Five Ways to Improve in 2011Posted December 29th 2010 @ 8:00 pm by Jerod
As the new year closes in, I’ve been thinking about what you could (and should) do in 2011 to help your church focus on a clear vision and communicate more effectively. Here are my top five thoughts:
Stop investing in the yellow pages. I know churches that spend thousands of dollars on yellow page ads, but refuse to invest in a good website. The yellow pages (printed on paper) are dead. Some phone companies aren’t even printing them anymore. It’s good to be listed, but you don’t need an ad of any size. There could be some benefit to having an online listing though the yellow pages, but beware of pricy plans. I’ve yet to see how effective the yellow page companies are in following through on their big promises to boost search engine results through online listing packages. In theory, an online yellow pages listing will help your search results, but any improvement will likely be minor. If it were me, I’d take the money and invest it in a website or some other strategy that has a chance of actually reaching people in your community.
Go online and check out other websites. Spend some time looking at other church websites, especially ones with updated designs, to see what’s out there. Look at non-church websites, too. This is a way to see what the trends are in web design. What works on these sites? What doesn’t? Compare that to your own site. What changes would you make? When your church is on the web, it’s competing with everything else out there. People have expectations for design and functionality. Visitors to your website are going to make a judgment about who you are and what you’re like based on what they see. Shouldn’t you present yourself as well (and as authentically) as possible? If you’re looking for some church website inspiration here is a place to start.
Look at all your printed and online materials and see if they’re consistent. This isn’t a new exercise, but it can be really useful. Take one of every piece of your church's printed material you can find from the last year. A worship folder, brochure, postcard, newsletter, etc., and lay them all out on a table. Is the look consistent? Is the writing style consistent? Are they all true to your brand? Is your online presence the same as your offline materials? If so, that’s great. If not, commit to doing more to control the quality of what’s being produced in your church. Make sure you’re using the same voice and writing style. Be intentional about designing material that is consistent with your branding.
Create a measurement matrix. What will define success for you on any given project? If you’re mailing out a postcard or running a Facebook ad, how will you know if it’s successful? As you plan your Easter services, what are your expectations? If you’re not having honest conversations about the effectiveness of the things you’re doing, you’ll never grow as a church. Too often in the church world, we only focus on the positive and pretend like the negative doesn’t exist. It’s okay to fail. We can often learn more from failure than success. Part of being creative is taking risks. Celebrate when things exceed your expectations and take joy in the learning process that comes from less-than-perfect results.
Eliminate one ministry program. This might be one of the toughest things you do in the new year and the most controversial idea on this list. But if you really stop to think about it, there is probably something your church is spending money on that doesn’t make sense for who you are as a church. When you focus on what your vision is, you can better see why it’s good to eliminate things that aren’t working and put the resources towards something new. It makes you better stewards of the talents and money God has given your church.
So there’s my list. What do you think? Anything you’d add or take off? Have you already done any of these things? If so, how did it work out?