Archive for the ‘Outreach’ Category

Launching a Second Campus

We’ve told some of our leaders and we’re making the big announcement to our church this week, but I’ll let the cat out of the bag for the faithful Behind the Leaf readers.

On our two year anniversary (August 17,2008), we’re launching a second campus.  Back at the original site of our launch…the movie theater in Cartersville.  We believe this will allow us to reach thousands more people for Christ.  We’ll do the teaching via video, and everything else will be live.  We’ve been working on this behind the scenes for some time.

We’re treating it just like a church plant…creating a launch team out of our church, getting the stuff, developing new leaders, and raising money.  And speaking of money, we’ve launched something called the 250 project.  We’re looking for 250 people, small groups, churches, etc. to donate $250.  I’m doing this myself.  We’re asking all of our leaders to do it.  But I’d love to see some of the Behind the Leaf readers help out.

Anyway, here’s the launch website. 

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Reaching Lost People

As a staff, we’ve been really taking about how to do a better job of reaching lost people in Cartersville.  Our church is open to everyone, including Christians who want to be a part of a big vision.  But what really fires me up is hearing stories about life change.  I want Oak Leaf Church to excel in reaching people who are far from God and leading them to where God wants them to be.  We’re looking hard at some events and philosophies, including:

  • We’re launching a venue on Sunday nights – a service that will take place in a bar.   It will be similar to the morning service, but we’ll add a question and answer time.  We’re going to go after men and young adults.
  • We’re ramping up for Easter Weekend, including the Cartersville Egg Drop and an out-of-the-box Easter service.
  • We are really encouraging our entire church to invest in a relationship with one person who might be far from God.  Sacrifice a relationship with a Christian if you have to.
  • I’m making a personal effort to be around more lost people.  I’ve gone to play cards at a bar three weeks in a row now.  It’s not a publicity stunt.
  • We’re doing a series on the family in March – this series is designed to be a big help to people and should give people an easy invite.
  • We’re ramping up some community service and outreach projects.  We’ve got some crazy ideas on a dry erase board and I’m praying though them.

What about you?  How does your church reach the unchurched or those far from God?

Marketing on a Budget

By no means am I professional marketer, but I have made it a point to take control of this during the first year of our church plant. I read as many marketing books as I read church leadership books. And I think we’ve done a pretty good job at getting the word out there. Here’s some tips and tricks that we’ve used.

  • Direct mail works for us for a couple of reasons. There weren’t many churches doing it here, and we’ve been committed to the strategy. You can’t just send one postcard and expect it to work. You need to do at least 6 a year to pick up traction.
  • You can learn how to do saturation mailouts and save a lot of money on direct mail. Or you can work with a company like this to save a lot of time and energy. We’ve done both.
  • Combine your best marketing (and most dollars) with your biggest felt-needs series. Most churches pull out all the stops for Easter and Christmas. You could market the heck out of a September series on the family.
  • Road signs are pretty cheap and effective on the weekends.
  • Just put basic info on things…don’t try and put all the available information. On a road sign, just one statement and a web address. It’s silly to put directions or phone numbers on road signs because people can’t write stuff down. Less is more.
  • Don’t use stock postcards. Design your own. Hire a freelancer or a college student.
  • Print your website on everything. And have a decent website.
  • You could print postcards, give 5 to all your people one Sunday, and ask them to mail them to 5 of their friends and neighbors.
  • Door hangers are another good invite tool. You could give a stack to a particular small group and ask them to distribute them in a particular neighborhood.
  • Make invite cards for every series. For $150, you can get 5,000 club cards from PsPrint. Having invite cards will also reinforce to your people that they should be inviting.
  • Sell t-shirts and your people will buy them. Then they will wear them around town, and that will reinforce the best form of marketing…word of mouth.
  • If it looks like every other church, then it’s worthless. You have to do something that’s unique, outrageous, controversial, talked about, funny, or interesting.
  • Get some marketing books and read them.
  • Make sure that when people show up to your service that it is good. Marketing something that isn’t good is bad.

Feel free to add your other tips and tricks in the comments section.

