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What Every Lead Pastor Needs to Know About Church Metrics

There isn’t a church planter or lead pastor who doesn’t care about success. Some may not admit this, fearing that might seem “unspiritual” to others. However, the desire for success in ministry is a common driving force.

Of course there are acceptable ways of talking about success. For instance, we talk about church growth all the time. Whether through winning people for Christ and discipleship of new converts or attracting existing believers to a church plant that seems new and fresh, growing churches is what it is all about. But which church metrics do we use to evaluate success? What kind of church data and tool can determine if we have met our goals?

In this post we’re going to provide an overview of church metrics and discuss their use (and misuse):

Keep reading to learn why and how to set church metrics that matter. 

Popular Metrics Church Leaders Use To Evaluate Success

Within churches, growth is often publicly shared and showcased through testimonies: Acts of miraculous faith, servanthood, irrational generosity, fruitfulness, and transformed lives, of course, are the markers of a person’s walk with Jesus. 

Yet shoptalk between pastors most often reflects a numbers game. Some of the most commonly sought after and tracked  church data includes :

  • Attenders and attendance 
  • Membership rolls
  • Salvations 
  • Salvation follow-ups 
  • Baptisms
  • Tithes and giving 
  • Discipleship
  • Outreach programs
  • Small group numbers
  • Staffing numbers
  • Volunteers 
  • Team members

The list of church metrics goes on, from the rational (number of cars in the parking lot) to the slightly more obscure.

Back in the 80s, the senior pastor who I was serving at the time carefully tracked how many cassette tapes (remember those?) of his message were purchased each week. For him, success was measured through tape sales!

Tools You Can Use To Track Church Data

If these are the church metrics that matter to you, you can find a whole slew of tools and church management software that’ll help you set goals and track your metrics. The advantage of chms software is that it allows you to spend less time managing the data, and more time developing insights so you can make better decisions. 

For many church plants, and church leaders with rapidly changing congregations, understanding what’s happening in your church can be very valuable. With a host of free tools available, including Church Metrics from life.church, you can simply use an iPad and their iOS app (also available as a mobile app on Android) to very quickly get a much richer understanding of what’s happening in your church. 

Below is a list of some other church management software with metrics functionality:

  1. Wild Apricot 
  2. Elvanto 
  3. Breeze 
  4. Chmeetings 
  5. TouchPoint 

But before you go and check out the pricing and functionality for those tools, read on friend. 

Measuring success: a numbers game

There is nothing intrinsically unspiritual with counting numbers. Or should I say, there is neither anything spiritual nor unspiritual about analyzing and evaluating performance in relationship to established goals. The science of statistics is used worldwide to track everything from sports to world pandemics in real time. And now, with the help of social media, measuring popularity and success has soared to a new level. 

Whether you are selling merchandise, raising money through crowdfunding, building a YouTube channel, or preaching the gospel, knowing who you are aiming to reach, whether you have reached them, and their response to your message, is vital. 

You want to reach the world for Christ, right? As a pastor, you probably meet the group you pastor at least once a week. In the past (that is, pre-COVID), people typically gathered at service times. Since last year, many Sunday services are now live-streamed, which has changed everything. 

People who would normally “go to church” can stay home; but now anybody who has access to the internet and a link to your livestream can join in, too! As a pastor you’re wondering:

  • Who are these people?
  • How is the outreach of your service affecting or influencing them? 
  • What decisions and actions are they taking because of it?

Perhaps these are the same questions pastors have always asked; but now, with the help of the internet, your potential to reach people has increased exponentially. 

Sure, we have had television evangelists and Christian programming for some time, but broadcasting has become both affordable and accessible to almost every local church around the world. All of a sudden, there is a real chance for you to make a connection—a touchpoint—with more people than you ever were able to before!

Why Measurement Matters

But back to the numbers game. Putting aside important discussion about KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) we need to measure our performance. 

Of course, fear of criticism (and goodness knows, pastors get enough criticism!) can keep you from inviting any kind of feedback. But without a means of measuring performance there is no credible way of knowing, this side of heaven, if your ministry is effective. 

Mind you, as I have already said, if you have no clear, well-defined goals to begin with then you really won’t have anything to measure. With no results to measure, then the value of doing (programs, services, and events) is justified by the work you do (time, effort, and resources), rather than the results it brings.

