Category Archives: church marketing

23 Tips for an Engaging Church Website Welcome Video

EngagingWelcomesThis thought should consume every church communications point person:


Your Website is Your Church’s Digital Front Door.

A First Time Guest can feel welcomed, or unwelcome, before they ever set foot on your church campus to meet one of your oh-so-chipper welcome team volunteers. Every church with a website now possesses the opportunity create a great first impression with a simple, warm online welcome video.

I recently heard a popular film-maker unpack the growing “YouTube-ification” of digital content in a recent leadership podcast. This famous documentarian described the increasingly wide acceptance (and sharing and “Liking”) of video content made from iPhones and digital cameras. The cultural expectation-shift he outlined renders the absolute requirement for thousands of dollars worth of production equipment nearly obsolete for most web-delivered videos. The latest iPhone, model 6s, shoots video at a stunningly high “4K” resolution – which most home televisions cannot even fully reproduce.

With this growing cultural acceptance of less-produced content, the capacity on most smartphones to capture high resolution video, and the availability of online video editors (YouTube has an integrated “Creators Dashboard”), no viable reason exists to justify not having some kind of personable welcome video on your church website.

Here are 23 tips for creating an engaging church website welcome video. While no church website welcome video nails all 23, I have also included a few video links to good examples of some of these ideas in action.

  1. Avoid The Shakes – it is probably a good idea to find a less-caffeinated person than the Youth Minister or just employ a tripod.
  2. Use Good Lighting – shoot a test video and watch out for dark shadows or sun squints.
  3. Briefer Is Better – stay within the 2-3 minute timeframe if you want to keep the viewers attention and induce an action. Remember: your viewer’s time is a gift, not a given.

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    Newbreak Church in San Diego features short introductions from each of their Campus Pastors.

  4. Introduce Yourself Quickly – save your whole story for a membership class or special occasion, but clearly let them know who you are.
  5. Find Interesting Surroundings – unless there is a secret door behind them, do not shoot in front of your office bookcases. Shoot somewhere with visual interest, but not too distracting.
  6. Have A Point – ask yourself, what is the single most important thing you want a viewer to know or do? Make the video about that one thing.

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    Pastor Vern Streeter introduces viewers to Harvest Church in Billings, Montana.

  7. Fun Is Allowed – injecting some personality and levity may help ease a first time guest’s irrational and unfounded fears about attending a church.
  8. Don’t Be Funny – unless you actually are. One way to know for sure is to confirm that someone else other than your mom thinks so. Trying too hard to be funny makes a serious connection too hard for someone new.
  9. You Do You – self-confidence is attractive, so be yourself as much as possible. Use other staff and lay leaders to provide a personality balance if needed.
  10. Remember Who’s Watching – after your initial “reveal” the ongoing audience for your church website video will be 90% first time guests and friends of your parents. So, speak to the guest, not your church membership.

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    The first four (funny) words from Pastor Steve Madsen of Cornerstone Fellowship in Livermore, California immediately connect with the viewer.

  11. Start from Zero – even if you are the biggest church in town, assume that your viewer knows nothing. Communicate the most critical information – especially if your building is confusing or the parking lot is crowded.

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    Brentwood Baptist Church outside of Nashville, Tennessee navigates potential guests with engaging graphics.

  12. Share the Moment – leverage the personality, giftedness and diversity of other staff and volunteers. Give the viewer more than one person to hear from.

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    Good Shepherd United Methodist in Charlotte, North Carolina shares their vision and story through church members.

  13. Use Strategic B-Roll – include background footage of worship and kids spaces to sustain interest under dialogue. Do not just talk about an engaging children’s ministry, show it off!

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    Kensington Church, outside of Detroit, Michigan leverages compelling background imagery to introduce the viewer to ministry environments.

  14. Tell A Story – relate the experience of an attender who’s life is different because of God through your church. Testimony is the currency of transformation.

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    The Brook Church in Madison, Alabama uses church members with transformational experiences to share their story.

