15 Steps To Add a Digital Outreach To Your Church

digital outreachUnderstandably, the first question that might come to mind is, “Why should we add a Digital Outreach to our church?”  Well, there are a host of reasons you might want to pursue new ideas for outreach, and the reasons for Digital Outreach are indicated below:

  1. You will have the ability to reach out beyond the confines of your church to a greater, broader community.
  2. If your church currently ‘serves” those in a ten mile radius, your Digital Ministry can go nationwide, or even international.
  3. It will allow you to better fill the Great Commission, per Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.”
  4. Allow you a way of ministering to a vast mission field!

After wondering “why” to go Digital, the next natural concern is “what to do” to go Digital. You may want to establish a Digital Outreach Team, which will coordinate with those in charge of creating other ideas for church outreach.  Together, they can create a plan to implement all your outreach ministry ideas.  Following are fifteen suggestions to help you create a Digital Ministry.

  1. Launch Prayer Walls – An excellent way to facilitate outreach to people’s needs can be added to the website or church Facebook page.
  2. Establish an E-Mail Campaign – That people can receive for free, like “40 Days to a  Happier Marriage”.
  3. Set up a Facebook Page For your Church’
  4. Offer Free Downloads – White papers on various topics such as “Three Weeks to overcoming a Negative Thought Life” or “10 Biblical Steps to Getting your Financial House in Order.”
  5. Offer Electronic Bible Studies – “How to Establish & Improve Your Prayer Life.”
  6. Translate your Website into a Foreign Language – Preferably the predominant one in the area you serve.
  7. Turn Pastor’s Sermon Series into e-books’.
  8. “Stream” your Services on your Website and/or upload videos to You Tube’
  9. Place “Teaching Videos” on You Tube  – Pastor having a “conversational chat” on various topics via digi-cam.
  10. Develop an “Articles Archive” – Written on a variety of topics, you are basically creating an “Online Library”.
  11. Develop an “Online” Bookstore’
  12. Develop a “Bulletin Board Forum” to discuss various topics/issues.
  13. Establish an “e Learning Center” – Classes on virtually any topic:  Bible Studies.
  14. Create a “Christian Calendar” – Upcoming Events, Local & National.
  15. Have a Church Blog – Discuss current events and life today from a Biblical point of view (Movies, Political Issues).

AND HERE’S A “BONUS” STEP!!!

1. Create a Prayer Chain – “Text Message” Prayer Chain

Now that you know “why” and “what,” visit Pathmaker Marketing  to learn “how!”

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Church Outreach Ideas — How to Use a Prayer Wall

Prayer WallA prayer wall is a web application where you can conveniently post prayers and pray for others as well. It’s so easy to use and the convenience will put prayer chains to shame. Updates on past prayers are easy to do; you don’t need to send hundreds of emails to keep people informed. Talk about Church outreach ideas, this is the best there is. Here is how to use it:

  1. Post your prayer request like a tweet – The best way to post a prayer is to make it concise so that those who will pray for you will not have a hard time remembering your request. Added to that, there are also details that you want to intentionally miss out especially if they are too personal. You can think of this as a tweet except that it’s a prayer.
  2. Post a prayer for others too – Don’t just pray for yourself, pray for others as well. Intercession is a virtue that is highly encouraged in the church and what better way to help your brethren than to pray for them and encourage others to pray for them too?
  3. Avoid correcting the prayers of others  – If you disagree with other peoples’ prayer request, there is no point in correcting them. You have to remember that the prayer wall is a public environment and making a public correction to someone else’s prayer is just too insulting.
  4. Avoid gossips in your prayers requests – It’s easy to fall into this trap. What was intended to be a genuine concern that needs to be prayed for progresses into a gossip. If you think that a request is a gossip in the making, you can flag it as such. The admins of the church website will then remove it from the prayer requests and decide if it is indeed a gossip. Just like other Outreach Ideas, this too has to be protected from misuse.
  5. Truly pray – If you want to pray for a request, all you need to do is press the “pray” button and the number of those who prayed will increase. On the downside, you can actually just press the button without actually praying and the person on the other side will actually believe that the number of those who prayed are actually a lot. This just defeats the purpose of a prayer wall and should be avoided. We have to remember that we are accountable to God and dishonesty just doesn’t pay.

