Right Ladder, Wrong Building

My Path to Spiritual Burnout

Energizer Bunny for Jesus

I wasn’t your typical teenager or even the average church kid. I was pretty radical about my faith. To avoid distractions, I asked my parents to disconnect the cable in my room. I got rid of my TV completely. Instead of a gaming system for Christmas, I wanted a leather bond NIV Life Application Study Bible. At one point, I took apart my bed and started sleeping on the floor. I didn’t want to be tempted to sleep in and miss praying in the morning before school. I also thought this would be an excellent way to prepare myself in case one day I had to sleep on the ground on the mission field. All of this was done, not out of religious duty, but out of genuine love for God. 

In my senior year of high school, I started a Christian club at my Christian School. Which I know sounds silly. Especially since we already had chapels, daily devotionals, and classes that began with prayer. Our unofficial slogan was, “We put the C in B.C.S. (Bethany Christian School).” That kind of lets you know what our perspective was if you weren’t in our club.

 I also got special permission to miss school during lunchtime to speak at Christian clubs at other high schools in the area. Even sports were just another opportunity for me to share my faith. After pickup basketball games in my neighborhood, I would hold the ball and make everyone wait to play the next game until after I shared my testimony and gave an altar call. This full itinerary doesn’t include the small groups, prayer meetings, retreats, and leadership gatherings I also attended at church. You are probably starting to see that I was a little Energizer Bunny for Jesus. But how long could I keep this up?

University Missionary

I continued this same zealous routine in college. On my first day on campus, the front page of the school newspaper read, “LSU Ranked #1 Party School.” One of my friends posted this in his room like it was a badge of honor. I saw things differently. University wasn’t a place for me to prepare for a career or make memories. It was a mission field that needed to be conquered (The Seashell Message got me). 

Even when my grades suffered, I still made sure I was at church every time the doors were open. I volunteered for our church more than most people work while in college and I still worked full-time. I never stopped to ask myself if something was out of balance. At this point, my family tried to intervene. They asked me to slow down with the church involvement. I just thought they were outsiders who couldn’t understand my passion. 

Was Something Wrong?

I missed out on many typical aspects of the college experience because of the time and energy I devoted to my spiritual pursuits. For example, one weekend, a friend of mine and I decided not to eat until we had read the entire New Testament. Another time I had a ticket to LSU’s first football National Championship game in over 40 years but gave it up to go on yet another retreat.

There were benefits to some of this, but it was also very much out of balance. I limited my class load to the bare minimum to be more involved with church activities. I went to youth services and stayed out late in revival meetings many times the night before an exam. This limited class schedule caused me to go into debt even though I was on scholarship because I had to attend an extra year of school to complete my requirements to graduate. These were all sacrifices I was happy to make at the time. “Onward Christian Soldier!”

When a Good Thing Becomes a Bad Thing

After graduating from LSU, I joined the church staff. Working at the church kept my ministry plans moving forward even though I was becoming increasingly exhausted from years of a demanding religious routine. My weekly schedule had enough church meetings to fill most senior pastor’s month. I was doing good things but had the nagging feeling I wasn’t being true to myself. The busyness could only cover up the restlessness in my soul for so long. 

I had to learn that a good thing could become a bad thing when it is taken to an extreme. Healing needs to take place when we are producing out of insecurity or a need to be recognized. I did not know it at the time, but I was manifesting all of the symptoms of codependency (see the 5 attributes in this blog). I was a religious addict who was using spiritual activities to mask insecurity and wounds that needed emotional healing. Without being properly addressed, people like me end up hurting themselves and others. I experienced these consequences first-hand in multiple ways. At the time, my identity was more connected to what I did for God instead of who I was in Christ. It was hard to see that I was speeding towards a cliff of religious disappointment.

Right Ladder, Wrong Building

What started as a passionate love relationship with God had become a high-performance machine of religious production. It provided a way for me to be elevated and achieve my goals, but at what cost? I had become proud, critical, and generally spiritually unhealthy. Eventually, I would reach the top of my ladder only to realize I had leaned it against the wrong building. 