Why We Advertise: Part Two

One reason churches don’t advertise is they believe word of mouth to be the greatest form of outreach.  I completely agree with that.  When we survey our people, we find that 60-70% of them come to OLC because someone invited them.  So, why spend money on something that doesn’t work?

Not so fast
.  Don’t jump to conclusions.  Advertising and marketing directly affect the personal invitations.  I tell our people that one reason that we mail out postcards and put out signs is to make it easy for them to invite people.  When our people toss out the invitation, many times people respond with something like, "Yea, I saw a sign…are you guys the church that meets in the movies?"  A sign or a postcard raises awareness and increases the effectiveness of an invite.

It works like this.  I could tell my sister to try out Bambino’s Peanut Butter, and she’ll probably forget.  But if I tell her to try Bambino’s Peanut Butter and she just saw something in a magazine about that or saw a commercial about it, the personal recomendation will be all the more effective.

Advertising also increases the likelihood that people will invite people.  It’s let’s our church know that we want others to come.  It raises the evangelistic temperature of our own church.  They know there is something that is going on worth talking about and worth designing a postcard.   Most people that say we just use word of mouth don’t do anything worth talking about, so the people don’t let the words come out of their mouths.  It’s sounds really spiritual to be against advertising, but it’s often an excuse to be cheap or lazy.

We try to do things in our church worth talking about.  Weather it’s a series on sex or or a community event, we want to do things that capture the attention of people.  We want to serve people, and make life better, and we also want people to come to church.  If they don’t come, we’ll still serve them, but we still want them to come.

Why does Coca-Cola spend millions on marketing?  Everybody has heard of Coke already.  They could probably save a lot of money if they just quit.  But they know that it’s important to keep moving and to keep doing things that capture people’s attention. 

By far, word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing and advertising. But don’t let that fact keep you from doing other things.  When you do those other things, you’ll find that word of mouth becomes even more powerful.

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Combined Efforts

We’ve grown by 120 people in the last couple of weeks, having passed the 400 mark for the first time this past Sunday.  OLC is about five months old, and we’ve grown steadily nearly every month.  In January, we had our biggest boom yet.

I think it was due to the combination of four things:

  • The new year.  People naturally decide to go back to church or look for a church.
  • A direct mail.  These seem to work for us.  We sent out quite a few of them.
  • A new service.  We added a 9 AM service to go along with the 10:15 service.  This was a great time to launch the new service.
  • God is up to something.  Never discount the hand of God.  When God is at work, people show up.  Growth like this isn’t normal, and God is definitely working here in Cartersville.

I would highly recommend that you combine efforts and plan for growth at a strategic time.  The new year is a great time to add another service.  Don’t just put one iron in the first, take a strategic look and pull out more than one stop.  When you combine efforts like this, you generate buzz and create momentum. Maybe you don’t need the one big thing, but a combination of three separate things.

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Partnering with the Community

Fro the past couple of big holidays, we’ve hooked up with community events and had a presence there.  And we didn’t just want to show up and be one of many…we go all out to make a splash.  I don’t think it’s necessary to create your own events all of the time – there are some great things that you can partner with that already have a crowd there.

On the 4th of July, our city does a big bash at the park with food, booths, live music, etc.  We set up a free bounce house (everybody else was charging $$) and gave away balloons and invited people to Oak Leaf.  We met one guy who now serves on our setup team.

On Halloween, we didn’t do a Fall Festival, we went downtown where hundreds of kids trick or treated and gave out candy and the same balloons.  It was so cool seeing kid walking around with balloons with our website address on them.  And we gave out good candy and invite cards. 

And last night, we put a float – a very cool float – in the Christmas parade.  It was a replica of the movie theater where we meet.   We gave out popcorn.  Our people, dressed like famous movie characters, gave out "church at the movies" invite cards.  Thousands of them.  It was a fun way to be involved in the community and be a presence.

This kind of stuff has been so valuable to us.  We’ve shown up at school events and brought the Easter Bunny and a thousand eggs to a neighborhood.  People see our church all over the place, and we love doing it.  We like making stuff in our town better, even for those who don’t go to our church.  As a church planter, I’ll show up with stuff anywhere there are people.  Instead of always doing my own events, I’ll partner with anyone I can.  I believe you have to be a part of a community in order to reach it.

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