Church Talk: How to Blow It With Volunteers

If you know me or follow me, you know that my journey to find a new church was a long one…a painful one…an insightful one. There are a few churches where we attended that I actually thought “Hey, we could stay here!” I have served in ministry for almost 15 years, and I’m not one to sit on the sidelines. I jump into the deep end with both feet. I don’t need anyone to say “Hey you’re so awesome! Hey you have experience, please stay here!”  I just want to serve.  I believe in the church, and know the power of God and have dedicated my life to serve Him, with or without a paycheck.  Although my preference is WITH  a paycheck, I don’t muddle around over details such as those.

With the few churches where I truly thought we had a future, I would sign up to volunteer, make meetings with Pastors, offer my services–consulting, teaching, training…whatever was needed.  Including rocking babies or shaking hands. I was an able and willing person ready to give back. Besides, when you are in a new church, serving is one of the absolute best ways to meet people and begin building relationships. With great expectation I filled out forms, signed up online, did whatever I was asked and the most amazing thing happened:

NO ONE EVER CONTACTED ME.

I’m not even kidding. And not just once…several times. So this is a pattern in churches, a dangerous, and ugly road we are building.

I’m a grace-extender. I understand overworked and underpaid. But if you want to completely blow it with volunteers, just never contact them. I know it sounds like a “duh”! But I write this to encourage you to re-prioritize your To Do List, your daily meetings, and even your values.

Ministry is about people, and not just the people you serve. We often think if we are in the ministry of children, kids are our target audience. That couldn’t be further from the truth. ALL people are your target audience regardless of your ministry area. To say we need to group people is a very corporate perspective. As a ministry leader in whichever “department” you lead, people are the most important…this includes volunteers.

Volunteers are the absolute heart of your ministry.

They will stand in the gap, and be raised to lead in their own way. They are the entire reason you exist. As I train or teach or consult one of the greatest struggles is finding and keeping “volunteers.” Volunteers are simply people who are searching for the same exact thing you are: God. And God is in our serving. No matter how busy your day, or how imperative other tasks seem to be, volunteers should always be your number one!

When you don’t contact people back they won’t contact you. And you build a reputation, one that I had once. I was horrible at calling volunteers back, because everything else needed to get done. But volunteers are the “be” part of our ministry not the “do” part of ministry. They are the part of our ministry that builds relationship and draws us all closer together and closer to Jesus!

Pick up the phone, give them a call.

LG|LP

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P.S. For regular ministry encouragement–LIKE my FB Page!!—-> over there some where

Top 5 Church (Plant) Marketing Mistakes

Marketing is a necessary part of church planting in America. We would LOVE to think that the LORD will speak directly to every single person who needs to attend your church, placing a calling on their life. And He might…and He CAN. But LBR (let's be real), there are churches on every corner, and people have just as many choices on a Sunday morning as they do toothpaste at Walmart.

Marketing is important. People are impacted by your church, and God can use your marketing strategy to draw people to the work He is doing through you. But there are lots of marketing mistakes in church plants. Here are my top 5.

1. NOT INVESTING IN YOUR WEBSITE : Most church plants know that a website is necessary but are weary of investing too much money in one. A website is the new front door. As a church-planter and a new-church seeker, the website is the first thing I research. By the content and how “put together” the website is, I will make a decision on whether or not I will visit a church. Invest in your website, update your content, and make it easy to navigate. Use neutral lingo that church goers and non church goers can understand. Your website is your MOST powerful marketing tool!

2. SIGNS SIGNS SIGNS: Most churches do a great job advertising their church before Sunday, but once the BIG DAY comes…BLECH. MOST church plants are mobile, so no one is driving by your very own facility every day, noticing your building, remembering where you are. First time visitors (which is the GOAL here) need signs. They don't want to make U-Turns, or turn into the wrong parking lot. And you may think, “I have plenty of signs!” To which I ask, can anyone read them from the road? Size, color and font make a difference! Once there, visitors need to know where the bathroom is, and where to check in kids. Signs Signs Signs! It's better to OVER-educate than under!

3. ANNOUNCEMENTS: Announcements are the biggest pain for most churches. Where do you place them in the service?? What do you share? How do you communicate? Announcements share the heartbeat of your church. It shows what is important and it also sets the bar of expectation. Too many get lost, too few show a life-less church. Prioritize by deadlines, sign up requirement and volunteer need. (BTW: My personal thought is that each week, a different ministry should be asking for volunteers.) Refine your announcements. It is the tool that gets people taking the next step of involvement at your church.

4. SOCIAL MEDIA: People are on their phones/computers/ipads constantly. Social Media is the absolute best follow up with visitors and a great way to make announcements–especially the ones that didn't make the Sunday cut. I have followed tons of church plants on social media and the easiest and the marketing platform that's FREE is not used nearly enough or as effectively. The only thing Social Media costs is time. Programs like HOOTSUITE help you link your social media and time out posts so that you the bi-vocational pastor can post an encouragement from Sunday's message even though he's teaching Math. Use your SOCIAL MEDIA!!!!