This experience was like a spiritual carbon monoxide poisoning. I wasn’t aware the air I was breathing was becoming toxic. Perhaps I was too busy to notice my first love had been exchanged for the trap of religious performance. I was naturally driven, which made it even easier for me to fall into this pit. Even though the signs were already warning me as I started my adventure in full-time ministry, it would be another seven years before I changed course.

Time to Believe Again

Eventually, I decided to make a U-turn before running into a brick wall that could have ended in disaster. For me, that looked like stepping away from full-time ministry when it appeared everything was going great. The result was over two years of working in the secular world and attending church as a member instead of a staff member or leader. You may wonder why I would make that kind of change like, but that decision forever changed how I view God, church, and people. It is from those experiences that I wrote the book Believe Again: Finding Faith After Losing Religion. 

The book is written much like this blog post. Each chapter is a short essay where I share a story from this incredibly uncomfortable but transformative season of life. Believe Again will be a great help for those who have experienced church hurt or spiritual burnout. If you know someone who has gone through something like this then please order a copy of this book and give it to them. They will laugh, identify with the story, and hopefully find inspiration to begin again in their faith.

Use this link to order Believe Again: Finding Faith After Losing Religion in paperback or Kindle edition.

Overcoming the Fear of Writing

Why it Took Me So Long to Write Believe Again

The Story Within the Story

It took eight years to write Believe Again: Finding Faith After Losing Religion. You see, I type very slowly. I’m just kidding. It’s because I am not a very good writer. Also, kidding. At least, I hope that’s not true. I have been writing and sharing stories since high school. So, why did it take so long to get this into your hands?

This book shares intimate and often embarrassing moments in my life. Just the process of revealing these details is enough to cause almost anyone to pause and reflect before pressing send. The struggle to believe enough in myself to write this book is the story within the story. 

Am I Crazy?

Multiple times, I have had to Believe Again that I could finish this project and that it matters. First, I had to convince myself I was not crazy to write these experiences down. Then, I had to overcome the insecurity of feeling I was not good enough to write publicly. This involved dealing with thoughts like, Who am I to think people would want to read what I write? Is my story even interesting to begin with? After that came the fear of people misunderstanding me and my intentions. 

Once I cleared those hurdles, something else began to happen. I grew spiritually, emotionally, and as a writer. Through this, I would review each current draft and think, “I have to change this. I don’t even write or think like this anymore.” During this time, God transformed my perspective on the situations I share in this book. What I thought was important was not. Other parts needed more emphasis than I realized at first. This story is so personal to me. I knew time would have to pass for my perspective to mature. This all led to more rewrites. Many times, I wondered out loud, “Will this ever get to a place where I could say it is finished?”

The Shadows of Fear

My circumstances have told me that I am not a writer every day since I began, well, writing. There has continuously been something else I was always supposed to be or do. But when I closed my eyes at night and opened them again in the morning, I knew something different. I am a writer. The question was, would I pass the test, believe again, and take another step? Or would I hide from what was in my heart? If anything, that is the lesson of this book. Believing again is not a grand gesture. It is a commitment to take one step at a time towards what God has put in your heart. To do this, you also have to have the courage to move away from the shadows where fear allows you to hide.

I hope Believe Again will help you let go of every substitute and find authentic faith. By the time you are finished reading it, I want you to realize that who you are in Christ is more important than where you are in life. This is crucial in our journey to living out an enjoyable, meaningful Christianity.

Believe Again: Finding Faith After Losing Religion will be released on October 4 on Amazon. In the meantime, you can pre-order it at joshroberie.com/shop at a 20% discount. You can find out more about the book and get Believe Again merch at BelieveAgain.net.

What Is Believe Again About?

An Honest and Hopeful Journey to Rediscover Faith

I hope you are not expecting Believe Again: Finding Faith After Losing Religion to be a typical “preacher book.” These pages are not filled with outlines and sermons. Instead, you will find a story overflowing with surprising friendships, unconventional mentors, and lessons I never knew I needed to learn. It is one I hope you can even find yourself in as well. If you have ever grown weary in your faith, wanted to give up on going to church, or have been discouraged by the circumstances of life, then I want to encourage you to read on. 

