Attracting Newcomers to Church During Football Season | Burning Questions #3

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Ever wondered how to keep attracting newcomers to church during the football season? Bart and Jason are answering your burning questions!

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Welcome to season 4, episode 13, lucky number 13 of the Missional Marketing Podcast. This is the 137th episode of our show. My name is Bart Blair; I’m the co-host, and I am joined by the other host, making him a co-host, Jason Hamrock, the CEO of Mission Marketing. Welcome to another episode, Jason.

Glad to be here on lucky number 13, Bart, it’s a beautiful number.

Yeah, 13 of season 4, season four. We’re doing some different things here in season 4, and one of the things that we’re doing here in season four is this once-a-month Burning Questions episode. So that’s what we’re going to do today, is we’re going to answer some burning questions. We have some questions that have come from people who listen to the podcast or watch on our YouTube channel, and we’re going to get into those questions in just a minute. But before we do that, we want to remind you that if you haven’t subscribed, wherever you listen, make sure that you do that. If you’re a listener on Google Podcasts, you’ve possibly discovered that right now, you probably can’t find our podcast on Google Podcasts because Google has done some goofy things with the algorithm and has replaced the Missional Marketing Podcast with Missional Marketing’s AI For Churches podcast. Hopefully, sometime in the next month or so, we will get that squared away. But if you’re on Spotify, or you’re on Apple, or you’re on Amazon podcasts, or some other platform, make sure that you subscribe. And if you haven’t left a review, do that as well, because that’ll help more people find the show. And if you’re watching on our YouTube channel, that’s the best place to kind of engage with the content there. We always post a question at the top of the comment section, and you can go and you can answer that question, it’s related to the content in the podcast episode, and would love to engage with you there and make sure that you subscribe and ring the bell on the YouTube channel. We have other content going on our YouTube channel from time to time that might be worth a listen or worth a watch if you’re interested in learning more about church communications, church marketing, and now AI for Churches, which is another lane that we’re running in and trying to provide resources for churches that will be helpful there. We produce this podcast to help churches grow by leveraging digital marketing and effective communications. And so all of these questions that we’re going to answer today in burning questions are related to comms and marketing. All right, so that’s the preamble, let’s get on with the good stuff. Jason, the last two times we’ve done this, I’ve asked you the first question. Do you want to ask me the first question this time?

That’s a nice little change-up. Yeah, I like it.

Okay, you ask me the first question, so I’ll answer the question, and then you’ll have an opportunity to give your 10 cents worth.

All right, here we go. Now this one was asked by Tristan.

Tristan, okay.

So Tristan out there, thank you for bringing this to our attention. So I’m going to read Tristan’s question. When it comes to the structuring of the three ministries that kind of make the Sunday service happen, okay, so production, worship and music, and communications, what structures have you seen that help these three ministries work together? And then, a follow-up question is, what organizational structure have you seen not work well?

That’s a really hard question.

That’s a great question.

So it sounds like Tristan has some responsibility over all the different areas of the Sunday services, production, music, and communications, or at least is in the mix of that and trying to figure out how to get those ministries to work together so that they’re cohesive. The best way that I know how to answer this question is to phone a friend. Can I phone a friend?

Oh, that’s going to be a little new twist. You bet, yeah.

Okay, I’m going to phone a friend because we have a friend, his name is Tyler Mount, and Tyler serves at a church in North Carolina called Providence, this is actually Tyler’s specialty, he oversees everything that takes place in the Sunday service production, music, communications, and all that stuff. So I’m going to phone a friend, and let’s get an answer from Tyler.

I love it.

