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I was at the Catalyst Conference in Atlanta recently and was having dinner with two pastors that I coach and they both said they were doing a Trunk-or-Treat this year. I told them of how we did some serious evaluation of the one at my church and wanted to make sure that we had a way of collecting information and being able to follow up with guests (as opposed to just giving out candy).

My friend Chuck Scoggins, who is the Executive Director of the Center for Church Communications (maybe you’ve heard of Church Marketing Sucks) was with me and he decided to write about how to maximize this outreach opportunity. What follows is his guest post. Enjoy!

If you’re going to go through the effort to plan a trunk-n-treat, fall festival, or whatever you call your Halloween-alternative event, make sure you have a plan in place to maximize the event by following up with them afterward. There are a variety of ways to get participants to return to your church, but one of the most effective is through an email campaign.

Below are a few tips for you to consider if you plan on leveraging an email campaign to get your trunk-n-treat families to come back to your church on a Sunday.

Collect Information

There’s no way around it: if your strategy is to use your event to get people to eventually check out your church, you have to collect their info. The key to getting folks to give you their info is to get creative, for example:

  • Give Something Away
    If you give away a compelling gift like an Amazon Echo, Apple Watch, etc. people will be quick to hand over their details as they register to win. Set it up where someone doesn’t have to be present to win as a good excuse to get an email address so you can “contact the winner.”
    Pro Tip: Make sure you state at the bottom of your registration card that by registering to win, people are giving you information to send a follow-up email.
  • Give Away Food
    Cook up some hotdogs and a have a cooler of soft drinks (sodas and water for adults, juice boxes for the kiddos) and ask folks to quickly register (name and email address only) to get their ticket or wristband for concessions.
  • Photo Booth
    Family photos can often be a compelling reason to ask folks for their contact info. Set up a backdrop with hay bales and corn stalks where a professional photographer can take a free family photo. Collect an email address so you can send folks their photo.
    Pro Tip: If you take this approach, you might choose to manually send Email 1 from below (instead of using an automatic send) to thank them for attending and attach their photo. It’s a little more work, but the results will be a huge payoff.

Start With What You Know
As you begin thinking about forming your follow-up email campaign, begin with what you know: folks who came to your fall harvest event were most-likely families. (Pro Tip: Keep in mind that families come in all shapes and sizes, so make sure your emails are mindful of that diversity.) They’re also willing to attend community events that provide benefit for their family. We also know that people will not care about your church until they know that your church cares about them.

When done skillfully, we can leverage what we know about the people in our community to send emails that serve them in such a way that we leave them with a desire to check out our church. We can reach them without a “hard sell” email.

Pro Tip: Consider a mindset shift that your goal shouldn’t be to get people to come to your church, but rather to take your church to them…where they’re at and serving the needs they have. Resist the urge to tell folks all about your church in the initial email(s) you send.

Email Sequence
An email sequence, if you’re not familiar with them, is a series of emails that automatically send at regularly-scheduled intervals when you add an email to the list. You can easily set these up in MailChimp and, for following up on your fall event, I recommend sending one email immediately, then an email once a week following the initial send.

Here is an example of six value-add emails you could send:

Email 1:
Send a very short email simply thanking them for attending. You might want to include one line that tells folks you’re going to send them five more emails that might be helpful to their family.

Let them know they can unsubscribe at any time (by giving them this permission, you’ll show that you’re trying to be helpful and not pushy). Again, resist the urge to talk about your church in this email; make it about them, not you!

Email 2: 

Find another community event that they might enjoy and tell them about it. It there a community fall festival in your area? Or, perhaps you can provide a list of pumpkin farms and corn mazes in your area.

Pro Tip: If you can find a local pumpkin farm to partner with, you might be able to work out a special deal or a free giveaway (i.e. each family gets a free pumpkin) that can be an exclusive gift for your guests.