For now, assuming that you have some clear goals in place, some form of measurement is not only helpful, but essential. Effective ministry is the result of clearly articulated goals, strategic planning, activation and empowerment, and then honest evaluation. What makes this spiritual is when we prayerfully seek the heart and mind of God for his purposes to be accomplished through our lives, for the sake of His son, Jesus.

Related Read: 10 Best Free Church Management Software

The Misuse Of Church Metrics

So whether you are a pastor or other church leader of a church plant or nonprofit, you will benefit from tracking church metrics in real time, and using them to follow up with better decisions, and even optimize stewardship. The challenge with such things, though, is not in the measuring. Rather, it is a problem with ourselves, an issue of identity. 

Related Read: Recognizing Problems That Arise In Church Planting

An issue of mistaken identity

Our sense of self-worth is far more dependent on our performance than most of us are comfortable admitting. The outcome is that we are likely to measure our own personal value by what we do rather than who we are. We feel good about ourselves when we are performing well, and bad when we are not. Even worse, we may be tempted to believe that we are better than others who do not perform as well! 

Consequently, we look for, even crave for, anything that would indicate that we are doing a good job—a better job—the best job!

When our sense of identity is derived from being loved and accepted based on how we’ve performed, then we live not in the love of Christ but in the fear of man. We might be able to meet up to someone else’s standards for awhile, perhaps, but never God’s! 

This is why, before we turn to church metrics to measure our success, we must rest, again, in the reality of the unconditional love of God the Father. God’s love is not based on our performance but on who we are. Leaning too heavily on the numbers will always lead us astray. The trouble is that the indicators the world looks for are not the same as God’s. Numbers may result in misleading conclusions about our ministry efforts, not because the numbers are wrong, but because of the way we interpret them. 

What Metrics Really Matter—And Why

Let’s be honest: According to the world’s measuring stick (particularly in the United States), high-achievers who demonstrate an almost super-human capacity for work are not only rewarded for what they do but are also exalted as models of success. 

Again, there is nothing wrong with working hard, just as there is nothing wrong with measuring the fruit of your hard work.

However, when we apply God’s measuring stick to our lives, we find He is looking for something very different. For Him, what matters most is not the numbers but what’s in our hearts. 

Measuring success with Heaven’s ruler

While we are tempted to simply count fruit, God looks first for its quality! Faithfulness, trust, devotion, sacrifice, servanthood, humility, love—all these characteristics mark us. And though they need to be expressed through action, that is, through what we do (see James 2:20), when they are found in us, as the core of our being in Christ, God is pleased.

So, how do we strike a balance between resting in God’s unconditional love, on the one hand, and the work that He has called us to, on the other? How do we evaluate our performance and that of our team members, spiritually speaking, while at the same time not trusting the count of measurable things to inform and direct us with regard to the things that cannot be counted? 

The balance, I believe, lies between knowing who you are in God’s perfect love in Christ—fully forgiven, fully accepted—and the undeserved calling to serve God on earth so that He might do His heavenly work through you. By faith and in trust, we lay down our work to rest in the confidence of the knowledge that He will accomplish His work through us.

When I was a boy growing up I loved going to the playground. After the swings, my next favourite equipment was the teeter-totter. To play, you need two willing subjects, one at each end: one to “teet” and the other to “tot”. In the middle was a balancing point. If there was equal weight, with equal exertion at both ends, a well-calibrated instrument would stabilize, becoming still and resting in the balance. This theory is sound, but remember: Most children want to go up and down, producing endless motion rather than balancing perfectly at rest! 

Not surprisingly, knowing who we are in God and doing the work He has called us to is more like the back and forth, up and down of children playing on the teeter-totter than a theology of balance:

 What we know and experience in the world in which we live gives constant pushback against who God is and how He works. 

Our challenge is to live in a natural world ruled by natural principles and laws, yet operate instead by the rules and principles of the Kingdom of God. Sometimes these things seem to come into balance and we find harmony in the two realities, but most of the time they just seem to clash. 

The key is not so much finding a balance between what we know in the natural and what is revealed to us in the Spirit, but rather resting in God between the two.

