Christmas Outreach Ideas

Christmas Outreach IdeasIn a recent article from Outreach Magazine, they quote a recent study from Lifeway Research that “61 percent of evangelical Christians haven’t shared their faith in the last six months, even though they agree it is their responsibility.”  Do you need ideas to help in your evangelism and outreach efforts?  Here are some Christmas outreach ideas for your church, ministry and/or community. Please leave a comment with your Christmas outreach ideas as well.

1. Do a drama, musical or short stories acted out that create conversations and shares the message of Christ and His birth.

2. Do a living nativity outside and invite the community to come and see it.

3. Create a Christmas village and sell items that have been made by people from developing areas in the United States or overseas. The money can go back to these communities. Have opportunities for visitors to be invited to your church or future ministry events.

4. Put on a film festival showing Christmas movies and share a film clip on the birth of Christ. Click here to view and download one.

5. Offer a free meal on Christmas Eve before your church service.

6. Share Christmas gifts with others in your community.

7. Have a lunch or dinner for your neighbors and share the Biblical account of Christ’s birth from Luke.  Here are some tips for doing the dinner here.

 

Image from CreationSwap

Developing An Idea for a Ministry Tool and Strategy

The “Idea” is the first step in developing a ministry tool and strategy.  You probably have a lot of ideas for new tools and strategies, but are they good ideas.  I have found the key to a good idea is identifying a need that the idea can help.

When it comes to ministry most individuals, churches or ministries are looking for a ministry tool or strategy to help solve a need.  If you create a tool and strategy that really isn’t needed then it won’t get used.

Once I was part of a team that created  a CD-Rom that was complex, but very postmodern.  The project took a very long time to complete, but it got done.  We created a website and had broad distribution.  In the end only a handful people used it, because it didn’t really meet a need and it was hard to use.  So, first identify the need.   A good way to identify a need is to listen and ask others.

Once you have the need identified, bring people together to pray and brainstorm ideas.  There are a ton of resources on brainstorming. I personally like using the Walt Disney Imagineering process for brainstorming.   This is where you put ideas on sticky notes or note cards.  Then group the ideas together that are similar.  Then you “plus up” the ideas.  This is expanding the original idea presented by writing more details on another sticky note or note card and placing it under the idea.  Once you complete that process you are able to determine which is the best idea.

The next step once you have an idea is to prototype it.  That will be covered next.

Ministry Goals and Plan for 2009

Do you have ministry goals or plans for 2009?  If not, consider over the next few weeks to plan or review for the new year.  Having a plan has been very beneficial to me and helped me think ahead.  There are many churches and ministries that have a 10, 15 or even 20 year plan in place.  Taking time to review this master plan at the beginning or end of each year can keep you and your team in check with the overall progress.  Here are some ideas that have helped me over the years to make a plan.  These are in no particular order.

  1. Pray and seek God.  Listen and meditate on the Scriptures.
  2. Evaluate or write a mission/vision statement.
  3. Survey your team, members or your target audience.  Get feedback on current realities.
  4. Begin to write down your thoughts.  These don’t need to be complete or concrete.
  5. Formulate those thoughts into the plan.
  6. Put the plan together and get feedback.
  7. Finish the plan.  Publish and distribute it.
  8. Create opportunities for presenting the plan and to answer questions.

What are some other thoughts, ideas or steps you would add?

May God bless you and your planning in 2009.

Creating An Online Ministry Plan

In my prior post I said it has become much easier for churches, individuals and ministries to conduct ministry online.  While this is true it is important to put together a plan for how it will look and work for your outreach.

  1. The first step you will want to take is to evaluate your community.  Questions to ask would be: Who do I want to reach?  What is the best way to connect with them?  How am I going to communicate with them once they respond?  If you would like a great overview on different demographic groups check out Chris Forbes (Ministry Marketing Coach) post here, here and here.
  2. You will then need to determine how many people it will take to work with the community you’re reaching out to.  You will want to utilize volunteers as much as possible.
  3. What online services and approaches are you going to use (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, My Space, personal websites, blogs, church or ministry website).
  4. Create messaging and graphics that are consistent.
  5. Train all your volunteers how to “minister” to people online.
  6. Keep it simple.
  7. Think though all the steps that you will want to lead a online contact through.  For example, if you are presenting the Gospel online and someone responds, what will be the next step you will want them to do.
  8. Keep records of your work.
  9. Try to connect the individual to a local contact, church or ministry for continued interaction.
  10. Share your results.

In the next post, I will cover ideas for outreaches online.

Effective Ministry Using Web 2.0

I have been "on the Internet" since 1996 and a lot has changed since then.  It seems like Internet trends and technology is growing and changing faster each year.  Since the inception of Web 2.0 , opportunities for churches and individuals to have or engage in ministry outreach online is so much easier.

Individuals want to engage, interact and be "in community" online.  If you have an interest in Internet ministry or you have been involved with it for some time, I would recommend checking out The Internet Ministry Conference .  It will be October 20-23 at Calvin College Prince Conference Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Over the next few days I am going to share some thoughts and strategies that I have found to be useful for having an online ministry.

Free Church Website Evaluation

New Advance for Church Websites
Free Church Site Evaluations Now Available Online

Summary
Churches can now receive a free customized 15-page report about their websites, enabling them to develop strategies to reach outsiders in their communities.
And this year’s international web outreach focus day – Internet Evangelism Day – will be used by churches around the world on Sunday 27 April 2008.

“How can our church website help us reach out into our community?” Churches often find it difficult to know how to build sites that will engage with outsiders in their area.