Email 3: 

By the time you send this email, the calendar will be nearing Thanksgiving. Send an email with “Six Ways to Help Your Family Express Thankfulness Around The Thanksgiving Table.” Include tips such as “go around the table and share one thing you’re grateful for” or, “place butcher paper as the tablecloth and encourage everyone to draw what they’re thankful for with crayons.” The goal here is to be creative and give creative and fun ideas for your email recipients. You might also include a list of area Thanksgiving Day parades or other activities folks can do on Thanksgiving.

Pro Tip: Resist the urge to make this over-spiritual.

Email 4:
Use this email to continue to provide value to your trunk-or-treat guests. This email could be something simple like a generic “Keeping Your Sanity While Parenting During The Busy Holiday Season” or something similar. Make sure it’s valuable to them and not about you (it’s okay to include a few spiritual tips such as, ‘find a good church with a good children’s program,’ but avoid making this list too churchy). Your goal here is to continue to keep yourself top-of-mind for them by giving them something they can use in their everyday lives without talking to them directly about your church.

Pro Tip: Get your children’s ministry staff and volunteers involved in creating this email. They probably have a better grasp on what families struggle with during the fall holiday season than you do.

Email 5: 

If you time your emails just right (a week apart, beginning after Halloween), you should be getting close to Christmas. Use this email as a chance to give folks something like “Five Ways to Avoid Christmas Gift Overload.”

Again, make this a practical piece—not a spiritual brow-beating—where you help families navigate the pressure to go overboard. Perhaps you introduce them to the 4 Christmas Gift Challenge:

  1. Something they want
  2. Something they need
  3. Something to wear, and
  4. 4. Something to read

Perhaps you introduce them to an alternative Christmas concept like Advent Conspiracy. Or, perhaps you point them to some meaningful local charities where they can use some of their Christmas budgets to serve another family at Christmas.

Pro Tip: The most important thing to do in this email is help them navigate pressure, not add guilt or give them more stuff to do. Approach this email carefully!

Email 6: 
After you’ve provided a TON of value to your fall event guests, you now have permission to start introducing your church. However, avoid simply making this a pitchy piece inviting people to church. Instead, make an introductory statement like, “If you’ve enjoyed these emails, we’d love to introduce you to our children’s ministry.” Then, explain the benefits of your children’s programming (talk about how it’s fun, safe, etc.). Introduce your children’s ministry staff (with photos) and let people know what they can expect when they arrive (children’s check-in process, etc.).

If you can get these families to bring their children to check out your children’s ministry, you stand a great chance at getting the adults to attend your worship service and have a great shot at getting guests from your fall event to your church.

Follow-up Emails:

Christmas

If you’ve done this process well, you are probably okay to send people a simple email to invite folks to your Christmas service(s). I would encourage you to send this email 7 to 10 days prior to your Christmas service(s) and think about how to include language that talks about how folks can enjoy the traditions of Christmas while celebrating at your service(s). Help them understand the benefit to them (think: warm and fuzzies, not spiritual transformation) if they go through the “hassle” of bringing their family to church.

January

Think about some on-ramp events or programs you can invite people to with a seventh email after a few weeks have passed (maybe in January). Financial Peace University or a Family Life Marriage event or something similar is a great option.

Final Pro Tips:

  • Make sure your church’s web address is in the footer of the email in case someone wants to find out more about you on their own. Don’t make it gaudy or overbearing, but don’t neglect the opportunity to provide someone an opportunity to get more info.
  • Speaking of the website, make sure your website is stocked up with everything a newcomer would need to get the information they want. See this post about what to include on your website to help first-time guests. 
  • In the final email you send (sixth, seventh, or eighth email), include a single line at the end that says “This is the last Trunk-or-Treat follow-up email we’ll be sending you. If you’ve enjoyed this valuable content and would like to add your name to our main church email list, click here [with a link to join your main list].”
  • Use an email system, such as MailChimp, that helps you follow the CAN-SPAM laws.
  • Please don’t go cheap on your candy quantity, the quality of your soft drinks (don’t buy cheap discount store off-brand sodas), etc. Nothing is worse than a family taking the risk to bring their children to your event and them going home disappointed that they got less candy than their friends did by going door-to-door.