The Art Of Biblical Church Data Interpretation

So where does that leave us? Well, it brings us to a simple conclusion: If you really want to know how you are doing, you might want to think about who you are asking and what your motives are in asking.

Once all the measuring is done and the numbers have been calculated, the results may all be the same, yet the interpretation of those results might lead to different conclusions.

The senior pastor I mentioned who counted the sales of his sermon recordings as an indicator of his success fell into adultery and lost his ministry. He was a great preacher and he did sell a lot of tapes; but this was not enough to keep him from unnecessary failure with a catastrophic outcome. He chose to look at the numbers he wanted to see with total disregard for what God wanted to show him in his heart.

Remember when Samuel went to Bethlehem to anoint a new king to replace Saul who God had rejected? He was asked to anoint one of Jesse’s sons. We know in hindsight that David was the one who was chosen; but if it had been up to Samuel, he would have picked Eliab. 

1 Samuel 16:6 says, “So it was, when they came, that he (Samuel), looked at Eliab and said, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him!'” 

When Samuel measured the man standing in front of him, he concluded that this one would be a good candidate to receive a kingly anointing. But the prophet got it wrong. What might have been a real win for Eliab ended up not to be so, because ultimately God’s measuring stick was used, rather than man’s. “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart'” (1Samuel 6:7).

In the end, Samuel anointed God’s pick: David. That day Samuel, the man, functioned in his calling, fulfilling his prophetic assignment because he acted upon God’s judgement and not his own.

Bottom line? 

How God sees and measures can only be known to those to whom He chooses to reveal such things. And so, when it comes to church metrics, let’s continue to count, measure, record, analyze, and evaluate church data. Sure, choose interactive church management software (ChMS) with the best functionality for your context. 

But don’t forget that what will matter most in your life and ministry is how God measures you and the work you have done in His name.

Related Read: 10 Best Worship Presentation Software For Mac In 2022

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What is Church Planting? (And Why it Matters in 2021)

There is no local or global disciple making without church planting. Period. The future of Christianity and of God’s mission rests on this practice.

In this post, we’re going to cover off some the biggest questions about church planting. Keep reading to find out:

What is church planting?

Simply put, church planting is starting a new church from an existing church.

Church planting fulfils the mission of God in every place, space and context in which we find ourselves. Its activity is rooted in Jesus’ instructions in the New Testament Bible.

In Discovering Church Planting, JD Payne reads this out of the Great Commission of Matthew 28. For Payne, church planting “tells us how to make disciples” and “offers a paradigm for reaching villages, tribes urban enclaves and entire cities with the gospel.” He is on-to something important here about scope and why to talk about it.

Church planting Process from Missional Church Planting Image
Church planting process from: https://missionalchurchplanting.org/2013/11/06/cultivating-personal-discipleship/

If the church is understood as the people of God, then where on earth (or beyond) can people (boldly) go that the church cannot go? Where can nations exist without the people who establish its culture, laws and structures?

It follows that where the people are, there can be the church. Where the church is, there is Jesus Christ. If new churches are not reaching the unreached people of the future, then who will? What activity can?

What The Great Commission says about church planting

Church planting, then, is not just one of many different strategies and practices that respond to the Great Commission of Jesus. It is the best strategy and the best practice. Experienced church planters Roger McNamara & Ken Davis make this clear. In The Y-B-H Handbook of Church Planting, they suggest that:

“Church planting best fulfills the directives and goals of the Great Commission because as churches are planted in every nation, disciples are made in that nation just as Christ commanded should be done.”

Roger McNamara & Ken Davis

In the Bible these local, new churches are reproduced out of an existing church from somewhere else. The people of God in one place with one people group establish a community of the people of God in another place and another group.

Why church planting is important

It is that simple—in words. It is much more difficult when the rubber-hits-the-road. The lives of the twelve apostles, new believers, and the Apostle Paul in the Book of Acts reveal the stakes: church planting either costs or very nearly cost them their lives (c.f. Acts 7; 12; 27). 

