The One Thing…

Larry Witzel Evangelism Practices, Leadership

As we begin to look toward 2022, here’s a question for you:

What’s the one thing God is asking your church to do together next year?
This question is powerful, because it pushes you to clearly articulate a goal. And it’s driven by several things that are really important for success in ministry:

Vision

When you imagine your church a year from now, what does it look like? When your community gathers, what’s the spirit people show each other? What is your church consistently doing in the community? How have your members grown? This isn’t about goals and metrics. Instead, it’s about visualizing how God wants to mold this congregation into His likeness.
 
Once you imagine it, describe that vision succinctly. Turn it into a short phrase or sentence, then repeat it every time you get together with people at church. Put it prominently in the bulletin every week, and on your website. Then use that vision as the foundation for answering the question: What’s the one thing God is asking your church to do together next year?

Focus

Asking about the one thing forces you to focus. Personally, I do my best work when I’m focused. Of course, there are many priorities at church, and you’ll be involved in many aspects of ministry. But what is that single, highest priority that you can rally the church leaders and members around? What is that one focus for 2022?

Action

There is a time for patiently waiting for God to prepare you. But more often He says to go do it.
 
Scripture is filled with stories where God tells someone to do something. At the Red Sea, God told Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward” (Ex. 14:15). He told Gideon, “Go in this might of yours” (Ju. 6:14). He told Isaiah, “Go, and tell this people” (Is. 6:9). And of course, Jesus told His followers, “Go therefore and make disciples” (Mt. 28:19).
 
So what are you going to do?

Community

Rallying your church to do something big together is a powerful way to build community. Yes, you gather on Sabbath morning to worship, and hopefully members leave inspired to change their individual worlds for Christ. But what about that big thing? What are you going to do together?

God’s Leading

This isn’t your vision, it’s God’s vision. This isn’t your church, it’s God’s church. And when the Spirit inspires, He also empowers. God wants you to do something bigger than your little group of believers could ever accomplish in their own power. When you do what God wants you to do, He promises the power to do it. As Paul wrote, “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Ph 2:12). God works in you to act.
 
So back to the question, which captures vision, focus, action, community, and God’s leading:
What’s the one thing God is asking your church to do together next year?

When you know the answer that question, you’ll be on your way to seeing a harvest for God’s Kingdom in your town.


The SermonView crew would love to partner with you to do something big in your community. Whether it’s evangelistic event marketing, Bible study interest generation, interest management or a more effective church website, we’re ready to help. Talk to a campaign manager today at 1-800-525-5791.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Rethinking Direct Mail for Evangelism

Larry Witzel Marketing Practices, News

Considering direct mail as part of your evangelism marketing strategy? It’s time to rethink your timelines.

First, let’s be clear: direct mail is still the only way to ensure that someone in every household has an opportunity to respond to your message. Facebook and Google can’t do that. Neither can radio or TV, nor billboards, banners or road signs. If you want to reach someone in every home, you have to use direct mail.

And direct mail works. An analysis of events over the last 18 months shows that while there is variance based on geography, seasonality, and demographics, on average we’re seeing 10 more people on opening night for every additional 8,000 mailpieces sent.

However, we have to rethink our timelines. Because everything is slower, you’ll need more time to get the mail out effectively.

Before Covid-19

To understand the impact these last two years have had, let’s look at how things were done before.

Two decades ago, the rule of thumb was for your mailpieces to land in mailboxes precisely on the Monday before your meetings. That’s because stories were told about pastors getting up on Sunday, holding up the handbill, and saying to the congregation, “Don’t go to these meetings. It’s heresy.” So the goal was to give people enough time to plan, but not enough time for their pastor to stop them.

However, even back then this wasn’t a viable goal. The US Postal Service allowed you to request a 3-day window for a mailpiece to be delivered, but they make it clear that it’s a guideline, not a requirement. Ultimately they have absolute control over mail delivery, and they’ll deliver it when they’re good and ready.

