Kent Shaffer: Stats, Progress & Christmas

Kent Shaffer: Stats, Progress & Christmas

December 20, 2010 by

This week our series of interviews with board members from our nonprofit parent, the Center for Church Communication (CFCC) turns to Kent Shaffer.

Kent is an organizational strategist making a living via businesses like so he can volunteer with ministries like You can read Kent’s thoughts about creating effective and efficient organizations at or the highly respected You can also follow him on Twitter.

You’re a data and numbers guy. What’s the most important stat churches should be paying attention to that they’re likely not?

Kent Shaffer: Churches need to be measuring life change. They should be looking at life change over time as well as life change per dollar. Each week measure how many people dedicate their lives to Christ, how many rededicate, and how many get baptized. Measure how many people are involved in small groups, missions, volunteering, etc. Then compare these numbers to your church budget to discover how much money your church spends to get each unit of life change.

The goal is to increase life change while decreasing per capita spending. Low life change or high spending are signs of trouble.

What’s the most exciting thing you’ve seen churches do to communicate in the past year?

Kent: The global church has ingested a lot of learning over the last decade—learning about church marketing, breaking down denominational barriers and enjoying the rise of free online content in abundance. During seasons of learning, it is natural for the student to become over-bloated with information and have difficulty sifting through information, converting it to practical steps and then executing a polished blueprint.

What excites me is it seems like many churches are finally reaching a more balanced understanding of how to communicate. There is less novelty, less tackiness and less collateral damage. And there is more outreach, more relationships and more authentic transparency.

What’s one thing you’ve learned about marketing from volunteering with

Kent: Organizational culture is the single most important ingredient for marketing. Whether good or bad, it influences what will be communicated through words, behavior and environment at every touchpoint the church has with people. At a church, the pulpit is the rudder and guides the culture. The culture that Craig Groeschel creates from the pulpit during church services and during staff meetings is unquestionably the most valuable marketing asset has.

You keep a lot of lists—top blogs, top churches, etc. What’s the greatest thing we can learn from these kinds of lists?

Kent: I find that the more I study the methodology and theology of other churches, the more my own theology and understanding of church best practices matures and becomes balanced. Top church lists naturally are incapable of including all of the best churches, but despite this limitation, they do provide a very good starting list of churches that are useful to study.

What do you see down the road for the Center for Church Communication specifically and church communication in general?

Kent: Seven years ago the challenge was teaching the basics of church communication. Now we’re moving into a phase where CFCC and other church communicators must be intentional about being progressive and furthering their understanding of great communication. After a period of progress, those who brought about change often become comfortable and stop being proactive. Church communication has come a long way in the last decade, and we must continue to raise the bar.

How can churches make the most of Christmas this year, knowing that it’s only five days away and there’s only so much they can now implement?

Kent: Christmas is almost here. And if you are a church looking to make the most of Christmas this year, start shifting your mindset now. Odds are you’ve been planning something big for Christmas, and you will be busy preparing for it throughout the week. But start shifting now. Begin shifting your mindset from obsessive details and performance perfection to loving on people. Who cares if your Christmas festivities are worthy of Broadway if your entire church staff is cold, tense and irritable because of an unhealthy hyperfocus on performance? Church leadership sets the tone and atmosphere for the rest of the congregation, so start relaxing and having some fun while you wrap up the final details. People want to be loved, so focus on exuding joy and inclusiveness. You can’t fake that (people can tell), so you need to start preparing now. Happiness is contagious. Enjoy your Christmas.

God Rest Ye Stressed Communicators: Planning Christmas for Your ChurchMore:


Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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