How the Apostle Paul planted churches

The Apostle Paul’s theology and practice make church planting integral to God’s mission. The Jesus Film Project highlights in their blog how Paul’s missiology of church planting fuelled his missionary journeys. His training and appointing of local leadership in new churches filled with new believers reveals his desire to multiply the global through the local church. This emphasis is picked up by Chris Bowers and Scott Zeller in their blog too.

Dangerous as it might have been, church planting as a practice was not stopped because the future of Christianity was, for Paul, the greater cost. McNamara and Davis say that the Apostle Paul in particular “did many things, but he never neglected” the practice of “planting new churches.” In the end, Paul ran the race and fought the fight of church planting (c.f. 2 Tim 4:7)

This cursory review or preliminary Bible study on the topic strongly suggests that church planting should be at the tip of the missional spear. The Great Commission of Jesus, the Book of Acts, and the theology and practice of the Apostle Paul demand it. 

Why church planting matters in 2021

The activity and priority of planting churches in the Bible is a foundation for all disciples today, because the world still holds a very great many people who do not know or follow Jesus Christ. “Church planting is needed,” says James R. Nikkel, in Church Planting Road Map, “because new communities need to be reached for Christ.” 

This demands some understanding of the past and present of 2020 but much response of the future of 2021 and beyond. Starting with understanding the cultural moment now, Christopher James, in Church Planting in Post-Christian Soil, paints a detailed and methodical picture of the great expanse and rise of secularity in North America in the last 50 years. It seems apparent to James that in Western culture God is more fantasy than fact—believed in by the minority, not the majority of people.

Church planting is relevant

What does surprise about James’ work, however, is his analysis of the minority, Christian church. James says,

“Rather than demoralizing the faithful, the minority status of confessional Christians seems to counterintuitively contribute to the vitality of their religious identity and mission.”

Christopher James

In other words, he believes that the mission of God has never been more relevant. If the mission of God is in a context of vitality, then the same stands for planting churches. Though secularism may be dominant, James believes paradoxically it has “proved to be a rather fertile environment for fervent Christianity.” People are ready. The time for planting is now.

Church planting demands a response

But this comes down to how the church responds. The people of God today, like those of yesterday, need to establish communities of the people of God for tomorrow.

Planting churches, therefore, matters in 2021 not only because there will still be a majority of people who do not know Jesus. It matters because there will also be robust minority of Christians who can assess their role and calling in the outworking of the mission of God. 

This means that anyone, whether a follower of Jesus or not, should think in some way about how church planting impacts their personal and corporate future. Below or some areas for you to consider in this process of discernment.

5 church plants to look out for in 2021

Whether you live in the Vancouver B.C. area or not, this unique season of church online means that you can look out for a handful of new church plants that I can recommend from in my context in 2021.

  1. Tidal Church: located in North Vancouver, B.C. Tidal Church is led by John and Kate Payne, who are experienced church planters from the UK. This church emphasizes the gifts of the Holy Spirit, small groups and the word of God. While the soft launch with their core team is happening in 2020, they are looking to ramp up their gathering and online presence in 2021. Read about John and Kate here.
  2. The Way Church: located in Vancouver, B.C., The Way Church is led by Rachael and Jason Ballard, the latter of whom is a mainstay in the Youth Alpha Video Series, now showcased online. Jason’s leadership and experience with the Alpha is exceptionally relevant to this moment where digital and video is the predominant medium through which church members are reached, and the values of the Kingdom of God are on display to the world beyond Vancouver. Learn about The Way Church here.
  3. City Life Church: also located in Vancouver, B.C., City Life Church is led by Todd and Stephanie Lueck. It was recently planted by its mother church City Life Chilliwack, who believe that the mission field is not only global, but local in the city centres. Find out more about City Life Church here.
  4. C3 Manhattan: Planted out of the mega- influential mega-church of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (which has been led by Tim Keller) this C3 church is a great blend of young vibrancy and traditional orthodoxy. If you’re not based in New York City, no problem. Their online services are eclectic and Christ focused. Plus there are many different C3 church across North America, Europe and beyond. Check out C3 Manhattan here.
  5. Christ Church SF: Located in the heart of San Francisco, Christ Church SF was planted through the Acts 29 network, a church planting group led by Matt Chandler. Christ Church SF embraces the Father’s heart to see places of influence, like the city centre of SF, transformed for the glory of Jesus. Learn more about this church here.