My prayer is that God would send many, many people to your event and that He would give you wisdom in how to best follow up with folks to eventually grow your church.

 

*** Want to get more tips like this? Signup for my newsletter here.

Are you a pastor or church leader with a full schedule and only limited hours in the week? If so, are you struggling to find ways to reach more first-time visitors with the limited time you have?

Being a pastor isn’t just preparing for Sunday’s message every week but the scope goes much more beyond that. And on top of all of that, you must find a way to reach more visitors and to spread the message of Christ.

There just isn’t enough hours in the week for everything a pastor must do.

And with that, I am so excited to invite you to the Church Hacks Summit to Reach More First Time Visitors!

They’ve assembled 25 of the world’s leading church first impressions, guest services, and marketing experts to teach you their secrets on how to reach more first-time visitors and grow your church.

I’m honored to kick off the Summit with the opening talk on why hospitality matters. I’ll be making the Biblical case for why you should take this area of ministry seriously.

This is going to be a free online event (no travel) for equipping your church with proven systems and strategies to connect with new first time visitors in your community! We’ll show you how your church can be a magnet for first-time visitors without being gimmicky, breaking the bank, or setting unrealistic expectations.

And the best part of the Church Hacks Summit is that it is 100% absolutely free! If this is something you’re interested in, just click this link and register today! And if you know somebody that would benefit from this Summit, make sure to let them know.

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I’d love to introduce you to my newest sponsor: Tithe.ly. Tithe.ly was one of the first giving apps allowed into the Apple app store in 2013. Giving via a mobile device was born out of both a need and opportunity they saw when they first saw what Apple did with the iPhone and the coming app economy.

Before Dean Sweetman co-founded tithe.ly, he had been a church planter and overseer of churches for 30 years. This put him in a unique position to know exactly what churches needed to help with several 21st-century problems concerning steady and consistent income to fulfill the mission of the church.

Problem Number One:

Church members are not coming as often to services as they used to. And as any pastor knows, if members are not in church then they are most probably not giving. It’s not that they don’t want to, it’s just that they don’t have the opportunity. Simple recurring giving set up in seconds solves this.

Problem Number Two:

Most people under 35 don’t carry cash or checks anymore.

They use debit/credit cards for just about everything. Most millennials don’t even know what a routing number is and where to find it on a checkbook if they even have one. Giving anywhere, anytime with a phone was the easy answer.

This and other obstacles for people giving to the church they love is to provide a simple app that lives on a device they virtually never let out of their sight, their smart phone.

Fast forward five years, Dean has retired from full-time ministry and is the CEO of tithe.ly one of the fastest growing FaithTech companies in the world. They now serve thousands of churches in three countries and plan on adding another 30+ countries in the first quarter of 2017.

They have a product suite that includes everything a church needs to move away from cash and check donations and facilitate digital giving, via text, free app, custom designed church apps, full back office support and a few more exciting additions they are announcing very soon.

At tithe.ly, they love what they do. They talk to pastors and church leaders every day about getting them the tools to increase giving so they can focus on serving their church and fulfilling the great commission of preaching the gospel to a desperate and fearful world whose only hope is Jesus.

I’m proud to partner with these guys. Please check them out here.

*** Go here for more on tithing in the bible.

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I became familiar with ExPastors.com and their Founder, Bo Lane, a couple of years ago. I’ve stayed in touch with Bo ever since. Over the past year, I’ve considered being more involved. Over the last month, I’ve now taken over as Executive Director of ExPastors.com.

I encourage you to get to know us. We’re not a place for people to bash the Church. We are a ministry that offers help, healing and hope to ex-pastors (for whatever reason they find themselves there), current pastors and church leaders.

We want to see all pastors be healthy physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

I encourage you to browse the website and its articles. See if there’s something there that might educate or encourage you in the season of life you find yourself.

This week (Tuesday) we have a very special guest post by an ex-pastor that hasn’t spoken out for over 2 years. Be sure to keep an eye on us and our articles.

