2010 May

Rethinking Capital Campaigns Part 2: Texting

Posted by | Church Communications, Examples, Park, Social Media | 5 Comments

In my last post I shared about how we changed the way we ran our most recent stewardship campaign at Park. We didn’t do much of the prescribed hubbub that surrounds most church stewardship campaigns. Read more about that here.

One of the unique things we incorporated into this campaign was texting.

We’ve been using texting at Park for over two years now, both in our weekend services as well as a means to communicate important announcements and events.

During the campaign we used texting in some new ways that helped extend our message, engage our audience, and communicate information about the campaign.

Opt-in Text Group
At the beginning of the campaign we set up an opt in group for people to get text reminders throughout the sermon series.

During the week we texted questions for them to consider, highlighted what was coming up, and texted various verses and quotes on generosity and giving. It was also a great way to communicate announcements related to the campaign.

We announced the opt in group the first week of the [IN]VEST campaign and had over 950 people [that’s over ½ of our church] sign up to receive them.

It was a huge success and something we’ll consider repeating for future series as way to help people continue the conversation around our messages.

Text Polls

We’ve done text polls in service before, but for this series specifically, we wanted to ask some tough questions and challenge people’s understanding and motivation for giving.

There’s two distinct benefits to doing text polls in service:

1 – They create a shared experience. We all come into church with different experiences, thoughts, and ideas. Many people just  spectate and never engage in the service. Something as simple asking people a question invites them to participate, and in doing so, see that there are other people in the room who feel the same way they do.

One of the questions we asked during the series was, “Do you think people outside of the church view the church as being generous?”

2 – They help the speaker gauge the audience.

Texting in service can help bridge the gap between the speaker in the audience. And, it can help the speaker know where the audience is coming from or their understanding of a particular topic. In the few times we’ve done text polling the audience’s response has helped refine our pastor’s message and made the content more applicable to people’s experiences.

One question we asked toward the end of the campaign was what people’s primary motivation for giving was. It was a great way for our teaching pastors to see how our church viewed the topic of giving.

Commitments via Text

We printed about 3,000 paper commitment cards for people to fill out indicating how they’d like to commit to our campaign. Less than 100 printed cards were returned.

It took some creativity to make it work, but thanks to our friends at Jarbyco we were able to create a way for people to text in their commitment to the campaign.

Since our campaign was called [IN]VEST, we created the keyword IMIN and asked people to text in if they’d like to respond via texting. Nearly ¾ of our commitments for the campaign came in via texting!

The Results

  • 455 households are [IN], representing roughly 600 adults – that number reflects the number of new people in our church since we did our last two campaigns!
  • People committed to invest in hundreds of lives to help their friends cross the line of faith.
  • People committed to invest in nearly 50 different neighborhoods around the city
  • Our church has committed to fighting many different injustices, the greatest being those around education, human trafficking, and poverty.
  • Our primary financial goal going into the campaign was to pay down 2 debts totaling $2 million.
  • Thanks to those who continued to fulfill their pledges from previous campaigns and the new [IN] pledges we have enough commitments to meet our goal of paying off the 2 notes totaling $2 million!

Closing Thoughts

This was by no means a perfect campaign. There are probably many things we could have done differently, but it worked.

We didn’t follow a prescribed path, but charted our own course that was reflective of our congregation’s thoughts and experiences around a tough subject.

We focused more on the holistic aspect of stewardship instead of zeroing in on money. As a result, people are focusing on creative ways they can invest, make a difference in their neighborhoods, and in the lives of their friends.

More than anything else, we recognized there were many new faces in our audience and used the campaign as an opportunity to share our vision, tell our story, and invite them to invest in our future.

Rethinking Capital Campaigns

Posted by | Church Communications, Examples, Park | 5 Comments

I’ve decided the only thing worse than doing a weekly bulletin is doing communications for a capital campaign.

Campaigns suck time, energy, and resources and requite an incredible amount of work. And let’s be honest, whenever we communicate things related to money our jobs get very uncomfortable. No one likes when the church talks about money let alone when we ask them to give more!