 A prayer wall is just a web app that makes the job of prayer warriors a little easy. This will encourage more prayers and a great way to see your ministry being fruitful. All you need to do get in touch with Pathmaker Marketing and have it installed in your Church’s website or ministry blog. If you have any other Church Outreach Ideas, we would like to hear about it too.

 For examples of some Prayer Walls we’ve installed, go here:

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Top 10 Church Outreach Ideas for the Internet: Prayer Walls

2. Installing an Interactive Prayer Wall to Expand Your Prayer Ministry is our 2nd of 10 Church Outreach Ideas for the Internet.

A prayer wall is an interactive site where people can write down their prayer requests or praise reports. Installing a prayer wall is a good way to both expand your church outreach to the unchurched as well as to develop deeper fellowship among your members.

Good prayer walls are easy-to-use, interactive and have features which ensure that spam robots do not post unrelated matters. Through prayer walls, your church has the direct opportunity to reach out to those who are clearly seeking prayer support, guidance and direction.

A prayer wall can also be used to ask your members and followers all over the world to pray for specific requests. Examples of these specific intentions include praying for the church leadership, seeking guidance about planting new churches or praying for missionary families.

You and your church leaders can also use this wall to see what matters concern your church greatly at any given moment and that may even enable you to strategically choose your next sermon series or outreach emphasis.

Prayer walls have great outreach possibilities if planned and executed well. Good examples of prayer walls online include those of the following not for profit organizations:

Gregory Dickow Ministries
Presidential Prayer Team 
Jerusalem Prayer Team

For a free quote on a Prayer Wall installation for your church, call Pathmaker Marketing at 1-623-322-3334.

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Strategic Web Communication Principle #4: Interactivity

Build interactivity into your website to improve your non profit marketing.

To keep people coming back to your site, you’ll need more than just good design. You need a hard-working site, and you must update it regularly. Many of today’s most successful websites are interactive, meaning they allow people to participate in the content in some way.  The best example is Wikipedia, where up to 7,000 volunteer contributors update and monitor the encyclopedia daily to ensure accuracy and prevent abuse.

Many other sites develop interactivity by providing games people can play. An extreme example of this is Second Life, where you participate in a virtual world online:

http://secondlife.com/

An example more relevant to not for profit organizations might be a Prayer Wall, such as the Prayer Walls at Presidential Prayer Team that we’ve discussed, or the Prayer Walls at Gregory Dickow Ministries. This online initiative provides effective internet marketing, a way to interact with your members, while also retaining relevance with your ministry site objectives. At GDM, each Prayer Wall is sent an email thanking them for their participation and welcoming them to the broader GDM ministry through their electronic Welcome Series.

Other interactivity vehicles such as chat rooms, forums, contests, blogs, libraries, photo sharing, and wikis can get people coming back to your site – building a community of people interested in your topics and endeavors.

If you’d like some help to establish a ministry Prayer Wall on your website, or improve your non profit marketing, contact Pathmaker Marketing today for assistance in getting started.

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Effective Church Outreach on the Internet

Hard times tend to bring more people to church. According to a December 2008 article in The New York Times, evangelical churches around the country have experienced a swelling in their ranks by up to 50% with each recession cycle since 1968. This current recession is definitely no exception! So what can you do on the Internet to extend and leverage your church outreach efforts to reach both your new members and people looking for a congregation to join?

First, effective church outreach on the Internet necessitates a great website. That doesn’t mean bells and whistles. It means the site is easy on the eyes, offers simple and clear navigation throughout, and provides content that is both useful and fresh. 

Useful church outreach content answers the question, “What’s in it for me?” Sure, people need to know your service times, who is the pastor, and when to show up for upcoming events, but they also need to know why they should come to your church rather than the one down the street. What is it about the pastor, ministries, and congregation that will help the reader’s family get though these tumultuous times with peace and tranquility? How does your youth ministry influence the reader’s teens to stay out of trouble and grow in Christ?  How are people helped through grief, whether by losing a loved one or getting laid off from a job they held for 30 years? You get the picture. Speak to the reader, not yourself.

Second, effective church outreach requires that people can easily find your site, and they want to keep coming back. Once you have a website that speaks to the reader’s needs, there are some simple online church outreach strategies you might want to try.

