Stop Making Outreach All About You

Stop Making Outreach All About You

September 30, 2015 by

There’s a church that put together a beautiful guide for people new in town. It’s full of useful information on community events, festivals, sports leagues, farmers markets and more.

There’s another church that created a free video series for parents of upcoming teenagers. Each video shared encouraging words of wisdom from someone who’s been there and offered practical ideas to parents who didn’t really know what they were about to experience.

And then there’s another church that put together an amazing list of affordable family day trips and shared it on their social media channels. A follow-up list gave couples 10 date night ideas and ended up being featured by local news.

Sadly, none of these stories are real. But all of them should be.

It’s time for the church to shift its approach from “Look at us” to “Let’s talk about you.”

As evangelistic methods shift in a post-Christian world, it’s important for churches to adjust their strategies. Many of our messages to the community are self-centered. They have an altruistic intent, but they’re really about us and what we offer at our church.

  • “Check out this new series.”
  • “You should come to our epic event!”
  • “We have this band, this speaker, this program, and this ministry…”

Look at me. Look at me. Look at me.

I know you don’t mean it that way, and these programs and events really do have the potential to alter someone’s life trajectory. But it’s a “selfie” strategy of promotion.

It’s time for the church to shift its approach from “Look at us” to “Let’s talk about you.”

It’s time for churches to add value to the people in their community.

A Radical New Approach: Adding Value

Instead of talking about your programs and ministries, change your approach. Start adding value. Start helping people before you invite them to church or even into a conversation. When you shift your approach, here’s what could happen.

  1. You build trust with people in the community.
  2. You provide introductory pastoral care to people who don’t even attend your church.
  3. You earn the opportunity to invite them to church.
  4. You get to know the real and felt needs of your community.
  5. You create conversations.

Three Things You Can Do to Start Adding Value

If you’re ready to change your language and tweak your approach, here are three things you can do:

  1. Create valuable content people actually want. Survey your community. Pull some people together to brainstorm topics. Figure out what people are talking about, and enter the conversation. Create helpful content that addresses questions people are actually asking. It could be a checklist, guide, ebook or short video.
  2. Repurpose your existing content in a way that’s easy to digest and share. Your church is already awesome at creating content… you do it every week. You can repurpose and repackage it to make it more user-friendly. Remember that amazingly helpful sermon series you preached last fall? Why not turn it into a short ebook? Why not create a follow-up resource? Why not repurpose into three short videos? You’ve already got the content—make it shorter and sharable and extend the shelf life. Your most popular sermon series of the last year is the perfect candidate.
  3. Share your content online. Once you create helpful content, share it online. Facebook and Twitter are perfect for this. Instead of using those platforms as digital versions of your bulletin, use these platforms to add value. If you want to increase engagement, stop making announcements and start posting helpful, valuable content.

Interestingly enough, many small businesses and major corporations are realizing this is a better approach to marketing. In the business world, it’s called content marketing. That term might not connect with pastors and church leaders, but it’s really just a form of online outreach.

If you want to learn more about content marketing for churches, download this free ebook. It will walk you through a five-step system to implementing the ideas in this post.

Post By:

Michael Lukaszewski

Michael is the CEO of Church Fuel, an organization committed to providing insanely practical resources to senior pastors. Before starting this company, he was a student pastor and church planter in the Atlanta area.
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6 Responses to “Stop Making Outreach All About You”

  • Debi Duke
    October 1, 2015

    The link for the ebook doesn’t work.

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  • Jerry Hebenstreit
    October 8, 2015

    Tried to link to get the Content marketing ebook — no luck.

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  • Kendra Fleming
    October 8, 2015

    Great article Michael! I’m going to read it with my team and talk about it. It’s easy to get caught in the “look at me” trap because our motives are good. Takes a little more work to add value.
    Thanks for sharing!

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  • Robert Lane
    October 12, 2015

    Another way to categorize this approach is “Permission.” I heard that term from a decade old Seth Godin book. It really boils down to building relationships. The church should already be doing that regularly. Very thought provoking article and the first I’ve seen of its kind.

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