In March, Park launched a campaign and we had our work cut out for us. There were a few key factors that made it complicated…

  • It was completely focused on paying off debt. There were no buildings to be built or projects to fund… we just needed extra cash to make payments that were coming due on our previous building project. It’s easy for people to give to something they can tangibly see but it’s much harder when the focus is debt retirement.
  • This was the third capital campaign Park had done in the span of five years. Yes, three in five years. With the amount of new people in the church as well as the number of people who come and go in the city, nearly 60% of  the people who are a part of our church today hadn’t been around for the first two.
  • We launched the campaign during a time of financial hardship for a majority of our congregation. People in our church were just beginning to feel the affects of our economic downturn. Not exactly the most opportune time to ask them to give more.

Consulting firms that work with churches on stewardship campaigns have a cookie-cutter way of running them which typically consists of making lots of glossy handouts, having countless meetings, doing private invite events, doing a huge song-and-dance, etc.

We didn’t do any of that… we broke the rules… here’s what we did…

We Weren’t Shy About Why We Were Doing the Campaign

Instead of going with some clever or catchy title for the campaign, we were forward with what it was about when we named it…  We called it [IN]VEST. We were also very open and transparent about the state of our finances an why we needed to do a campaign.

Last fall, we put this video together to explain our financial situation:

We Didn’t Do Glossy Brochures

Since the goal of this campaign was to pay off debt, it didn’t make sense to go into debt by printing brochures and handouts. We already don’t print much at Park, so we opted to keep things simple and use space in service and existing communication pieces to communicate what the campaign was all about. The only print piece we did was our response card.

We Cut The Amount of Meetings

Instead of doing leaders gatherings, private ‘large donor’ events or all of the other meetings that are usually suggested, we scaled down to one gathering that we repeated over the course of five nights.  We invited our entire church to come with their small groups to learn more and to ask questions. We recorded that meeting and posted it online so anyone that couldn’t attend was able to get the content.

We Made The Campaign About our Vision

We used the campaign as an opportunity to recommunicate our vision. With so many people new to our church, we used the campaign as an opportunity to re-tell our story, share our legacy, and challenge people to invest in future of our church.

We also created this awesome video which linked the story of Park to the story of the Church!

We Tied it Into a Teaching Series

We spent a total of four weeks doing a teaching series called [IN]VEST where we challenged our church to invest in a holistic way, not just with their finances, but with their time and talent. The focus was more on what they were doing with their whole lives, not just their checkbook.

We Got our Small Groups On Board

We put together a 52-page study guide that our entire church went through over the span of six weeks where the idea of [IN]VEST was further unpacked and discussed in small groups. The study also included practical resources like helping people evaluate how they were investing their time, challenged them to consider how they were using their gifts and talents, and assisted them in creating a personal budget.

We Told Stories

There were people in our church who were already investing in major ways, so we used the campaign as an opportunity to tell their stories.

This is a cool story of a couple who chose to step out in faith and invest in a dream God had placed on their hearts while facing the challenges of raising children in the city.

We Launched a New Church Campus

As a church, our vision is to invest in the city by planting new churches in strategic neighborhoods.  The week before the ‘big ask’ we prayed for and launched a new church campus in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood. [Which had standing room only their first Sunday!] This was a tangible way of showing how we, as a church, were investing and an opportunity to remind people that the more we were able to pay off of our debt the more we’d have to invest in church planting.

We Challenged People To Do More Than Give Money

Earlier in the year we challenged our church to pray around three specific areas: 1 Person, 1 Neighborhood, and 1 Injustice. So, instead of just asking people to give a dollar amount, we asked for the names of the people they were praying for, the neighborhoods they wanted to impact and the wrong they wanted to right.  And we were very clear that if people weren’t in a position to give financially that we wanted everyone to commit to invest in some way.

We Used Texting

I’ll share on how we used texting throughout this campaign and let you know the final results tomorrow!

Stay tuned!

Survey Says…

Posted by | Just For Fun | No Comments

So I thought I’d share some of my Reader Survey results with you.

Thanks to the over 100 of you that participated… if you left your email address you should have received a personal thank-you email from me. For those of you who didn’t… THANKS!

Your feedback was invaluable as I work to make this blog a resource for people doing church communications. Your comments, thoughts, and suggestions will come in handy as I move forward!