You can do this by signing up for our newsletter, following us on Twitter, and subscribing to our YouTube channel (we are about to launch a new podcast). When you sign up for our newsletter, you will receive a FREE copy of Why Pastors Quit – a must read.

Read the newest post that is up there now. Maybe it will encourage you and offer you hope.

We get unbelievable emails from pastors and ex-pastors from around the world. Join our community and please know: If you’re tired, hurt/wounded, frustrated, burnt out, thinking about taking your life, depressed, anxious – whatever the enemy is attacking you with – I’m here for you. We’re here for you. You have people that care for you and want to help you.

God’s not finished with you. Neither are we. Don’t give up!

As you know, I spend a lot of time coaching church planters. Some launched earlier this year, some are launching this Fall and some will launch in 2010.

casey2One thing I love telling my church planters about is Casey Graham and the services of The Change Group. Now whether you’re a brand new church or an established, older church, Casey’s team can be a huge blessing to you. As he always says, “What you stay awake worrying about, we wake up thinking about!”

Casey and his team can do: quarterly CFO consulting, build monthly financial dashboards, and provide weekly bookkeeping for less than it cost to hire a part time staff member! I’d encourage you to get to know them. I’ve invited Casey to do a guest post on here.

Guest Post by Casey Graham:

Life Giving Finances

My name is Casey Graham and I am one of the Co-Founders of The Change Group.  Over the past year we have worked with so many churches to help them increase their operational revenue and manage their finances.  I believe everything we do should be LIFE GIVING (John 10:10) and that goes with our finances as well.  I just wanted to take a minute and talk about three things every church can do today that will make a big difference tomorrow.

1.  Personal Generosity

Nothing will increase your passion for helping people find life through generosity more than you modeling it.  Developing a culture is not rocket science!  Who you are is who your people will become.

2.  Life Giving Offerings

When you stand up to talk about the offering, don’t “beg” for dollars.  Help people understand that every dollar they give goes to change lives!  Help people connect their money to the different ministries.  People will want to give to that.

3.   Appreciate People

One of the most life giving things you can do financially is say thank you.  When it comes to the area of money in church we can’t show favoritism but we can appreciate what people do.  Have dinner night at your home and invite your top twenty donors to your home.  Give to them, cook for them, love on them and really believe in them.  Also, you can thank you first time givers with a hand written thank you card.  Appreciate anything and everything that people give!  You can’t do what you do without them!

*** Be sure to check out their free offer: http://thechangegroup.tv/freeoffer.html

lemonade-intl-logo-desktop-resolutionGuest Blog Post by Bill Cummings:

Life in the La Limonada Slums of Guatemala City 

Nora has six children.  Grace is her youngest.  She is a beautiful one year old baby.  Grace had health problems and was able to get medicine from the doctor at the community hospital, but Nora doesn’t read and she doesn’t follow instructions very well.  So, Grace was getting half-doses and double-doses of the medication.   

Food is scarce in Nora’s home.  She had to hide Grace’s formula and baby food from her five other middle school and elementary school-aged children so they won’t eat it nor mix it with water and drink it. 

This is Nora’s reality.  Every day. 

Thankfully there is a Mother Teresa-like woman in this community and others like her who have made it their life’s work to love Nora and her children and to help them through the life they live in the La Limonada community of Guatemala City. 

Tita Evertsz, a native Guatemalan woman, began volunteering her time to serve the people of La Limonada fourteen years ago.  In the early years she felt drawn to reach out to the teenage gang members who guarded their turf in the community and who sold small vials of commercial glue – the substance whose hallucinogenic fumes medicate the people from the pain of life in the alleys of this forgotten community. 

Several years later a gang member poured gasoline on his family while they slept, lit a match and burned them beyond recognition.  As a result of this act and after years of attending the funerals of gang members who were needlessly killed by rival gangs, Tita made a commitment to give her life to the people of this community. 

She made a commitment to the children first – believing that God could use her to help prevent another generation of people in La Limonada from being caught in a cycle of poverty and hopelessness. 

My wife, my sons and I met Tita about five years ago and made several trips back to Guatemala to be with her and her community of friends who give their lives every day to love more than 250 children and who are committed to make sure that La Limonada is no longer a forgotten place. 

