Creating a Compelling Offer

Larry Witzel Basic Marketing Principles, Evangelism Practices, Marketing Practices

In the last article in this series on marketing principles, I discussed the Sales Funnel, which is a tool for breaking down a big, high-friction decision into smaller, low-friction steps. We then applied these principles to show an Evangelism Funnel. But how do we get people into the funnel in the first place? How do we find interests?

Seventh-day Adventists have typically invited people to engage with us in two specific ways. One is through events, like a prophecy seminar, cooking school, or some other meeting. The other is through Bible study offers, like Bible school enrollment cards, or a counter display offering Bible study guides.

Both of these methods require marketing campaigns to be effective.

In this article, I’m going to share what makes an effective evangelism marketing campaign. We’ll start by talking about the components of a marketing campaign: the Offer, the Audience, and the Creative. Spoiler alert: of these three, by far the most important component that impacts the campaign’s overall effectiveness is the Offer.

To Beast, or Not to Beast?

When it comes to the creative for evangelism marketing, we are frequently asked whether putting biblical beasts on the cover of a mailer is effective. But we believe that is the wrong question. Will prophetic beasts help to communicate the offer to the intended audience? If so, use them. If not, don’t.

For evangelistic meetings, you in fact have two audiences: pre-Adventists in your community, whom you are trying to reach; and your members, whom you want to participate in the meetings to build relationships with your guests.

Unfortunately, many members have an extremely negative reaction to beast images. You want to equip them with a tool to invite friends and neighbors, and if they hate the cover they won’t use it. So there is indeed an argument to be made against using beasts.

However, the primary audience is not members, but people in your community on whom God’s Spirit is moving, preparing them for this message. The data show that when you are offering a prophecy seminar, these people respond very positively to prophetic imagery.

So if your members can get beyond themselves and see the need in the community, you’ll have more success with creative that speaks directly to the pre-Adventists around you.

Components of a Marketing Campaign

Here are the three components of any marketing campaign:

The Offer. This is whatever it is you are offering, such as a Bible prophecy seminar, or a set of Bible study guides, or a book or DVD. There are two characteristics of an effective offer: First, it meets a need that people actually feel—a “felt need.” Second, it is a single, simple offer that clearly meets the need you’re trying to meet, from the perspective of those you are trying to reach.

The Audience. This is who you are trying to reach with your offer. Obviously, you want to communicate your offer to people who actually feel that need. Jiffy Lube doesn’t advertise inside buses, because they sell a service for people who own cars. A diaper company sends coupons to parents of newborns. A chiropractor sends postcards to people who have been in automobile accidents. Your audience is the list you use for a mailing, or the custom audience for Facebook advertising, or the commuters driving past your church who see your banner.

The Creative. The creative is the language, graphics and layout you use to communicate your offer to your audience. It’s the carefully crafted headline, with a sentence or two describing the offer. It’s the stock photo or artwork that speaks to the felt need. When people think of advertising, they are usually thinking about the creative.

Contribution to Effectiveness

Now, these three elements do not contribute equally to the effectiveness of your marketing campaign. We have studied this extensively here at SermonView, and here is what we have seen for evangelism marketing, looking at data across thousands of campaigns over the last five years:

    • Creative: 60%
    • Audience: 30%
    • Creative: 10%

Sixty percent of the effectiveness of an evangelism marketing campaign can be attributed to the offer. Thirty percent of the effectiveness comes from getting that offer to the right audience, while only ten percent comes from the creative.

The bottom line: great creative cannot fix a bad offer. Great creative can power responses to a great offer, and bad creative might break a good offer. But great creative can’t save a bad offer.

So the most important thing you can do to improve your marketing is to improve your offer. Focus on the offer. Gain a deep understanding of your community, then offer something that meets a need widely felt by people in your community.

Effective Offers

So in the context of Adventist evangelism, what are the most effective offers? We have seen three categories of offers that work well:

Life skills. Seminars on life skills like personal finance, parenting and marriage will speak to needs people feel. So will health topics, like smoking cessation, diabetes management and weight loss. These are great topics that will bring people through you doors during a bridge event—a short series of meetings intended to build relationships and serve the community, but don’t thoroughly teach Bible doctrine.

History channel. This category includes topics related to archaeology, creation science, and church history. Bridge events like the Voice of Prophecy’s Shadow Empire and Final Empire would fall in this category. Again, these can be great topics for bridge events.

Bible prophecy. This has potential as a bridge event, too, but it is more frequently used as the anchor for a full-message reaping series. Several years ago I wrote an article on why Bible prophecy still works for evangelism, and it’s even more true today. Here are three specific reasons:

1. Interest. People are curious about Bible prophecy.
2. Knowledge. People need help understanding Bible prophecy.
3. Hope. People need assurance about the future that can only come through understanding Bible prophecy.

Several years ago, my friend Cecille became a baptized member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church directly through a prophecy seminar. Here what she told me about that experience:

“I’ve always gone to church since I was young, and in all my life, I’d never heard the Book of Revelation explained. This seminar answered all my questions, plus more questions I didn’t even know I had. I have hope now, because I know the end of the story.”

Cecille mentions all three reasons: interest, knowledge, and hope. This is why Bible prophecy can be such a powerful offer.

In our experience, no offer is more effective in motivating people in your community to come to meetings at your church than Bible prophecy.

So if you want more people at your evangelistic event, by far the most important thing you should do is focus on the offer. Speak to a need that people in your community actually feel, and offer a single, simple answer that clearly meets the need you’re trying to meet.

