Timothy Keller, Redeemer Presbyterian Church

focus-follow-one-course-until-successfulOne of the foundations of what we do when we try to be strategic:

*FOCUS = Follow One Course Until Successful*

Get rid of all those distractions and stay focused on the task at hand.

Some people think it is best to diversify and keep pursuing tons of stuff at once. But if you look at the successful people in any given industry, you’ll typically find that they have figured out how to be ultra laser-FOCUSED on just a couple of things (if not just one!) at a time.

*Thoughts on this? Let me know what is the one or two things (ONLY) that are at the top of your focus list.*

modernized-tithing-texting-kiosksAs the Church has progressed into the 21 Century, many of its functions have been modernized.  We have guest services instead of ushers. Our fellowship halls in the back of the buildings have become Café’s and lounges in the front of the Church. Our music has moved from Hymnals to Projectors. Yet with all the modernization the Church is going through, one thing remains etched in the stones of the past – Our systems of tithes and offerings.

Fewer People are carrying Cash or Checks

Fewer and fewer people in today’s society pay with cash or checks. We even find that Millennials are using credit cards at an all-time low, as well. This leads to a dilemma for Churches. How do we get people to give tithes and offerings, when their only choices of giving are cash, checks and sometimes credit cards?

Here are some surprising trends in Consumer Spending:

  • 2 out of 5 people carry less than $20 on their person (Bankrate)
  • 38% of consumers NEVER write checks. Another 20% only write a few per year (The Financial Brand)
  • 6 in 10 Millennials do not have a credit card (Washington Post)

These trends will eventually become a tipping point to where the tithe and offerings payment options offered do not reflect the payment methods people have with them while at Church.

A New Approach to Giving

It is true that people carry less cash, write fewer checks and carry less credit card debt, but there is one interesting fact. They all have money in a bank. The issue is the way they spend money. Their payment methods now consist of paying bills and buying goods online with a bank card.

Knowing this, we can create a system that capitalizes on the congregations ability to pay electronically. Better yet, we can make giving even more easier, increasing the revenues that come into our churches. Even better, giving doesn’t have to be done in a 5 minute devotional time in between Worship and preaching. It can be done at any time in the lobby or on their cell phones.

Part 1: SMS Text Messaging

Everyone has their smartphone in your service. A lot of them are using You Version to follow the message. Knowing they do mobile banking, why not offer them an easy way to tithe?

Enter www.kindrid.com. This service, and others like it, allows Churches to setup giving via Text Message. You have seen these in various forms, most notably the Red Cross. You have seen their advertisements for, “Text #XXXX to donate $10.”

With this solution, your Church sets up a giving number. You then include this number in bulletins or during announcements. People text the amount they want to give to the number and they are done. It is fast and simple for both the Church and the congregation.

Part 2: Congregation Based Giving Apps

Tablets are taking the World by storm. Combining these with smartphones, we can account for nearly every person attending a Worship service. We can make it as easy to give as creating an app that allows them to give right from their smartphone or tablet.

How do you create a giving app without spending a fortune to develop it? Well, there is an app for that. It’s called www.givelify.com. Givelify offers Churches a branded app for tithing and offerings. Pricing varies, but it is priced the way a credit card transaction is priced: example – 2.9% + $0.30 per donation. Users are used to this, since this is how paypal charges its fees.

The trick is getting people to download the app. The trick is to use QR codes. In your Worship service handouts and in announcements, place a QR code that leads to the app install. A simple click of the camera and the app is installed. From there, the user can give anytime he or she feels led.

Part 3: Giving Kiosks

Giving Kiosks are beginning to gain traction with Pastors. Why limit giving to the actual Church service, when you can allow people to give before and after service, as well? A giving kiosk will stand in the foyer area of the Church and provide visitors the easiest way possible to give their tithes and offerings.

They consist of three parts, an ipad, giving app and a stylish modern kiosk. SecureGive offers this as an all in one package. It can be seen at http://www.lilitab.com/pages/solutions.

SecureGive did a survey of Churches that used its services and found that giving increased by 27%. The study also found that the offerings given on the kiosk were 20% higher than non-kiosk giving.

With these applications in place, Churches can encourage giving from the front of the Church to the back of the Church. Thanks to technology, not only can we make giving easier, we can do it in an affordable manner.  All of the solutions mentioned are cost effective and provide a very low barrier of entry so that every Church can get in and test these new ways of giving.

 

horizontal-infographic These days we are inundated with options regarding social media platforms.

One of the mistakes newbies make is to think they all accomplish similar things and are used by everyone in general.

Knowing what each platform has a sweet spot for allows you to engage appropriately and spend your time wisely as you invest in various social media communities.

Here’s my latest take on some of the social media platforms being widely used today in 2014-2015: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Flickr, Reddit, YouTube and others.
Social Media Home - Vertical

What would you add? What would you modify? I love hearing feedback and input on this kind of stuff. Please leave a comment below!

One of the most common questions that I get, is–“How do I get more traffic and followers of my blog and content?”

One of the first suggestions is: go guest-blog for others, like crazy! –AND make sure it is your best content.