  1. Sign-Up – You need an email list for the strategies below to work. You can ask people to provide their email addresses in various ways, including through your church bulletin. You can also invite people to sign  up online, asking for their first name and email address in exchange for some benefit, such as a free download of some kind … a special message, a regular eNewsletter, etc. The sign-up form needs to be located in the upper left of you home page because that’s where people’s eyes first go. The form needs to link to More Info on a dedicated landing page that outlines the benefits of signing up.
  2. Traffic Conversion – once you get people to sign up, then you want to pull them deeper into the goings on of the church. You can get more contact information by offering to send something in the mail … a book, a bookmark, a prayer journal, etc.
  3. eWelcome Series – This is an online church outreach version of your welcoming committee. The intent is to introduce people to your church and its ministries. You can send one email a week for 5 to 7 weeks. Each email introduces a different portion of the website or the church –all spelling out the benefits to the reader of the various aspects of your church, ministry, congregation, and church outreach.
  4. Autoresponder Plan – Pathmaker Marketing LLC has worked with a large church in Chicago that challenged people to fast from wrong thinking for 40 days. We helped them set up a 40-day autoresponder system to allow people to participate in the fast from wrong thinking and receive a daily email message about a topic from which they would fast for that day. What kind of multi-day message could your church develop to minister to people during these tough economic times?
  5. Prayer Walls – Pathmaker  has helped several ministries install an interactive Prayer Wall to their websites. This is an effective church outreach strategy because it specifically ministers to people in a non-threatening way, and it helps people realize that they are not alone. The Prayer Wall invites people to leave a prayer so others can pray for them – and of course to pray for others who have left their prayer requests and praises.
  6. Blogging Tool – Pathmaker uses a blogging tool that is a powerhouse for getting your website seen in search engines. It’s based on extensive keyword research. We help churches and ministries develop keywords that are strategic to their church or ministry, and then help them develop a blog that will maximize their church outreach by multiplying each blog entry into several entries that entice search engines to, “Come find me.” This not only increases the visibility of your site in search engines, it provides ministerial content that can benefit readers around the world.

The tough economic and political times in which we find ourselves have people searching for your church. Your church outreach efforts can be extended and leveraged when you employ the strategies listed above. Pathmaker is experienced in helping ministries implement these tools. Call 623-322-3334 to schedule a time to discuss how we might help you.

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Good Non Profit Website Design Principle #4 of 5 (Part 2)

A couple more tips and some examples of Principle #4: Develop a hard-working site to avoid the problems of a non profit design that’s all looks and no brains.

Practical Tip #3: Have your critical info appear above the fold so readers don’t have to scroll down to find it.  This is a key feature of good non profit website design.

Practical Tip #4: Have a good database for holding names and critical information about visitors – typically called “the back end.” One of the most important and overlooked aspects of generating leads is having a way for people to tell others about your site, so: Add “tell a friend” functionality to improve your non profit marketing.

If the object of your site is to sell products, is your eCommerce easy to use and fully functional? Make sure all products have a photo and one sentence description. Make sure you have a good shopping cart system, with a straightforward checkout process (no nine-step checkout routines) and test it often to ensure that nothing has broken down, so you lower your shopping cart abandonment rates.

If your site is designed to generate memberships, does it accomplish that purpose well? It’s similar to name generation in terms of convincing people to fill out a form, but if you want people to become members, your site also needs to have a feeling of community. Even though it would be nice if Christians will automatically want to interact with you because of your wonderful outreach, they won’t. They need to know what’s in it for them, and visiting your site has to be easy and fun if you want them to come back.

Practical Tip #5: Install a Prayer Wall onto your site that members can update the wall with prayer requests for general issues or items specific to your ministry. Let the content be uploaded automatically, but monitor it in case you need to remove anything inappropriate.
Prayer Walls can be great non profit marketing and ministry tools.

Good examples of a Prayer Wall:
Presidential Prayer Team
Gregory Dickow Ministries
National Prayer Campaign

If you need help to pull this off contact Pathmaker for more details.

Here are some examples of hard-working websites:
Presidential Prayer Team
(Good effort at offering member benefits in exchange for name and email data. Thank You page offers a Welcome Kit in exchange for full address, phone)
Grand Canyon University
(Gets leads by convincing you to sign up and providing the means all on one screen)
eHarmony
(Excellent job of using the right images and simple text to get people to use a form and register)
The Villages at Country Club
(Real Estate site design to generate visitor leads into the showroom)

Pathmaker Marketing can help ensure that your web site is working as hard as possible. Contact us anytime for an evaluation of your non profit website design, email fundraising, or non profit marketing.

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