Merry Christmas Website Giveaway

Merry Christmas! Thanks so much for being a part of the blog this year. Each one of you are an awesome gift to me, so with some help from my friends at Clover I’d like to give one lucky reader a gift as well.

One lucky reader will receive a free website from Clover Sites. The church I serve has used Clover for years and we’ve been very happy with the product. It’s super easy to use, looks great, and is affordable.

Especially for one of you because they’re waiving the normal $1,000 up front cost. Pretty awesome.

If you’re interested in an amazing new free website, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post with your name, church you serve, and current website address. On January 30th, I will choose a winner.

In the meantime you can demo the beautiful themes on cloversites.com. Test everything out to make sure Clover is a fit for you. There are lots of site designs to choose from.

Again, a website from Clover normally costs $1000 up front, plus $25/month for hosting and support. With the link I give the winner, the entire up front cost is waived, so you will just be paying the monthly fee.

What are you waiting for? Leave a comment below and let me bless you this Christmas.

Four Areas to Evaluate Your Church Brand

My seven-year-old daughter recently wrote Santa a letter with a list of items she would like for Christmas. Most of it was typical toys and things of that nature, but I was surprised to see that Jordan shoes had made the list. She has never seen Jordan play, and I’m not sure she would recognize him if I showed her a picture of him. Yet the brand was important to her. Your church also is a brand, so how can we make sure it’s a positive one?

Branding is something a lot of small town churches don’t even think about, but they should. Your brand communicates who you are, and whether you realize it or not, what you’re currently communicating could be hurting your church.

So, let’s take a look at the four areas that communicate your brand the loudest.

  1. Your Website. In the majority of cases before anyone ever visits your church, they’ll visit your website. This is the day and age we live in, and it’s not changing anytime soon. If your church doesn’t have a website by now, what are you even doing? In order to reach people, you have to go where they are, and 87% of the people in America are online. The only thing worse than not having a website is having a terrible website, which many churches have embraced. And I get it, you’re preachers, you’re not web developers. So, pay someone who knows what they’re doing to help you. Find a church in your community that has a nice website and ask them if they can help you with yours. This isn’t rocket science. There’s no reason for churches to have terrible websites. It comes down to laziness and not caring at this point. Fix it! Here’s a post that can help.
  2. Your Logo. My youngest daughter can’t read yet, but she knows every time we pass a McDonald’s. You know why, because she recognizes the golden arches. Your logo is ten times more likely to be remembered than any other piece of your brand. So you need to keep it up to date and relevant. Clipart is not going to cut it. Again, invest the money to get a nice looking logo you can be proud of. One of the sites we’ve used in the past is called 99 Designs. For a few hundred dollars, you can choose from multiple options and get something really nice.
  3. Your Social Media. I encourage every church to at least have a Facebook page. Facebook is where a lot of your congregations are hanging out, so you need to be there too. However, just like your website, you can scare people away from your church if you’re not careful. If you post a picture of Jesus and say, “Share if you love God. Ignore if you want to go to hell,” you need to have your computer taken away from you. Find a young person to run your social media. They have way more experience, they’re going to be better at it, and they would love to do it.
  4. Your Church Sign. It’s possible that terrible church signs have done more damage to Christianity in America in the past 20 years than anything else. If you have a sign that allows you to change out the letters and come up with clever sayings like, “Stop, drop, and roll doesn’t work in Hell,” I want to give you a very clear next step. Take a few of those letters, put your service times and website on the sign, and throw the rest of the letters in a fire. I don’t care if its sister so-and-so’s ministry. She’s destroying your church, and you’re letting her. Stop It!

One last thing that doesn’t really fit into any of these categories, make sure there is consistency and unity with your branding. The student ministry and women’s ministry and all the others can have their own logos, but they need to have the same look and feel as the main church logo.

Putting all this together takes time and money, but if you’ll do it, you’ll discover it’s well worth the investment.

How would you rate the branding at your church? What areas do you need to work on the most? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.

How to Create a Preaching Calendar

For those who may not be familiar, a preaching calendar, in its simplest form is just a calendar in which you’ve written down what you’re preaching about each week for the next year. It’s an incredibly useful tool for pastors, and in this post I’m going to share with you its benefits and how you can create one of your own.

In the early days of the church I serve, my pastor would preach what we would call stand-alone sermons. There was no rhyme or reason from week to week. It was just whatever the Holy Spirit placed on his heart.

We eventually realized stand-alone sermons weren’t the best option for our church, concluded that the Holy Spirit wasn’t limited to week to week, and switched to series based sermons. In my opinion, it was one of the biggest catalysts of our growth.

If you’re still on the fence, you can check out this post I wrote about four reasons sermon series work.

A few years after switching to a sermon series model, we heard about the idea of creating a preaching calendar.

Here are a few reasons why a preaching calendar makes sense.

  1. It ensures balance. Most pastors tend to have certain topics or even scriptures that they love to preach on. For my pastor, the topic is evangelism. Without a preaching calendar, there’s a good chance he would preach on evangelism forty weeks out of the year. He wants people talking about Jesus, which is really important, but there are a lot of other topics we need to talk about as well. A preaching calendar helps you see the big picture and helps to maintain balance in your preaching.
  2. It helps with planning. Try your best to invite a few others to help you plan your calendar. Getting others involved takes the pressure off you to come up with 52 different sermon ideas. It also creates buy-in from those you involve, and they become more invested. A preaching calendar also gives your creative team time to find or create graphics, plan worship sets, and all those other little things they get frustrated with you about.
  3. You preach better sermons. My wife served ribs last night she had been cooking in the crockpot all day. They were fantastic, but how do you think they would’ve tasted if she had just thrown them in the microwave for 15 minutes? Not as good, right? This same concept can be applied to your preaching. The longer you have to think on a message, the better it will be. We’re no longer giving the Holy Spirit just a few hours to work. We’re giving the Holy Spirit days and even months to bring thoughts and ideas to our mind. It’s a better process and creates a better result.

So, when should you start creating that calendar? About six months ago, but since we don’t have a time machine, as soon as possible. Set a date, invite a few others to join you, and don’t leave the room until you have a preaching calendar for the next year. Good luck!

Do you use a preaching calendar? In what ways has it helped you? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get tips on church growth, leadership, and more delivered to your inbox each week.