  15. Don’t Wing It – decades in the pulpit are still light years away from talking into a camera. Script what you have to say to avoid rambling and, umm, a bunch of, umm, filler words.
  16. Remember to Smile – your belief in the church and sincerity of message are unconsciously related to facial expression. A genuine smile will say more than your words ever will.
  17. Employ A Pro – even though the bar of cultural expectation is much lower than it was even 2 years ago, there is no substitute for an experienced visual storyteller. Professional videographers and editors will exponentially increase your communication effectiveness and will be worth every penny. That said, not having the pennies for a pro is no longer a viable excuse for not having a website welcome video.

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    Renewal Church in Chicago engages hearts through stunning imagery and visual storytelling.

  18. Set Experience Expectations – describe and show what a Guest’s worship experience could be, but don’t over sell it. The bait and switch technique only works for used car dealers.

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    The visual experience of a typical Sunday translates through video from Asbury United Methodist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina.

  19. Use Weekend Words – cute names of buildings, services and classes are fine for insider communication, but your video should speak to outsiders. Speak with words that a functioning, non-seminarian might use on a Saturday with their children.
  20. Conversationally Share Vision – you can state your values without reciting a list of values… just tell them why you do what you do as a church, and how it might make a difference in their life. If you have one, build communication around your Tag Line, not your mission statement (here’s why).

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    Dr. Richard Kannwischer relates the vision of St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church of Newport Beach, California.

  21. Give Audio Attention – be sensitive to background noise and make sure the audio is clear and crisp. Most people will check-out before they lean-in and strain to understand what you are saying. Good background music also sets an emotional undertone.
  22. Highlight Important Points – when you say something profound or a web address and twitter handle is stated, use a text “card” like the old silent movies used to. Words create worlds, say them and show them.
  23. Post To Facebook – which may be the easiest invitation tool you place in your peoples’ hands. Encourage sharing and liking but note if that is not happening. You may need to rethink your video approach.


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4 Bracket-Busting Plays for Welcoming Guests this Easter


It’s time for March Madness.

In the sporting world, March Madness is the NCAA Men’s Division One basketball tournament, dominating the next few weeks of speculation and conversation.

In the church world, March Madness is Easter Sunday, and every service leading up to it, dominating the next few weeks of speculation and conversation.

Many leaders will go all out to connect as many people to the Gospel of Christ on this largest guest attendance weekend of the year. Savvy church leaders are presently focusing their attention on the pathway and points of entry a guest will take to attend worship services this Easter. Spring is a natural and necessary time of year to take a look at your Guest Welcoming and Hospitality ministry, and like 64 basketball coaches right now, make adjustments to capitalize on one shining moment.

In the spirit of March Madness, here are four bracket-busting plays for welcoming Guests this Easter:

1. Tweak the Fundamentals

Nine out of ten guests this Easter will go to your website first. What will they see? More importantly what will they not see? Some estimate that last year the number of networked devices in the world DOUBLED the global population. If you are not already solid in the fundamentals with your website, then you are behind.

Some Easter-critical tweaks could be:

  • a clear and prominent “I’m New” button or page
  • Easter service times, and stylistic differences of services, if any
  • your address, directions, parking information and a map
  • a short description, with photo, or video clip of the worship experience
  • information on Children’s Ministry, including security/safety procedures

2. Remember, the Best Offense is a Good Defense 

Once a de-churched or unchurched Guest decides to attend this Easter, the enemy will use everything possible to distract and dissuade them from attending. This means that your Hospitality Team should be on point and playing defense once that family or individual reaches the campus. Two types of defense are:

Zone Defense  – Just like on the court, positioning people to cover a certain geographic area of your campus is key. This may even include having vest-wearing greeters at a key intersection or navigation point off campus, joyfully directing people toward life-change in Christ. One fundamental advantage of a Zone Defense in basketball is controlling the tempo of the game. Employing a Zone Defense in your parking lot, hallways and information tables is the best possible way to ensure the best possible the guest experience. An effective Zone Defense maps out the strategic points of connection in each area, and plants an informed, smiling face at each one.

Man-to-Man (M2M) Defense – There are times however, when a direct, one-to-one approach is necessary in the Hospitality Ministry. One huge area to play M2M is in the Children’s Ministry. This is a great opportunity to recruit additional volunteers to walk guest families to each child’s classroom, facilitating or explaining the security and sign-in procedure along the way. This simple action provides direct reassurance to each new parent that their child will be cared for, and could minimize a significant distraction to Gospel receptivity. Other M2M defensive areas could include altar calls, next step tables and guest receptions.

