics, or of no religion, has doubled in the last two decades. Those numbers have been particularly abrupt among Generation Z. Words like lost, gospel, and saved mean nothing to people who have no history with the church—or even worse, they mean something different from what they mean to us.

Plus, you simply don’t have 25 minutes to explain what your church does. Most people won’t listen (really listen) that long, even if they’re trapped at a dinner party with you. 

To respond to this very important question from the people in your community, you need to reach into the business world for a tool that’s proving effective in helping businesses engage customers. 

You need a one-liner.

The Answer You’re Looking For

So what’s a one-liner?

Marketing guru Donald Miller defines it like this in his book, Marketing Made Simple: “A concise statement you can use to clearly explain what you offer.”

It’s basically your church’s elevator speech.

Miller calls it the most powerful tool in any organization’s toolbox because you can use it to make people curious about you. “A one-liner makes people lean in rather than tune out at a cocktail party,” he writes.

Anyone who has ever tried to explain what their church does at a party can appreciate the value of a one-liner. 

When you first hear Miller’s definition, it might tempt you to think you’ve already got a one-liner. It’s called your mission statement.

But you’d be wrong. 

Yes, you still need a mission statement. Your mission statement communicates to your church family what you’re all about. It keeps everyone on the same page. But you can’t use the same language with the church as you do to people outside of the church. Plus, even the best mission statements don’t necessarily make someone lean into them. 

Your mission statement is centered on your church.

Your one-liner is centered on the people you’re trying to reach.

It looks like a subtle change, but it’s transformational when it comes to engaging the people your church wants to reach. Unchurched people don’t care about your church. They don’t particularly care about what you think God wants you to do. They don’t really even care about what God wants them to do. They care about themselves. 

Most people don’t check out your church because of your cool mission statement. They check out your church because they believe you can help solve a problem in their life.

That’s at the heart of what a one-liner is. It tells people who don’t go to your church how your church will solve a significant problem in their life. 

Why Your Church Needs a One-Liner

As Miller says, your one-liner is the most powerful tool you have at your disposal to communicate about your church. It’s the starting point of any other marketing need you have. 

Here’s why:

  • You’ll simplify your communication. Simple and clear communication always wins. Today people are hit with loads of marketing messages every time they check their email, log on to social media, and turn on the television. They won’t pay attention to what your church says if it’s too complicated. A one-liner puts the most important content about your church in one or two simple sentences.
  • You’ll enable others to share your story. For churches, this may be one of the best values of developing a one-liner. As you share your one-liner in different places, your congregation will begin to remember it. When it’s time for them to invite friends and family to visit your church, they can share in a way that’s inviting and speaks to the needs of the community. Because your one-liner is short, your congregation will always be prepared to answer the questions, “What does your church do?
  • You’ll become more united. A good one-liner puts everyone on the same page about what you do. Likely your church solves lots of problems, but your one-liner will provide clarity about the one problem that’s absolutely essential for your church to solve. Ideally, this should make its way through every piece of your church—from your age-based ministries to your missions team to your first impressions team, etc. Whenever there is a question of priorities, you can come back to your church’s one-liner. This is what we say we do.
  • You’ll condition people to think about the people you’re trying to reach. Many of the people in your church probably give little thought to the people you’re trying to reach. You may try to clarify the need for your congregation to be involved in evangelism and to invite people to your church, but it’s always a tough proposition. A one-liner will remind people about the real needs that people who aren’t engaged in your church have.

How You Create a One-Liner

The effective one-liner tells a clear and compelling story about your church in just two sentences or less. Like any other story, your one-liner needs a hero. 

Your story’s hero isn’t your church. It isn’t even Jesus. For your story to engage the people you want to reach, you have to put them in the hero slot. 

At its simplest point, every good story has a hero who wants something but faces an obstacle to getting it. The story describes how the hero overcomes the obstacle to get what he or she wants and ultimately how reaching this goal impacts the hero’s life. Your one-liner works the same but at a micro-level.

Your one-liner has three parts. 

Problem – Nothing is more important to define clearly from your hero’s perspective than the problem. Nothing is more difficult either. Once you define the problem, everything else falls into place.

Solution – If you describe the problem clearly (and it resonates with those you’re sharing it with), you’ll create a sense of anticipation for the solution. You’ll have pricked a pain point, and they will want to alleviate that pain. Your church is then in the perfect position to provide the solution.

Success – Finally, you need to give people a glimpse into how your solution will make their lives better. This part provides the real emotional punch to your one-liner. The person you’re trying to reach has been likely trying to solve this problem for years. They’ve attempted other solutions and failed. You’re giving them hope.