Next week in this series, we’ll explore the forces that push back against an interest taken a step forward in the funnel. Collectively, we call these forces “friction.”

Do Something!

The SermonView crew is ready to help you hone your offer. Our campaign managers are experienced at working with churches to refine your offer, then helping you reach the right audience with strong creative.

Interest in Bible prophecy may be the highest it's been in a generation. The Bible has answers to questions people have right now. Now is the time to share Bible truth with people in your community.

Online Evangelistic Meetings: A Conversation with Myckal Morehouse

Larry Witzel COVID-19 Response, Evangelism Practices

In April 2020, the Stone Tower Seventh-day Adventist Church in Portland, Ore., was scheduled to hold evangelistic meetings. Two weeks before opening night, the governor issued a stay-at-home order and banned religious meetings over ten people. Pastor Myckal Morehouse shared what he learned as they scrambled to transition from in-person meetings at the church to online meetings.

“We looked at a lot of different platforms, like Facebook Live and YouTube,” said Pastor Morehouse. “But we wanted to track participation, just like a regular seminar, and we wanted a technology that would allow us to ask for decisions during the meeting.”

The church decided to use Zoom, which allowed them to capture decisions and see who came each evening. They used SermonView’s InterestTracker software for the actual attendance tracking and reporting.

“We ran a live chat during every meeting, and we had moderators who monitored those chats and responded to people,” he said. “Zoom actually went pretty well for us.”

Pastor Morehouse wanted to run it like a live event, but knew that live events have a high potential for technical issues. So they decided to pre-record the messages, and then stream them as if they were live.

“That was the single best decision our entire team made,” he said. “Even during recording we had major issues, where the computer just shut down or there were major faux pas in the recording. By recording ahead of time we could edit out the mistakes. That saved us so many issues and allowed the whole event to go almost flawlessly.”

“It’s really important that the presenter have eye contact with the camera,” he said. So he rigged TV monitors below the lens of each camera, to use like a teleprompter. “I projected all my notes on the TV, and by moving the camera back I could read the notes while it looked like I was preaching right into the camera.”

They made two other decisions that made the event work. First, there were no preliminaries. Each meeting jumped right into the content, so the meeting finished in less than an hour. Second, they didn’t take any breaks in the series.

“In a typical series people need breaks, because they’re driving 30 minutes to the meeting, then you’re in the meeting for an hour and a half, then driving 30 minutes home,” said Pastor Morehouse. “It takes a lot out people. But when they can sit and participate in an evangelistic series in their pajamas from their living room, they can attend every single night. So we ran a full evangelistic series with meetings seven nights a week.”

The church ended up with 44 non-Adventists attending, and they saw 11 decisions for baptism.

“The meeting’s reach was so much wider than with a live event,” he said. “We had people attending from the Oregon Coast, and others over an hour away that simply couldn’t have come to these meetings.”

In many ways, online evangelistic meetings are easier than live, in-person meetings.

“It’s cheaper than doing a live event,” said Pastor Morehouse. “We could do a series for a third the cost. And there aren’t as many moving pieces, so you don’t need as many volunteers. A small church with five people could do this whole thing! And it’s still pretty effective. I recommend other churches do this if they want to participate in evangelism during the pandemic.”

“Really, if we had done nothing during this pandemic we would have missed out on a huge opportunity to introduce people to introduce people to Christ and to the Adventist message,” he said. “Overall I think it was the right decision, and I would totally make the decision again to do online evangelism.”

Watch the interview and be inspired to try online evangelistic meetings at your church.

And as always, please let us know how we can support your evangelism marketing efforts, helping you get more guests to your next online evangelistic meetings.

The Evangelism Funnel

Larry Witzel Evangelism Practices, Fall Evangelism, Marketing Practices, Marketing Tools



As evangelists, our goal is to help people with no connection to our church become baptized members who are fully engaged in the life of the church. In a sense, we are “selling” membership. The cost is not in money, but in time and mental effort. People have to study the Bible to become members; they have to change how they think about certain things. There’s going to be cognitive dissonance—sometimes this will happen quickly, but often this can take time for someone to process.

Membership is a big ask.

What we’re talking about is what the business world calls a “long sales cycle.” Fortunately, there’s a tool that is particularly useful in a long sales cycle, and that’s called the Sales Funnel.

A Sales Funnel breaks down a big, high-friction decision into smaller, low-friction steps. It’s called a funnel because not everyone continues on to the next step, with progressively fewer people in each stage. We already see funnels used in the flow of most reaping meetings as we present truths in a specific order. But the funnel idea is even more important when inviting people to engage with our local church events.

Let’s look at how a funnel works in the business world and how we might apply it to ministry.

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Best Buy's Sales Funnel

Consider Best Buy. They want raving customers—people who buy all their electronics from them and tell others how great they are. But the retailer doesn’t ask random people on the street, “Hey, give us your financial information, spend $3,500 per year, and let us track all your electronics purchases so we can sell you more stuff you don’t need.” That’s a big ask, and people would just laugh and walk away.

Awareness

So instead, Best Buy starts by simply raising awareness of their existence. When I moved a few years ago, I got a mailer from Best Buy offering $50 off any purchase of $250 or more. When I kept that coupon, I was then in their funnel.

First Purchase

As I was settling into the house, I wanted a new TV for the living room, and remembered that coupon. So I went to Best Buy, picked out a TV, and went to check out. In the funnel, I had made it to the first purchase.