A new online tool has been released by Internet Evangelism Day, which provides churches with a free 15-page evaluation report. Users assess their own website by answering 55 simple questions in the tool questionnaire. Their customized report is immediately displayed online, ready to print or save. Its recommendations are tailored with specific practical suggestions, based on the questions that were ticked. View the design tool here:
www.InternetEvangelismDay.com/design

A church site which has been prioritized for non-Christian visitors can be remarkably effective in reaching the community. “Week in, week out, more visitors turn up at our church on a Sunday because of the website, than anything else,” writes one growing church in London UK.

Church leaders have welcomed this new resource:

“This competent evaluation tool and rating service provides a valuable service to churches and Christian ministries that will help them strengthen their effectiveness in outreach through the Internet.” – Dr. Sterling Huston, Director, North American Ministries, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

“Most church websites are not evangelistic. The new Church Website Design Tool can help rectify this problem. This is a wonderful tool.” – Dr. Bill Gordon, Evangelism Response Center, North American Mission Board.

“There is no silver bullet for a great ministry site. However, this checklist is an invaluable tool to identify critical areas for improvement. Every church should study this regularly and act on it!” – Gary McClure, LifeWay Ministries.

This Evaluation Tool is just one of a range of pages at www.InternetEvangelismDay.com that help Christians learn to use the Web to reach the world. Internet Evangelism Day also encourages churches to hold a web awareness focus day on or near 27 April 2008, to explore this huge potential. Their site offers free downloads (PowerPoint, video clips, drama scripts and handouts) so that churches can create a custom program of any length from two minutes to an hour. “I am glad to commend Internet Evangelism Day,” says Dr. John Stott.

Website: www.InternetEvangelismDay.com

Internet Evangelism Day is an initiative of the Internet Evangelism Coalition, a group of major ministries involved in web ministry, based at the Billy Graham Center, Wheaton.
Interviews available: InternetEvangelismDay.com/publicity
Photos available: InternetEvangelismDay.com/photos
Recommended photo for this item: InternetEvangelismDay.com/churchphoto
Additional articles – ready-made material and MP3s: InternetEvangelismDay.com/articles
Leaders supporting IE Day: InternetEvangelismDay.com/supporting

Visual Media Trends

With the research in visual media trends it was hard to pinpoint a trend that has continued for a long period of time. However, with the increasing development, availability and cost effectiveness of technology most of the current trends reflect a more common global use of portable, internet enabled devices. The key categories for visual media trends include the youth culture, social media, user generated content and more personal choice for media content.

The biggest consumers of media today are youth. Youth in the U.S. age 12-17 increased their television viewing by 3% in a year (eg. Nielson 2006). Across cultures youth are using visual media to interact, teach and share their experiences with each other.

The most growth over the last few years in media trends has been in the area of relational social media. Social media is any communications format where the users publish the content (eg. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media). Most of this media is Internet and mobile device driven. Social media provides a new way to interact with others. These methods are becoming even more preferred over e-mail. More than 70% of Americans age 15-34 (eg. http://www.frankwbaker.com/mediause.htm) are using social networks online. The most trafficked social websites include Facebook and MySpace. This demographic is choosing text messaging on their cell phones and computers over live conversations. Also, there is new interest in what is called “virtual community” in which social networks are being created through the website Second Life.

User generated media content has grown in popularity. The idea was first made popular by YouTube, which gave the ability for someone to upload “home made” videos to the website for the whole world to view. YouTube became the 5th most popular website in 2006 with over 100 million video viewed daily on the website (eg. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/YouTube). The major television networks and major companies have created advertising campaigns centered around user generated videos. New websites like Joost.com are hosting network and cable television shows that you can watch on your computer and through various widgets users can interact with their friends about the show they are watching.

Christian’s use of media continues to grow. According to Barna Research there are a greater number of Christian adults that are experiencing through media than through a local church. Two out of three adults used a least one form of religious media- radio, television or books in the last month. Were as six out of ten American adults attended a church service in the last month (eg. http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=116). Christian parents over the Christmas season purchased media products like CDs, DVDs and video games for their children under thirteen even though they didn’t feel comfortable with their purchase. The Christians in the United States were likely to spend up to $1 billion on these products despite their concern over the moral content for children under 18. Also, Christian television continues to draw interest by viewers and today one out of every six adults are spending time on faith-based websites. There is more interest by the younger generation and certain groups of people in these types of websites over watching faith-based television or listening to Christian radio. (eg. http://www.barna.org/FlexPage.aspx?Page=BarnaUpdate&BarnaUpdateID=184).

Learn From The Starbucks Experience

The other day I discovered a book written about The Starbucks Experience. There are five principles that transformed the company that can be beneficial to any church or ministry. They are:

Principle 1: Make It Your Own
Principle 2: Everything Matters
Principle 3: Surprise and Delight
Principle 4: Embrace Resistance
Principle 5: Leave Your Mark

How would you apply these principles to your situation (i.e. church, ministry or business)?

Do You Have a Plan? If not, here you go…

Over the past year I have learned how valuable it is to create a strategic plan for my ministry. I have included a template that you can use below.

Strategic Planning Process Template

Direction Setting
Mission
Purpose
Values
Scope

Situational Analysis
Strengths
Weaknesses
Opportunities
Threats

Critical Mass Identification

Critical Path Steps- Have up to 4 or 5 achievable steps

Resource Release- What resources will you use to accomplish the critical path

Evaluate Your Effectiveness