A Christmas Letter from Our Founder

Larry WitzelLife Lessons

Larry Witzel, Founder & President

It’s been an amazing year here at SermonView.

We’ve been able to introduce thousands of people across North America to churches ready to welcome them, and some of these congregations are seeing amazing harvests. For example, here are results from three campaigns we handled this year:

“The meetings have gone well!” said one pastor in Georgia this fall. “Over the opening four days of the seminar, we had 39 non-Adventists come from SermonView’s advertising. Thank you for your help.”

Another church in Colorado reported 8 baptisms from evangelistic meetings last February. “The evangelism marketing you did was fabulous,” the pastor said. “It brought out people to the meetings we never would have otherwise met.”

“We baptized 14 last month,” another pastor in Washington wrote in January, “and more are preparing for baptism and life with Jesus! The brochures and banners were beautifully designed. We had 90 non-members attend at least once, most of whom came from the mailing.”

We believe church is for those who aren’t yet a part of it. 

We love coming alongside church leaders who have a growth mentality, working together to grow the Kingdom of God. You are the reason we do this, and we appreciate your support.

Ministry Report

I’d like to share an annual report, if you will, on the state of the ministry at SermonView Evangelism Marketing. Covid-19 obviously had an impact on us—when you do event marketing, and events get shut down, it  can’t help but impact your business. But we are on our way to fully recovering from the Covid-related disruptions, and this year we had our biggest fall evangelism season in four years.

Our efforts are focused on four lines of ministry:
1. Event Marketing

When a church holds an outreach event, SermonView can help get more people there. Whether it’s a parenting workshop, a cooking class, an archaeology seminar, or a full-message reaping series, we use direct mail, banners and road signs, and digital marketing to let people in your community know about the event.

In 2022 we handled nearly 350 campaigns for in-person outreach events, more than double the previous year. We sent event invitations to over 3 million homes, triple last year’s count, and 1.3 million people saw digital ads for one of our events. This led to an average of 46 event pre-registrations per event, the highest average we’ve ever seen.

2. Bible Study Lead Generation

With our yearlong LeadGenerator program, we find people in your community ready to study the Bible with you. With traditional Bible study card mailings, respondents have to find a stamp and return the card, while the church gets deluged with responses in a short amount of time. LeadGenerator takes your budget and spreads it across the whole year, using digital advertising to guarantee a flow of new Bible study interests every month.

We ran 176 LeadGenerator campaigns this year, reaching 1.2 million people with digital ads. This generated an average of 68 Bible study requests per campaign over the course of the year.

3. Interest Tracking Software

In 2019 we launched InterestTracker, the complete cloud-based CRM for helping Adventist churches manage their interests on the way to membership and beyond. We’ve seen nearly 30% growth in InterestTracker usage in the last year. 

Today, over 4,000 users at 1,500 Adventist churches employ this tool to manage 117,562 interests. Of these churches, 353 also used AttendanceTracker to record the attendance of 22,454 people at 1,892 different meetings and 69 churches used the Text Messaging module to send 44,920 texts to 6,345 interests.

4. Church Websites

Last year, we began offering websites to churches in partnership with Adventist Church Connect. As of today, we’ve set up 42 outreach-oriented websites for churches, along with several email systems. We just launched a new high-powered service based on the popular WordPress content management system, which offers far more flexibility to create the website perfect for your ministry environment.

With this new system, response forms on our WordPress-based church websites integrate with InterestTracker, so each response automatically flows in and alerts users there.

Preaching Graphics

And what about our preaching graphics? That is, after all, where our name “SermonView” comes from. Well, we do continue to offer and support these products, at both sermonview.com and oxygenchurchgraphics.com. However, preaching graphics represent just 2% of our revenue today, and continues to decline. So we are putting our best efforts into growing the other areas of ministry.

Financial Pressures

Inflation has taken a huge toll on us. In the first 11 months of the year, revenue was 7% over budget, which we praise God for. However, our cost of goods was 27% over budget. As a result, we’re on track to have negative cash flow for the first time in over a decade. This followed two Covid years which ate up reserves.

Because of this, we’re forced to increase prices for our products in 2023. We’re doing this to solely to maintain a sustainable ministry for the long term. Please know we are fully committed to maximizing the value provided to each of our churches, and committed to remaining faithful stewards of God’s resources. We recognize that every dollar spent on church marketing comes from the sacrificial giving of church members, and we’re committed to helping you use these funds as effectively as possible.

I am more optimistic than ever about the future of SermonView Evangelism Marketing. After two rough years during Covid, we’ve got good momentum, and we’re back on a growth trajectory. We are very close to running at breakeven, offering a path to long-term sustainability. Our future is bright, and I’m grateful.

A New Church Growth Training Event
Coming May 7-10, 2023

For several years, now, I’ve had a growing burden to see an annual evangelism-specific training event for Adventist pastors and church leaders on the West Coast. This is what WestPoint of Evangelism used to be, but even its successor event, Adventist WestPoint, has now been discontinued. Roger Walter’s EvangeLead events in 2018 and 2019 were a great step in the right direction, but I’d like to see something bigger and more consistent.

So we’ve joined with some like-minded ministries to offer the first Propel Church Growth Conference here in Vancouver, WA, May 7-10, 2023. We’ve got some of the top thinkers and evangelism practitioners in the denomination coming, like Richie Halversen, John Boston II, and Bill McClendon. We’ll have training tracks in church revitalization, evangelistic innovation, reaping meetings, and member discipleship. There will also be two Spanish-language training tracks, in evangelism and discipleship. It’s being backed by the North Pacific Union, AdventSource, Pacific Press, Seminars Unlimited, and EvangeLead. It’s all about inspiration and training to grow your church, and I’m thrilled to see it coming together.

Bringing a team of local church leaders to an in-person event builds relationships and helps reignite the fire for ministry. The Propel Conference’s multiple training tracks are perfect for team members to each grow in their skills, then come together to dream and make plans to drive the mission forward in their local church.

So mark your calendar for May 7-10, 2023, and plan to join us for inspiration and training to grow your church. I hope to see you and your leadership team there.

A personal note

After 16 years working side by side with a business partner, I just finished my first full year as the sole leader of SermonView. I don’t claim to be the owner—this is God’s company (though the government holds me responsible to pay the taxes). The financial weight is heavy, but I don’t carry it alone. The SermonView crew is absolutely amazing, and I truly enjoy coming to work here every day. I love what we do, I love serving pastors, and I love my team. My heart is filled with gratitude.

Last year, I sent out a personal letter sharing some of the challenges I faced personally in 2021. I’m still broken, but God has promised to give me “the desire and power to do what pleases Him” (Phil. 2:13 NLT). Every day I know God is present, and some days I even sense His light in my soul. Thank you for the words of encouragement so many of you have sent me. It means more than you know.

Thank you for your support!

We love serving pastors and church leaders, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to work with you. Thank you for letting us partner with you to reach people for Christ in your community. I’m excited to see God positioning so many churches for an incredible harvest in 2023, and I can’t wait to see how God will move in your church.

Merry Christmas!

Larry Witzel
Founder & President

P.S. What are your big dreams for 2023? I’d love to hear what God is doing in your church!