But Best Buy doesn’t want me to be a one-time customer. They want me to come back again. So while checking out, they asked if I’d like to join their rewards program, and they offered double points on that purchase. That worked out to a $40 certificate towards a future purchase if I just signed up right then. That sounded good to me, so I gave them my email address and phone number and signed up for their rewards program.

Repeat Customer

Once they had my information, they started sending messages about new products and great deals. They also reminded me about that $40 certificate. One day I saw that the Apple TV device was on sale, so I went down to buy one. With that purchase I became a repeat customer.

Raving Customer

But Best Buy was still not satisfied. While I was checking out, they offered a Best Buy credit card. They said it would give me 6% back in reward certificates, plus they offered an extra 20% of that current purchase. With my certificates and extra discount, my $200 Apple TV only cost $120, so of course I signed up—giving them my financial information to run a credit check in the process.

Then I got an email pointing out that I was only $200 away from becoming an Elite member, which would give me free shipping for online orders and 25% bonus points.

Each time I responded, they offered a little more, and asked a little more. And before I knew it, I had given them all my financial information to get a credit card I didn’t need, I was letting them track all my purchases, and I was buying everything I could at Best Buy to meet the $3,500 spending level to maintain my ElitePlus benefits. I had become a raving customer.

Look what happened. Best Buy broke down their big goal into smaller steps. They took a big ask and broke it into smaller, low-friction decisions. Then they took intentional action to persuade me to make those decisions one by one.

There was always a next step, and they always asked me to take that next step.


The Evangelism Funnel

Adventist evangelism is similar. Remember, we’re selling membership in the church. But you can’t just walk up to a random person and say, “Hey, we’d like you to change the day you attend church, give 10% of your income to us, and give up meat for textured vegetable protein. And oh, by the way, your dead grandma isn’t actually in heaven.” That’s a big ask. So we have to break down our goal into smaller, low-friction decisions.

Adventist evangelists have done that, and the evangelism funnel looks something like this:

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    Stage 1: Awareness.

    First, there is contact with someone which raises awareness. Maybe people drive by the church and see a sign for an upcoming event. Maybe they get a flyer in the mail. Maybe they see an ad for a Bible study on Facebook. They likely see more than one before they act. But when they respond to your offer, and you know who they are, they are now in the funnel.

    This first stage is key, and is known as the mouth of the funnel. We want as many people as possible to enter the mouth, and the more, the better. So we need to make this a good fit for the highest variety of people and their interests. For some, it will be attending a full-message prophecy series. But others may come in first through a member inviting them to church, or through a bridge event such as health, marriage, finance or other short series.

    You also need to make sure you’re collecting information about each person. If you don’t know who someone is, you can’t encourage them to take the next step. They’re not really in your funnel until you know who they are.
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    Stage 2: Bible study.

    The next major stage is Bible study. You want to see the interest begin studying the Bible with you, so you need to take specific actions to encourage that next step. It could be a personal conversation, or a postcard, or a text (again, probably more than one contact). Once the interest is involved in Bible study, whether one-on-one, in a small group, or in large evangelistic meetings, that interest has made it to the next stage.

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    Stage 3: Baptism.

    Over the course of a Bible study, there are many incremental steps. Adventist Bible studies follow a sequence to help people understand what scripture says about each of the testing truths. In fact, Bible studies themselves are a mini funnel, leading someone step-by-step through Bible truth. The goal of this process is to help someone make a decision to be baptized as a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

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    Stage 4: Involvement.

    But this isn’t the end. The goal is not membership, but total member involvement. So once someone joins the church, you put them in a pastor’s class, and give them a job to do on Sabbath morning. You also encourage them to share what they’ve learned with friends and family, becoming a light in their world.

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When you go through this process, you’ve broken down a big ask into smaller, lower-friction steps. And before you know it, your friend is worshiping on a different day, is giving 10% of her income to the church, has given up meat for textured vegetable protein, and understands that Grandma is asleep as she waits for the return of Jesus. More than that, your friend is doing her part to spread the Good News herself as a fully-engaged member.

With a Sales Funnel, you break down the big goal into smaller, low-friction offers. There’s always a next step, and you always want to ask people to take that next step in their journey.

So how do we get people into the mouth of the funnel in the first place? How do we find interests? The most effective way to do that is with a marketing campaign, which has three components: the Offer, the Audience, and the Creative. That will be our topic next week.

Innovating the Building Blocks of Evangelism

Larry Witzel Evangelism Practices, Fall Evangelism, Marketing Practices, Marketing Tools

The era of social distancing and forced church closures has led to a burst of innovation in Seventh-day Adventist ministry that hasn’t been seen for decades. Being forced to move worship services, children’s ministry, and Bible studies to online and distance learning platforms has required rapid cycles of experimentation and evaluation, as we’ve all tried to figure it out on the fly. It’s exhausting work, because we can no longer rely on habit and muscle memory to do weekly ministry. It requires more attention than usual just to keep ministry moving forward.

But we’re not through. Right now, interest in Bible prophecy may be the highest it’s been in a generation. The Church needs another burst of innovation, this time focused not on meeting the needs of our members, but in reaching people in the community. It’s crucial that we work together to seize this fall for evangelism.

Focused Innovation

When you hear the word innovation, what often comes to mind is large-scale “disruptive innovation” that upends industries. That’s what gets all the press. However, while interesting and sometimes newsworthy, successful “revolutionary” innovation is actually quite rare. Nearly all innovation in business and science is in fact incremental “evolutionary” change. The innovator targets a specific step in a process, or a specific feature for a product, or a specific aspect of a service. This becomes the focus of the innovation process.