After years on staff at the large church I grew up in, I found myself suddenly working outside of full-time ministry. This transition into the real world was startling for someone who grew up in church and never intended to do anything but work as a pastor. It was the lowest point of my life. The exact rock bottom of this unexpected change was somewhere between asking the guy I used to pay to cut my grass if I could work for him and taking orders from a convict with a knife so I could support my family. But let’s not get nitpicky with the details.

One of the best things that came from this season was the relationships I gained as a result of this unique path. Much of this book focuses on these amazing people. They are the characters in the goofy spiritual journey I was on. Many of these friends came from the new way I was living my life and where I started working. Others came along as I developed the courage to share my story publicly. The things I was experiencing were so outrageous, and such a contrast to the life I lived before, that I started writing them down. Eventually, I decided it would be a good idea to share some of these embarrassing details with a blog.

True to how I was feeling at the time I named the blog, “Fish Out of Church.” I had blogged for a long time before this, but not in a personal and vulnerable way. The more I wrote, the more people would reach out to talk about their own experiences. Connecting over our shared disappointments in life and church as well as our hopes for the future seemed to bring some healing. 

Could maybe others use some encouragement to step out of their religious comfort zone as I had done?  Is it possible you fall into this category as well? I wrote this book to help anyone who was in the same situation I was in and needs to discover a fresh perspective on faith, find hope in trying times, or could use a little help learning to trust God one day at a time.

The circumstances I share in this book made it appear my time in ministry, along with many of my hopes and dreams, were over. I was surprised to find an uncomfortable season working outside of the church would strengthen my faith and teach me to lead more like Jesus. I believe this collection of outlandish stories will help you do the same. Here is how I lost my religion, found authentic faith, and began to believe again.

Believe Again will be available on Amazon on October 4.

Find out more about the book here: https://believeagain.net

Pre-order the book at a discount and check out the Believe Again merch here: https://joshroberie.com/shop/

The Search for Contentment

Our boat gently glides with the breeze across a pristine pond in South Carolina. I am fishing with a friend. The conversation is meaningful and natural- refreshing even. Ancient Oaks with curtains of moss hang from swirling branches and frame up our view. If you could sum up the word “peace” with an early morning scene, this would be it. The only problem is restlessness lingers in my chest like the morning fog that has yet to leave the water around me. Why is this?

This is our second day of fishing. On the first day, I caught two largemouth bass. They are probably the two biggest bass I have ever caught. This got me excited about how many fish I could catch before the end of the trip. I set the mark at ten. As a bonus, I decided I must catch the biggest fish out of everyone.

Am I an experienced bass fisherman? No, not really. I have been fly-fishing for a few years at this point and only got a crash course on bass fishing from a friend right before this trip. That does not change my perspective, though. I caught two nice fish on the first day. That cemented the possibility that I would easily catch ten or more before the end of the trip.

As the morning continues, the sun begins to press harder on our necks and backs. I am growing more frustrated as well. My friend is catching more and more fish, and I have yet to get a bite. We adjust my lure, I get a bite, and then the fish wiggles off of the line before I can reel him in. Now I am just angry. Why do things always end up this way for me? The familiar feeling of not being good enough and even discouragement begins to muddy the waters of an otherwise perfect day.

Then it dawns on me. Why am I so upset? I have already caught two of the largest fish I have ever caught (and have the photos to prove it!). I love being in nature and quality time with good people. Every physical sense I have, my eyes, ears, skin, nose, and tongue, tells me I am sitting in perfection, yet I am discontent. It is the sixth sense of self-induced pressure that is ruining my day. Is it possible that it is only this made-up goal of catching a certain number of fish that is causing me to feel discouraged? Because, other than that, everything is great!

Paul talks about the secret of contentment in Phillippians 4:11-13:

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Phillippians 4:11-13 NIV

A couple of things stand out to me about this passage. The first is verse 13. So often used to encourage ourselves in difficult situations and athletes in a moment of competition, I see it differently in light of the previous verses. When Paul says, “I can do all things through [Christ],” he is actually saying, “I can [find contentment in any situation] through him who gives me strength.” Wow! This passage has more to do with contentment than it does with accomplishing the impossible.

