4 Ways to Implement Remote Work with Your Church Staff
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December 9, 2019
Use these 12 tools to transform your church's social media from a low-return vanity project to a high-engagement community.
September 19, 2019
Psychology has told us two things about first impressions:
If you can be intentional about the way you present yourself, then you can play an active role in how you are perceived.
This has significant implications for your church’s social media strategy.
Your church’s social media presence says something about your church.
Let me explain:
You can make a positive, enduring effect on someone’s willingness to attend your church with the way you portray your church’s presence online.
The key to creating a great first impression with those who find your church online has everything to do with implementing the right social media strategy.
If you mail it in and use an outdated social media strategy, you could very well be pushing young people away from your church.
Here’s the good news:
There are simple steps to creating a church social media strategy for church growth that will make young people flock to your church.
If you decide to use these steps, you’ll not only attract young people to your church—you’ll become the church that young people in your area will want to attend.
Before you even pick a twitter username, you need to sit down and meet with your church team to answer one question:
Why are we creating a social media presence?
These are all bad reasons to create a social media presence.
Social media is just one way of communicating with people in the world.
Beneath the “Why?” of your social media should be a deeper question:
Why do we interact with people?
The answer should be clear:
As a church, we have a mission to communicate the gospel as excellently as possible and to make servant-hearted disciples of Jesus Christ.
There you go.
Your purpose is evangelism.
Your standard is excellence.
Your aim is maturity and love.
Most churches who struggle with social media are fearless in sharing the gospel.
Most churches who struggle with social media are passionate about maturity and selfless service.
If that’s your church, and you struggle to create a social media strategy in which you feel confident, that’s because you’re struggling with how to communicate and practice the gospel excellently.
That’s a very important realization your church leadership team needs to have:
If we create a social media presence for our church, it should be excellent.
If you can start with excellence, you will have the posture of a learner.
If you start with excellence, you won’t be satisfied with cliche, tired, ineffective social media strategies.
If you start with excellence, your social media strategy might not be a home run right out of the gate, but it will become a home run.
And it’s important to recognize that many churches who think they are good at social media violate some key principles of excellent communication that explain why they can’t get any real traction for church growth from the internet.
Begin with a mission for your church’s social media.
Don’t skip this important step.
Ask one of the younger people in your church who knows about social media:
What are the best tools for managing our online presence?
Once you create your social media, consolidate their management into a single place and assign a point-person to run your accounts.
Once you’ve created your social media, consolidated them onto a single management platform, and assigned management responsibilities to a competent member of your team, task them to do this:
Create a brand manual.
A brand manual doesn't have to be long.
A brand manual can be a single page.
A brand manual simply expresses what your communicative strategies will be for social media.
This brand manual can be tailored to each church to capture the tone and voice that the church wants to create as it cultivates its online presence.
The brand manual should be an open document that grows and changes as the church’s social media presence becomes clearer through maturity over time.
Social media is meant to be consumed over one’s phone, but this is where many churches make the common mistake of producing their content through the mobile phone.
Do not produce your social media content through your phone.
Your media assets should be produced on a desktop for several reasons.
First, images should either be high quality stock images from an aesthetically appealing website or church images from a high quality camera used in church.
Underexposed and off-hue photographs serve as a blotch on your social media presence and communicate that your church is unconcerned with excellence in the church.
If you want to post pictures of your church on social media, then create a strategy to produce excellent pictures.
Second, social media text content should be written offline. It’s easier to write better content on your computer than on your phone.
This doesn’t mean you can’t manage social media from your phone. But your content should be produced through professional protocol that is part of an intentional workflow on a desktop.
Otherwise, your social media copy and media will have an amateur feel that will communicate “old person using new technology” to social media users, which will more often repel than attract.
Get a high quality camera, use a high quality stock photo website, and produce high quality audio and video.
When Instagram’s popularity started surging in 2011, it was very popular to put various filters on your photos such as sepia, “old film” templates, and high-contrast, high-grain modulation.