Why should you join a church plant

If you are excited about Christian missions and you want to discover your life’s passion, then you should join a church plant in 2021. It is those who join-in and plant churches that are also the ones who establish the short- and long-term future of Christianity.

“We discovered that churches that have a DNA of reproduction are among the most effective churches at reaching the lost and unchurched across America.” 

Thom Rainer

Here, in the book Church Planting from the Ground Up, Rainer and other church planters suggest that there is no better context for fulfilling your passion in Jesus in reaching the world than in a church plant.

The passion of evangelism and multiplication naturally spills out of one new church plant and into another. It is like wild fire. David Garrison speaks as such in, Church Planting Movements. Whereas “church planters may start the first churches” he goes on to say that other “churches themselves get into the act” and the birth of a movement occurs. Local churches in these areas go the extra mile, not giving up on discipleship, spiritual development or worship.

Being part of a movement is special. For church planters and bloggers, like Steve Sjogren, it creates a momentum that should cause us to “rejoice, if you have it. The calling and passion is worth it!

Why church planting isn’t for everyone

Whereas church planting is a missional practice that every Christian should deeply consider, joining church plants as a church leader or committed member is not for everyone, and some new church plants can emphasize unhealthy long-term behaviour.

First, you should probably avoid a church plant if it is too focused on the numbers, that is, the quantity of members or attendees. John Jackson, in High Impact Church Planting, speaks plainly about the unique position church plants are in the missional lifecycle. He believes, “New churches must reach new people or they die!” If this is true, then new church plants might be tempted to over-emphasize the importance of numbers.

In an environment where numbers become the focus of growth, other elements of church planting, like spiritual and emotional growth, can be put to the wayside. Sadly, church leaders, like Karl Vaters, have gone through this experience. What you can do, however, is learn from his experience!

Related Read: What Every Lead Pastor Needs To Know About Church Metrics.

Further reading

If you’re starting a church, check out our list of the best church management software.

To better manage your Church’s growth, check our list out of the 10 Top Church Technology Resources For Leaders in 2021.

What do you think?

Are you interested in church planting? Been a part of a church plant? What was your experience? Have you discovered any church plants that we haven’t mentioned? Are you aware of problems in church planting?

Let us know in the comments below.

If you’ve ever wondered how the big churches do it, here’s a peek into their world: 10 Biggest Streaming Churches And The Software They Use.

Related Read: 10 Best Worship Presentation Software For Mac In 2022

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How To

How To Become More Self-Aware As A Pastor

Entrepreneur, author and social media icon Gary Vaynerchuk is one self-aware dude. He certainly talks about self-awareness enough. He even calls it your most important attribute. In seemingly everything he does, Vaynerchuk exudes a self-assured confidence.

“Self-awareness is being able to accept your weaknesses while focusing all of your attention on your strengths,” says Vaynerchuk, who has made millions off of successful businesses and investments.

Self-awareness is easier said than done. How do you become more self-aware? How do you discover your strengths to focus on? The path to self-realization is different for everyone (because everyone is different). But there are a few tips you can use to learn more about yourself.

Ask Yourself

The entire point of self-awareness is educating yourself about yourself. Most of us see this as an insurmountable challenge.

But odds are, you know yourself better than you think. You just need to unlock that hidden knowledge. Open up to you. Here’s how.

  • Be honest with yourself. Lying to other people is bad. Lying to yourself is worse.
  • Look at yourself in the mirror. What do you see? What’s your perception of yourself? Try singing some Michael Jackson to yourself.
  • Talk to yourself alone. Start a conversation with you. It may appear crazy, but it’s a healthy way to talk through issues and verbalize your own thoughts. I do it all the time.
  • Keep a journal. Or a diary, if you prefer. Write down your thoughts. Get it on paper. Create a record of your mind that you can review later.
  • Write a page-long autobiography. We write short bios for each social media account. Expand that to a page. What do you say about yourself?

Ask Others

Ironically, it’s sometimes others who know us better than ourselves. They can see things about our personality and character that escapes our notice.

Take the time to ask these people how they would describe you. What are your strengths? Weaknesses? What could you do better? There are dozens of people you can ask.