So SermonView was already aiming for the Friday-Monday prior to opening night, just in case there was a backlog at the post office that delayed the mailing. The last thing you want, after all, is for your mailing to land in mailboxes after the event has already started.

To do this, we would deliver it to the sectional facility (SCF) 10 days before opening night. The standard practice was 2 days to get to the delivery post office, then 3 days to deliver to mailboxes. Often the mailer would arrive in mailboxes before that Monday, sometimes later, but it was almost always in that window.

Supply Chain Slowdowns

Today, everything is running slower. First, UPS, FedEx, and other freight companies have suspended their delivery guarantees for all shipments. That means:

  • Paper delivery is slower, so offset printing takes longer
  • Delivery from the printer to the mailhouse is slower
  • Delivery from our mailhouse to the USPS sectional facility is slower

What used to take 2 days now takes 4 days or more, which really adds up with each stop. Furthermore, when shipping to the SCF, we have always paid extra for a guaranteed delivery date. Because those guarantees are now suspended, we can’t predict when a mailing will actually get dropped off into the postal system.

But it gets worse. The US Postal Service is officially slower now, too, recently announcing that they are relaxing their internal service standards. So instead of 2 days to get from the SCF to the delivery unit, the new standard is 4 days. Instead of a 3-day window for delivery into mailboxes, the new standard is 5 days.

Both the supply chain and mail delivery are much slower now. And unfortunately, because there are now so many factors outside our control, SermonView has been forced to suspend our delivery guarantee, too.

Changes to Mail Habits

But even when the mail was landing in mailboxes on time, there was already a societal change taking place. The US Postal Service did a study back in the early 2000s, which found that 98% of postal customers check their mailbox every day.

Today? Not so much. A recent Reddit thread showed less than half of commenters check their mail daily. Most check it once a week or less. If that’s the case, getting your handbill in the mailbox 5 days before opening night means 25% of your audience won’t even see it until after the meetings start.

The New Direct Mail Plan

So what does that mean for you? Two things:

First, SermonView needs at least 8 weeks to do your mailing. We used to be able to turn around a mailing in 5 weeks or less, but we just can’t do that anymore. We’ve always done our best to serve latecomers, but we got burned recently when we tried to turn around a mailing in 4 weeks. The pallet of handbills from our print vendor took 2 weeks to arrive, instead of the 2 days they promised. In this case, the church was able to reschedule the meetings, so we were able to reprint and get the mailing out on time. But with everything slower now, the risk is too great. So give us at least 8 weeks to get your mailing out.

Second, you need to get your flyer into mailboxes sooner. We now recommend aiming for 2 weeks prior to the meeting, which means delivering it to the SCF 3 weeks before the meeting. This ensures the mailpiece will be seen in at least 95% of your homes before opening night.

Social Media Advertising Alternative

If you’re late in your planning, there is a proven alternative: social media advertising. SermonView is seeing increasing success with Facebook and Instagram advertising for evangelistic events. Our research shows that a $2,500 social media budget gets the equivalent response on opening night as a $10,000 mailing.

Of course, social media advertising does not scale the same way direct mail does. Doubling your direct mail budget will essentially double your pre-registrations, but increasing your Facebook budget offers diminishing returns. Ideally, you’ll include both in your advertising mix, along with some banners and road signs for maximum effectiveness.

The bottom line: direct mail is still effective, and needs to be included if you have a larger marketing budget. But everything is taking longer, so please give us 8 weeks to get your mailing out.


Have an evangelistic event coming up? Request your evangelism marketing quote today.

Laura’s Story

Larry Witzel Evangelism Practices, Marketing Practices

Laura’s life was changed because of my church's website. For real!

Let me explain. Four years ago, Laura* moved to town. She grew up Adventist but had gotten disconnected from church moving around as a young adult. Some time after her move, she decided to connect with a spiritual community, so she searched “Bible study near me” on Google.

My church website has a page showing our Bible study groups, and it showed up on the search results. One thing led to another, and today she is fully engaged in the life of our church, serving on the Sabbath morning tech team and participating in a weekly Bible study group.

Laura found her church on Google.