 3. First Make Four Passes, Then Take the Shot

What if every guest you have this Easter receives at least four genuine smiles, four warm handshakes or four verbal welcomes before they ever enter the worship environment? Everything that a new person experiences, good and bad will impact their receptivity to the message of Easter. From parking lot to pew, if your leaders are trained and positioned to deliver four smile-passes to everyone who enters, you can be sure that your worship experience and your message will find a wide-open heart, ready for the salvation-shot.

4. Crash The Boards

Specifically, on your knees. Instead of praying for a billion-dollar bracket, this could be a season of prayer and intercession on behalf of those who will attend this Easter. The Holy Spirit is already at work in the lives of those who will come, needing to be transformed by the Gospel. Lead your welcome team to pray regularly, for your guests this Easter, and every Sunday for that matter. Watch what happens as leaders catch the vision to welcome life change at a door, in a parking lot or beside an information table.

Each year, just 12 players get to cut down the tournament nets in victory. However, every leader in your church has an opportunity to celebrate the use of their gifts to see the lost be found this season.

There is no better time than now to get out on the court and press for the win.

This post first appeared on March 18, 2014 and has been updated.

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Filed under Campus Pastor, church growth, Church Life, church marketing, Guest Perspective, Multi Site Church, MultiSite Church, pastoral leadership

23 Ways Your Church Website May Be Driving Away First Time Guests


Imagine if it was your first day on staff and you just discovered that your church’s front door was:

– hidden from view and hard to find

– still decorated from last Christmas

– covered in dirt and cobwebs

– cluttered with ministry flyers and notices.

Without hesitation, you would clean and repaint it immediately. You would then find a way to use people and signage, while leveraging every resource possible, to make the entrance beautiful, easy and obvious to find.

Your church website is more important than your front door. 

In fact, nine out of ten first time Guests visit online before visiting onsite, so your church website IS your front door. In 2015, the number of networked devices (phones, tablets, laptops) more than doubled the global population. Today, your church website is your digital front door for nearly everyone who will consider visiting your church, and then reconsider based upon what they find, or don’t find.

Here are 23 ways your website may be driving away first time Guests: 

  1. If it projects an “us vs.them” dynamic, using a term like Visitor instead of Guest.
  2. If it has your Christmas graphic on rotation… in February.
  3. When 80% of your web content is actually geared for members, making it little more than a very expensive calendar for a select group of people.
  4. If there are too many written words and the menu navigation becomes complex and confusing.
  5. When there are too many ministries and activities… because we all know today’s average family sits around looking to be busier.
  6. If your stock photography of diverse people projects an image far from your congregational reality.
  7. When you do not have a picture of the church building or of the front door.
  8. If your photos and videos are poor quality and improperly sized.
  9. If you have not given the Guest a clear next step to take in visiting.
  10. When you are missing a clear and obvious welcome of Guests with a link to critical information on visiting.
  11. If your service times are anything less than large and obvious, because that is really the main thing a Guest is looking for.
  12. When you have different service styles but they are unexplained… remember, one Guest’s idea of traditional worship might be another’s idea of contemporary.
  13. When your worship services or small groups have cute and creative names that are ultimately meaningless outside of those circles.
  14. When the pastor’s welcome letter is more about a Reformational Theology than a Great Commission Cardiology.
  15. When the pastor’s welcome video is too long and too creepy, and therefore not too inviting.
  16. If your photos are of lobbies and hallways instead of worship gatherings and people groups.
  17. When you are assuming that free coffee (which doesn’t taste all that great) is still attractional to lost people.
  18. If you have forgotten that social media is a great connector, because you still have a church directory and yellow page ads… it’s called Facebook.
  19. When you have made an obvious choice toward a low-cost and generic “church website” over a useful and attractive “digital front door.”
  20. If your content requires updating from multiple people, which never actually happens.
  21. When you post links for giving money when you have not linked giving to a vision beyond money.
  22. If the primary URL is a tagline or slogan instead of your church name.
  23. If there is no responsiveness to mobile device viewing, because smart phones are the new desktop computer.