How to Use Your New One-Liner

Your new one-liner will be the most used part of your church’s marketing collateral. Because it’s short and simple, you’ll find places to use it everywhere. Here are a few examples:

  • Sermons – You’ll want to sprinkle most of your sermons with your one-liner, particularly early on. Your pulpit is the steering wheel that moves your church. If you want people to learn the one-liner, say it often in your sermon. You may even want to preach through your one-liner regularly during a series of sermons.
  • Business cards – Putting your one-liner on the back of your business cards will put what your church does in front of countless people. How many times have you looked at a business card months after you received it and wondered why in the world you have it? A one-liner will remind people why your church exists.
  • Website “About” section – Your about section is one of the first places on your website people will visit when they’re considering attending your church. Make your one-liner the first sentences of your church’s description.
  • Membership class collateral – If your church has a membership class, there is no better place to go through your one-liner. Print it in any handouts you provide for participants. Make sure everyone knows the one-liner before they leave. Have participants repeat it with you several times. 

These use cases are just the beginning. Brainstorm with your team different ways you can use your new one-liner. Most importantly, say it often to one another and to people you engage in the community.

You can also join our Church Fuel Members for our upcoming LAB in September, where we’ll be working alongside a Storybrand Guide to craft our own one-liners. He’ll not only guide you through the process but put your one-liner to the test in our cohort style workshops.

You should never be at a loss of words again when you’re asked what your church does.

Don’t Make These 8 Reopening Mistakes

Don’t Make These 8 Reopening Mistakes

Every pastor is thinking about the future. Every pastor is considering what reopening will look like. With each thought comes countless questions. 

When we will re-open? How will we re-open? Will people come back? Will our church ever look the same? 

And the truth is that no one really knows the answers. While that may not sound reassuring, know that you are not alone, and everyone is in a constant state of adjusting and adapting.

As our team has talked to pastors across the country, we’ve noticed a few crucial differences between the churches that are forming solid plans and the churches whose plans are falling apart. 

As you continue to formulate the next steps for this next phase, make sure that you avoid these 8 reopening mistakes.

#1 – Thinking everyone is going to come back.  

Re-opening will be too late for some and too early for others.

Churches are reporting anywhere from 25% to 60% of previous attendance. It’s safe to assume that you will have a sizable amount of people who won’t be comfortable returning to an in-person experience, no matter the measures you put in place.

“Remember it’s summer. People are scared and just cause they didn’t come on Sunday doesn’t mean you are a failure.” – Jarad Houser, Senior Pastor, Shorewood Church of God

#2 – Not listening to your people.  

The best way to understand the needs of your church is to understand the needs of your people. Want to know if they’ll return? Ask them. Want to know what will make them feel safe? Ask them.

The opinions of one loud person are not always reflective of the congregation or community.  Don’t fall into “some guy syndrome,” where some guy said something, and assume it’s a shared majority opinion. 

Follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, your team, and the whole church.

You won’t get unanimous answers, but you’ll gain an understanding of the majority. 

Return to Church Check-In from Gloo is a helpful (free) resource that does all the work for you. 

#3 – Not recruiting new volunteers.  

Recruiting new volunteers may not seem like an obvious strategy. If you expect to have members not return to an in-person service, you should also expect to have volunteers not volunteer at an in-person service.  

Reassign volunteers from other ministries that may not be operating at their full capacity (or at all) and recruit new volunteers to fill the gap.

#4 – Failing to develop a comprehensive communication plan.  

Solid plans have to include a clear communication plan, and this includes contingencies. One of our church fuel members made a list of 3 things to consider:

  1. Known knowns: Things that we do know are happening and how things are going to be around our church moving forward.
  2. Known Unknowns:  Things we know we need to learn more about.  It's not 100% clear, but we are working on trying to understand it.
  3. Unknown Unknowns:  Things that might happen, but we don't know.  Things that we haven't even considered.  Things that could happen that would change how we do something pretty fast.

#5 – Leaving behind your online audience.  

People have formed new habits and new expectations that are not going away just because places are opening up. This is the new blended.  

Even if we open our physical doors, we cannot close our digital ones.  Keep creating content for your online church. This is an opportunity to continue to reach people, no matter where they live.

#6 – Not having a contingency plan.  

No one knows what next week will look like, let alone the next several months.

We have to be prepared for all scenarios and adjust our expectations to adapt to each one. If re-opening is your next step, make sure you don’t place all your eggs in this basket.

There are a lot of unknowns but not being prepared is a difficult blow.  Consider what your plan is if/when a member tests positive. Who will be responsible for contact tracing? What if a volunteer tests positive? What will your messaging be? How will your services change in those scenarios? 