Last month, over 100,000 people searched Google for the phrase, “churches near me.” When someone in your community types that into the search bar, will they find your church? And when they do go to your website, will they feel welcome?

Over 50% of church attendees say that a church’s website is important in picking that church for a visit. Your website is the online welcome mat for the community. So it’s not enough to simply have a website for your church. It needs to speak to your guests, those you want to attract through the doors of your church. 

​There are people just like Laura in your community looking for a spiritual home, and your website is how they’ll find your church. So don’t let your church website be an afterthought, because it’s important for attracting guests. A little effort up front will make a huge difference in reaching people in your community.​


SermonView now offers a service to turn your church website into a powerful evangelistic tool. We’ll help you create a site that feels relevant, personal, and welcoming. Then we can help you get that website seen by people in your community searching for a church near you.​

Ready to turn your church website into an evangelism engine? Call us today at 1-800-525-5791. We'd love to help!

The Top 3 Reasons We Decided to Host Indestructible This April

Larry Witzel COVID-19 Response, Evangelism Practices, From the Field, Marketing Practices, News

By Pastor Travis Walker

“Love as Christ loved.” That’s what we strive to do for everyone who walks through the doors of Daytona Beach Seventh-day Adventist Church. And through this pandemic, that desire has extended to our online ministry as well. Whether in-person, on Facebook Live, on YouTube Live, or on Zoom, reaching our community through a “love first” mentality—and leading as many as possible into a relationship with Jesus—has been the ultimate goal of every event we plan.

A few weeks ago, we were trying to figure out what to do next to reach people in our community in the midst of all this chaos. We considered many options. But most of the digital options currently available don’t address our desire to connect broadly with our community. We want this effort to make a clear, significant difference in people’s lives.

Other options will require us to put in a lot of work ourselves, to develop and implement the program. For instance, recently we reached out to SALT (Service and Love Together) to begin exploring a partnership with them, and we’re continuing to move forward with them. But that will take time and considerable effort. We’ll also continue developing our digital evangelistic resources through Adventology which we’ve been doing since even before the pandemic began. But frankly, at this point we’re tired. I’m tired. My leaders are tired. We need something simpler.

Then, out of the blue, the answer I was looking for came straight to my email inbox. I was invited to a 1-hour webinar where it became clear what our church would be involved with this spring.

We decided to host Indestructible this April.

Indestructible is an all-new series from Faith for Today and SermonView Evangelism Marketing that promises to deliver compelling content without the hassle. Indestructible is like a modern version of a NET meeting, which was designed to use the technology of the day to present some of our strongest speakers, in a way that connected people with the local church. Indestructible is similar but with content more relatable to our climate.

Here are our top 3 reasons why we decided to host Indestructible:

1. It will reach a lot more people.

How many events do you know that have a nationwide following? Let’s face it, community outreach is challenging during non-Covid times, but it’s been twice as challenging during the pandemic. As pastors, we’ve had to learn, and relearn, the best ways to engage new audiences from behind a screen, and, so far, we haven’t had a lot of resources to do so.

Indestructible promises to be different. Faith for Today is the oldest continuous religious broadcast in the world, with over 4 million viewers weekly, making Pastor Roy Ice an internationally acclaimed speaker. His energy and charisma will work great for an online broadcast.

Unlike trying to reach a cold audience, people will be hearing from someone they already trust andhave a relationship with. Plus, there’s a national ad budget being tossed into the mix. That’s a powerful combination! Given its scope, this event promises to reach a different demographic—one that we wouldn’t be able to reach without hosting an event like this.

2. The subject matter is compelling.

Right now, people in our community are looking for an anchor in the middle of all this chaos. We’re always looking for ways to bridge our church with the community. We have enjoyed a great relationship with AdventHealth and their outreach program, Creation Health, over the years, targeting people’s felt needs in ministry partnership. That’s exactly what I believe Indestructible will do with powerfully up-to-date material.

