Justin Hiebert

Catalyzing Change

Searching to Serve

Posted on 14 Apr 2014 in Books | Comments Off on Searching to Serve

Ask any blogger (young or old, veteran or beginner) and there’s one thing that drives us all mad trying to get more of: visitors.

Why? Visitors are the key to everything. Visitors become members, members become partners, partners become subscribers and subscribers pay money to hear you talk, speak, write, inform, present, and live. You then, as a world famous person, get to quit your lame 9-5 job, catch the first plane to a swanky resort town, make money by doing what you love for a few hours a day, and get to enjoy the good life.

Visitors, you see are key.

Or, at least, that’s what’s you are led to believe, but I’ll let you in on a secret: visitors don’t help. Searching to Serve

Gaining visitors isn’t the key to reaching the above dreams (or whatever variant of those dreams happen to be yours).

Visitors don’t really do anything, and very few visitors ever make the leap to paying customers. Very few bloggers are ever able to make real living at blogging.

Truth: Most bloggers work for free out of a passion that they have to help people in a given field.

So do you want to know the real secret?

Content.

That’s it. Create great content.

Why?

Because great content sells itself. Great content gets shared by your many (or few) visitors, and if it truly is great, it continues to get shared until you have the next viral hit on your hands.

Case in point:

See? Great content compels.

Why does that matter? Because often times in the church world, we forget this. It’s why I’m thankful for the book Searching to Serve: Recruiting Kingdom Workers Online by James Nelson and Carla Foote.

Is it revolutionary and groundbreaking in scope? Not entirely, but it is helpful and practical ways that remind us to create great content.

Geared towards mission agencies looking to provide resources and training to prospective candidates, it’s a helpful book, a quick read, and an insightful look of a study done from potential missionaries looking to connect with an organization.

Most obvious from the study? People want images, particularly images that tell stories. When they do want text, they want stories and opportunities. How can they (the potential missionary) be a part of your organization or mission strategy?

And then this book got me thinking. How can the church learn from this? I am after all, not a missionary, at least not in the traditional sense of, “I’m headed oversees for a stint.” So here are five lessons that I think the church (and mission agencies) can learn to utilize better from this book.

  1. Create a compelling website. This ties into what I mentioned above. People want to be compelled to serve, they want to feel like they belong, and they want to hear stories of transformation. Find great images that capture the life of your church and provide easy and simple ways for people to plug in.
  2. Understand what people are looking for and make it easy to find. While from a missions perspective this may pertain to more to location, time commitments and educational requirements, the church can learn from this too. Some people will visit your website who are new to your area of town, but long-standing Christians. Help them find what they would need easily, quickly, and clearly. On the other hand, most people decide to visit a church for the first time because of a website. Make your website appealing to first time visitors and non-believers. Give them the essentials cleanly and quickly.
  3. Make sure it works. Any blogger will tell you that the great downfall of any website (especially theirs) is two-fold: inaccurate information (outdated) and dead links. Make sure your information is accurate and reliable while also making sure that any potential visitor who clicks on a link will be taken somewhere. Nothing turns a person off to your church or organization quicker than a bad link.
  4. Give them an opportunity. Let people know that they belong. Do more than a general, “It would be swell if you should ever decide to join us” catch phrase. Make it personal and passionate. Tell them about your ministry to homeless women, malnourished children, hospital patients, or your stray cat shelter program. Whatever it is, make sure they they know not only what you do, but connect it with the passion that they have in the same field. They should remember your church because they care just passionately about stray cats as you do. Once they know the needs you are trying to meet, invite them to help you.
  5. Invite them in to your other online spaces. Websites can often be a very formal thing. This isn’t necessarily bad, but it is limiting. Create a Facebook page to show your church in action, a snarky Twitter account of all the humorous things your pastor unintentionally says (because no paster is ever really that funny on purpose), or a Pinterest page of the community service projects you engage in/support throughout the year. Other media opportunities are a great way to show the human side of the congregation and make visitors feel welcome.

So there you have it. Five great ways to create a welcoming, inviting, and transforming presence online by designing a website that is friendly and engaging for visitors and members alike. Try it out and let me know how it goes, I love hearing stories of success and transformation.

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*Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this book as a part of the GMI Blogger network. I’d invite you to check them out here. I was in no way compensated for this review, nor was I required to write a positive review of this book in anyway. All views expressed in this post are solely those of the author and owner of the Empowering Missional Blog. For questions, comments, or more information about book reviews, or to request a specific book for review please email reviews@empoweringmissional.com.

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Justin Hiebert

Leadership Catalyst - Entrepreneur - Coach at JSHiebert Leadership Coaching
I am a Business and Life Coach in both non-profit and for profit settings. I coach leaders, executives, and pastors in areas of vision, clarity, and values. In relationship coaching I focus on healthy and sustainable relationships, and in leadership development roles I catalyze change for individuals and groups to thrive. I also consult churches and organizations on how to train new leaders and create a healthy culture. In addition to that, I am an Anabaptist pastor in the Denver metro area. I specialize on topics that include: missional theology, discipleship, culture and the church in today’s society. I am married to my wonderful wife Elise and we have three kids. I grew up and now work in the United States Mennonite Brethren Church (USMB) and love the people and history of the Mennonite Brethren faith. I am a graduate of Tabor College with a dual degree in Youth Ministry and Christian Leadership, a graduate of Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary with a Masters of Divinity, and a Doctoral Student and Bethel Seminary. I also teach college classes in areas of Bible, Communication, and Business.

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