Interview with a Church Planter: Pete Hixson

December 15, 2008 by

This is part one of a four part series where Church Marketing Sucks discusses marketing with successful church planters. First up is Pete Hixson of Vinings Lake Church.

Church Marketing Sucks: Pete, thanks for taking a few minutes to talk with us. Give us a quick, two-sentence intro of who you are and what you do.

Pete: We are a two-and-half-year-old church plant in a suburb of metro Atlanta. We have a come-as-you-are, non-denominational feel, and we exist to make disciple-makers of Jesus Christ and to love and serve others in our community and beyond. Our church and our process is simple, so we do not have a barrage of programs to accomplish our mission.

CMS: How did you get the word out about your church plant?

Pete: We launched an “Extreme Church Makeover” marketing campaign in our area because we were planting in a 50-year-old existing church building that was very run down and in need of remodeling. We used mailers, signs and word-of-mouth to announce our launch.

CMS: Did your strategy for letting people know about your church change a lot pre-launch to post-launch?

Pete: Not tremendously. To date, direct mailers and word-of-mouth (personal invites) are still our most effective marketing strategy. One major change we did make about a year in was an upgrade to our web site. Our initial web site was bare bones and probably should have been upgraded sooner than it was.

CMS: Do you have other church planters you used as a model?

Pete: We learned the most from NorthPoint Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga., Mountain Lake Church in Cumming, Ga., Westridge Church in Hiram, Ga. and the NoonDay Association of Marietta, Ga.

CMS: How do you connect people initially and also close the back door so you get committed followers instead of transient visitors?

Pete: We have a process for our attenders of “come, connect and commit” whereby we encourage and expect to see a progression of spiritual growth through: coming to Christ (accepting Jesus as their personal Savior), connecting with others (fellowship, relationships, volunteering – Sunday services, community groups, etc.) and committing their whole lives in service to God (loving and serving others, investing and inviting – “making disciple makers”).

We have an environment called VL 101 that takes place about every six weeks in which a person can learn more about Vinings Lake, get plugged into one of our volunteer teams or sign up for our next Group Connect event (small group assimilation). Group Connect events are our main step to connecting people into small groups and this takes place two to three times per year right now. Visitors are also given the opportunity through the use of “Connection Cards” to get wired in by choosing to engage in various areas of personal interest. Getting people connected through volunteer teams and Community Groups and having them buy into our mission and vision allows people to “stick” as well as to have opportunities to grow and be challenged in their faith.

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Joshua Cody

Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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