The second thing I noticed is that he calls contentment a “secret.” To Paul, it is something to be “learned.” This means that finding contentment may not be obvious at first. It is something that has to be searched for to be found. To begin a search for treasure, there are certain things you have to leave behind because they would only hold you back on your journey. You cannot bring everything with you in your boat. That day on the bass pond, I needed to leave something behind if I wanted to embrace a journey of joy and contentment on the path ahead.

I like that I set goals for myself and am not satisfied with how things are. It is not always a good thing, though. Too often, I put pressure on myself that is not from God or anyone else. It is a striving in me that reveals a lack of patience and trust. It is a fleshly focus on self that needs to be brought to the Cross so that my soul truly flourishes in contentment.

That morning, I decided to remove my numerical goal for catching fish and just enjoy the process of fishing. I don’t mean for this to be a metaphor for pastoring and growing a church, but it feels like that without even trying. Since that day, this principle of leaving behind unnecessary pressure has been something I have been applying more to my life in every area. Contentment is part of the crucified life. It requires saying no to ourselves so that we can say yes to the peace of God that leads to the secret of contentment.

How We Train Our Kids to Be Leaders

A neighbor recently commented that my oldest daughter, Sophie, is such a leader. She went on to say Sophie does an excellent job of getting other kids together and organizing activities without being bossy or demanding. I thanked her for the compliment. Then went on to tell her, “My goal is for Sophie to be a leader, but I actually never tell her to be a leader.”

Why I Never Call My Kids Leaders

Being a leader is not enough. How we lead determines the lasting impact of our influence. To help our kids become the leaders God designed them to be, we must be careful not to add unnecessary pressure, emphasize leaders are not just the people in charge, and help them become the best version of themselves.

Unnecessary Pressure

When you tell someone to be a leader, you may mean, “don’t follow the crowd when they do something wrong,” but the thought of “being a leader” can take own a life of its own in the mind of a child. If we do a good job affirming a child at home, then what we really want in those situations is for them to be who we know they are instead of trying to do what they think a leader would do. To me, that means, affirming their identity is more important than telling them to live up to a certain standard.

Not the Person in Charge

A leader is not just the person in charge. It is the person with influence. When kids hear “leader,” they may think they have to boss others around. If my kids become bossy and try to correct other kids, they lose influence and friends. That is why it is crucial to emphasize identity in young kids instead of leadership.

What We Do Instead

Affirming your child’s identity can help them be the leader they are meant to be among their friends because they will be leading out of their authentic selves instead of trying to enforce and live up to a certain standard. Being secure in their identity will prepare them to lead well as young adults when they can more understand the complexity of what it truly means to be a leader.

Benefits of Affirming

  1. When the child falls short, they land on who their parents (and God) say they are instead of the guilt and condemnation of not being the leader they are supposed to be.
  2. Affirming creates authentic confidence inside a child to lead out of who they are, in their own way, instead of striving to be what they think a leader should look like.
  3. When you affirm a child, you give them security instead of unintentionally inserting the idea that they have to live up to a certain standard as a leader to be good enough for your approval.
  4. When kids know who they are, they will not be afraid to be different. They are not gaining their identity from their friend group, being a part of what others are doing, or being the person in charge.

How We Affirm

Starting at about one-year-old, I created sayings that would build up each of my girls’ confidence and identity. As they grew, I would change what I said over them based on how each girl blossomed. I will share what I would tell Sophie each night as I rocked her to bed. 

“You are so sweet and so smart. So sensitive and so strong. You are my sweet, sweet, Sophie, that is so, so, sweet, and I love you so much. You are my very only special Sophie girl. There is no one else like you, and I think you are so pretty.”

There are some principles built into that saying that are important. 

Character

We celebrate character. Accomplishments are just the product of good character. So even when we point out accomplishments, we always highlight the character that got them there.

Special to Me

Kids need to know they are precious just because they exist and are part of their family, not because they live up to a certain standard. When I say the words, “I am proud of you,” it is connected to a godly decision or character they display 90% of the time. Kids want their parents to celebrate their victories, so of course, we do that. We just don’t make that the focus.

Superficial but Necessary

You’ll also notice I tell Sophie she is pretty, but not until after building up her identity in other ways first. Little girls need to hear they are lovely, just like little boys need to hear they are handsome and strong. Again, I want my daughter to know that true beauty abides in how they treat others. I want Cinderellas in my house and not Little Mermaids. 