The same should hold true for innovation in Adventist evangelism. Innovation is all about increasing effectiveness. We need to resist the urge to change everything, which risks breaking something in the evangelism process that reduces overall effectiveness. We’ll see more long-term success if we focus on incremental changes. Pick one specific aspect of evangelism at a time, and work on solving or improving that.


The 7 Building Blocks of Evangelism

When considering a target for your innovation effort, what will you focus on? We have identified seven building blocks of any evangelistic program, whether it is seed sowing, a bridge event, or a full-message reaping series. Two of them, marketing and interest tracking, are things that SermonView has spent years innovating. We have seen significant improvements in both of these areas, which we will share in a future newsletter article.

This leaves five building blocks that give you an opportunity to contribute innovation. During this season you might need to deal with all five of these in one way or another. But you’ll see the best results if you put your effort into solving just one of these challenges at a time:

1. Content

Content is the actual core message to the evangelistic project, like the sermons, or Bible studies, or videos. This is the specific language and visuals used to deliver the gospel message. Historically, most innovation effort in Seventh-day Adventist evangelism has been put into this building block, which explains the plethora of Bible study guides and sermon series.

The need: Over the last four months, the seismic shift in society has changed the public conversation. There is a need right now for content that is truly Present Truth, speaking to the public health crisis, the resulting economic calamity, and the social unrest that has swept the nation. Content developed even just six months ago is already missing critical components to the message that could reduce its effectiveness.

In addition, depending on the delivery method you choose (see below), the content may need to be tweaked to be more effective.

2. Delivery

By delivery, I mean the channel used to deliver the content to your audience. Historically, this has been primarily through public meetings at the church and in-home Bible studies, but neither of these delivery methods are available to us right now. Over the decades, innovation has led to using radio, television, and the internet to deliver the message, as well as establishing Bible correspondence schools using the postal system, but none of these methods have the same impact as public evangelistic meetings.

The need: For this fall, we need to develop effective methods for holding online evangelistic meetings. Which technology platform is best? Zoom Meetings, Zoom Webinars, Facebook Live and YouTube Live are all options you might consider, each with positives and negatives. (We’ll be doing a comparison between delivery platforms in an upcoming newsletter.) What does the program look like? What needs to change to work best online, speaking to people sitting at home?

3. Interaction

Interaction is about connecting members with guests. The purpose of an evangelistic meeting is not just to provide biblical information. It may be even more important to build relationships between members and guests. With in-person evangelistic meetings, intentional thought is put into creating an environment for people to engage with each other, such as through refreshments after the program, or designating row hosts to initiate interactions with guests.

The need: How on earth do you encourage interactions when people have never met face to face? Fortunately, there are 30 years of history related to online relationships, going all the way back to the old CompuServe bulletin board system of the late 1980’s. We need people to research online relationships, and to experiment with using the chat system in Zoom, social media, or SMS text messaging. We need to find the most effective ways to help members grow relationships with guests they have never met in person. If people can find true love online without ever meeting face to face, surely we can figure out how to connect members and guests in a way that can encourage life-changing decisions for Christ.

4. Decisions

As mentioned in the article about The Evangelism Funnel, there is always a next step forward in someone’s spiritual journey. The whole point of an evangelistic series is to invite people to take that next step, and asking for decisions during in-person meetings is a skill that has been honed over decades.

The need: Again, how do you ask for decisions online? We’ve heard about pastors using Zoom’s Poll feature, and others simply asking people to send a message to a phone number or special email address. But what is the most effective way of helping people make decisions to step forward? For this building block, multiple experiments can be run using the Do-Measure-Learn feedback loop (see below) over the course of a single evangelistic series.

5. Follow Up

This is about how to maintain the relationship with an interest after your evangelistic program is over. What intentional actions can your church take to propel each interest’s spiritual journal forward after the event?

The need: This was an area that could have seen improvement even before Covid-19, but this becomes even more important now if online evangelistic meetings do not yield the same results as in-person meetings. In this case, the online meetings are more like bridge events, making it even more vital to follow up with each interest.

6. Interest Tracking

A quick side note about tracking interests. You need to be keeping track of each interest in your churches orbit and where they are in the decision-making process toward membership. That’s why we created the cloud-based InterestTracker software. It is designed to help you record and manage interactions with your interests.

InterestTracker can help your members with their interactions with interests, too. It allows you to assign interests to members with basic accounts, where each member’s view is limited to the handful of interests assigned. The pastor or evangelism coordinator has access to the entire list and can track each interest through the evangelism funnel all the way to membership.

7. The Innovation Process

So you see the need for innovation, but how do you actually do it? Here is a simple process to follow:

Preparation

First, choose the area you’re going to target. Don’t try to do everything at once. Pick the evangelism building block that gives you the best opportunity to improve evangelism effectiveness in your church.

Second, determine your metric. In other words, how are you going to measure success? For example, evangelists see a falloff in attendance at in-person meetings over the course of a series. If you wanted to reduce this falloff, you could innovate the content to try to keep your audience coming back. If that’s the problem you’re attacking, your metric would be the falloff rate, or the percentage of guests from one night who didn’t return the next.

Defining one or more metrics in advance is crucial. You won’t know if you’ve succeeded if you don’t track the result. It also needs to be something you can actually measure. “People will like it better” is not measurable. “We will get 5 baptisms” is.