You’ll likely have to answer these questions eventually.  Asking them now will help prevent panic, and perhaps lead to different decisions as you decide what reopening will look like.

#7 – Forgetting your own needs.

Not only are you having to manage the needs and health of yourself and your family, but you’re also managing the needs and health of your church. That can be a lot of weight to carry, and making sure that you are taking care of yourself can not be understated.

Connect with God. Connect with friends. Create healthy systems to manage the rest. 

#8 – Being defensive or judgmental.  

Every church and every member will have their own choices and their own reasons. Your job is not to decide for them, or unnecessarily emulate them. Your job is to lead your church. The church down the street or across the country doesn’t know your people like you do, nor do you know theirs.. Be confident in your leadership, and what wisdom and love look like for you and your people. And leave it at that.

For more resources, check out our REBOUND course. It’s designed to help your church bounce back and move forward.

Take the Next Step

The Senior Pastor’s Guide to Reopening is a free ebook that helps church leaders ask the right questions and make a wise, strategic decision about reopening for in-person services. It includes examples from real churches, practical tips for creating plans, and important safety, sanitation, and communication topics to consider.

Free Download

The Senior Pastor's Guide to Reopening
 
3 Unique Ways to Engage Your Church In Generosity

3 Unique Ways to Engage Your Church In Generosity

According to our Weekly Pastor Poll, 40% of churches have reported a decline in giving since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

While we rely on generosity to balance the budget, it’s important to remember the generosity is also an important part of spiritual formation. Abraham was blessed to be a blessing, and that calling falls on the shoulders of all of us. We are a conduit of God’s blessing. 

But unlike acts of service like volunteering or making a meal for someone in need, generosity often strikes a different tone and carries its own unique baggage. Which makes engaging our members in generosity an act that requires thought, tact, and intentionality.

Services will continue to look different, even as we start re-opening. So how are other churches engaging their members around generosity? Let’s take a look at the three great examples we found.

Generosity Prayer

Remind your church that generosity is spiritual. The Village Church recites this Generosity Prayer at each of their services as a continual reminder that everything we have does not belong to us. 

Holy Father, there is nothing we have that You have not given us.

All we have and all we are belong to You, bought with the blood of Jesus.

To spend selfishly and to give without sacrifice

is the way of the world,

but generosity is the way of those who call Christ their Lord.

So, help us to increase in generosity

until it can be said that there is no needy person among us.

Help us to be trustworthy with such a little thing as money

that You may trust us with true riches.

Above all, help us to be generous

because You, Father, are generous.

May we show what You are like to all the world.

Best Practice #1: Framing generosity as a vehicle for spiritual growth not only helps remove the baggage associated with generosity, but serves as a reminder that being generous doesn’t just help our community, but it also helps us.

Outreach Updates

Liquid Church posted this Outreach Update to communicate to their members how their giving supports their outreach ministries. 

The Special Olympics is a partner of Liquid Church, and their members provided both volunteer and financial support for a local event in New Jersey. Liquid Church shot a video of the Special Olympics video director saying “Thank You” for their generosity and sharing the effect it has had on the organization.

Sharing stories and outcomes is often more effective than just asking people to give.

Don’t just ask, inspire.

Best Practice #2: Transparency matters. When you share specific updates about how your member’s generosity isn’t just going to your church but through your church, you create a clear flow of finances that communicates a culture of transparency, which in turn builds trust.

An Exclusive Club

Bobby Williams at the Ridge Church sent this email to the 29% of people that gave more than 4 times in the past year to tell them they are a part of the “29 club”. While the club doesn’t actually exist, it reminds members that regular givers are not the norm, their generosity is important, and their giving is a habit worth keeping. 

Best Practice #3: As we talked about in our article on The 5 Money Shifts Every Church Should Make, the very first thing you should do if you want more people to engage in giving to your church is develop a robust strategy of care for your existing donors.

Regularly acknowledge and encourage your members who are faithfully giving. When a football player makes a touchdown, the crowd cheers him on. We all need to be cheered on from time to time, especially when we’re actively pushing against cultural norms and practicing spiritual disciplines. 

A part of that strategy needs to include communicating fiscal responsibility, corporate generosity, and your church’s recurring giving. 

On a recent webinar for our Rebound Course, we talked in depth about what these look like, why they matter, and how to implement them.

The strategy of communicating generosity, and the motivations behind generosity, continues to shift with time and with culture. That constant change will never go away, so be intentional about focusing on what is effective now, and not just what you’ve always done. 

Whether you’re sending encouraging emails, creating opportunities to practice generosity, or sharing stories, keep generosity as a major narrative in your church to create a culture of generosity.