  • Family. Your spouse. Your parents. Your siblings. Uncle Bob.
  • Friends. Childhood pals. College roommate. Neighbors.
  • Coworkers. Your boss. Your employees. Your clients.
  • Mentors. People who you trust and admire.
  • Strangers. Just kidding.

The most important thing you need to do here is listen. Create a space where these people can be honest with you. Don’t get defensive. Don’t try to justify actions or behavior. Don’t take it personal.

Listen and observe. Find patterns in what people think about you. If there’s something you don’t like about this description of you, find a way to change it. Be a better you.

Ask the Experts

These days, personality tests are a dime a dozen. Buzzfeed will serve up endless quizzes so you can learn what kind of sandwich you are or which piece of IKEA furniture you most closely resemble.

There are a few more serious self-assessments you can take. Even these popular personality tests cannot fully capture your dynamic character. But they can give you a better sense of how you think and how you relate to others

  • Myers-Briggs
  • DiSC Profile
  • Right Path
  • Strengths Finder

I’ve even printed out some of my own test results and posted them in my office. This helps serve as a regular reminder who I am. At the very least, it’s a reminder to be more self-aware.

Ask God

Regardless of what you or anyone else thinks about you, know that God loves you. God loves everyone—self-aware or not. And there are certain truths that God says about each of us.

  • There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. —Romans 8:1
  • In all things, God works for the good of those who love him. —Romans 8:28
  • Nothing can ever separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus. —Romans 8:38-39
  • God is for me! Who can be against me? —Romans 8:31
  • But the one united with the Lord is one spirit with him. —1 Corinthians 6:17
  • Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? —1 Corinthians 6:19

Self-awareness is not about determining self-worth. Our self-worth was set for us by God. Being more self-aware allows us to better succeed in this world. But never let self-awareness jade you.

Always love yourself. Because God does. And he knows you better than anyone.

Want to serve your church better? Here’s a list of tools you should take a look into: 10 Best Church Software for 2022

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How To

How To Communicate With Your Congregation

Every week you probably have a staff meeting at your church. You go over your wins and losses from Sunday, you plan for next week. Maybe you even discuss what other churches are doing and what you can learn from them.

But its always the same old discussion.

There’s never any support for communications and marketing. It always comes back to “there isn’t budget for that,” or “that’s not as important as this.” or “we just can’t afford to hire more people.”

As the Communications person, how are you going to convince this group that your church needs to step up its digital communications strategy, or get more involved in social media?

How are you going to ever get a budget for such things?

I’ve come across it a million times. I encountered it at Mars Hill when I first started. I hear it every day from colleagues and clients. Even the big churches with a lot of followers struggle to put the resources and time and bodies that are needed to have a solid, and effective communications strategy.

So how do you get around this? How do we educate pastors and train up volunteers on the importance of church communications? How do we convince senior leadership to give us the budget we need to promote and grow the church?

When I encounter leaders who don’t want to support church communications, there are two common obstacles I run into the most:

1. We Can’t Measure ROI.

The most common thing I run into is the misconception that it’s hard to measure the return on investment when it comes to church communications efforts, particularly social media.

Leaders at the top are typically focused on results and return. That’s not a bad thing — they’re responsible for a lot of people and a lot of money, millions of dollars in most cases. And for a church, that’s tithe money from your donors and members.Stewarding that well means not wasting it on things that aren’t making a difference. And when you ask for $10,000 to run a Facebook ads campaign, or a billboard, or for new email marketing software, or even an Apple Watch… they don’t immediately see how that’s going to turn into more donors, more people being saved, more seats being filled.

Below I share some tips on how to define your purpose, as well as how to properly use data to help measure ROI.

2. Leaders with Little Digital Experience

The second most common obstacle I’ve encountered is leaders at that level are generally inexperienced with newer technologies and trends.

You’re probably a tech savvy millennial who grew up on Facebook, and now you’re trying to pitch your 60 year old senior pastor on why he should be more engaged on Twitter, how your church needs to reach the kids via SnapChat, or why you need to hire a social media manager and 3 interns to live tweet this Sunday’s sermon.

It’s the last thing on his mind because he doesn’t know what the heck you are talking about.