That response is usually, immediately followed by puzzled looks and defensive arguments, with the inquisitors trying to guide my recommendations for things to do on THEIR sites, rather than on others’. …But they’ve got it all wrong.

I’ve always looked for other voices, to share on one of my blogs. It’s boring, if you keep hearing from the same voice, day-in and day-out. Variety is the spice of life! And you can really learn things from a diversity of perspectives.

But when the idea of guest-blog posting–for my blog, or another’s–comes up, sometimes people don’t “get it.” They think that there’s no “WIIFM (What’s In It For Me),” for them. Once you try to explain the benefits, 50% of them will “get it” (as you see the light bulb go on, above their heads).

For the other 50%–don’t take it just from me! Here’s a sample of posts that make the case for why you should be guest-blogging. And I’d invite you to do it here on this site, as the “first, next step!” ;-)

More Reasons Why You Should Consider Guest Blogging For Me:

  1. Guest Posts Can Help Grow Your Blog
  2. 5 Benefits of Having Guest Writers on Your Blog
  3. Build Your Social Network
  4. Discover Business Opportunities
  5. The Indirect SEO Benefits of Guest Posting
  6. Get Quality Traffic
  7. Identifying Quality Content
  8. Develop Rapport and Credibility

 

Social Media PlatformToday’s post is from Jason Caston who helps to equip churches as they connect their ministry with the online community. There are many resources are available on his blog ichurchmethod.com. I recently asked Jason to share with us some of the up and coming social media platforms that have gained popularity.

An interesting transition is happening in the world of social media, Facebook is undoubtedly the king of the hill and Twitter is up there as well but the popular new kid on the block is Instagram and it’s here to stay.  Instagram now has 200 Million users, over 20 billion photos shared, 1.6 billion likes daily and 60 million photos posted daily (instagram.com/press).  With this type of impact it’s no wonder that Instagram is one of the best social media platforms we use for our ministry (our main ministry account is instagram.com/bishopjakes).

In order to be effective on Social Media you must have a strategy, and Instagram is no exception.  Before we post a single graphic or video, we make sure we have an overall strategy for Instagram and an idea of what we consider success.  Overall, our strategy for Instagram includes consistently posting photos/graphics and videos that are inspirational, informational and conversational.  Now let’s break that down, first thing we make sure is that we have a consistent flow of content and posting between 2 – 5 times daily.  Next, we want to post inspirational content that uplifts and inspires our audience, we also want to post informational content that keeps our audience updated on things going on with the ministry.  Lastly, we want to make sure we keep our posts conversational by responding to comments and questions as often as possible.

Now that we have our strategy laid out, we have to actually create and post the content.  Devotional memes are created using our graphic artists or apps like Tweegram, we basically take the daily devotional we post on Facebook or Twitter and add it to a meme and post on Instagram.  When we have events we make sure we create flyers or posters that we post on social media, including Instagram.  Normally, our flyers are 900×1500 and we make sure we have a 600×600 version created for Instagram.  One of our most engaging posts are based on our Sunday services where we take an action shot of our pastor and add a quote from his sermon to the photo and post it.  Also, we take 15 second clips from his sermons and post those as well, which for some people is the only ministry they receive and we understand how powerful this platform can be.  Lastly, one of the things that our audience loves most is the personal and family moments that are posted by our pastor, Bishop T.D. Jakes.  Whether it’s a banana pudding he baked for his family or a hug he is sharing with his children, people love to see his transparent moments as a father, husband, family man and regular individual.

Overall, Instagram is yet another platform that our ministry uses to visually tell our story as a ministry.  We have so many individual stories from our members, leaders, staff and volunteers that showcase how impactful this ministry is and how great the gospel can be.  And the best part of it all is through all of the photos, videos, devotionals, quotes and everything we post, God gets the glory.  Amen.

Jjasoncastonason Caston (@jasoncaston) is the author of The iChurch Method (ichurchmethod.com). Additionally, he is also the Digital Platform and Innovation specialist at T.D. Jakes Ministries.


megaphone Today’s post is from Gangai Victor who leads an interesting blog and community over at www.votivepraise.com. I recently asked Gangai to share with us some of the learnings he’s gained from the “publishing” side of things regarding his platform and social media presence. Please engage with questions by dropping them in a comment below the post!

 

Self-publishing original content online is pretty easy these days—there are loads of free platforms out there to help us. If it’s a blog, there’s blogger.com. If it’s a book, say hello to Kindle. If it’s music, Noisetrade is ready to show us some love.

The challenge is more to do with promoting our work or ourselves without coming off as spammy marketers!

Here are some tips that I’ve learned from experience and from others that could help you in this regard:

How to balance creation and promotion in the Kingdom

Continue Reading…

The “New Year”is half over! – and it’s time to think ahead about what BHAG’s you can accomplish in 2014.

One of my goals is to publish a series of books (most on the Kindle platform) to help more individuals, non-profits and ministry leaders ramp up their communications efforts.

For one of them, I am inviting you to become a contributor in an effort to help empower more people to harness the power of social media for their own cause.

Simply submit your contribution below to get started!

Neat research on some of the key differences between how larger churches and smaller churches communicate with their communities.

Take a look:
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Free Book Giveaway // The Social Church: A Theology of Digital Communication