Nextdoor: The New Social Network You Must Check Out

6 Reasons Your Church Should Be On It

If you’re a pastor of a church, social media can be a frustrating thing. You want to use social media to connect with people who might be looking for a good church, so you create a Facebook page.  You put out the word, and people start “liking” your church page – but they don’t even live in your city, let alone your neighborhood!  But instead, it’s your grandma, your high school best friend, 2 weird people from your email address book, and 3 spam accounts that want you to buy Oakley sunglasses.

If only there was some way to connect naturally with people right in your neighborhood!  Some way to know what what going on in their lives, without stopping by 500 homes every week.

Then, someone created NextDoor.

It’s a social network that is geographically based by your address, not relationally based.  You actually get to know your neighbors, people who live right in your neighborhood.

On Nextdoor, people:

  • Share things they saw in the neighborhood
  • Post events (garage sales, etc.)
  • Warn about theft or vandalism
  • Share news that’s relevant to the community.
  • Post about lost or found pets
  • Ask about good places to Trick or Treat
  • And other things neighbors do…

Here’s why you should check out NextDoor:

1.  Geographic connections.

Facebook is great, but it’s not easy to find people who are geographically connected.  They may be connected by relationships, but it’s not a place where people come to connect with people who live two streets over.  Besides, if you’re like me, you have too many FB friends to even see most things they post!

Nextdoor allows you to talk with people and stay up with what’s going on in your neighborhood, instead of lunch photos from that girl you went to high school with.

nextdoor screenshot

2. Early adopters & relational people.

For right now, those who are on Nextdoor are people who are very open to trying something new.  They aren’t the last guy holding out from joining something new.  As Guy P told me this past week when he visited our church (from Nextdoor), “I knew you were pretty savvy. You’re on Nextdoor, after all!”  They’re also people who are tired of the phenomenon of 1/3 of Americans not knowing their neighbors.  These are people you ought to get to know.

3. Ground floor influence.

I am now a Neighborhood Lead on my Nextdoor network, because I was one of the earliest adopters, and because I invited so many people.  They make it easy to invite geographically, since they (at the time of this writing) pay for you to send postcard invites to 50 people at a time in your neighborhood.  (You never have to touch the postcards, but you can customize the message with your name.)

For me, this was a no-brainer: Get to know my neighbors better, and let someone else pay for it?  Yes, please.

I am planning to use Nextdoor more intentionally in the next few months.  But without any particular plan, we’ve had 2 men start attending church from it in the past few months.

4. Very little noise.

Facebook and Twitter have been noisy for a while.  And they are getting noisier, with all the ads and commercialization.  Nextdoor is like a quieter room – you don’t have to talk with a megaphone to be heard.

In fact, on our Nextdoor, we will sometimes go for a few days with no posts at all.  Which is fine with me.  No one is feeling pressure to fill up the empty space, which makes your message stand out more.

5. No Farmville.

Right now, Nextdoor is simple.  No apps, games, and ads.  Maybe someday they’ll complicate it, but for right now, it’s uncluttered.

6. News about what’s going on in your community.

Oklahoma City is using Nextdoor to put out information about community events that are geographically based.  Law enforcement in OKC is using it to share ideas about safety.

I use it to share graphics about what is coming up at our church, specifically events like Trunk or Treat, or Easter.

If you’d like to check to see if Nextdoor is available in your area, or if you can launch a Nextdoor for your neighborhood, CLICK HERE.  (For a limited time, if you recruit enough neighbors to launch a neighborhood Nextdoor network in an area where it is not available, you get a $25 Amazon gift card.)

In the comments, I’d like to hear:

What social networks are you currently involved in?  What are their negatives?  Is it hard to break through?

Are you on Nextdoor currently?  How are you using it?

A Pastor’s After-Easter Action Plan

The songs have been sung, the message has been preached, the celebration is over… and the pastor is tired.  I know.  You definitely need to take some time off this week.  But here’s a short list of actions you should take to make sure that your efforts leading up to Easter Sunday don’t go to waste.

A Place to Start for Small Church Pastors

1. Follow up on spiritual decisions.

If someone came to know Jesus, that’s of paramount importance.  Check in with them, confirm their decision, share your joy, communicate your availability, answer questions.

2. Take care of the administrative details.

This is the “unsexy” part of your week, I know.