It’s on you to find a way to educate them. Below I’m going to walk you through five tips that will help you better educate with your pastors about the value of church communications.

5 Tips to Help You Better Communicate the Value of Church Communications

1. Have a strategy and a focus.

Know what you are doing, and cast the vision for why you are doing it. This may seem obvious, but it’s so important.

When you’re pitching someone who doesn’t know a lot about what you are talking about, you’ve got to be able to speak with confidence to earn their trust. Every decision they make is prioritized, and all this cool internet mumbo jumbo just sounds like a waste.

If you’re just wanting to do what every other church is doing because it’s cool, that’s not going to fly well. So get down to the heart of it. Know why you do what you do and how that aligns with the bigger picture.

How are your church communications strategies going to fill seats, get more donors, sell out an event, sell books, and ultimately bring people closer to the Lord? Make sure these align with the goals and vision of the church in general. If you’re all about church planting, then how is your proposed Facebook plan going to plant more churches? Are you going to target church planters via Facebook ads and then engage with them and build relationships with them so you can turn them on to your church and your mission? Layout how you are going to do that.

Using social media as an example. If your senior leaders don’t see the value in it, then find out what they do value and show them how social media can enhance that.

If they value people — loving people well, teaching people about Jesus — then how is your social media strategy going to love people well? Who cares how many followers you have or promise to get, if you don’t know those people and don’t have a plan to engage with them.

Show your pastors that you care about the same vision, you’re just going to use more modern tools to reach them. The people on social media are real people who need Jesus, and the church is in a unique position to learn how to be the best at reaching them.

Show your senior leaders how your church can’t just ignore these people, no more than you can ignore people walking in your front door.

2. Start small and slow, and do it well.

Don’t bombard senior leaders with requests to get on SnapChat, when you aren’t even using Facebook and Twitter well. Focus your strategy like a sniper rifle not a shotgun. Take on one thing at a time and do it well, showing your results before asking for more.

One thing you may want to try is doing a pilot with one ministry or event. It’s usually easier to get in on a ministry or event budget, than it is to get your own line item on the budget for a social media or digital communications.

3. Use Data.

This goes back to the ROI question. Using data is going to help you show that an investment in better church communications is going to pay off. It can also validate and backup what you are talking about.

Using social media as an example again, many of the experts will tell you that social media is still new and we’re still figuring it out. I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Your senior pastor may even bring it up when you try to pitch him on the idea of spending more resources on it.

The idea that social media is too new, it’s only kinda true. I’ve found the people who say that are the people who are trying to get social media to do something that maybe it shouldn’t be doing. They’re using it wrong.

We actually know quite a bit about social media. You should know these stats:

  • Facebook has 1.44 billion users. That’s basically everyone.
  • Adults spend about 2.5 hours on social media every day. Every single day.
  • 56% of all American’s have a profile on a social networking site.
  • 31% of seniors use Facebook regularly.
  • 53% of young adults use Instagram and check it daily.
  • 42% of all online women use Pinterest.

These numbers go up every year. To not include social media in your marketing or communications strategy is foolish. What might be even more foolish is to jump in without a strategy or plan behind it.

Think of it this way. Chances are your church is trying to figure out better ways to engage in deeper relationships with the people who walk through your doors. As the communications person, it’s your job to figure out how digital and social strategies can help meet that need. You’ve only got people’s attention on Sunday for about an hour or so. If they’re in a small group, maybe another hour during the week. Well guess what, they’re on Facebook and Twitter almost 3 hours a day! Show your pastors how you can deepen those relationships by interacting with people where they already are. Start by sharing this data with them.

Now here’s the caveat. You’ve probably already bombarded your senior pastor with stats and spreadsheets. Maybe that’s why he’s turned you down. Is he a stats and spreadsheets kinda guy? Probably not. More often than not, preaching pastors are visual and conversational. They aren’t going to read a report or click on the links you send them. Try a different way to reach them. Draw a picture, create a video, demand an in person meeting rather than sending emails.

You also need to look at what are other churches doing and show examples. Use the churches that your senior pastor likes and that are like you. Keep in mind that chances are the bigger churches have a graphics team and content writers coming up with that stuff, so unless you have a team like that don’t compare your church to something you’re not going to be able to do.