I finished the conversation with my neighbor by telling her that a parent who emphasizes being a leader to their young children is a good thing. If you are doing that, you are already thinking ahead of the challenges kids will face and preparing them to stand firm. 

We have just chosen a different path based on our experience and how we have seen emphasizing and even pressuring people to be a leader can cause them to lead, but not from an authentic place. I figure I would spend my kids’ childhood building up their confidence and identity. I hope that as they get older, they will lead, not because they are supposed to or have to, but because their emotional bank account is full. This way, they can help others out of the overflow of who they are, and not because they need anything from those around them. These are the types of leaders I always enjoyed following the most, anyway.

DEVELOPING LEADERS FOR CHURCH PLANTING AND BEYOND

You have heard the saying, ABC: Always be closing. In ministry the phrase should be ABD: Always be developing leaders (including recruiting leaders). When recruiting people for your church plant, consider reaching those far from Christ, finding people who need a church to grow in their faith, and gathering leaders who can help you support the mission of the church.

“If I were running a company today I would have one priority above all others: to acquire as many of the best people as I could [because] the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people.”

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great

Such a good thought for church planters in the recruiting phase. I believe this also applies to all seasons of any organization. Leaders are the skeleton that supports church growth. You can swell without good leaders. You can gather by taking advantage of seasons and great planning for an event. But sustainable growth requires great leaders and teams of leaders to hold the pieces together. Leaders are the ones who transmit the values and culture into others.

“Leaders are the skeleton that supports church growth.”

Understanding the following three phases of pastoring helps you develop leaders while taking care of everyone else in the church.

Reaching new people. If your church plant is not reaching out to those far from God, then you are missing the point. A new church should not merely add a new worship service to a community. It should be an outpost of help and rescue, actively displaying the love of Christ by helping people meet their spiritual and physical needs.

Caring for members. Members easily can be overlooked in the mix of starting a new church or growing an existing church. Alternately, they can become the total focus of a church that then unintentionally ignores other groups. Being a wise pastor means continuously providing love, encouragement, and correction to members. We must cry with them and celebrate them. Our goal with this group is to help them take one step at a time in their faith, patiently caring for them along the way.

Developing leaders. Leaders require a different type of attention and plan of action. We don’t love any group more than another, but to love everyone equally, we must love each person differently. As a church planter, keep your eyes open for gatherers. These are people who carry their own influence and have a desire to share that influence with you to grow the local church. The goal is to let them know they are appreciated, while encouraging them to carry the culture. They may get more access to you, and this investment is significant. When the time is right, you will multiply your efforts by delegating responsibility to your leaders.

To summarize, we must focus on recruiting three types of people: New people, through service and outreach; new members, through gatherings and pastoral care; and new leaders, through access and individualized plans. This is not only an important strategy for church planting; it is an effective approach to get and hang on to the right people and help your ministry achieve its mission of reaching the community and growing Christ-followers.

This article first appeared at arc churches.com

CHURCH PLANT RECRUITING LESSONS LEARNED DURING THE PANDEMIC

HOW DO YOU PLAY BASEBALL WITHOUT A BAT, BALL, OR GLOVE?

In the new environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic, church planters learned that the way to home plate may not begin with first base. While the aim to launch a large church remains, how they achieve this goal looks different from before. Church planters already face the unique challenge of starting a church without a permanent space, committed people, or residual income; but now, even the ability to begin accumulating these necessary resources for the launch of a new ministry has been removed.

High-Touch Impact in a Low-Touch Environment

The ARC church planting process typically begins with start-up parties to bring people together. These interest gatherings allow people to meet others who are part of the church launch, hear the vision of the church, and express their level of interest. During the pandemic when people are uncomfortable meeting together and event spaces are not available, church planters have had to be creative in connecting with others. Aaron Burke, the pastor of Radiant Church in Tampa, Florida, says we need to figure out how to “create a high-touch impact in a low-touch environment.”

Virtual Dinner Partiers

To accomplish this, some have created DoorDash Dinner Parties to meet with others interested in joining their launch team. The church orders meals for everyone through a delivery service, and then they all connect on Zoom. Others have followed up one-on-one conversations by delivering small gift cards, a tangible reminder, and an expression of the church’s heart.