At Auxano, we love serving as strategic outsiders to help churches realize breakthrough effectiveness on their website, through the lens of vision clarity. No service style or theological treatise will impact a true First Time Guest more than a clear sense of “who we are” and “what we are called to do” will.

Start a conversation with an Auxano Navigator today to learn more about our Vision and Communication services.


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Filed under church growth, Church Life, church marketing, Church Planting, Guest Perspective, Multi Site Church, MultiSite Church, Outreach, pastoral leadership

7 of the Worst Themes Ever for a Capital Campaign

Everyone knows that fundraising success in a church capital campaign is not dependent on the theme.

A vision campaign can succeed apart from its name or visual communication. However, a bad theme will severely limit the effectiveness of visionary communication during a campaign. Any time spent reiterating or otherwise explaining a theme -beyond the initial introduction- distracts from conversations elevating discipleship and expends energy apart from accomplishing the mission.

Church vision campaign themes function best when they inspire hearts and mark a season of God-revealed possibility. The Resourcing Team at Auxano uses these three axioms to weigh the impact and effectiveness of capital campaign themes:

  1. Don’t be cute, be clear. Direct marketing should never overshadow disciple making, and campaign themes or taglines that “try too hard” end up making clarity of what you are trying to accomplish harder to understand.
  1. Speak to Impact, not Project. Project goals should never be the communicated “ends” of a Biblical season of campaigning. Whatever you are trying to raise funds for – be it a new building, debt retirement, or outreach initiative – is not the vision, but a God-directed tool used to accomplish the vision. Communicating success in terms of dollars raised breeds a culture in which the vision must be another new facility, program, or personality rather than Great-Commission engagement.
  1. Invite to Live Big, not just Give Big. We are close to the heart of Jesus when our motivation for calling people to Biblical stewardship and lives of generosity grows from a heart of what we want for them, not from them. The Biblical and eternal success of a vision campaign emerges months later through increased participation in groups, greater numbers of volunteers engaged, and congregants walking deeper in relationship with Christ… not meeting the stated financial goal.

Here are seven *completely satirical* examples of Biblical, yet wholly inappropriate, capital campaign themes for seasons of church fundraising:

This is the right idea, maybe just the wrong words…



Some Old Testament narrative may have unintended implications and needs be avoided…



To really lose credibility with the millennial crowd…



This one is perfect for a fast food, consumer-driven church culture…



There is the carrot approach to motivating people, but this takes the stick approach a bit too far…



Because nothings says “Jesus Loves You” like an “us vs. them” approach…



And sometimes, you just have to straight up threaten generosity out of folks.



Filed under church growth, Church Life, church marketing, pastoral leadership, Random Fun

The Official 2016 Church Vision Generator

It’s that time of year again.

Time to resolve and time to budget. Time to exercise and to excise. Time to engage, and especially, a time to envision.

It is this time every year, that leaders across the Church landscape will dream, plan and inspire toward God’s preferred future. A few will dig in and collaborate with their teams to develop a viral language of vision. Others will read a book that explains and guides them to craft vision, like Will Mancini’s upcoming release God Dreams.*

But unfortunately, many well-intentioned church leaders will simply imitate successful statements from other congregations. Or even worse, they will piece random visionish-type words together that sound catalytic… yet remain catatonic.

For those in the later category looking for a bit of help, once again this year, with tongue firmly-in-cheek…

Here is your Official 2016 Church Vision Generator:

Vision Generator 16

Click to Enlarge

*God Dreams, is the anticipated follow-up to Will’s first book on crafting vibrant vision: Church Unique. God Dreams releases January 1, from Amazon and other retailers. Download a preview PDF of Chapter 1 here

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5 Important Lessons for Pastors from Adele’s Monumental Week

Cover Image c/o Gannett

Cover Image c/o Gannett

The results are staggering.

Even unbelievable when you look at the numbers.

Adele released her latest album ’25’ on Friday, November 20, and over the course of just 7 days, it became one of the largest selling records in modern history. Adele sold more of her new album in one week, than arguably the biggest artist on the planet right now – Taylor Swift – sold of her new album in all of 2015. That’s a lot of 20-something angst out there. Billboard magazine did the math, ’25′ averaged 335 copies sold… per minute last week. 