Don’t do this.
Produce media good enough that, under the worst circumstances needs very little editing, and, under the best circumstances, needs no editing at all.
This goes for video, audio, images, and text.
Professionalism without flare is feels too corporate.
Social media fads without professionalism are tacky.
Professionalism with a subtle flare to inflect the viewer’s attention should be your aim in all images, writing, sharing, and posting.
Video is the wave of the future.
If you’re writing more than 100 words on social media, nobody is reading it.
Create high-quality video content that is easily shareable.
This can be on YouTube, but even better are 30-60 second clips from your sermons that are focused on a particular issue or topic that viewers will want to share.
Simply include a watermark in the corner of the video that promotes your church and share it from your church’s account.
People will like, follow, and engage with your online presence if you can create and package content that works well on social media which, again, is currently very short-form video content.
Many of the highest-converting social media ads today are videos of leaders making a high-energy, condensed appeal to the viewer while looking straight into the camera.
Don’t spend your time talking. Spend your time writing the perfect script for you video so that it only needs to be fifteen seconds long.
Make the video personal, incentivizing, humorous, professional, substantive, and practical. Make sure it meets these six criteria.
Here are a few example scripts that could work very well for a church invitation:
“Hey I’m Pastor Bill at South Hampton Baptist. Listen, before I was a pastor I struggled getting to church on time. Here’s the deal: We’re offering free lattes at our church coffee shop for everyone who shows up 15 minutes early to our 10:30 service this Sunday. Hey, I’m not above bribing you to come to church! Hope to see you there this Sunday, August 15th.”
“Are you stressed about finding an Easter egg hunt this Sunday? We’ve got the biggest Easter egg hunt in town with games for kids and endless Five Guys burgers for adults. Sounds too good to be true? Hey, it’s Easter. Crazier things have happened on Easter Sunday.
Come to Emmanuel Church this Sunday for the most elaborate easter egg hunt in town. We’ve got the Easter Bunny. We’ve got endless burgers. Come join us for the 10:30 service and experience an Easter you’ll never forget.”
Keep it short and sweet. Give a clear call to action with details.
Depending on the size of your church, your budget for a social media ad might only be $200, but that $200 will go a long way when you can target the ad to people only in your city of a certain demographic, and with young children.
Social media ads may feel like a vanity purchase, but I assure you—they are not. For example, when it comes to Facebook ads, there are several legit reasons your church should consider running ads on that platform.
Churches commonly make the mistake of focusing too much on the numbers under their social media accounts, and not enough on the actual relationships with the people who follow them.
It’s important to remember that the social media platforms own your relationship with all of your followers.
However, if you can convert those followers into email subscribers, then you own that email list.
You own that relationship—not the social media company.
It’s crucial that you have an email signup form prepared that you regularly share on social media.
There are several good email subscription services, such as MailChimp, ConvertKit, and Drip.
Pick one and build your list.
If you’re new to email list building, then I recommend using MailChimp.
MailChimp is free and very versatile.
Once you build a more sophisticated platform, you can consider more advanced options such as ConvertKit and Drip to capture more emails and more effectively market your church to your local area.
There is a business personality who is very successful on social media named Gary Vaynerchuck — or “Gary Vee,” as he calls himself.
Gary has a great social media philosophy called “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.”
The basic premise is that 3/4 of your social media posts should add value, and only 1/4 of your social media should be self-promoting.
His point is this:
If people experience your social media account as primarily adding value rather than requesting value, then when you ask for something from your audience (such as “Come to church!”), they will be more inclined to trust that your request will add value to their lives.
In other words:
Don’t swarm your followers with requests.
Your “Add value” to “Request” ratio should be 3:1.
When you share content about your church, don’t let it be too corporate.
Showcase your happy, lovely, fun-having church members at events so that people will wish they were at your church.
A picture of someone clearly enjoying the world’s best-looking cheeseburger at your church is a much better way to market your church BBQ than a word-picture that says, “Come to our church BBQ!”