Reach Out is the New Outreach

Explaining the shift churches are making during this time, JJ Vasquez, pastor of Journey Church in Winter Springs, Florida, says: “Reach out is the new outreach.”

Casting a wider net can be accomplished by streaming your start-up party on Facebook. Those who confirm attendance receive pizza delivered to their homes. The meeting is still open to anyone who wants to attend without having to make a reservation. These are fun and engaging meetings.

You may begin your meeting with a game. One church planter asked everyone to “count all the times our logo is on the screen, and the winner gets free church swag.” The only catch was the pastor had no idea how many times the logo was on the screen. Everyone who sent in a response received the free church gear. This was a fun way to keep people engaged.

Turn cold leads into warm leads.

The bases and the base paths may look different, but the principles of a large launch remain the same. Turn cold leads into warm leads. Put people first and connect with them in a low-pressure environment to measure their interest. Then follow up one-on-one to see if they are fit to join the launch team. These meetings between the church planters and those interested in taking the next step can be held online through FaceTime, Zoom, or Google Hangout.

Holding in-person weekend services is a continual problem because the spaces typically used by church planters are not available. New precautions have made it difficult for churches to launch in schools, theaters, and other shared venues.

HOW DO YOU PLAY BASEBALL WITHOUT A BAT, BALL, OR GLOVE?

As municipal and business leaders determine the next best steps for public safety, those wanting to start new churches have been forced to wait, indefinitely, for restrictions to be lifted before they have the opportunity to gather in person.

To navigate this new reality, ARC is helping churches launch virtually. When the outbreak began, our team made an immediate pivot to find the best resources for online church and get them to pastors as quickly as possible. Our ARC Launch Team shifted its approach by reaching out weekly to our church planters and offering counsel, resources, and training to enable them to launch online.

We have also temporarily adjusted our funding model to help churches start strong online. We have consulted churches, leaders, and businesses with online streaming experiences to create essential budgets and tools needed to launch virtually. When churches cannot launch physically due to restrictions in their areas, ARC is ready to come alongside them and see their dream of planting new life-giving churches become a reality.

This blog first appeared at arc churches.com

Creating a Culture of Prayer

“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” – Corrie ten Boom

Do you have intercessors providing a prayer shield for your church? How have you prioritized prayer in your church? In the uncertain times we live in, prayer has never been more critical. This not only true for you personally, but also for your team and church members. It is vital to create a culture of prayer in your church from the beginning. If we pray more than we preach, then we will never be preaching to just ourselves.*

The first two ARC churches both began with a season of 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. Church of the Highlands continues to start each year with 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting and also does 21 Days of Prayer at the beginning of the school year. Church of the Highlands is known for its systems and practical help to church planters, but much of the church’s growth can be attributed to their commitment to prayer.

“If you are going to plant a church, then you have to win the war in the spiritual.” – Chris Hodges

Four Keys for Church Planters to Win the War in the Spiritual:

1. 21 Days of Prayer – Have a season of prayer and fasting leading up to your launch day. At ARC, we teach to launch on the fourth Sunday in January. Not only is this one of the most attended launch days on the calendar, but it also gives planters time to lead their team in 21 Days of Prayer leading up to their launch day.

2. Develop a Prayer Team – Have a prayer team as part of your dream team. I once heard it said that every decision for Christ is a result of someone else’s prayers. On your dream team, you should have members of your team praying during the worship experience. There is a spiritual battle taking place every time people come to church for the first time. Let’s post some prayer warriors at the spiritual gates of church services.

3. Have Personal Intercessors – As the church pastor, you need to have a few trusted people covering you and your family in prayer. The spiritual attacks on pastors in the season of launching a church is real. Your intercessors are those you communicate your schedule and needs to so that they can be proactive in praying for you.

4. Group Prayer – Lead a regular time of prayer with your church. Do not delegate the responsibility of group prayer to someone else. From the very beginning of your church, you should be the one leading these prayer meetings. Even later in your church’s life, when you may not lead every meeting, you should still show up. This communicates to the congregation that your church is a place of prayer and that you are winning the battle in the spiritual.