  • Entering guest cards into the database…
  • writing follow-up letters…
  • communicating “thanks” to your team…

Those kinds of things may not feel like exciting things to do on an emotionally exhausted “morning after Easter,” but paying attention to these kinds of details is exactly what will put you in a good place for the future.  If you have recruited administrative help, this is a good time to make a list of tasks they need to take on.

3. Keep the conversation going with guests.

Use information you’ve captured with your guest card to communicate a couple times with guests from Sunday.

  • Send them a personal thank you note (we do ours hand-written, with a little gift card to a local restaurant inside).
  • If someone asked for info on a particular next step on your guest card, then that could be a next step they’re motivated to take.  Follow up on that.
  • Find a way to “wow” guests with your love.  After all, “By this shall all men know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”  John 13:35

Due to a couple rounds of sickness in my family, I have delayed launching my Guest Follow-Up Coaching program & releasing the ebook I’ve written.  Join my email list to know as soon as it launches!

4. Clearly communicate a general next step.

In today’s world, it’s doubtful that people are suddenly 100% committed to coming every Sunday from “now ‘til Jesus comes.”

Lifetime commitment to your church is probably a tough sell after one Sunday.  It’s like a store owner asking you to only shop at that store after your first visit.  Probably not gonna happen.  It’s better to communicate a specific next step people can take if they were attracted by what you offered on Easter.

It’s probably best not to have 6 next steps.  Simplicity and clarity mean you need to decide about 1 next step you want new guests to take.  Is it:

  • Come to a membership class?
  • Show up at a relationship-building event?
  • Come to your church dinner next week?
  • Volunteer at your outreach event to kids?
  • Attend the start of your new series next Sunday?

5. Do a review with your team.

I wrote about this in my post “The Easiest Way to Continually Improve Your Outreach.” Check that post out.  The best way to make sure all the lessons of this Easter get learned and captured is a quick review of:

  • What went right
  • What went wrong
  • What we can improve next time
  • Who’s responsible for it

6. Thank God & your team.

You didn’t do this Easter alone.  Even if it was a bit less than you hoped for, people labored to make it happen, and it wasn’t a waste in the eyes of Heaven.  So spend some time thanking God in faith for what he’s doing, and how he’s going to continue that work.

Then make a few phone calls or write a few thank you notes to people who made the weekend happen.

Here’s to small church pastors, who labor faithfully… thanks for what you do for God’s Kingdom!

I’m going to make a checklist for this post, and give it away.  What other steps should I include after Easter?  Tell me in the comments below.

How to Not Waste Your Easter Crowd

Every pastor knows that Easter and Christmas are two Sundays that are most likely to attract the unchurched and the de-churched to attend. You probably have given thought to your Easter services already, since we’re just a few weeks away.

Between now and Easter you’ll probably

  • brainstorm ideas
  • decorate the Sanctuary
  • rehearse special music or programs
  • recruit prayer warriors
  • pray God does something great

But have you built systems to capture what God does?  Or will your guests who walk through your door that Sunday… walk back out until next Easter?  What can you do to keep from wasting the big day?  Here are four ideas you need to think about in advance:

1. Capture their information.

As I’ve written before, one of the biggest regrets I have about some of my early outreach efforts, was that I didn’t know the power of harvesting information.  Without the ability to continue the conversation, those one-time guests… slip through your fingers.  One of the best ways to show concern and care is to get someone’s info and keep the conversation going.  When you get someone’s info, you’re practicing what Seth Godin calls Permission Marketing.  It’s the permission to continue the conversation, to build trust.  Whether it’s a pastoral visit, a text, a phone call, or a personal note, you’re working on the relationship.

And if you’re going to keep working on it, the core of a guest follow-up strategy is your connection card.

Connection Card front 2013 FINAL

If you need one designed for you, why don’t you let me do it?

How?

One week from today, I am launching “7 Steps to a Killer Guest Follow-Up System” coaching!

It’s a 60-day coaching program that teaches you how to keep more of your guests and follow up with them effectively.  That coaching program includes:

  • an e-book that will walk you through the steps for setting up a guest follow-up
  • 10-minute weekly coaching videos on each step
  • 1 hour weekly assignments until you’re up and rolling
  • helpful checklists & volunteer job descriptions
  • Tons of done-for-you resources you can edit
  • Your very own guest follow-up card
  • and lots more!

CLICK HERE to be notified as SOON as it’s available!

2. Give them something to come back for.

I know that God has to draw them to Jesus… but He may want to use your plan to do it!  So plan to give them every reason to come back!