Hi there, my name is Tyler Mount, and I serve as the Pastor of Creative Engagement at Providence Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. And this question came from Tristan. When it comes to structuring the three ministries that make the Sunday service happen production, music or worship, and communications, what structures have you seen that help three ministries work well together? And this question contributed to the creation of my role here at Providence. The leadership of the church was imagining what would it look like to have one owner who could be the connector between all three of these teams that contribute to the Sunday service and other ministries here at Providence. For us here at Providence, I serve as the pastor of creative engagement, so I oversee these three elements our worship, our production, and our communications teams. And the structure that serves us starts with having one owner. Our senior pastor is casting a vision for the sermon series, he’s identifying the text and the themes for each Sunday and each season, and then we have one person who is tasked to mobilize each team to help support the message of the sermon and therefore the story of the service. And so we strive for there to be layers and elements that contribute, support, and expand the message of the sermon. We want everything to be working together, and so this enables the potential for alignment between the creative teams and the preaching team. The teaching pastors and the senior pastor here at Providence, and I’m sure at your church, they’re super busy and they’re not living in the planning center, just moving those little pieces around in the matrix for you and getting all the details together. And so this structure simplifies the communication channels between the one ultimately owning the message of the service, and those executing the other elements that support the story of the morning or the Sunday service.

So we have to remember that everything communicates something, so it’s reasonable to have your communication teams contributing to the messaging of the Sunday service, whether that’s in your emcee or host moments or through your announcements. But I understand we don’t want our worship services to feel like a giant commercial. We also, for the same reason, we don’t want our worship to be taking over everything about the service, because then we might have three 15-minute songs every Sunday, and that’s just not going to really work right now in the way that our church services are really going. And so there is an economy of time that’s at play for your service. And especially for me, we feel that a lot, there’s so much going on so we have to be very strategic with how we align and set up all of our time. And so this increased collaboration between owners is, really, really critical, and we work hard at that. And it’s a balance, there’s not right or wrong, it’s a tension that we try to manage rather than a problem that we try to fix.

All right, thanks, Tyler, for giving us that answer. I told you, he’s like a pro with this. I’ve never actually had to do what he does, I’ve been in the senior pastor role. and I’ve been in the worship pastor role, but I’ve never kind of had to own everything like that. What are your thoughts? What’s your feedback on what you heard Tyler share there?

It makes so much sense because sometimes as communications, which I’ve owned communications, we were always on the operations side, and so we saw the weekend as a client. And if you do that, you automatically start to build some silos, right, it just just tends to happen. So I really loved his answer to say, there’s one owner him, right and he leads these three teams. But then those three teams have a leader inside those three teams, and they work really hard at building relationships and kind of tearing down those silos so that they work well together. I thought not only was that a great answer, but I have seen that because that happened to me at my church. I was moved over to worship right, from the standpoint of helping worship and, you know, production and, and communications kind of all work collectively together, and it makes a lot of sense. So I think that’s good, if you’re going to try and strive for that, Tristan, there you go, you’ve got some a roadmap for it that somebody else’s laid ahead of you and seems to be working.

Yeah. Last little thought on that, and then I’ll ask you a question is that I think if you’re working together, collaborating all those different pieces, I think for me as a pastor, there’s a singular outcome that I’m always kind of aiming for with the worship service, and the outcome is typically a call to action that’s directly related to a piece of text that I’m preaching on in the sermon. And so if I can actually make everything in that service work together, the music working towards that call to action, the announcements, working towards that single call to action, if everything’s working cohesively, I think it gives you a much more cohesive experience for people. The outsider or the regular church attendee is probably not going to notice how intentional you’re being when you’re bringing all those pieces together, but I think that the output or the results that you’ll get with the way that you’re discipling people in your Sunday morning worship experience, I think that will be notable when all those things are working cohesively.

One other thing I would say to that is, if you get the fourth one, that’s just icing on the cake. What I’m talking about is the ministry that might be impacted. So for example, let’s say it’s a small group we can push, right? So you got worship talking about community and those kinds of songs. You got production working on sharing stories of changed lives because of a small group experience. You got your pastor talking about community and small groups. And as communications, we’re saying, hey, it’s time to sign up for small groups. That’s like lots of harmony right there, so if you can find where you can tie in a ministry and what they’re trying to accomplish, that’s over the top.