Not only was this the first album to EVER sell more than 3 million in one week, the most impressive stat might just be that more than half of the copies of ’25′ sold last week… wait for it… were physical copies. Yes, 51% of the people used their hands to pick up a CD from an actual shelf somewhere, then walked around a store with it in a steel and plastic shopping cart, and finally paid for said CD at a “cash” register through an interaction with another human being. Two weeks ago, nearly everyone would have written off physical album sales, or anything other than music streaming services, as outdated. Today, a new horizon of possibilities exists of how music might still be sold.

In looking at the success of ’25’ pastors can heed five important lessons from Adele’s monumental week:


Lesson 1: Word of Mouth is Vital Viral Marketing

Have you heard? Did you see? We should go together… Personal 1-1 invitations to experience something new, something that excites and incites passion, is still the most valuable marketing proposition. I heard that I “should listen” to the debut single from ’25’ and saw dozens of Facebook posts about “Hello,” before I ever heard the song itself. Of course, I could not wait to hear it, and I hope the gentleman on the plane next to me that next morning enjoyed hearing it 25 or so times between Nashville and Atlanta.

The Lesson Unpacked: Giving your congregation something meaningful to be passionate and invitational about will have far more impact than a billboard or postcard. One excited neighbor, one fired-up Facebook friend, anticipating life-change with every Christmas service invite, costs less and means more than most contemporary marketing methods we tend to pursue.


Lesson 2: People Still “Will” If there is Value

It is easy to jump on the bemoaning bandwagon and talk about what people will not do anymore. Easy to sit and pine for the days of old when culture was not disintegrating before our eyes. People do not “buy” music anymore, especially CD’s or so “they” said. Do not tell that to the masses walking around Target holding an actual copy of Adele’s album. Who could have imagined in 2015, physical sales would ever outpace digital sales in the first week.

The Lesson Unpacked: As leaders in the church, if we will bring a high value to the planning, preparation and execution of what we are called to do, it might be surprising at what people WILL do. Maybe the diminishing and lackluster attendance at our churches each Sunday is not as much about what connected families won’t do anymore, and more about the value we are placing on the life-changing and transformational experiences that are offered, or not offered, each week.


Lesson 3: Leaders Do not Over Analyze Trends

This idea is closely related to #2, in that it is important to know and understand current trends in our church and community, but leaders create trends rather than responding to them. Adele and her team decided that, despite the somewhat proven formulaic approach to success that other artists recently have taken (streaming services, “prime” release times), they would stick to a plan that both reflected and protected their unique vision. The resulting sales were more than anyone projected.

The Lesson Unpacked: If we spend too much time with our finger in the wind or ear to the ground we stand a good chance of losing sight of Christ calling us into God’s preferred future of life and growth. Any organization or organism that is healthy is in some way growing, reproducing or expanding. If we will be obedient to His leadership, to reflect and protect our unique calling – no matter the trends – God will do more than we could ever ask or imagine.


Lesson 4: Waiting on Quality is Better Than Rushing

Even if we miss the “window,” sometimes resisting the urge to rush or hurry an incomplete thought or underdeveloped idea actually helps us. Waiting on a new album from Adele had almost become a cultural punch line, always rumored but never confirmed. As it turns out, close to three and a half million people thought that it was worth the wait.

The Lesson Unpacked: People do not know what they do not know, until they know what you do not know or did not see. Hurry stresses creative teams, erodes confidence in a long-range plan and often leaves ideas trapped in an immature life stage. Waiting, developing and nurturing an idea to maturity, even if it takes longer than we would like, creates an environment of exponential and lasting impact through the Gospel.


Lesson 5: Live In Your Sweet Spot 

People respond to authenticity and unconsciously feel when a leader is not living in their strength or has created a persona or style different from who they are. ’25′ is the next step in Adele’s development as an artist, as a 20-something adult, now with a family, looking back on broken relationships of the past. It could have been easy to emulate the Super-Pop-Hook sound of Taylor Swift’s latest release, or the style and success of other currently charting. Instead, Adele stayed right in the center of her melody-driven vocal prowess, and the results are quite literally, history.