There are two schools in La Limonada now where theses children are loved, fed healthy meals, and provided with scholarships to attend formal school in Guatemala City.  These amazing people live life among the people of this community.  They provide shoulders to cry on as children tell horrific stories of sexual abuse – many times at the hands of a parent or sibling.  They are there to literally pick people up off the cold cement alleys after passing out from uncontrollable drinking and glue sniffing. 

Last year my wife, Cherie, and I, along with close friends, had the privilege of moving ahead with something we had been talking and praying with Tita about.  We began Lemonade International and incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based here in Raleigh, NC – to serve as the voice of La Limonada here in the United States by raising awareness and support for the real work of ministry Tita and her friends engage in every day in La Limonada. 

While there is a lot of talk of success and growth in our American business and church culture, the Tita Evertszs of this world are putting us to shame.  They are putting hands and feet to these ideas that many of us just sit around and talk about. 

Because of Tita’s influence I have been given the incredible opportunity to stand in Nora’s 8’ by 8’ home and to love and befriend her family.  I’ve had the opportunity to set up a small two-burner stove and place a boxful of food on the cement counter of her home to help feed her and her children for the next couple weeks. 

There are too many Noras out there in La Limonada and around the world for us to continue to sit around and talk about justice and about loving and caring for the poor. 

And too many Graces that need to be loved and held and kissed. 

 

Bill Cummings is the founder and Executive Director of Lemonade International based in Raleigh, NC.  Lemonade International serves as the voice of La Limonada in the United States – raising awareness and support for the people there – primarily through child sponsorship and by leading teams to serve in La Limonada.  Bill also blogs at www.billkcummings.info

I’ve been in touch over the last few months with Andrew Morgan. Andrew leads a non-profit organization based out of Atlanta called Broken Voices. This is an introduction to their work:

Does my life matter? What is my purpose? Is it really possible that my life was meant for something bigger? – Something Greater?


Anthem Trailer from Broken Voices on Vimeo.

Six friends travel the United States in search of answers to these questions. Living on the road for a month in a borrowed (and crowded) RV, they encounter seven stories of normal people doing extraordinary things with their lives.

This week Broken Voices releases there first full length documentary film entitled “Anthem”. To pick up your copy today click here.

Today I continue with the other 2 internet campuses I attended this past Sunday.

Seacoast Church:

Number 3 was Seacoast Church. I know Seacoast well. I lived in Charleston, SC for 8 years (went to Charleston Southern University) and used to attend Seacoast on Saturday nights, then lead worship on Sunday mornings at my church. My friend and classmate at CSU, Shawn Wood, is the Experiences Pastor at Seacoast. I have a great respect for their ministry as a whole. 

This month Seacoast is celebrating their 20th anniversary. They had an AMAZING video intro and message graphics that Shawn told me were created by Dallas’ own Barton Damer. Below is a still frame from Rick Warren saying a “Happy Anniversary” to Seacoast Church.

Below is pastor Greg Surratt preaching. He shared a powerful true story of a major car accident that his family had been in 20 years ago. It was very moving. I have always loved his transparency. Notice the interactive response elements at the bottom. You can nail your sins to the cross, light a candle or prayer virtually. Click “More” for more information on communion and giving a tithe.

Out of the 5 internet campuses that I worshipped with, my favorite musical worship was Seacoast hands-down. Keep in mind that I was a worship pastor for 11 years and have a degree in music, so music and worship is very close to my heart. I’ve been a supporter of worship leader Martin Chalk for years, almost 10 years to be exact. 

One thing I love about the worship experience at Seacoast is that they always end with responsive worship. The message doesn’t end the service. I love that! I think once you encounter God through His Spirit and the teaching of His Word, you should have a chance to respond. Seacoast gets that! Below is their Internet Pastor (and fellow CSU alumni) Brad Singleton.

