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Friday, February 11, 2005

Is Your Ministry Creating Buzz?

BuzzI am very priveleged to live close enough to Granger Community Church in Granger, IN to witness some of the great things that are going on there.  Tony Morgan is the Pastor of Administrative Services at Granger, and he has a great article in this month's issue of The Church Report dealing with how to create 'buzz' in ministry. Here's part of what Tony had to say:

"At Granger Community Church, we've confirmed that most people attend our weekend services for the first time because a friend invited them. In the last church survey we completed, we learned that over 74 percent of the people visited one of our services because of an invitation from a friend. That means invitations are important. And that means conversations that precede those invitations are also very important.

How do you help create those conversations? How do you generate buzz? By buzz, I mean all the dialogue that’s created about the good things that are happening in your ministry. It’s the accumulation of all the conversations that people are having in their e-mail exchanges, in the stands at the soccer fields and over their caramel lattes at Starbucks.

As you consider the buzz that is or isn't being generated, it’s important to remember your competition. If you're trying to reach the unchurched, your competition isn't other churches. Instead it is everything that is competing for someone’s time and attention. It’s the Sunday newspaper, a shopping trip, a tee time, the pillow after a night out with friends. What’s going to grab that person’s attention?

According to Michael Phillips and Salli Rasberry in their book "Marketing Without Advertising: Inspire Customers to Rave About Your Business to Create Lasting Success," your competition is spending an estimated $236 billion each year on print, radio, online and broadcasting advertising to help get the word out about their products, services and experiences. They estimate that each of us is exposed to well over 2,500 advertising messages each day.

Fortunately, people have learned to filter out ads and many times will make purchasing decisions based on the advice of their friends-not unlike the way people choose churches. That’s good news if your ministry is a part of that conversation people are having.

What we've learned through the years at Granger is that buzz is created when we take an unchanging Gospel message and present it using new and creative methods. When people attending our services think, "This is new and different," they tell their friends. And then their friends talk, "Did you hear what they're doing over at Granger?" That’s buzz."

How's your ministry buzz?  (I think buzz is a new 'buzz-word' for what I used to call 'momentum'.  If you've ever been a part of a church with momentum or 'buzz', then you know it is exciting.  People are energized.  New people are checking out the church.  And people are being reached with your message.  It's great fun!  Tony finishes with three great insights about creating ministry buzz:

If you're different, some people won't like it. When you're doing the same thing everyone else is doing, no one notices and no one cares. As soon as you become different, the message gets attention. You want attention even if it means some people will criticize your approach.

Different doesn't have to be big. It could just be periodically launching a new teaching series that creatively ties the topic to something that is generating interest in the culture. Every new series, if done well, creates a new opportunity for conversation and buzz.

Being different involves risk. As soon as you try something a bit outrageous, you run the risk that it may not work. We need to take that risk. If we don't, I believe we run the bigger risk that people will continue to view the church as out-of-touch, irrelevant and boring. Don't let that happen. We have the opportunity to offer people unconditional love, forgiveness, hope and purpose. Let’s consider how we can capture people’s attention and offer them the love of Christ. It’s time we create some buzz.

What do you think?  How has your church created buzz?  How has this helped in reaching your community?  I'd love to hear your stories!

Have a great weekend!

Todd

Oh, and you can read ALL of Tony's article here at The Church Report!

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February 11, 2005 in Outreach and Evangelism | Permalink

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Comments

Todd,
Great topic! I'm sure there will probably be some who question the idea of creating buzz. You know, its not about buzz but about preaching Christ and the word kind of arguments. I am in a small rural town (10,000 people and church about 200. We have created buzz with two different ministries. We have a hot rod ministry where kids gather and work on restoring a classic car. All the time and effort have brough several kids and parents into the shop that would never otherwise hear the Gospel. We have a short devotional and then put them to work on the car. We also have a fishing ministry. Several ofthe older men in the church have begun planning fishing events for elementary and middle school kids. They are taught to fish and are then taught about fishing for men. Both have become very successful in reaching kids and parents in the community. Our goal is to keep our Sunday morning service as a time to teach our members, and to use the buzz ministries to reach out.

Posted by: Bart DeBoer | Feb 11, 2005 2:47:58 PM

If God is moving in the Body, people can't help but "buzz!" You'll either want to TELL about it or people will want to HEAR about it! I'd call that witnessing! Word travels fast and momentem is built. It's that, "Catch a man (or church) on fire for God and people will come watch him burn," thing. Actually, if I'm not mistaken, it's been that way for more than 2000 years or so :)!
The problem can be the source of that beginning spark. Is it a Spirit lead and empowered "buzz" or is it a formulaic Activity = Momentum model?
I'm not even sure it matters what ministry you begin with or what techical/media advancements you may make. It's the Source, the people and purpose. It could simply be people getting excited about The Word! Some goood preachin'! OR, it could be just another PROGRAM that produces the semblance of spiritual activity, momentum and growth.
One will tend to have greater depth, sustainability and grow leaders as well as numbers. The other approach may lead to growth but chances are, it won't have the depth to sustain it. (evolving leadership and vision) Instead of a sustained ministry, you end up with another maintained program.
Ben E.

Posted by: Ben E. | Feb 11, 2005 3:48:54 PM

For me the is Jesus. Jesus went up on the mountain to pray and He came back with the Father's Word, instruction and leading. Many times I will be out in the field and come back and lay it out before the Lord and call upon His Name in faith in my prayer closet and I am given the Word, instruction and leading. Sometimes it takes a while but it always comes. Jesus said My sheep hear My voice and again the Holy Spirit shall teach you all things. When I come before God I pray for a transformation that I would die and Jesus would live. And when Jesus lives what a buss! Paul said I am crucified with Christ never the less it is not I who live but Christ lives in me and the life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.

Posted by: Harry Miller | Feb 14, 2005 4:47:36 PM

Todd:

The Biblical model from 1,2 Tim, 1,2,3 Pet and 1,2 Cor created the the structure most "churches" use... and the triune nature of our US Gov't - 3 branches, checks and balances, etc...

However, the somewhat, "man's nature" antagonistic/prideful/selfish motives, both godd and bad, drives the process along "to portect us all"... In a "Church", this can lead to dis-Unity, even though every brother is a Believer in Our Lord.

The best model/solution I've even seen involvels the Fundamental applications of 1,2 Tim, 1,2,3 Pet and His gifts/fruit of His Holy Spirit, from Eph and Gal...

The "Teaching, or Message" Pastor should be completely SEPARATE from the Elder Board, "govermental" process of the "Church", and not the "Senior Pastor", dirctor, leader, visionary, etc. These are clearly different gifts of God, by design, and forcing a gifted messenger to "Lead" or a gifted Leader/Organizer/Visionary to be the "messenger" is asking for trouble, and outside of God's design..

"Church" charters, articles and other legal origanizational documents should first focus on THE SAINTS - the True Church, and His Message... His Word. The Elders should run the Building, Maint., service, physical aspects of the "Church", and the Message Pastor should be allowed to focus exclusively on edification of His Saints...

It is a truly remarkable Gift of God that all these gifts and abilites and given to one man, and therefore quite rare indeed...

Therefore, it is a organizational structure problem that gets most "Churches" into trouble... Elders vs. Senior Pastor... KO.

Posted by: K O REYNOLDS | Feb 17, 2005 1:19:42 PM

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