Cancel Christmas and Quit Easter: A Recap from ENGAGE Conference 2020

Hold up. WHAT? In this Day 8 Session from the ENGAGE Conference, Church Marketing University Co-Founder, Ryan Wakefield, challenges us with why he thinks churches should break from tradition and move from “big event” to “big long-term impact” when it comes to the two biggest holidays of the year.

RYAN WAKEFIELD KNOWS HOW TO GROW CHURCHES

Ryan Wakefield started Church Marketing University to help your church get more visitors each week. Ryan received his bachelor’s degree in Bible and Marketing from Evangel University. Ryan went on to get his Masters in Organizational Leadership. He is currently a licensed minister with the Assemblies of God.

Ryan spent years as the Creative Director for James River Church. In 2013 the Wakefield family moved up to Kansas City to help start Summit Park Church.

IN IT FOR THE LONG HAUL

With such a jarring headline as “Cancel Christmas and Quit Easter,” Ryan Wakefield is quick to clarify that our job as Christians, pastors, and church leaders is to make disciples. Our job is to make heaven more crowded. Our job isn’t simply to just have the biggest helicopter egg drop in town.

In Wakefield’s session, you’ll be challenged to think beyond the big numbers. This isn’t just about “Next Steps,” it’s about good stewardship more than anything. Ryan will push you to consider what kind of eternal impact your church could have if all the energy that was funneled into those big events was invested into the way your church connects with your community week in and week out instead.

THE APPEAL OF THE WOW FACTOR

Many of you reading this are probably already feeling a little uncomfortable. There’s something about the “wow factor”. Big numbers and big events feel good. Big numbers are quick and easy to measure. There’s still a need to have a big presence. In our work at Firm Foundations Marketing, we have helped churches reach their communities by creating websites that rank high on Google, developing messaging that hooks, and marketing campaigns that attract the big crowds when a new service launches or for a big event. Those still have a place. But if you aren’t careful – if your church isn’t intentional – those big numbers can easily be nothing more than vanity metrics that drain your time, your money, and your people at the expense of the long-term impact. In this session, Ryan will challenge you to bring your A-game every week and to begin to shift your thinking from one-hit wonder to weekly winner.

“BUT IF EVEN ONE…”

Now I know some of you are thinking right now that if even one soul is saved through the big event, then it was worth it. In a sense, you’re not wrong. Every soul saved matters in eternity. But where Ryan challenges us in his session is to set higher goals – to steward that same time, money, and people investment and put it to work every Sunday instead. To be more intentional about making an every-week impact with every-week potential.  

Think for a moment about what kind of impact your church could have if it had a plan and process in place to cultivate more meaningful relationships over the next year. What if your outreach events were so well-aligned with the mission, culture, and experience of your church that it wasn’t so hard to get people to come back after your big event? Wouldn’t it then be worth it? These are the kinds of things you’ll be challenged by in this session. You’ll be challenged to pursue quality over quantity. The funny thing about quality, though? It tends to reap quantity. You can see the fruit of this when looking at how churches see growth today. 

7 FACTORS FOR CHURCH GROWTH

The Christian church in America continues to be confronted by a societal religious shift. What that means for your church is that church growth strategies have evolved. For the church to continue to make an impact in reaching people where they are and connecting with them so that we can share the life-change offered in Jesus, we have to be more diligent and intentional in how we communicate.

Backed by first-hand research on a couple thousand churches, Wakefield and his team at Church Marketing University uncovered seven factors that are the biggest indicators for growing churches that you should consider so that you can increase your impact within your community.

Ryan’s seven key indicators for church growth are:

    1.  Does your lead pastor prioritize reaching the next generation?
    2.  Does your church have great custom photography?
    3.  Does your church have a website that brings you new visitors every single week?
    4.  Does your church prioritize collecting contact information?
    5.  Does your church have an effective email strategy?
    6.  Does your church have an effective text message strategy?
    7.  Do you have the foundation of your marketing system in place?

The common theme? Being intentional. In order to reach people effectively so that they can hear the gospel and so heaven can ultimately become more crowded, we can’t just “set it and forget it.”

When you prioritize reaching the next generation, you inject youth and longevity into the church body.  But how do we attract the next generation? Well, it often starts with a solid online presence. Whether it’s because a friend recommended the church, through a Facebook ad, or they are simply new to the area and searching online for a place to worship, chances are a first-time guest has checked out your website before visiting. When they got there, what did you say to them? Did you have great photos of your people that helped that guest envision themselves as a part of your church community? Did you show careful thought to anticipate their questions and provide clarity with those answers? Did you provide an opportunity to connect before their visit with a plan a visit system or kids pre-registration? As Ryan says, “ministry flows out of relationships” and those relationships can start when we have an intentional strategy that allows guests to connect with us.