5. STAY PUT: I've packed up and tore down and set up and moved and considered and UGH! the frustrations of church planting! The most frustrating is finding a space. But if at all possible, stay put! If you are investing in marketing financially, every move undoes the work and effort you've done in the last six months. Also, moving even just a block or two can change the entire dynamic of your church and you will find you might serve a totally different demographic than you were expecting (not that this is bad, but you must be prepared). Re-think your space if you can't make at least a one year commitment. When picking a place, remember that you are only as big as your smallest space. (finding an effective children's area is close to impossible). Think outside the box!

Invest in marketing your church! If someone shows up on Sunday and God touches their life, it will be worth it all! And if you need to hire a consultant, give me a shout out! tiffany@tiffanycrawford.org

What has effectively marketed your church plant? Comment and share with me, I'm always interested in new ideas.

Chik-Fil-A Gets It…The Church Doesn’t

Last week was our annual ice day in San Antonio. We brave nothing near as tragic or ridiculous as what’s happening in Georgia right now, but our town is definitely not prepared to handle snow, or even ice. On the eve of the winter blast, I was taking my strep-throat infected, finally hungry, nine year old to grab his favorite food.  We approached the light and he immediately started digging for change. Every corner is occupied by beggars, and ice days are no exception. Zac spoke a blessing as he handed the man the money. In return, the homeless man offered encouragement to Zac to stay in school so that he doesn’t have his fingers frozen off. As we pulled away, one thought came to my head…

Gloves.

Gloves became our mission that day. We quite literally ran inside of Wal-Mart to find the warmest gloves in the store. We purchased them, quite literally ran back to our car and made our trek to find this man who had frozen fingers. But he was gone. We circled and saw him huddled with friends under a distant bridge.  After picking up my daughter from school, we made another round to see if he emerged but now he was forever gone.  But on the way back around, we spied a woman, pulling her baggage (don’t we all?) with an over-sized coat pulled over her hands.  We pulled into the parking lot, rolled the window down and blessed her.

Ahhh her face.  Her angelic, worry filled face was glowing with gratefulness.

As the winds blew stronger and the temperature dropped that night, I lay in bed heartbroken for those sleeping in the woods and under bridges.  I wondered…

Why doesn’t the city step up and plan better?

Why aren’t we using our paid-for-by-taxes school gyms to offer a temporary sleeping place for the homeless?

Visions of local churches, large local churches, filled my head… Then a picture of a grieving God looking down from heaven whispering, “They just don’t get it.”

My wondering wandered…

Why aren’t churches being the hands and feet?

Why are closed-on-Thursday-waiting-waiting-for-Sunday buildings empty?

Why is God’s sanctuary locked up tight?

Whatever the reason, I’m almost certain they are all rooted in the need to not be inconvenienced.  It’s not our mission, it’s not in our budget, it’s too close to the weekend.

Yesterday I read about Chik-Fil-A in Georgia who closed their profitable business and went out into the ice stricken streets and fed the abandoned.  Then the doors swung open as they offered respite and warmth for wayward travelers.  Again I ask…

Why does Chik-Fil-A ‘get it’ but the church doesn’t? I continue to wonder if the church is wrongly, and sinfully, building it’s self on the ideology of the American Kingdom and missing the opportunities to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven.

What do you think?  Pastors, churches, what is your excuse?

LG|LP

When a Church’s Shoes are Too Small #churchplanting

One of the things that always surprises me is how fast my boys grow.  From July to November, my nine year old’s foot grew from a men’s size 7 1/2 to 10 1/2.  It was only when I bought him new running shoes that I realized that he was playing basketball in shoes two sizes too small for him.  I asked him why he didn’t tell me his shoes were too small, to which he expectantly replied, “I dunno.”

My other son, who is 14, is now just at 6 foot tall and wears the same size pants as his dad.  I have no idea when that happened.  And no idea how my budget will be able to keep up with this kind of growth.

When I visit new churches, I notice lots of things–but this growth issue is one of the most prevalent.  Too many churches are completely unaware of their size.  Church plants often follow models set forth by other churches and don’t do well at properly assessing how their model fits into their area and their numbers.  Or, a church grows at such a quick rate, that a larger church still operates as a small church, having an elite core group of people, and poor communication.  Or a church is a satellite campus, and attempts to have BIG worship, BIG media BIG BIG BIG, just like the main campus and it just doesn’t translate well with the amount of people in the worship service.

One of the most detrimental and painful mistakes a growing church can make is not truly understanding it’s size.  The new year is a good time to assess what size shoes your church is wearing and whether or not it’s time to buy a new pair.  You should assess your church size if:

1.  You haven’t reviewed your numbers and your systems in six months or longer. 

2. You have three or more new families visiting every week. 

3. Visitors attend but do not return.

4. You are losing families. 

5. You have new goals for the new year. 

I don’t want my kids playing ball in shoes that are too small, and you don’t want your church operating at a size it is not.  Just like my nine year old, your church isn’t going to tell you.  We can love people better, and honor God more if we are acutely aware of the growing pains of our church.  And loving God and People are what the new year is all about!

How’s your church doing?

LG|LP- Tiffany