The Lesson Unpacked: Substance has always mattered more than style and always will. It is likely that “That Church” in your community is not gaining more ground because of their style of worship or teaching, but because they are leaders living right in the center of whom they are called to be. Changing who you are to please the masses disconnects the leader from themselves and from their congregation. 


In learning from these five lessons, as well as a few others, the church might once again lead the culture through an innovative and engaging expression of the Gospel of Christ. For now, artists like Adele can inspire us toward those new horizons of possibility that lay ahead.

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Church Buildings Are Powerful Ways to Celebrate Vision Every Day

IMG_5958Every church will at some time engage in some form of construction, renovation or environmental transformation… well, every church at some time SHOULD, most will. Churches that do not regularly update environments will soon become more a museum of well-preserved ceremonial artifacts, rather than meeting house for active engagement of The Living God.

When the time comes to make the largest capital expenditure a church will ever make, and even possibly take on years of debt repayment, it is critical that the environments facilitate vision, rather than supplant the vision. Having a clear sense of missional success, through a concept like the “mission measures” found in the Vision Frame, becomes instrumental in creating more than four expensive walls and a roof.

The next church construction project can become a creation of compelling environments when intentional thought toward celebrating mission measures happens. In other words, the building itself can be a powerful way to reinforce what matters most at the church and celebrate vision every day. Side note: if what matters most is more and more people in the building, a church may be living in the “field of dreams” state, explained here.

Reminding the body of the church’s missional call through creation of compelling environments takes much more intention than it does investment.

It’s often the low-cost, yet high impact building features that make the greatest impression. Before starting the next church building project, be it a full-on relocation or a new-paint renovation, stop and think through how the opportunity to celebrate mission measures could happen in this new environment.

A few minutes invested toward celebrating what matters most, through a compelling built environment, will have more consistent and lasting impact on the average church member than the next 10 years of “vision sermons” ever will.


Here is a case study of how a church with well defined missional marks; answering the leadership question, ‘WHEN are we successful at our mission?’ might create intentional moments within the experience of their building.

Church Context: Established Downtown “First Church” Relocating

Developed Mission: Leading people beyond “just good enough” to experience LIFE in Christ.

Developed Mission Measures: A LIFE beyond just good enough is marked by:

 Loving God & Others 

asking: Is my worship all-in? Is my caring all-out?

 Investing in the Kingdom

asking: What is my spiritual ROI yielding? Where is my global POV leading?

 Faithfully Sharing

asking: Whose threshold do I need to cross? Who needs to hear my story?

 Engaging in Service

asking: Does my calling change my living? Does my living change my giving?

10 ways that compelling environments can celebrate LIFE:

  1. Create a video-driven story center in the Lobby to see and hear of people experiencing LIFE In Christ, celebrate baptism and transformation, show camp, outreach and mission experiences on a loop.
  2. Develop flexible spaces of multiple uses day-to-day, not just week-to-week.
  3. Use sustainable materials that reflect stewardship of natural and financial resources
  4. Remind congregation of a global POV through an interactive, and staffed, Missions Center in the lobby celebrating impact and engaging support.
  5. Create high impact, visually compelling and safe Family Ministry environments to reach younger generation. Move the playground to the front entrance rather than a back or side to create interaction before and after services and invite the community on campus during the week.
  6. Allow the more task-oriented members to exercise their gifting for event or environment setup and maintaining of the campus through non-permanent seating and flex-space.
  7. Incorporate a physical, obvious and illustrative “threshold” to model crossing. Express threshold idea by using contrasting materials, creating a physical portal that all pass through, or including a substantive element to “cross over” representing this first step in faithfully sharing.
  8. Create intentional vistas to the community with well placed windows and narrative graphics, as a reminder of where Faithfully Sharing primarily happens
  9. Remind everyone of the community ties to the land and serve with community gardens and inviting campus features. Walking paths, sports fields, exercise stations and comfortable places to gather draw community interest beyond worship hours on Sunday morning
  10. Establish a center of family life in the community by filling gaps in sport, theater and meeting space. Survey the community and build flexible spaces, indoors and out, that are usable for school performances, local arts groups or civic organizations.


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