The first teaching in the ARC Church Planting process is “Winning the War in the Spiritual.” You can watch it for free at arcchurches.com. If you are a pastor looking for resources on prayer, you can find many helpful tools from Church of the Highlands. At this site, you will find teachings on prayer and downloaded prayer guides, and other useful items you can give out in your church.

*Rephrased from this quote: “See to it that we pray more than we preach, and we will never preach ourselves out.” A.W. Tozer

This content originally appeared at arcchurches.com.

The Final Marketing Push

10 PROMOTIONAL BOOSTS FOR YOUR FINAL MARKETING PUSH

The plan works when you work the plan. Promoting your launch is not just about spending money. You have to be willing to invest in advertising leading up to your launch day, and you also have to hustle. There is a grind in your final marketing campaign’s weeks and days, but it will pay off on launch day if you are willing to work at it.

Here are ten strategies you can use to gain an additional boost for your final marketing push.

01. THE RULE OF SEVEN

You need seven interactions before you get a transaction. In the church world, that would be seven contacts before they visit.

We want to get in front of as many people as possible as often as possible. Do everything we can do to reach as many people as possible, but everything points back to one thing: the website.

02. YOUR WEBSITE

Before you make your final marketing push, you need to make sure you switch your pre-launch website to your full website.

Front and center on your website should be your launch date, service times, and location.

Registration for kids’ ministry should also be available on your website. This will help the registration lines tremendously on launch day.
Everything on your website should be designed with first-time guests in mind.

03. GET FEEDBACK ON YOUR PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL

What do people who do not go to church think about your marketing material?

Do not just hear what church people think. Ask some people who are not yet involved in a church.

Know thyself:

“Know what you’re good at and lean on that. Know what you are not good at and hire someone to do that.”

– Marc Poland, Discover Church

04. MAILER

Mailers have a higher return on investment than social media marketing, but you do not have to choose one or the other. Do both.

Have your mailer go along with what people are thinking about and touch on a felt need.

It is not just the quantity of mailers but the quality of the mailer. Get feedback from those who have sent mailers in the past. Run it by your coach.

“We sent 150,000 oversized mailers in Philadelphia and had 450 people on launch day, and almost a year later are still adding people to the team from the mailer. At least ten people on our leadership team now came from the mailer.”

–Marc Poland, Discover Church

Remember: Have the mailer point to the website.

“The largest single reason people showed up on launch day was because of the mailer.”

– Joe Adams, Manna Church

05. SOCIAL MEDIA ADVERTISING

Do multiple ads on multiple platforms, each targeting different types of people.

“Everyone wants to be known/belong and to have purpose/reason to exist. No one can help people with this more than Jesus, so we based all of our ads around those two ideas.”

– Joe Adams, Manna Church

“You should do at least two posts a day starting nine days out only talking about launch day. We used images from preview services and encourage people on our launch team to share as much as possible on their social media platforms.”

–Joe Adams, Manna Church

Reminder: Keep communicating where you are meeting and when the launch taking place.

Share a post on the morning of your launch day: “We are meeting today and cannot wait to see you! Be here (location) at (service time)!”

06. COMMUNICATE EXPECTATIONS

Let people know what they can expect from your church. Do not assume people already know what kind of church you are and what your culture is.

Take a video of the setup and show them what you are preparing for them.

If you want people with kids to come to your church, prioritize communicating what they can expect in the kid’s spaces. Remember, you are asking them to leave their kids in a different room than they will be in when they have never met you or been to your church before.

07. PERSONAL INVITES

Person-to-person invites will be one of the top reasons people attend launch day and will be the leading reason people continue to visit after launch day.

Create a budget for invites: Let your team know you do not just want them to invite people but also to take them out to lunch. Reserve $1,000 for people to take friends out to lunch and invite them to church.

Print out small square invite cards that people can hand friends and family to use when inviting people.

Sharing social media posts is free and highly effective. Make sure your posts are sharable and encourage your team to be online evangelists and share as well.

08. BE VISIBLE

Every weekend leading up to launch, be visible in your community doing outreach and community engagement.

