Thursday, October 20, 2011

How to promote your church launch (the cheap way)

When it came time to launch the church, we came up with a postcard that exemplified the brand that we wanted - rock-n-roll and coffee.  We borrowed from someone else's design idea and made our own version.

And we approached handing out the postcards in two ways...

* We stuffed 4500 mailboxes in our neighborhood (not illegal in Germany, but labor-intensive)

* Our team handed out 1000 postcards downtown during orientation week at Freiburg University

We found that people are more willing to take them if you have a group handing them out (five or so people in the same area)… then it doesn't seem so "cult-like".  And we give them a small piece of chocolate as well (the mini chocolate bars that you get at IKEA are cheap). Everyone wants free chocolate! I just tell people, "Schocki [Schokolade]… umsonst!" or "Free chocolate!"  It helps if you approach it positively, as if they should take the chocolate because it's free.  If you act as if you know you're bothering them, they will avoid you like the plague!

When they look at the postcard (which I have turned face down so they aren't freaked out by the word "Kirche" [church] on the front), I tell them it's just an invitation to join us for our grand opening. We want to get the word out and free chocolate is the easiest way to do so.

Then if people ask about the church, I tell them the reason we are giving something with no strings attached is that we want to be the kind of church that represents the Jesus of the Bible… He always gave with no strings attached.

It's important to note that we also used targeted Facebook ads, which were successful for brand recognition.  This cost us more, but placed our logo and an ad in front of hundreds of thousands of Freiburg-area young adults.  By setting our "click through" rate high, our ad was the first one that our target audience saw when they logged on to Facebook.

We experimented with different wording on the ads to see which were most effective in getting click throughs.  American Pastor seemed to generate the most clicks.  When they clicked on our ad, they were redirected to a "landing page" on our website that promoted the church launch service in German and English.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thoughts on Church Planting and Church Government

Watermark Logo
When it came time to setup the legal association for Watermark, we followed the ARC ( model within a European context.  This means we have an internal Council and an external Board. The Council consists of seasoned believers within our church that are "on-board" with the vision and core values, and are able to think out of the box.  They have no voting rights, but are there to help me think through issues we are facing and offer suggestions.

The Board is made up of voting members (from other European cities). They are all seasoned ministers that are well-respected and that I've known for a long time (and that know me and my heart well).  I explained to them at length what we had in our heart to create and how we wanted to proceed to make sure they understood clearly before I asked them to be on our Board.

I learned a long time ago not to have people in your church be your voting members until you've firmly established who you are, both as a team and as a church. You need to have freedom to be able to tweak the vision, core values, etc. As you find what works for you, and you get a better idea of who are your "seed planted in good ground" people (Mark 4:8), you can begin to add people within your church to the "voting membership". 

I've seen good pastors in Germany get voted out because of a manipulator that is power hungry. I believe most church splits are caused by those that are "planted in rocky soil" (Mark 4:5-6), meaning they get involved quickly with a lot of excitement, but when times get tough, they try to steer the church in the direction of what makes them comfortable, or keeps them in the spotlight (or in a position of authority). They are totally with you until you do something they don't like.

People that have a vote need to be people that are mature enough to understand what God is calling you and your church to become, confident enough to challenge you (when necessary), and humble enough to pray it out (rather than fight/manipulate) and make decisions that are in the best interests of the church

And if anyone ever tells you they want to be in the voting membership, you DON'T WANT them in the voting membership!  You want people that will make decisions based on those that haven't yet come through the doors.  You want people who vote that understand it's not about them, but about those that are far from God (those that Jesus misses most).

I tell my team and my church that if they have a problem with me they are welcome to contact my Board and take it up with them. I am submitted to my Board, and will adjust, if necessary.