Yeah. Okay, cool. Let’s move on to our next question. In fact, you know what, we’re going to we’re going to shorten this episode. We’ve been doing three questions for every burning question episode, but last time our answers got a little bit long, and we’re already a little long in this one. So we’re just going to do two each, okay? So that’s the that’s the first one for me, and didn’t even have to answer it because Tyler answered it for me. Thank you, Tyler.

Here’s your first question, this one is actually from Victoria. What’s the best way to handle our Google Business Profiles if we have one for our office ministry location and a separate one for our Sunday worship venue? I’m asking you this question because I actually, even today, had two calls with two different churches that meet in portable locations. And because they meet in portable locations, but they have an office space, they have two different Google Business Profiles, and people find it confusing a little bit when they Google the church by name that a Google Business Profile shows up for the office sometimes, and sometimes for the meeting location. What advice would you give to a church that’s trying to navigate that complexity, Jason?

I think, well, my advice would be is, that you want to get in front of people looking for a church who are going to show up to the church wherever church service is held on Sunday morning, or maybe a Saturday night, not the office. So my advice would be to change the name of your office, don’t call it, you know, South Gate Church Office because you’re confusing Google. That’s going to be South Gate Church, right? Because then you have South Gate Church as your church, you meet in a school or wherever you’re meeting. Instead, just call it like South Gate or something like that, or South Gate Office, and that way you kind of can keep..I would also go into that Google Business Profile and change the category to not be a church, you kind of want to make it just an office if that makes sense, take it away from any potential people finding it when they’re searching for a church. That’s my short answer. And then make sure that’s just away. Then you put all your effort into your South Gate Church, I don’t know if there’s a South Gate, but I just made that up. South Gate Church location where that’s where you’re adding those photos and those videos of sermon clips and getting reviews and all that kind of stuff. So, you’re not trying to drive people to the office. Now, if your own people have to go to the office for, like, you know, you have stuff going on at the office, then you’re just gonna have to deal with it, make sure you’re clear in the directions on how to get to the office if it’s further away from where you hold your Sunday morning services.

Yeah. I think that’s very, very helpful. I don’t have much more to add other than to say remove the word church from the title of it. So if your church is called Grace Community Church, your Google Business Profile for the meeting location should say Grace Community Church, but your ministry offices should probably say Grace Ministry offices, something of that nature. In some cases, you know what, a lot of churches, you’re incorporated with one name, but you actually operate with a different name. Now, of course, that’ll confuse people in your church, but most of the people in your church, if they Google you or if they’re looking for your offices, they’ll go to your website, and just make sure that your office location and your meeting location are clearly delineated on your church website. But I think removing the word church and, you know, using the word ministry or something of that nature. And then obviously, I think you hit the nail on the head where it’s like, remove it from the category. So when you go into your settings, change it from church, even though it is your church offices, because Google defines a church as the place where people meet to worship. And if your office isn’t that, then make sure that your category is selected differently. So thanks, good answer Jason.

Yeah. Wow.

And thank you, Victoria, for the question.

So it is my turn to ask you, Bart. Okay, here’s a good question. As a comm director or somebody on staff, what are some great churches out there doing some really cool social media posting? Like, what kind of churches should I follow? Do any come to the top of your head on churches that I should follow that are doing some cool stuff?

Well, I’ll say this if, you listen to Brady Shearer, it’ll always be elevation. So I’m going to give you churches other than churches that Brady Shearer would say, not that Elevation is bad, Elevation puts a ton of energy and does some really, really creative stuff in their social media. I think the challenge with most churches is that most churches don’t have the bandwidth to do the kind of stuff that Elevation is doing, but they are certainly they’re certainly really good.

I’m going to name some of the churches that we work with, who I follow on social, and who I think do social content really, really well. One of them is Sun Valley Church in the Phoenix area, Google Sun Valley Phoenix. I just love the creativity of what they do, they tell good stories, you connect on their social media and you have a really good feel, a really good vibe of what their church culture is like. And I just think that they’re great storytellers, they do a great job of capturing really great clips from the pastor’s sermon on Sundays, of course, he’s an incredibly gifted communicator, and their production quality is really, really high. I mean, they pride themselves on taking things to a really high professional level, but think Sun Valley is a great example.