Do-Measure-Learn

The Do-Measure-Learn feedback loop1 is a process you can use to rapidly innovate. There are four steps:

        1. Hypothesize. Brainstorm possible solutions, then state your hypothesis: If we do X, then Y will result. Be specific. For example: If we promote online evangelistic meetings, we’ll see 45 interests pre-register and attend one of the first three sessions. Or: If we use text messaging to interact with guests, we’ll maintain connection with 50% of them over the course of the meetings.
        2. Do what you say you’re going to do. Execute the X of the hypothesis.
        3. Measure the results.
        4. Learn. Did you get the results you hypothesized? Great! Didn’t work? Rethink and try again.
Share What You Learned

As you innovate, you’ll discover some things that work and others that don’t. If you contribute your learnings to others, we’ll all get better together.

A full-time evangelist can run at most only a couple dozen Do-Measure-Learn feedback loops in a year. But if every pastor who does evangelism this fall contributes, we will have hundreds of data points that we can all learn from.

We’re in a season of forced innovation, and the Church will be stronger for it. So let’s keep the innovation going.


Do Something

Right now, interest in Bible prophecy may be the highest it’s been in a generation. Google searches for Second Coming have spiked to the highest level in over a decade, and searches for other terms like End Times, Bible Prophecy and Book of Revelation have also seen recent highs.

There is a hunger right now for answers that your church is uniquely positioned to answer. So plan now to do something. Together, let’s grow the Kingdom!

Seize This Fall for Evangelism

Larry Witzel COVID-19 Response, Evangelism Practices, Fall Evangelism, Marketing Practices, Marketing Tools, News

Seize This Fall for Evangelism

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Interest in Bible prophecy may be the highest it’s been in a generation. Search terms for End Times, Book of Revelation, and End of the World have reached recent highs, while searches for the term Second Coming have spiked to their highest level in over a decade. In the midst of a global health pandemic, economic crisis and social unrest, people in your community right now are asking questions: What’s going on here? Did the Bible predict this? What does the future hold?

These are questions that your local church is positioned to answer.

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Here at SermonView, we also have seen a dramatic increase in activity. We’ve provided churches with over 3,000 requests for Bible studies in just three months. People are hungry for answers.

Now is the time to use this wave of interest to reach your community with the Everlasting Gospel.

Even if all of the evidence points us to an amazing time to fulfill our mission, how do we move forward in the midst of a moratorium on public gatherings? And even if doors can open, will people come out before the coronavirus is contained?

Fortunately, there are solutions that we see working across the country. 

Planning for Effective Evangelism This Fall

Reaping events are about engagement. And we all know that engagement is best built through in-person connections. However, we have seen that you can also build engagement using digital methods, as long as certain elements are in place.

Here is a look at the three methods we believe will help a local church create an evangelism program that maximizes engagement.

  1. Hold local church evangelistic meetings online. Churches that have a strong A/V team should consider hosting a speaker for an online meeting. We recommend Zoom as a platform, because it has a good mix of features useful for online evangelistic meetings. It’s a great choice for churches who have been using it for weekly worship, since people have gotten a lot more comfortable with that technology over the last three months.

    This is an especially good option if your church already has a multi-camera setup. In that case, plan to do the preaching from church with your video team and broadcast it through Zoom. The key to an effective, local online meeting is to utilize interactive elements and pace your meetings differently than you would in person.

    In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing detailed instructions for how to use Zoom for local evangelistic meetings.

  2. Join national evangelistic meetings online. This would be similar to a Net meeting from the 90’s, but instead of bringing people to the church for the meeting you would hold it via Zoom. In this case, you would have a local moderator introducing the meeting, then switch to either a live stream or a pre-recorded video played over Zoom.

    The key here is that you don’t want to use content available on 3ABN or Hope TV, because you want both guests and members to participate through Zoom’s interactive experience. Your church should have its own Zoom meeting, so you keep your local attendees all together. Zoom gives you the information you need to track attendance, and you can use the chat and poll systems to add a local interactive element to the meeting. You can also break groups down even farther by using Zoom’s breakout room feature.

    As for meeting content, we are assembling a list of evangelistic content options, and will publish that as soon as we have confirmed speakers and dates for this fall.

  3. Give personal Bible studies. Maybe you cannot put together a high-quality, evangelistic series online, and maybe you don’t even have the means to host content from someone else. In that case, you are not off the hook! Consider hosting small group or personal Bible studies—either in homes or online.

    Even before the COVID-19 crisis, new online approaches to the old Bible study card mailing were proving to be more effective at introducing people to Adventist truth. And now we are seeing even better results. Many churches are seeing the benefit of building relationships with interested families and connecting them to church leaders near their homes. This approach has lower friction at the start and can be expanded easily to personal visits and interpersonal connections.

    For some churches, this may be the best use of their evangelism marketing dollars. Whether you use our year-long InterestGenerator program, which guarantees new Bible study interests every month, or a shorter campaign focused on the fall season, you’ll hear from people eager to study the Bible with you. At that point, you can follow up by phone or email and set up a time to have a Zoom Bible study or invite them to a small group Bible study.

Now is the Time

Right now, people in your community have questions. The Bible has answers. Make plans now to seize this fall for evangelism.

Of course, it needs to be stated that more than just COVID-19 is plaguing our country. We’re also in a season of social unrest responding to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and too many others. We believe it is appropriate for Seventh-day Adventists to join the efforts fighting injustice, discrimination and racism in our society. Two weeks ago, my own family and members of the SermonView crew joined our Adventist brothers and sisters of color for a Juneteenth march through the streets of Portland. And I’m proud to see our denominational leaders responding in so many positive ways. There is crucial antiracism work to do, and we should leverage this moment to effect lasting change.

