Community Invitation Campaign (Marketing)

Marketing works – the proof is that so many companies “Just Do It” (Nike) and “Think Different” (Apple). Churches used to do marketing when they advertised the annual revival or other special services. Today, most churches have forgotten the need to advertise to their own community. Publicity about the church on special occasions gets results. Here are some fairly inexpensive ways let your neighbors know you’re there and invite them to attend.

  1. In a one or two mile radius around the church, place door hangers on homes. Pairs of people can walk prescribed routes the weeks before Easter and Christmas.
  2. Ask members to distribute postcards to work colleagues and neighbors. The postcards must have a message and info about the church.
  3. Find the election polling locations near your church. Then distribute postcards and cool water or hot chocolate; put labels with info about the church on the water or cups. Distribute the materials by setting up a table attended by volunteers during election day. The table with your material must be at the legal distance from the actual voting site. Remember that everyone who votes at each location lives within a couple of miles and is thus a neighbor of the church.
  4. Hand out $5 Starbucks cards to people at various local events. Include a card inviting people to your church. Giving away $250 reaches 50 people directly and probably 250 with the ripple effect.
  5. Give away boxes of Girl Scout cookies. Put a label on them with a greeting and info about the church. No one turns down cookies.
  6. At local sporting events for children, set up a tent and provide snacks and drinks to the kids and parents. Give everyone a postcard or flyer, too.
  7. Print church info on magnets and distribute those at some of the above functions. People tend to not throw away fridge magnets. You can create your own fridge magnets pretty cheaply or have them made professionally.
  8. Have pens made and spread those around nearby businesses and restaurants. They are always looking for extra pens. Good pens are great marketing material.

Think of your own ways to advertise that are appropriate for your own community.

Lead On!

Steve – all kinds of FREE church manuals and sample documents – 400 plus blogs on every church administration topic you can think of

Marketing – Door Hangers

A couple of years ago I spoke with a guy doing political print ads. He said that the best way for a politician to get his point across was to speak directly to the voters. The second best way was for volunteers to put door hangers on people’s homes – the inference by the recipient is that someone walked up to their house and left the info. Voters see that as far more personal than a radio, TV, or web ad and respond favorably to door hangers.

Most churches don’t count neighbors within walking distance as potential attendees; we’ve become that much of a car society.  Decades ago, revivals and crusades used to be the church’s main form of growth and the church spent loads of money on those annual events. That was the marketing budget. The church doesn’t do crusades or revivals anymore and most churches don’t do any form of marketing much less neighborhood outreach. Churches must do something to tell the neighbors “we’re here; we’re not scary; come try us out at a special occasion.”

The best times in the year to do marketing are Easter, Christmas, and August-back-to-schooI. These are the times of the year that people are most open to changes in their routine, especially if it involves going to church for the first time in years or decades. A simple door hanger will be a great form of introduction to the neighbors of who the church is.

The door hanger must include a graphic (to catch the eye), an invitation to attend (what you want the person to do), times, dates, & place (when and where the events are), and words of appreciation for them being the church’s neighbor and your desire for them to come and get to know even more of their neighbors.

Doing this once or twice a year will have an impact on your attendance. The door hangers can be placed out on a couple of Saturdays by volunteers walking the streets around the church. Draw a radius of about one mile out from the church and assign blocks to teams who will spend an hour putting out door hangers. After the volunteers are done, ask them to come back to the church for a snack and to tell stories of what they encountered as they put out the hangers.

And, most importantly, have fun doing this!

Lead On!


Personal Investing

My family asked me about my personal investing. I’ve done well in the market – I’ve averages over 8% returns per year for the past 11 years (2007-2017) which includes several down or flat years.

  1. It’s all in mutual funds in Vanguard
  2. I re-balance my funds about once a year unless there is a major world event in which case I’ll immediately re-configure my investments (think war, economic collapse of a country/region, etc.)
  3. I’m invested 80% in equities and 20% in bonds. The bonds are a hedge against the stocks. You can be more aggressive by having more equities or by having more aggressive equities (emerging/international markets and/or small cap).
  4. My specific investments and percentages
    1. VFIAX    Vanguard 500 Index Fund Admiral Shares – 40%
    2. VEMAX  Vanguard Emerging Markets Stock Index Fund Admiral Shares – 15%
    3. VWETX  Vanguard Long-Term Investment Grade Fund Admiral Shares – 20%
    4. VSGAX   Vanguard Small-Cap Growth Index Fund Admiral Shares – 25%
  5. This means that my portfolio is a good mix of aggressive and conservative, US and international. This is a secret to investing – diversification! That can’t be stressed enough – don’t put all your eggs in one stock or even one mutual fund. Here’s my mix:
    1. 40% invested in large US companies (stable growth)
    2. 15% invested in international companies (stable with some speculation)
    3. 20% invested in bond (conservative part of my portfolio)
    4. 25% invested in small cap or aggressive companies

A few rules for investing

  1. “A rising tide lifts all boats.” When the market is going up, you don’t have to be particularly smart or good to do well.
  2. “Be a pig, not a hog. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.” Go for gains of all kinds but don’t get greedy and chase after the high flyers each week or even each month.
  3. “Never fall in love with your investments.” They don’t love you back. Investments are tools, nothing more. Be willing to bail on them whenever necessary.