Featuring church member highlights accomplish two things for your church’s social media strategy:
Member highlights are a way of proving to onlookers that your church really is a place that people should want to belong.
Sometimes churches can have a bad reputation for not “playing nice” with other churches.
Be the counter-culture in your town.
If you’re a pastor, go to the basketball night at another church and post on your church’s social media account how much fun the other church is.
You won’t lose people to his church.
If anything, people will see that you’re a generous, fun-loving, friendly pastor who cares more about building relationships than building a following.
You will never lose by partnering with other pastors to promote their churches.
You will build social capital and a reputation for loving generosity that will be irresistible for people looking for a church with a pastor who is caring, warm, fun, and not puffed up with his own ego.
Run monthly giveaways on your social media to grow it initially.
Give away things that cost you less than $50 but could gain you hundreds of local followers.
Make your only condition to enter the competition that followers must:
Giveaways are a largely underrated strategy for gaining followers.
Don’t neglect it.
If you utilize these social media strategies for your church, your chances of growing your social media following drastically increase.
The reason your chances increase is that these strategies will make your online presence more and more excellent.
The better you get at giving, the more people will be interested in belonging at your church and engaging in your community.
In a previous blog post, I shared the different ways your church can thank donors—from automated emails to year-end giving reports. Printed donation letters also play an essential role in your church’s stewardship efforts.
Donation letters are the Swiss Army knife of your church’s gratitude arsenal. It may not be the most powerful—but it’s versatile, handy, and gets used often.
Your basic church donation letter can serve many different purposes, including:
A single, well-crafted donation letter can pull together several of these things simultaneously. Better donation letters lead to more giving, which leads to more donation letters—thus creating a cycle of on-going church generosity.
Here’s the good news—you don’t have to write an individualized letter for every person who gives to your church. That would be tough to do for even smaller churches. And most donors don’t expect you to. They’d rather you be putting their gift to better use in the community, instead of ceaselessly writing thank you notes.
With the possible exception of some unique circumstances, your church can use template language for the majority of your church donation letters. You’ll have to add in custom details like the donor’s name and gift amount, but you can write everything else in advance.
To make this even easier on you, here are a few basic church donation letter templates you can copy and paste. Keep in mind that not all of these have to be in print—you could just as easily turn some of these samples into email appeals.
The Donation Acknowledgement Letter is a basic way you can confirm and affirm a monetary gift to your church. Sending these is standard practice in church and nonprofit culture.
Dear [first name],
I want to personally thank you for your donation of [gift amount] to [church name]. We’re honored you would bless us with your generosity. Donations like yours make a big difference in the work our church is doing in the community.
Without givers like you, our church can’t have an impact or influence in our community. With your support, we’re partnering with local nonprofits, sending out global mission trips, and hosting small groups on topics that help real people like you. Together, we can make a difference.
Because we’re a tax-exempt nonprofit, you also get to write this donation off on your taxes. This letter serves as official proof of your donation, so keep it in your records come tax season. At the end of the year, we’ll also send you an annual recap with how much you’ve given to the church.
Thank you for supporting [church name]!
Not every church member realizes the importance of giving, or understand Bible verses about tithing and giving. So a Donation Request Letter helps to spread that awareness and encourage a spirit of generosity.
Dear [first name],
How are the finances in your household? That was a rhetorical question, so you don’t have to answer—besides, this is a letter so we wouldn’t hear you anyway. But we still want you to think about that question.
Money is a uniquely human issue, one we all struggle with to one degree or another. Even if you’re financially blessed, you still have the burden of stewarding your money wisely. And we believe that one of the best ways to invest your money is into the local church.
Tithing (giving 10% of your income) on a regular basis not only supports the work we do at [church name]. It doesn’t just support local missions and community growth. It also shows an obedience to God by making his work a financial priority in your life.