Pastor Ice will present current, relational topics that touch on his AWARE principles from Lifestyle Magazine: Attitude, Wellness, Activities, Relationship, Existence. During each nightly episode he’ll show interviews with celebrities from his program and deliver real-world tactics for helping people in your communities grow in their relationships and start living a life of purpose, all from a biblical perspective.

3. We get to be at the center of all the excitement.

Viewers across the country will be invited to access this program exclusively through a local church portal, putting our church front and center. That’s really exciting! This isn’t a media ministry sending us leads weeks or months later. The guests in our community will be in our portal, start to finish, so we get to build the relationships immediately. This event will spark relationships as we gather online with friends and neighbors to hear a timely message of hope and wholeness.

Hosting any evangelistic event is a big undertaking, and it’s hard to know how to move forward in this pandemic. But it’s also something we can’t afford not to do. The lifeblood of the church is connection, and this type of relevant event will build connections and improve our reputation. Over time, we’ll have the opportunity to invite the curious to attend our Sabbath services and ultimately grow members. I believe Indestructible has the potential for all that, and then some.

We’re really excited to be part of this nationwide event and to reach new people in our community who are hungry for hope and a message of healing from God’s Word. That’s why we’ve decided to host this Indestructible this April.

Learn more about how your own church can participate: www.IndestructibleYou.org/host
Learn more about how your own church can participate in Indestructible at www.IndestructibleYou.org/host
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Pastor Travis Walker, MDiv has been serving as pastor of the Daytona Beach Seventh-day Adventist church for 5 years. He finds real joy in proclaiming the Everlasting Gospel and helping seeking individuals to develop a deeper relationship with Christ. He is also the creator, host and editor of Adventology, a podcast and YouTube Channel that focuses on asking the big questions of life concerning God, faith, truth, and eternity from a Seventh-day Adventist perspective.

Chesapeake Conference Forecasts Hope

Larry Witzel COVID-19 Response, Evangelism Practices, From the Field, Marketing Practices, News

An article scheduled to be featured in the Columbia Union Visitor
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Chesapeake Conference Forecasts Hope

By Katie Fellows

As the pandemic continues to run its course, conferences and churches are once again determining how best to spread the love and hope of God from afar with their community.

In hopes of pushing past the coronavirus restrictions, churches across the Columbia Union Conference participated in the Forecasting Hope virtual evangelism series.

The nationwide online series, organized with help from SermonView Evangelism Marketing, started on October 9 and included sermons with David Klinedinst, Chesapeake Conference Evangelist and Church Growth director.

Throughout history, the Bible has proven itself to be a source of hope and truth. In Forecasting Hope Klinedinst dives straight into the Bible to help people of all levels of Biblical learning to understand the complex prophecies of Daniel and Revelation and its relevance for today.

"We are living in unprecedented times. People are uncertain; they're scared; they're not sure what to think about the future. And we have a tremendous opportunity to give them something positive to cling to, and that is Jesus Christ,” says Klinedinst.

The series is “designed to answer questions and dig into biblical truths without the need for fancy technology run by your church. Built in the midst of COVID-19 this Christ-centered, relational, and hope-filled series of messages will appeal to the hearts of those filled with fear and anxiety.”

With relative ease, participating churches across the North American Division were able to host the series without the worry of running their own live stream. The series, a modern take on the classic NET meeting, allowed churches to gather interests in real-time and interact with guests outside of the series, whether by sending an email, message or inviting them to a small group virtual meeting.

“The system is extraordinarily flexible, and it all works automatically without someone or a team entering attendance data by hand,” says the Forecasting Hope website. “Forecasting Hope will be the first national event to automatically handle everything from registration to attendance-tracking with one simple platform. This new system is easy to use and requires no technical skill.”

As pastors shared their members and non-members excitement for the series, Peter Simpson, Ohio Conference Hispanic Ministries & Global Mission Director, was elated.

“I think it has been a very positive experience for every participant church,” says Simpson. “As of November 16, we are celebrating eleven baptisms directly from the series, five more are in preparation for baptism, nine are beginning Bible studies and two more are considering returning to our church.” Simpson reports that a significant number of people were following the Forecasting Hope series.