At the same time, we can’t ignore this great wave of interest in Bible prophecy. There are people in your community, ripe to hear the Three Angels’ Message that only you can bring. As I’ve written before, we need to reject the tyranny of the “or” and embrace the genius of the “and.” We shouldn’t look at compassion versus public evangelism. The healthiest churches do both.

So start planning your fall outreach right now. Whether you do your own online meetings, participate in coordinated meetings with other churches, or simply focus on generating interest in one-on-one or small group Bible studies, you’ll be seizing this fall to reach the people whom God has already prepared for your message.

Together, let’s grow the Kingdom!

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Introduction to Evangelism Marketing Principles

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

Introduction to Evangelism Marketing Principles


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Adventist churches grow differently. Our evangelism marketing needs to be different, too.

Adventist churches grow differently. The practical differences between many denominations are so small that members—and even clergy—can move between churches with little friction. That’s why a non-denominational church plant can do church with a little twist (Java Jireh coffee bar, anyone?), send out some postcards into the neighborhood, and quickly grow the congregation.

Seventh-day Adventists, however, are different. For us membership requires having a solid understanding of our fundamental beliefs. And because some of our fundamental beliefs require a substantial shift from commonly-held perspectives, that process takes time. So we need to be far more deliberate and intentional about how we bring in new members.

Imagine Tom and Sue, a couple in your community. They wake up one morning and say to each other, “Hey, we haven’t been to church in a while. We should go to church today!” What day is it? It’s Sunday, right?

We can’t just send out some postcards and invite people to church—because they’re more likely to show up on Sunday morning to the church that’s renting your building. We have to be far more deliberate about our marketing and evangelistic methods, because frankly, people have more mental distance to travel to join our movement.

Adventist churches grow differently.

Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing some specific marketing ideas that apply directly to Adventist evangelism. These ideas include:

  • The Sales Funnel, which is a framework for splitting a “big ask” into smaller steps;
  • the power of the Offer, and how it interacts with the Audience and the Creative to affect campaign results;
  • Friction, and how to reduce it; and
  • advertising frequency, comparing Burst Marketing to Continuous Marketing and Flash Marketing.

In this series, I’d like you to think about membership from a sales perspective. Our goal is to help people with no connection to our church become baptized members who are fully engaged in the life of the church. In a sense, we are “selling” membership. There may not be a monetary cost, but make no mistake, there is a cost—in time and mental effort. People have to study the Bible to become members. They have to change how they think about certain things. It’s hard work, because there’s a lot of cognitive dissonance along the way. Membership is a big ask.

What we’re talking about is what the business world calls a “long sales cycle.” Becoming a member of the Seventh-day Adventist church is not an impulse decision. Fortunately, there’s a tool that is particularly useful in a long sales cycle, and that’s called the Sales Funnel. That will be our first topic in the next article.

The Evangelism Funnel »

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Evangelism Carries on in the Time of COVID-19

Katie Fellows COVID-19 Response, Evangelism Practices, From the Field, News

— SPOTLIGHT —

Evangelism Carries on in the Time of COVID-19

Katie Fellows
Freelance Writer

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With social distancing and quarantine orders still in place, evangelism seemed to be forced to a standstill. However, despite the new challenges, Tony Cash, Arkansas-Louisiana Conference Planned Giving and Trust Services Director, and volunteers from Texarkana (TX), Shreveport First (La.), and Shreveport South (La.) Seventh-day Adventist Churches have continued in the only ways they now can: through mail and online studies.

When Cash first heard in January that the Southwestern Adventist University (SWAU) School of Evangelism was planning to host an evangelism series in their local area, his first goal was to prepare and invite the community.

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We wanted to reach our community as quickly and affordable as possible. Since our original option wouldn’t have been ready for 5-6 weeks, we had to find an alternative. That’s how we found SermonView Evangelism Marketing,” says Cash.↪Tweet this

With the help of SermonView, Cash was able to set up a Facebook advertising campaign offering Bible studies to various age groups and demographics in the Arkansas-Louisiana area. In the first month, they had generated so many Bible study requests that they had to pause the campaign until they could catch up with them all.

“All of the volunteers from the congregations were thinking they’d get maybe 1-2 requests a week. But we actually had so many in the first month that is was overwhelming,” says Cash. “So we decided to pause the campaign so the interests wouldn’t go cold before we could respond to them. But after a week, our volunteers and congregations were excited about the responses they were getting and they said to keep going!”

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...Our volunteers and congregations were excited about the responses they were getting and they said to keep going!↪Tweet this

“There were too many requests for one person to do,” says Loretta Johnson, Texarkana Seventh-day Adventist Church member. “So I sent a message to the church board to update them on what we were doing and asked for help. And they volunteered and I was really moved by that. Even those not on the board pitched in.”

To date, the campaign has had over 580 requests for Bible studies, with each interest receiving an email inviting them to choose between online or mailed correspondence. Now three months into their four-month evangelism outreach campaign, things look very different. Due to COVID-19, SWAU had to cancel their late May to early June evangelism meetings. And where once volunteers and Bible workers knocked on their neighbor’s doors, they now work hard to best support their community through correspondence and online Bible study. Many are continuing to respond.

“We won’t drop the ball and let the Lord down despite the shutdown,” says Johnson. “There are two boys in prison who’ve been faithful about doing their Bible lessons and even though there are people who are more unreachable in a physical sense, there will be people that they can witness to in other ways,” says Johnson.