  • Buy school supplies for elementary schools. For example: buy boxes of crayons to give to kids in elementary schools and include an invite card.
    Pay for people’s meals in restaurants in your neighborhood and give them an invite card.
  • Go to a grocery store and give out gift cards with an invite card as they enter.
  • Give away gas at a gas station and hand them an invite card. “One person pulled up to the gas station with an empty tank of gas and had forgotten her wallet at home. She had no idea how she was going to get home that day. We bought her gas and saw her on launch day.” – Marc Poland, Discover Church
  • Video all of these outreaches and show them on your social media. If someone attends or joins your team from one of these events, then share that story!
  • SWAG – Give away shirts, coffee cups, whatever that keeps your church visible leading up to launch.

09. GET YOUR TEAM INVOLVED IN INEXPENSIVE OUTREACHES

Outreach does not have to take away your team’s focus from launch day. Many inexpensive, low effort outreaches can make a significant impact. Here are some ideas:

  • Give away packs of gum.
  • Give away bottles of water.
  • Give away dog treats at a dog park.

“We now have someone on our leadership team that first heard about Manna Church when someone gave them a bag of dog treats at a dog park.”

– Joe Adams, Manna Church
  • Buy McDonald’s Sundaes gift cards ($1) and hand them out to people as they enter the restaurant.

10. KEEP THE MOMENTUM GOING

On the Monday after launch, start planning to promote your second service.

Take the best picture of your launch day you can find and post it with something like this: “Did you miss the launch this Sunday? Don’t worry. You can join us next Sunday (time and place).” Then boost it and ask your team to share it.

This content first appeared at arcchurches.com and was sourced from the ARC Coaching Webinar, “The Final Marketing Push,” with Joe Adams of Manna Church in Colorado Springs, CO, and Marc Poland of Discover Church in Philadelphia, PA. You can view this video in the ARC Resource File Library under training videos.

How to Choose the Right Team

CORNERSTONES FOR TEAM BUILDING

What do you consider as the key factors when choosing who will be on your leadership team? Some leaders prefer to elevate people who show commitment even though they may not have the same level of charisma or gifting as someone else. Sometimes we put people in leadership positions because they are talented, even though they still need to grow in some areas. It is a delicate balance, but here are three areas to consider that I think will help when selecting the people who will work directly with you.

ATTRIBUTES OF A TEAM MEMBER WHO WILL LAST

Character
When you promote someone, you send a message to everyone else in your ministry of what you celebrate and what gets your attention. Often, a person’s character goes unnoticed, but you must show that it is a priority for you by elevating leaders who have demonstrated integrity.

We want the stars that will shine the longest, not necessarily the brightest. If you desire team members that will last, then make sure that their character is strong enough to support and sustain their gifting.

Capacity
While faithfulness is essential, it cannot be the only attribute we identify for promotion. Capacity also needs to be considered. This area of leadership covers a person’s giftedness and ability to continue to grow. Just like the area of character, it may take time to evaluate a leader’s capacity fully.

It is important to note that the same person who is good at doing a job may not be the best person to manage and motivate others to do that job. When you form a leadership team, you have to have people who can do the job and lead the people doing the job. Accomplishing this takes identifying someone’s capacity to grow into the role of being a leader.

Chemistry
For a team to last, there must also be chemistry. I believe you need to like the people that report directly to you. You do not have to be B.F.F. with every leader in your church. You need a variety of people and personalities to minister to the different types of people who walk through your doors. On the other hand, you should not have someone on your top leadership team who you do not look forward to seeing when you meet.

It would help if you also considered how a leader interacts with the other people on your team. Someone can have character, be gifted, and make your day when you see them, but if they do not get along with the rest of your team, you will have issues. Make sure they are not telling you just what you want to hear when you are around while not making an effort to get along with others. Your team has to have chemistry if it is also going to have longevity.

Bonus: Calling
One thing that often gets overlooked is that transition is a natural part of every team. Not everyone will be with you forever. That’s how swamps are made. Water flows in, but it never flows out. Sometimes someone has to go to make room for someone else you did not know you needed. You want your team to be committed, but you also want to make room for other people’s calling and the bigger picture of what God is up to in people’s lives.

This blog first appeared at arcchurches.com.