“One church has reported that at least 27 non Adventists were watching this series and some others are still watching it through recorded videos or following up the series through the weekend presentations, this is simply awesome!” says Simpson. “Because of this, our pastors are still expecting more decisions in days to come. We praise God for what already happened and for what will surely happen as fruit of this outstanding series.”

Webinar: Introducing Indestructible, an Evangelistic Bridge Event for 2021

Larry Witzel Evangelism Practices, Marketing Tools, News

Join Faith for Today as they partner with SermonView technology to present an all-new series coming April 9-13 and designed for 2021. In this webinar, Faith for Today’s Roy Ice joins SermonView’s Larry Witzel and Vince Williams to introduce this brand new evangelistic bridge event, called Indestructible: Building an Indestructible Life in a World that’s Falling Apart.

Is your church trying to figure out how to connect to its community in the midst of all this chaos? During this 1-hour webinar, we’ll walk through how Indestructible will work to connect people from your community to your church with no delay.

This 5-part life coaching event is based on Pastor Roy’s 5 keys to living your best life, looking at how Attitude, Wellness, Activity, Relationships and the questions of Existence and the divine impact one’s overall health. It’s a great introduction to the Blue Zone life your church lives every day, and a powerful way to meet people in your community looking for what your church has to offer.

Watch this webinar to learn more about how your church can participate in the event, then sign up to participate as a host church at IindestructibleYou.org/host.

The Evangelism Pyramid

Larry Witzel Evangelism Practices, Marketing Practices, Marketing Tools

THE EVANGELISM PYRAMID

Evangelism is not just a series of meetings held every year or two. In a healthy church, a culture of evangelism flows through everything the church does. A variety of regular, intentional, activities that connect with your community will bring more people into your sphere of influence and increase the decisions made through any reaping events.

In this video, SermonView's Larry Witzel shares the Evangelism Pyramid, from Dr. Roger Walter. It's a great framework for developing a balanced outreach program that encompasses friendship, kindness and compassion ministries, sowing, bridge events, and reaping meetings

The Evangelism Pyramid illustrates the mix of activities that will results in maximum impact. Each level of the pyramid builds on the others below it, resulting in a healthy church that grows organically.

Friendship. Start by building the spirit of friendship in your church. First, help your members learn to like each other. Then help them build genuine and honest redemptive friendships with people outside the church, always remembering the ultimate goal of leading them to Christ. As a leader, help your members catch the vision by modeling it and talking about it frequently.

Kindness. Get into the community and show God's love in a practical way. Kindness and compassion projects help your members think beyond themselves. Find needs in your community and meet them: clean up a park, sort clothes at a homeless shelter, or visit a retirement home. Do random acts of kindness, like washing windshields at Walmart or handing out free water at the fair. Doing a kindness activity in your community every month will infuse your church culture with an outward focus and build a positive reputation for your church.

Sowing. Systematically offer Bible studies and other materials to people in your community, with Bible study card mailings, online advertising, posters, or literature racks in area businesses. You could even go door to door with a Bible study offer. Do intentional sowing activities 3-4 times every year.

Bridging. Bridge events bring people through your church doors in a non-threatening environment. These are 2-5 night events (whether in a row or once per week) that offer something of value and build bridges with people in your community. Bridge events can be focused on health—think cooking classes, stop smoking clinics, or weight loss groups—or family matters, such as marriage seminars, parenting classes or a course in personal finance. They can also be religious in nature, on topics like creation, biblical archaeology, or even prophecy. It is important that bridge events don't "feel" like church. The goal is to help the community get comfortable, not to make other Adventists feel at home. Aim to do 3-4 bridge events every year.

Reaping. This is your evangelistic series, focused on helping people to make decisions for Jesus. When built on a foundation of friendship, kindness and bridge events, you'll see more success in your reaping events. Invest in a full evangelism marketing campaign for your reaping event, while leveraging your church's interest list built from the other efforts.