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We won’t drop the ball and let the Lord down despite the shutdown.↪Tweet this

Because of the canceled meetings and almost 600 responses to Bible study offers, the Arkansas-Louisiana Conference president and vice president for administration are working on ways to host an online evangelistic meeting targeting Texarkana and Shreveport communities.

“Even though we’re not able to meet people in person and the meetings have been canceled, we intend to visit when this pandemic comes to an end and I believe people will make decisions because of this effort,” says Cash.

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Webinar: Get Bible Study Interests (Even during Covid-19)

jwilliams COVID-19 Response, Evangelism Practices

Start cultivating real connections in your community and reach people ready to study the Bible! In this webinar, SermonView’s Vince Williams and Larry Witzel share about the all-new InterestGenerator program, which connects your church with real people who want to study the Bible with you.

Unlike with traditional Bible study card mailings, with InterestGenerator you’ll get Bible study requests through a year-round online campaign, offering guaranteed connections every month to build your interest list and grow your ministry.

In this webinar, they discuss active and passive online advertising methods, some methods for interacting with Bible study interests during stay-at-home orders and beyond, and how to track interactions with interests using InterestTracker.

Learn more about InterestGenerator on our dedicated website at InterestGenerator.org.

Evangelistic Webinars: A Conversation with Ann Thrash-Trumbo

Larry Witzel COVID-19 Response, Evangelism Practices

In the midst of the Covid-19 national health emergency, with all the stay-at-home orders throughout North America, church ministry and evangelism has had to quickly transition to online methods. One question the SermonView crew has heard many times over the last month is, how can a church most effectively use webinars for evangelism?

Ann Thrash-Trumbo is a Bible instructor and evangelist at the Columbus GA Seventh-day Adventist Church. For several years now, she has been experimenting with evangelistic webinars, and recently we spoke with her about her experience.

“A webinar is not the same thing as an online evangelistic series,” Ann said. “It’s not an online sermon. And it’s not the same thing as an online Bible study. It is a unique experience, and it needs to be addressed that way.”

Ann uses webinars to help with the relationship-building process, as part of the overall evangelism strategy.

“We try to connect with every participant, seeking to move them from an online relationship to an in-person relationship. But this takes time. It’s part of a long-term evangelistic strategy.”

Ann has tried a number of different topics. She’s done a ten-part webinar on Jesus-centric prophecy, as well as shorter series on Sabbath rest, and another on ghosts around Halloween.

The presentations themselves need to be different. Ann will take what might be an hour-long evangelistic sermon and cut it down to 20 minutes. “Remember,” she says, “people are online while they’re watching you, so you have to work hard to keep their attention. If you don’t, they’ll just turn you off.” So she is far more interactive with participants, inviting people to leave comments and actively ask questions. She tells more stories, and also uses graphics to keep it interesting.

For technology, she likes Zoom because it gives an editable recording at the end of the presentation. It also requires participants to actually log in and provide an email address, making it easier to follow up.

Facebook, however, is where she has seen the highest participation. Facebook preferences live events, so when people do Facebook Live events they get higher visibility. When she uses Zoom for a webinar, she also broadcasts it on Facebook Live, which alerts people who have liked her page that a live event is currently happening.

“While we like Zoom for its capabilities; we love Facebook for its reach,” she said. “A lot of people of all ages are still on Facebook. It’s still the largest social media platform.”

Webinars are part of a long-term process for moving people forward in their faith journey. “This takes time” Ann said. “This is not a truncated time frame where you can help people make decisions over the course of a month. It’s much more in the time frame of giving Bible studies over several months.”

For Ann, webinars have become a crucial part of the evangelistic cycle.

“Webinars feel like a lower commitment to people than coming to a church event, or getting an in-home visit. We’ve seen people become engaged, where joining a webinar was that first step. Webinars are an opportunity to take some of those people who are maybe a little iffy with their interest, but they are more interested once they can go to a webinar.”

Listen in on the conversation, and be inspired to add webinars to your church’s evangelism cycle.

And as always, please let us know how we can support your evangelism marketing efforts, helping you get more guests to your next evangelistic webinar.

4 Outreach Opportunities for Propelling Evangelism Forward

Vince Williams COVID-19 Response, Evangelism Practices, Marketing Practices, Marketing Tools

Propelling Evangelism Forward

4 Outreach Opportunities

With the global outbreak of COVID-19, churches are scrambling to solve their local Sabbath services, let alone figure out evangelism. But there is no better time to reach your community than now. More than ever, it is our calling to reach those who are hurting and introduce them to our biblical message of hope and wholeness.


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We have heard from many churches asking how to propel evangelism forward in this environment. Some have questions about online technology, while others are looking for content. We’re here to help.

Here are 4 outreach opportunities happening throughout the NAD that SermonView recommends.


4 Outreach Opportunities

Ideas to reach your community for Christ during a national lock-down.

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1. Online Reaping Event from It Is Written - April 17

It Is Written is supporting local churches throughout the NAD with a full message series being hosted by John Bradshaw. This online-only event, Hope Awakens, will resemble the Net meetings of old in the way that it drives interests from across the country into a professional full-message series. Then Virtual Bible Coordinators (some can be trained at your church) will continue to engage and visit with the interests. This event is right around the corner and participating churches need to register before the end of this week.

When: Starting April 17, 2020. Churches need to register before the end of this week to participate.

Format: Full-message series online hosted by It Is Written.

Cost: $2,500 and up, based on church needs for marketing.

Who is this for: This is a great program for any church that had planned a reaping event for this spring, and feel they need to still do it. Many churches are not capable of putting together their own production, and for this event, It Is Written will handle everything. 