So if you find yourself ready to put God first in both your heart and your wallet, we encourage you to make a one-time gift or sign up to make recurring donations. That way, you won’t have to ever wonder again about the financial status of your household.
Many church donations aren’t just one-time gifts. Plenty of givers contribute monthly—and that should be acknowledged.
Use this template to correspond with recurring givers.
Dear [first name],
Thank you for being an active and faithful member of our church community. By giving to our church on a monthly basis, you’re showing that our church has a meaningful place in your heart. We just wanted to write this to let you know that you’re in our heart, too.
Donating to the church monthly allows us to preach the gospel, make disciples, and support others in our community who need help. Others like the local food bank and the nearby homeless shelter. We’re answering the cry of the needy, and it’s all thanks to contributors like you.
We earnestly appreciate your ongoing support and want to let you know we’re here for you. If there’s ever anything we can do for you and your family, don’t hesitate to reach out. You are a valued member of our church family. And you’re financial support is making a difference.
At the end of each year, it’s customary to give your church supporters a summary of their gifts. The primary reason is for tax purposes, but it’s also a way to recap everything your church has done over the past year with their support.
Dear [first name],
You’re getting this letter because you gave to [church name] at some point during the past year. That might have been a one-time gift, or recurring donations. Either way, we want to thank you for your generous support. Every contribution helps.
One of the official reasons for this letter is for tax purposes. That’s right—you get to write these donations off on your taxes. Which is why we’ve included a summary of all the contributions you’ve made to our church this year.
But the other reason for this letter is to let you know what we’ve done with the money you gave. We take stewardship very seriously, which means we value spending our time and resources wisely.
During the year, our church supported local nonprofits, sent global missions teams, and baptised quite a few people. It was a great year for us—thanks in large part to donors like you.
So thank you for your support of our church, and we hope you’ll consider continuing to contribute to our mission in the coming year.
Sometimes you need to make a more significant financial push using tried and true church fundraising ideas. Some churches call this a Stewardship Campaign or a Church Capital Campaign. Either way, the goal is to raise a certain amount of money for a big project. And typically, a solid letter of appeal is an integral part of that.
Dear [first name],
God has a plan for everyone and everything. That includes you, and it includes [church name]. None of us can fully know God’s plan—the best we can do is pray and listen for clarity. Our church leadership has been doing just that and are excited to announce our latest church project.
[Detail the outline of the major church project—this could include a building campaign, or raising support for a global mission trip. Anything specific to your church that requires a fundraising letter. Be sure to include a fundraising goal so everyone knows what you’re shooting for.]
But we can’t pull this off without your support. Whether you give to the church on a regular basis, or just attend on occasion, we’re asking you to consider contributing to this massive undertaking prayerfully. It’s something we need our entire church community’s help with.
Even if you can’t make a large gift, know that every little bit helps. It’s more about coming together as a community united behind a common cause. We hope that you’ll consider making a donation towards this great step forward that we’re making together.
It’s not enough to just copy and paste this content and send away. The key to an effective church donation letter is a touch of personalization. Follow these tips to take your donation letters to the next level:
There’s no one right or wrong way to write a donation letter or request contributions. You’ve got to do what is right for your church and congregation. But if you stick to these general tips, you’ll probably start to see some traction when it comes to giving.
Most people don’t love talking about money in church. But it’s a necessary and vital part of your church. And maximizing your efforts when it comes to donation letters will help make those conversations more comfortable. So what do you do next to put this into effect?
And if you’re looking for ways to grow your church’s giving capacity, Tithely can help.
Tithely’s systems make it as easy as possible for people to give to your church. Now all you need to start doing is generating a culture of gratitude. There’s nothing standing in your way. Go unleash generosity in your church.
How does your church use donation letters to spread generosity? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Editor's Note: This is a guest post from Robert Carnes. Robert is a writer and storyteller. He's the author of The Original Storyteller: Become a Better Storyteller in 30 Days. A former church communicator and nonprofit marketer, Robert works as a managing editor for Orange in Atlanta.