Also, don’t just show screenshots of what others are posting to Facebook. Call up the church, ask to speak to the people who run the social media accounts. Take them out for coffee or invite them over to your church. Learn from them and ask how they do what they do and why. Collaborate together and bring what you learn to your leadership team. When you show a screenshot of another church’s Facebook page, you’ll then be able to share the story of how they posted what they did and why, and hopefully the results they saw from it.

Next, find your congregation online and show them off. Another objection you might here is that “relationships happen in person” or “our congregation isn’t online.” It’s 2015. 1.44 billion people are on Facebook. Even your mom tweets.

Take your top donors, your most faithful people who serve, the well known people in your congregation, and find them online. Search for them on Facebook and Twitter and put together a little presentation showing their photo and their posts, proving that these people are online, and that they are sharing more about themselves and their struggles and wins, than they ever would in person.

Like I said, Social Media is a tool to engage real people. It’s not a matter of if people are online, we will be. They are online, you have to be able to show that. Show your leaders that by not being online they aren’t staying relevant, they aren’t doing their best to engage and love on people. The question isn’t if we should be doing this, its how are we going to make it work so that we can.

Going back to our first point though, when you share data you’ve got to have a reason for it and you’ve got to be able to show why the data matters.

Facebook and Twitter have built in analytics that can give you a ton of useful info like followers, likes, comments, reach, etc. There’s a handful of other tools that you can get too. Your website has Google Analytics.

But if your pitch is “give me XX amount of dollars and I’ll increase our Twitter followers from 5000 to 10,000.” Who cares? What good does another 5000 Twitter followers do you if you don’t also follow up with a plan to engage those people and get to know them? Give me a week and I can increase your Twitter followers just by doing some searches and following like minded people. It doesn’t mean I’ll be able to actually communicate well with those people or convert them to church goers or donors. The data is useless without a plan for what to do with it.

4. Utilize and train up volunteers.

Chances are budgets are tight whether your department is getting some of that money or not. In the grand scheme of things, Twitter and billboards, and fun stuff just aren’t going to get the bucks if you don’t have them. There probably aren’t funds to hire some more people. That’s why taking the time to invest in your volunteers is crucial for any size team. If you can show you already have a team in place to help manage things, then you might have a better chance at getting approval for the things you want to try.

Don’t just assign tasks to volunteers. Train them in the same way you’re trying to train your senior leaders and pastors. Convince them of the vision and reason behind what you’re doing. If they can get excited about what they are doing, they’ll be better volunteers.

5. Share stories

People online are real people. Real people have stories. If you’re just pushing out content, you’re advertising. Which is fine, but that means you’re not going to be able to reach people well and build relationships with a strategy that’s only advertisements and promo.

If you’ve got a plan that actually aligns with your church’s plan to love on people well, and bring them closer to Jesus, then you’re going to hear stories. Stories of how unchurched people came to church. Stories of how Jesus is changing lives through your communications.

Share those stories with your senior leadership. Show them its working. Show them stories from other churches who are doing it well. And show your volunteers the results as well. Let them know who they are reaching and how it is making a difference.

Bonus Tip: Get outside help.

An outside consultant can sometimes have better credibility than you with your senior leadership, even if they’re saying the same thing you’ve been saying all along. Someone on the outside can validate what you’ve been saying all along.

Now I know what you’re saying, chances are you’ll never get approval for a consultant if you’re whole goal is getting approval for a communications budget. So tell them your struggles and a good consultant can help you calculate the ROI and will help you show senior leaders how they’ll pay for themselves with the work they provide.

I’ll close with this…

When it comes down to it, you’ve got to convince others that you’re working on the same team as them, not against them, but you’re working for the same goals.

You aren’t competing with other ministries for budget or time and resources, you’re creating new ways to reach new people and engage better with the people you already have so you can love them well and lead more people to Jesus.

The communications managers I talk to who are failing at getting what they need to do their jobs well, are the ones who don’t have a clear vision for why they do what they do, and a clear plan to do it.

The key to convincing leaders to support your church communications plan is aligning it with the church’s vision.

If you can dial that in and convince your pastors and volunteers of it, you’ll get the resources and budget you need.

Reposted from http://www.ministrycommunicators.com/

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