Polarization of the Pyramid

The Evangelism Pyramid represents a holistic approach to evangelism. However, we live in a polarized world, and this has crept into the church, too. Today, most of the discussion about evangelism in the Seventh-day Adventist Church focuses on either the top or the bottom of the pyramid.

Compassion Only

Some churches focus exclusively on friendship and compassion ministry, ignoring the rest of the pyramid. To be clear, some of these churches are having success at reaching people in the community, and they are experiencing some baptisms.

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The greatest risk to focusing exclusively on friendship and kindness is that no matter how many needs you fill, there will always be more. If you wait to do reaping until after you've met all the needs in your community, you'll be waiting a long time.

Public Evangelism Only

Other churches ignore everything else in the pyramid, and every year or two hold a public evangelistic series. Some of these churches are also seeing success, and the data show that churches in this category are growing faster than those who focus exclusively on friendship and compassion. So if you wanted to grow your church, and had to choose between the polar opposites, the numbers suggest this is the more pro-growth approach.

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But a holistic approach is best. Friendship, kindness and compassion ministries are crucial foundations for evangelism. Scripture is clear that we’re called to compassion ministry. It helps members grow an outward focus, and establishes a positive reputation in the community. But the data says, if we don’t ask for decisions, people don’t join the church. And the Seventh-day Adventist churches with the most baptisms across the NAD almost all include public meetings as part of the evangelism cycle.

So we need to reject the tyranny of the “or” and embrace the genius of the “and.” We can’t look at compassion versus public evangelism. The healthiest churches do both.


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Webinar: A New Era of Evangelism, A Review of 2020

Larry Witzel Evangelism Practices, Fall Evangelism, Marketing Practices, News

In this webinar, SermonView's Vince Williams and Larry Witzel reviews data from 300 online event marketing campaigns handled during the Covid-19 pandemic, and share some key learnings that churches can apply heading into 2021.



Let's Talk Evangelism


To learn more about practical tools for evangelism marketing and online meetings, get a free quote today or call your dedicated campaign manager to discuss comprehensive solutions for your church.


Get a FREE Quote
1-800-525-5791

Webinar: Attendance Tracking for Online Evangelistic Meetings

Larry Witzel Evangelism Practices, Fall Evangelism, Marketing Practices, News

In this webinar, SermonView's Vince Williams and Larry Witzel share a suite of evangelism technology available for churches to pre-register guests, track attendance with automated check-in, and interact with guests during a live stream.



Helpful links mentioned in the webinar:




Let's Talk Evangelism


To learn more about practical tools for evangelism marketing and online meetings, get a free quote today or call your dedicated campaign manager to discuss comprehensive solutions for your church.


Get a FREE Quote
1-800-525-5791
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An easy, all-inclusive online evangelistic series for your church.

- NET-style meeting starts October 9, 2020
- Live streams three times per evening, for different time zones
- We focus on the technology, you focus on relationships

Learn More

Webinar: Online Evangelism in an Age of Social Distancing

Larry Witzel Evangelism Practices, Fall Evangelism, Marketing Practices, News

Interest in Bible prophecy may be the highest in a generation. Google searches for "Second Coming" have recently spiked to the highest in over a decade.

How do we respond to this unprecedented interest, when public meetings are restricted? What are the technologies available for holding evangelistic meetings online? What content is available to use this fall? And what marketing methods are most effective for promoting online meetings?

In this webinar, SermonView's Vince Williams and Larry Witzel work to answer those questions as they share practical tools for evangelism marketing and online meetings. They discuss the 7 ingredients of evangelistic events, then share some evangelism recipes that you can use to propel the Everlasting Gospel forward in your community this fall.



Helpful links mentioned in the webinar:




Let's Talk Evangelism


To learn more about practical tools for evangelism marketing and online meetings, get a free quote today or call your dedicated campaign manager to discuss comprehensive solutions for your church.


Get a FREE Quote
1-800-525-5791

Interest in Bible prophecy may be the highest it’s been in a generation. Won’t you commit to doing something for evangelism this fall?
Take the Evangelism Pledge!


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