Lead On!



Nehemiah Answers Simon Sinek (part 2 of 2)


In part one, I recapped an excellent Ted Talk by Simon Sinek. (please stop now and watch it to more fully understand this post).


Nehemiah is a quintessential Old Testament leader. Upon hearing of the status of the protective walls and gates of Jerusalem, Nehemiah got his boss, the king of Persia, to let him go to his ancestral homeland and rebuild everything. His leadership skills are not questioned – he found solutions for every problem as they arose, he dealt with people justly, and he confronted his cynics directly. He accomplished what needed to be done and what others said couldn’t be done. He did it. And his work subsequently protected Jerusalem for several centuries.


This is what Nehemiah did:

  • In chapter one,
    • Nehemiah hears about a situation which breaks his heart
    • He prays fervently about what he should do and he listens to God
  • In chapter 2, Nehemiah answers Simon Sinek
    • Verse 2: the king asks, “Why does your face look so sad…?” Nehemiah’s reply is an emotional appeal: his homeland is in ruins.
    • Verse 4: the king asks “What is it you want?” Nehemiah has a short reply – let me go to my homeland and rebuild the city
    • Verse 6: the king asks, “How long will your journey take?” and Nehemiah responds with lots of specifics about his needs
  • In the rest of the book: Nehemiah gets the job done. He leads the people, fends off critics, and reports back to the king.


When the book begins, Nehemiah had no power and very little influence. But he did have a God-inspired vision and he was articulate. By the end of the book, Nehemiah is an inspirational leader. Even 2,500 years ago, Nehemiah was ready for Simon Sinek!


Nehemiah 2:1-9

In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.”


I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?”


The king said to me, “What is it you want?”


Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my ancestors are buried so that I can rebuild it.”


Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, “How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?” It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time.


I also said to him, “If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the royal park, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?” And because the gracious hand of my God was on me, the king granted my requests. So I went to the governors of Trans-Euphrates and gave them the king’s letters. The king had also sent army officers and cavalry with me.


Nehemiah was an inspirational leader. In only 52 days he did what others said couldn’t be done. He had a clear “Why” and could get people to believe what he believed. Even the king, who paid for everything, was able to buy into what Nehemiah wanted to do. Nehemiah’s “Why” was compelling to the soul of his listeners.


Lead On

Steve has a complete set of very affordable church manuals as templates in Word plus lots of free Word and Excel docs to help church administration.

Nehemiah Answers Simon Sinek (part 1 of 2)


In September 2009, Simon Sinek recorded the third most watched Ted Talk (you should have Ted Talks in your podcast list). It is only 18 minutes long. It is impactful. It points to a different kind of leader, an inspirational leader.


The first few minutes are spent explaining The Golden Circle. Sinek draws three circles and writes “Why” in the centermost circle, “How” in the middle circle, and “What” in the outermost circle. He provides the advertising example of Apple who tells you why you should buy from them, not how they make computers or even what they manufacture. “Why” is an emotional connection.


Sinek continues by explaining what we know about the development of the human brain. The centermost part of the brain, the limbic system, focuses on our feelings, behavior, and decision-making. This part of the brain is the oldest to develop. It does not have the capacity for language. That is for the outer parts of the brain developed more recently and it determines the “what” of how we use our brain.


For leaders to reach the core of a person, inspirational leaders must focus on connecting with the “Why” of the listeners – that innermost core of a person’s brain. Sinek states that you must find “people who believe what you believe.” Another memorable quote is, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” Leaders speak initially to a person’s soul, not to their practical side. The “how” and “what” will come soon enough but if you don’t hook someone with “why” then you’ll have a much harder time getting that person to join your mission.


Sinek ends with the example of Martin Luther King, Jr. When he spoke at the National Mall in August 1963, a quarter million people showed up because they wanted to be there. The “I have a dream” speech they heard is deemed the most memorable US speech given in the 20th Century. Inspirational leaders must speak to the emotional core of their followers so they will absorb “why” they should follow.