To register, visit HopeAwakensEvent.com


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2. Bridge Event from the Voice of Prophecy

The Voice of Prophecy is recommending a bridge event for this season, and we think this has a lot of merit. By using the resources from Shadow Empire you can put together a multi-night event with high-quality video and an interactive study time online. There are a few restrictions to protect this content, but your church will have plenty of flexibility to make this a great introduction to your community.

Format: Video series that requires an online meeting platform. We like Zoom—click here to learn why.

Cost: $49-$5,000, depending on your current access to these materials, participation in special offers, and marketing to your community.

Who is this for: If your church has the means to put together your own meeting but needs quality content to engage viewers, this is for you. You’ll build community that will help you fill seats in a full-message series this fall. But it does require some technical skill, so be prepared to test your system first.

To learn more and register, visit ShadowEmpire.com/Host


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3. Your Own Online Reaping Event

This has been the big question: “Can we simply move our meeting online?”

We believe that for many churches this level of content development and technology may be out of immediate reach. However, we also know many churches are capable and excited about these types of programs. SermonView has modified their registration platform to be a great tool for online meetings—including automated reminders for each meeting through email/text. You provide the content, and we’ll use our marketing team to help get your community to the meeting platform of your choice. 

Format: Your meeting, your content, your platform. It is all up to you.

Cost: $295 and up. This really depends on the marketing efforts we provide. We are currently offering packages with registration, Facebook/Instagram ads, Twitter ads, and Google ads.

Who is this for: This solution is for a church that is excited for the flexibility or the timing to try a new platform. If your church wants to roll up their sleeves and get to work innovating online evangelism, this is a way to keep everything local. You can choose between a full-message series and a bridge event based on your fall plans and needs.

Read more about hosting an online meeting.


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4. Online Lead Generation

SermonView has been handling online lead generation for a few years now and this program is seeing its biggest success yet.

Our program is now generating hundreds of Bible study leads every week for churches across the NAD. Every part of the country is responding better than before the pandemic and this reflects the way God is using this situation to point people to Him. Our program allows for flexibility of resources, and offers a prayer phone and online system that help you better connect with people in need in your community.

Format: We handle everything. You receive the leads.

Cost: $500 and up. We're seeing an average cost of $15 to $20 per lead currently in most parts of the U.S.

Who is this for: This is for everyone that wants to increase their connection to local people who are hurting and open. We believe there is no better time to connect with your community and this program does it in a simple way. Feel free to add this program before or during any of the programs mentioned above.

Learn more about online lead generation.




How to Follow Up with Leads

With social distancing becoming the new normal, you may be asking yourself, "What is the appropriate way to follow up with my Bible studies leads while still building bonds and planting seeds?" Here's several methods that can help you in this unique time.

First, we suggest you begin your correspondence by phone or email. Many pastors have found this the best method to start with—even before the era of social distancing. After you have made initial contact, here are some options:

  • Individual one-on-one Bible studies through phone or Skype
  • A weekly group Bible study through Zoom
  • Become part of an online platform that people can freely access the Bible studies, such as VOP Discover Bible School or It Is Written Bible Lessons
  • Send a personal note with a physical Bible study through the mail

People are lacking connection, so finding creative ways to connect is going to be the key to starting any relationship in this time of uncertainty.


The Evangelism Pyramid


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When choosing an evangelistic activity, it’s appropriate to consider your church’s overall evangelism strategy. This is where the Evangelism Pyramid from Dr. Roger Walter can be extremely helpful.


Each layer builds on the previous one, resulting in a strong evangelism culture and more effective reaping events. Your church should be doing activities at every level regularly throughout the year. 

During this season of social distancing, every level of the pyramid is impacted. But in this environment, churches especially need to find ways to be good neighbors, building friendships and showing kindness to people in your community.

If you are planning a reaping series for this fall, now is the perfect time to build your interest list through seed sowing activities. Because online evangelistic meetings remain an unproven method for asking for decisions, you may want to defer your meetings to this fall, and spend your effort in seed sowing activities.

Using this time to build the lower foundation levels will result in a greater harvest when the crisis passes.

Learn more about the Evangelism Pyramid.


A Conversation About Online Evangelistic Meetings


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“What can churches do to propel evangelism forward in this environment of social distancing?”

That was the question posed to five Seventh-day Adventist evangelist pastors two weeks ago, as the coronavirus national health emergency led authorities to ban all gatherings of more than ten people. As the crisis unfolded, SermonView’s Larry Witzel and Vince Williams led a Zoom call with Byron Corbett, Richie Halversen, Ann Thrash-Trumbo, Keith Trumbo, and Joshua Plohocky. A 53-minute video of that conversation is now available online.

If you are thinking about holding online reaping meetings over the next few weeks, we encourage you to watch the video and glean some insights about what changes you’ll need to make to your sermons to be more effective online.

Watch the video.


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As Always

We're Here For You

Here in Washington State we are under a stay-at-home order by the governor, so the SermonView crew is working remotely. We have worked hard to create a safe space for people to do their best work, and right now their physical safety requires the team to work using remote technology. 

We plan to continue maintaining normal business hours, so we can be here to serve your evangelism marketing needs. If there is something we can do to support you during this crisis, please let us know.

In the meantime, we are praying for you, your family and your ministry as you navigate this unprecedented challenge. We pray for your health, and your sanity. And we pray that God will work through you in a powerful way to share His message of hope and wholeness, and that the end result of all this will be a great harvest for the Kingdom of God.

The SermonView Crew

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