Central Christian Church:

Central Christian was a last minute add-on. I was reading Twitter and saw Mike Foster say that he was watching CC’s internet campus. I jumped on and caught them mid-service. With that being said, I didn’t get a chance to experience any of their music. I will another time. I did, however get to catch Senior Pastor Jud Wilhite – he’s great. I attended Central Christian when I spoke at NAB in Las Vegas.

Below you’ll see something that I found very helpful and just plain cool. You can not only take notes during the message, but you can also print out those notes or email them to yourself. I like that. 

I forgot to mention yesterday that Flamingo Road emailed me message notes – that, too, was very cool. Isn’t technology just an amazing tool God has given us???!!! 

* More information on internet campuses tomorrow. Today I speak to students at Dallas Theological Seminary on Church 2.0. My question to them: “How do you define innovation?”

 

 

 

 

 

Yesterday I (and my family) were home sick. I had already watched LifeChurch.tv’s Saturday night service online, but ended up worshipping with 3 other internet campuses while home sick. I actually saw a 4th internet campus, but was not happy with it and decided not to call them out. In the next 2 blog posts, I’ll share with you the 4 churches that blessed me this weekend:

LifeChurch.tv:

I think the “Mix & Mingle” Lobby Chat is fascinating and am amazed to see how God uses it. 2 weeks ago, over 50 people prayed to receive Christ through LifeChurch.tv’s internet campuses – that’s more than most churches see in a year.

No, that’s not Craig Groeschel. They had an awesome guest speaker. Of notice in this picture is their “Give Online” area of the screen. At the botton left, you can follow the message notes. Great experience. Most people think of LifeChurch.tv when they think of an internet campus.

Above, LifeChurch.tv always let’s you choose between 2 different worship leaders. This is cool, but I have an issue. What happened to Stephen Cole?? Stephen Cole is my favorite worship leader at LC and I’m thinking about starting a petition to bring him back as an option. He rocks!

Above is LifeChurch’s Internet Campus Pastor Brandon Donaldson. I need to get to know that dude.

Flamingo Road Church:

Above was a screenshot taken after one of their morning services. The red dots show you who was watching around the world!

Flamingo was having a baptism that day (they had a great video announcment about it – very cool). Want to participate in baptism? Just text the word: BAPTISM. Folks, we are literally watching the face of Church change before our eyes.

The thing that impressed me the most about my south Florida friends is that they know how to make church fun. This is a screen shot of beach balls being tossed around the auditorium. You’d have to be there to understand.

Above is Flamingo’s Lead Pastor, Troy. Flamingo was truly the highlight of my morning and a wonderful surprise. There is talk of the Church 2.0 Local Forum in Miami being held at Flamingo Road Church – shhhh!

Above is Flamingo’s Internet Campus Pastor, Brian Vasil. I was introduced virtually to Brian through my friend, Tony Steward via last week’s LifeShare. I was introduced to Flamingo Road’s Internet Campus through my friend, DJ Chuang.

More to come about these and other internet campuses this week on this blog! So… what are your thoughts? Does the thought of over 50 people praying to receive Christ via the internet freak you out? Do you praise God? Both? Is your church considering an internet campus? Are you philosophically opposed to one? Let me hear ya.

It’s been LONG overdue. I have been meaning to blog about LifeChurch.tv’s Digerati team for quite a while. I’ve blogged about LifeChurch.tv many times, but in this blog I’d like to spotlight the Digerati team and their projects. 

You might be wondering: “What in the world does “digerati” mean?” To get to the bottom of something, I go to Wikipedia. Wikipedia reads:”The digerati are the elite of the computer industry and online communities.” From what I know of my friends Terry Storch and Tony Steward (and the rest of the Digerati Team) this fits them very well. 

Maybe you don’t recognize the team, but you may recognize their work. Here is what the Digerati team has been up to and is responsible for:

EXTRA:
There’s a great article with Terry Storch in the Sept/Oct issue of COLLIDE Magazine. I encourage you to read it.
*** I’ll be doing occasional “SPOTLIGHTS” from time to time. If you know of a ministry/organization or individual that I should consider shining a spotlight on, just email me (greg@gregatkinson.com) and let me know.