That being said, here’s what I discovered…

  • We’re split right down the middle in the battle of the sexes… 54% of you were male, 46% were female.
  • Some of you are from across the seas! We had a few international readers… g’day to 2 Australians, 1 from the Netherlands, 1 Canadian, and 1 from South Africa!
  • You are all over the place. Stateside, 19% of you were from Illinois; 11% from Florida, 15% from California, 10% from Michigan; and the rest were from everywhere including Arizona, Washignton DC, Georgia, Indiana, Minnesota, North Carolina, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.
  • You’ve been around here for awhile. A majority of you have been reading for about a year; 25% of you are new from the past 6 months, and about 15% of you have been loyal readers for the last 3 years; and 1 of you brave souls has been reading since my Xanga days!
  • You’re a young crowd. 20% of you are under the age of 25; 45% are between 25-35; and the rest of you are 36+.
  • Most of you are professional Christians. 60% of you work for a church… with the majority of you being in communications. We had a few pastors, elders, youth pastors, and worship leaders.
  • The rest of you were pretty fascinating. Some of you are  branding/marketing people, interactive designers, finance, a few faculty members from colleges, a bunch of people in sales, and someone in law enforcement!
  • We connected via social media. Nearly half of you connected with my blog via Twitter, others had linked from Church Marketing Sucks, Collide, and Catalyst and my favorite response: I a google search, then found out you know my husband.
  • You like me. You gave me a 7.9 for overall content. I was pretty humbled by that! Thank you!
  • You want to know how to communicate more effectively. Overwhelmingly, you guys are coming here for Church Communications Resources and Reviews and want to see more examples from Park.
  • You want to know what’s working. You indicated you’d like more reviews and links to helpful resources.
  • Some of you aren’t fans for the conference notes. I will keep doing those long-form as I have, but will work on creating short summaries!
  • You want a Podcast and Guest Blog Posts. Overwhelmingly you indicated you’d like a Church Communications Podcast [it’s in the works!] and want to see some guest blog posts. I’m totally excited about both and if you have an idea for a blog post or the podcast, let me know!

Thanks to all of you who have been with me on the journey this far… as I said before, one of the main reasons I blog is to help build the Church through providing insights and  resources to help the church communicate its story more effectively. So thanks for your feedback and input… I’m looking forward to what’s ahead!


Posted by | Reviews | No Comments

Yes, I’m adding noise to the chaos of LOST blog posts this week and sharing what I think…

I first started watching LOST midway through the 2nd season.

A few friends had been hooked from the beginning and convinced our group of friends to do a marathon through the first season [I think we did it in under a week]. I was hooked from the first episode… and for the past five years, I’ve wondered where the polar bears came from, what the “black smoke” was,  had about a million different theories about the Dharma initiative and in more dorky moments spent time reading Lostpedia to check my facts.

So, as was the case for most fans, Sunday’s finale was a bittersweet moment.

And the truth is, I’m going to miss it.

I can’t think of many episodes of LOST that I watched by myself. It was something that I experienced with other people. It created new friendships, gave instant rapport with total strangers, and created community… all around a crazy TV show.

Aside from the sci-fi, fast forwards, flash sideways, and backstories, the human drama of LOST is what captured me. All of the characters had unique stories, who, despite their flaws, were trying to make sense of life.

One of the definitive lines of the entire series to me was the simple idea, “Live together or die alone.”

To me, LOST was about the intrinsic need we have for community…to know and be known.

All of the characters on LOST were, well… lost.  They were alone in their own pain and empty quests to make sense of life or to find themselves and their destinies, but it wasn’t until they encountered one another and entered into one another’s stories that they began to find life and meaning. They needed each other.

I think one of the reasons people connected with LOST so much [besides the fact that it was absolutely brilliant storytelling], was because they saw themselves in the stories of the characters. Their experiences may not have been as extreme but it’s all the same… we saw something in all of the Oceanic 815 survivors and characters we met along the way. [For the record, Desmond was my favorite.]

We need people and what LOST gave us, more than a good water cooler conversation or some of the dorkiest viewing parties any of us have ever been to, was the realization of the power of our story and the power of community.  They are interconnected.

As cheesy [or Titanic-like] the ending scene was, it brought everything full circle… we’re all connected, we need each other, we need community, and as my friend Justin eloquently mused, everyone is OK.

I can live with the unanswered questions and will entertain all of the theories that the die-hards will come up with, but what I’ll miss is what LOST did… it brought people together.

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