I like Mercy Hill in North Carolina, and I think Mercy Hill is another large multi-campus church. They actually, I think, follow Sun Valley, and they’ve learned a lot from what they see Sun Valley do. But I love Mercy Hill, theirs is a little more organic looking, and it’s a little less of that super polished look that Sun Valley has.

And then I’m going to give a shout-out to a church in San Francisco called Cornerstone, Cornerstone San Francisco. They are doing social media in a very, very different way than I see anybody else doing it because they’re doing ministry in some very, very different ways. I mean, San Francisco is a different world, and so the way that they do ministry and the way they use creative, the way they use music, they use drama and theater and all kinds of things, they do some really, really cool stuff with their social. So I wanted to highlight those churches.

Now, in terms of following people that you can learn from, you know, one of the people that I follow that I would continue to follow is Omar El-Takrori, we’ve had him on our podcast. He’s a pastor, but he’s also a filmmaker and a video maker. If you want to improve your video skills, Omar is awesome.

Another is a Blk Bar. It’s spelled B L K B A R, Blk Bar. Blk Bar is three guys, in fact, one of the guys from Blk Bar, a guy named Caleb, is going to be on our show sometime this fall. We’re still working on trying to work out the schedule, but these are young guys who are in the trenches of ministry, who do media and communication stuff really well. They’re in different churches, but they sort of serve churches in this space, they do consulting and coaching, but they have all kinds of creative ideas, and they have a great podcast. So you can follow Blk Bar.

And then finally, the last one that I would mention is a channel called The Creative Pastor. They have a website and social media content, providing all kinds of free resources to help churches be more creative in the stuff that they’re doing, both in person and online. So those are three of each, three churches that I would follow; and three non-church ministries or people that I think are worth giving a plug. Now, I could ask you to respond to this, but you are like, mister, I spend no time on social media. So wait, here’s what you should say, you should say, well, you should follow Missional Marketing on social media. Should they do that?

Actually, you know what, follow Church Communications.

Okay. Join Church Communications.

That is the other company that we’re involved with.

Follow Katie Allred, there you go. And you can follow Missional Marketing. You know, we don’t produce a lot of social media content, but we do have some stuff out there from time to time that might be helpful. Okay, all right, that was my last question. I’m going to ask you one more question. The last question that I’m going to ask you, this is from Red. Red wants to know, how do you keep attracting people to your church when six months out of the year your Sundays compete with the Green Bay Packers?

Oh my goodness, the Green Bay Packers.

And I’m asking this, this is universal, right? Like I’m in the Dallas Fort Worth area, Sundays compete with the Cowboys. You’re in the Phoenix area, you guys have got no problem with this.

We don’t watch the Cardinals.

No, but there are certain, it’s not just a Packers issue, it is a we’re competing with all kinds of cultural things that keep people away from church and church experience. What are some things that you would do, Jason, if you had something like the Packers competing with your weekend worship services?

You said it. And that’s the biggest dilemma these days, is families have a lot of priorities, they’ve got soccer, they’re going on vacations, they can watch from home. So I guess my, you know, I think the, the wrong approach is how do we get people to come to church on Sunday because, you know, the Packers are on or any other sport or anything is going on. Maybe the question is, how do we deepen the engagement of our people every day of the week? It’s not just Sunday that you know you’re going to go to heaven if you go to church on Sunday, no, you’re going to go to heaven if you have a relationship with Jesus. If you have a relationship with Jesus, relationships, they happen all day, every day around the clock. So maybe you think a little bit, if you want to talk about having your Sunday service, maybe you offer during those busy seasons, a Saturday afternoon service and a Sunday service. So I know that that’s a big, tall order for a lot of churches because you got to pull in volunteers and all that kind of stuff. Possibly what you could do is package it up so you can have people make Monday, or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday a priority to do church.