Lead On

Steve Law has a complete set of very affordable church manuals as templates in Word plus lots of free Word and Excel docs to help church administration.


Strangling Termites

An Alabama termite inspector told me that Alabama has three termite colonies per acre. And that a termite can travel up to a quarter mile to find moist wood – it’s only necessary source of food, water and wood. And termites are devastating – a colony can eat over 10 pounds of wood in a year. The cost of replacing that wood can be huge.

We no longer use the chemical DDT to kill termites; instead, one solution is a chemical which inhibits termites from molting. A termite will molt several times in its life as it grows, much like a crab. If a termite can’t molt, it will grow within the existing shell but then it will strangle itself because of the small shell.

I’ve seen churches like that. They have outgrown their current shell but they are unwilling to change/molt. They feel that what worked decades ago should continue to work. Or that the buildings don’t need any updating because they look just fine. Or members don’t realize that church staff today must do things very differently than in prior years. These churches are strangling themselves within their own structures. While the world around them changes, they don’t.

Just like termites adapt to meet their future needs (as part of their life cycle), churches must be willing to explore changes they may need to make and then intentionally decide how they’ll adapt. The saying “change or die” applies quite aptly to termites. It also applies to a lot of churches. Too many are willing to die. There is no need for that – churches don’t need to embrace all changes, but they must be strategic about what they will do to help them survive.


Lead On!


How to Use a Cab – for the Ride of Your Life (part 2 of 3)

Some cabs are going in the same direction as you

The sign of a good leader is when some people are following you and some are chasing you. Know the difference and know the motivation behind how each person is acting – motives reveal all.

Just because someone is going the same direction as you doesn’t mean they agree with everything you say and do and just because someone is going the other way doesn’t mean they wish you ill. But the same is true for you, too. You don’t have to agree with everyone going in your direction or loathe people going the opposite direction. Observe what others are doing and attempt to learn from them – that is wisdom, a hallmark of a great leader.

Know if you want to go with others or take a ride solo

Life’s ride is short and long. Sometimes you want to go alone through some passages while other times the ride is better together. You have to know both your own personality and the passage you’re going through to decide if you want to go through that time alone or not. Making the wrong decision can be painful, but it is never fatal.

You may need to rest a while between rides. Take time. Think about whether you want or need to go solo or with friends. Sometimes it is good to process the knowledge and info you’ve received. Be intentional about setting aside time to think.

Don’t ride with all your baggage; put it in the trunk, out of sight

Some bags are bulkier than others. Learn to empty your bags of garbage so that you don’t carry your trash around. It won’t help anyone and just stinks up the place. Some luggage needs to be left behind once and for all. Some bags need to be given to others through talking with a counselor who can ride with you for a few minutes. Never be encumbered by your last few rides – always build one experience on another for a richer life.

Talk to the cabbie and/or anyone else in the cab

Introverts and extroverts will view this differently. I’m an introvert. I do fine sitting in silence for long periods. But sometimes I just want to ask a question or share an experience with someone. And I’ve learned that getting (well-reasoned) opinions of others can make the ride more fun. Of course, I’ve also had to listen to a few crackpots – just enjoy them for their idiosyncrasies!

Lead On!


Church Business Meetings (part 3 of 3)

This the third part on church business meetings. In the first section I talked about how to make the membership reports more engaging; the second post was about church programs and reporting how they use their resources, both financial and people, to carry out the church’s vision. This post will be on church decision-making and voting.

Decisions: most decisions should be made at committee levels, since they have more time and information to get into the nuts and bolts of why a decision is necessary. For instance, financial decisions are the realm of the Finance Committee, decisions affecting the church’s staff are the responsibility of the Personnel Committee, etc. It is the duty of each committee to bring to the church a report (see part 2 in this blog series) detailing the actions and reasons. The committee can be asked questions, but the responsibility lies with the committee. If the church body at large disagrees with the committee, then the church body can vote to either replace the committee and/or overturn the committee’s action.

Decisions which affect the entire church body are the ones that should be intentionally brought before the entire church. This requires a lot of education of church members ahead of time. It usually means that information is shared at one meeting, time is built in for members to think about the decision and gain more knowledge, and then everyone comes back to a subsequent meeting for a vote. Asking members to show up at a meeting, get up to speed in 15 to 20 minutes and then vote is not reasonable. If a decision is important enough to be brought before the congregation, then it should be a deliberate decision and not a hasty one. Give people time and you’ll see the “wisdom of the crowds.”

Implementing all or parts of these recommendations will make church business meetings flow more smoothly, be more enjoyable, and lead to better actions by the church. Try to do one of these at a time and incorporate these ideas over a period of months, if not years, and then gauge the attitude toward business meetings.


Lead On!