So let’s stay with the Packers, there are what, 17 weeks in the season, and they’re only home for maybe eight of those games, and then they’ve got some preseason games. So we’re talking like ten weeks out of the year that there are Packer games going on, and they don’t happen Sunday morning. So you probably don’t have the biggest issue with just, you know, a team. I think the the bigger issue is, how do we get our people to constantly build upon their relationship with Jesus, following him closely, and carrying their cross daily. And you know, that doesn’t mean if you don’t come on Sunday morning that you know things are bad, right? It just means you missed you, you put something else as a priority. But we have to recognize that that’s just happening in this society. I’m not saying it’s good or bad, it’s just what people are doing now and it’s just a reality. And when you have kids that are playing sports and they’re traveling on the weekends, what are you going to do? Tell them not to do that, to get to church? That’s probably not the best posture to have. The better posture would be to give me an outlet so I could watch it on a Tuesday evening with my family and encourage families to do that. That’s my off the top of my head answer on it, Bart, do you have a…

Yeah, I think there’s actually two questions. Red’s question was specifically related to attracting people during the football season. Your answer, I think, was really important, which is not necessarily attracting people, but it’s keeping the people who are part of your church engaged and moving forward when they may check out of church for extended periods of time during different seasons. So I think both both are valid things to be thinking through as a church. I’m going to speak specifically to attracting people to your church. The reality is, an unchurched or pre-Christian person, you’re never going to offer much on a Sunday that’s going to compete with the Packers or whatever the other sport the other event is. So I think the big question is, what are the other things that you can do in the life cycle of your church and in your ministry that create first steps or open doors, in alternate ways, that are not just a Sunday morning worship service?

So what are some of the other outreach engagements that you’re doing as a church that are not just Sunday morning? Sunday morning is where we ultimately want people to be, but what kind of community engagement are you doing? How are you visible in the community at other times and other places? What are some other on-ramps that you have for people where they can get engaged with your church as their first step and their first connection with your church, that’s not on a Sunday? And think that every church needs to have some strategy, some churches do tons, they do tons of things outside of Sunday morning as outreach. Some do a few strategic things throughout the year to attract people, to connect with people, to help people get to know them, to like them, and to trust them. I do think, we had Tyler on the show here just a minute ago, and we had Tyler on one of our episodes not too long ago, he talked about a Monday night service, they’re doing Monday night. So, hey, if you’re really worried about it, on Monday night, the Packers will only play on one Monday Night Football game every year. I work with some churches that do Thursday night services, the Packers will only play on Thursday night one game of the year, so you know you can offer alternate service times, which are certainly a valid opportunity. It’s a lot of work, there’s no doubt about that, and it’s difficult to scale. But I think if you’re really targeting to reach unchurched, pre-Christian, de-churched people, Sunday morning is probably not always going to be the best front door for those people, you’re going to have to have other relational social engagement opportunities that connect them before the Sunday that are ultimately designed to lead them towards the Sunday. And I think that’s the best way that I can answer that.

Yeah. And you know, Red, really appreciate that question. And I would say that, you know, don’t have to worry about the Packers making the playoffs, but maybe they will. I can’t even go there because right now the Arizona Cardinals are in the lead to get the first pick of the draft next year by our very losing season, we’ve only won one game so far here. But we really appreciate that question, that’s that’s a tough one.

We would be remiss in not mentioning that on the day that we were recording this. The Arizona Diamondbacks are playing in game seven of the National League Championship Series, and that means that this day is the day after the Texas Rangers punched their ticket into the World Series. So maybe, Jason and I will be hassling each other during the World Series here, if the D-backs can actually take care of the Phillies in the game tonight. And by the time you’re listening to this podcast, you will know, because we’ll probably already be halfway through the World Series if not all the way through it, and this will be a moot point anyway.

Thanks, Jason, for hanging out with me today.

Thank you.

Thanks to those of you who made it this far in the podcast, we appreciate you hanging out with us. If you have a burning question that you would like for us to answer in the show, send me an email put a subject line in there that says burning question, or a question for the podcast, or something of that nature, so don’t miss it, and we’ll add it to our list for upcoming episodes. And until then, we’ll see you next time.

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