  • Start a new series on Easter, or the Sunday after.  Announce it on Easter.
  • Have promotional materials available for that next series.
  • Schedule a church dinner the following week.
  • Do a 30-day Church Attendance Challenge.

This is going to take pre-planning.  Look over the graphic designs (paid and free) on CreationSwap.com.  Get someone to design a postcard or series graphic for you on Fiverr.  Get it printed up in advance with GotPrint.com or VistaPrint.com.

3. Follow up on them intentionally.

What kind of contact do you have with your 1st time guests through the week after they visit?  For many churches, the basic plan is, “Give them a generic pencil, and tell them we hope they come back soon.”

You’re going to need a more intentional, on-purpose plan.  How about one that:

  • Captures their information consistently.
  • Follows up with multiple touches – email, letter, gift, phone call, text
  • Tracks what you’ve done and keeps people from getting “lost”
  • Helps you follow up for 4 straight weeks, whether they return or not!

That’s what my “7 Steps to a Killer Guest Follow-Up System” Coaching teaches you to do… and tons of the work is already done for you!

4. Have something ready for those who decide to follow Jesus.

This is something I used to do better.  Lately, I’ve dropped the ball, and it’s time for me to pick it back and up and run.  So I’m in the process of re-working our New Believer Packet.  When I’m done, it will include:

  • A Bible in a readable translation (not everyone has one!)
  • a letter from the pastor
  • an encouraging message on DVD
  • a helpful booklet on getting started as a Christian

It doesn’t have to be perfect.  But you should have a plan!

If you believe that God is going to answer your prayers and send the rain, shouldn’t you bring an umbrella?

There you have it!  In the comments below, let me know which of these you need to “level up.”

The Easiest Way to Continuously Improve Your Outreach

I once heard John C. Maxwell tell a story of a man who was angry at being passed over for a promotion.  “They can’t do that — I have 20 years experience!” he grouched.  “No you don’t!” Maxwell retorted. “You have one year of experience 20 times!”

Team brainstorming over their mission with coffee

If you have been in church work for long, you know: Repetition doesn’t mean improvement.  You can do something 20 times and not really be any better at it on the 20th than you were last time.  Is there a way to change that?  Is there a way to make sure you always improve, and next year really is BETTER than last?

Yes!  Follow these steps and your Christmas and Easter outreaches will improve year-over-year!

There’s only one thing you need to do, and do it early, while it’s still fresh:  Get people together… make lists.  Done right, this is REALLY FUN.  I have a blast with it every year.

I’ve heard it called in the business world AAR’s (After Action Reports).  I’ve heard it called “doing a post-mortem.”  (Hope your Christmas service wasn’t that bad!)  Whatever you call it, here’s HOW you do it:

Free Training Video for Fantastic Church Greeters

A guy came to our church a few years ago, after having visited several other churches in a search for a place to attend.  He told about entering one church with his family, a few minutes late.  People turned around and stared through the glass doors, but not one person welcomed them.  Not one person got up and came back to the foyer to open a door for them.  They felt unwelcome — so they left.  The next Sunday, they came to our church.  They’ve been here ever since.

I probably don’t have to convince you that greeters are important.

But we’ve all seen people at the back doors who really weren’t … up to it.  They weren’t smiling.  They weren’t attentive.  They weren’t thoughtful.  They just handed you a program as you went past.

So what makes a great church greeter?  What sends a greeter from “person who hands out the programs” to “person who hosts the party in the foyer?”  Personality?  Natural charisma?  Experience?

Those might help, but I think the real difference maker is one word:  TRAINING.

See, if you’re not clear about what’s expected, people don’t know how to WIN.

If you’d never played baseball before, when you hit the ball and someone yells “RUN!” — they’d have to teach you that what you’re really trying to do is get all the way around to home plate!  Good training clarifies what it means to win.

So at our church, we have a training document (2 actually).  I just sat down with a new greeter 2 weeks ago, and did training with them.  After I did it, I thought “This would be great to share with my readers!”

So here you go: a free video (less than 15 minutes) that will help clarify what it means to WIN for your greeters at your church:

Greeter Training Video from Darrell Stetler II on Vimeo.

By the way, this video is part of the Guest Follow-up System.

This Tuesday, at 1PM CST and 6PM CST, I’ll be teaching you how to build your very own.

7 STeps to Build a Killer Guest Follow-Up System - webinar

In this webinar, you’ll discover:

    • how my failure in a key outreach event changed our guest followup forever.
    • how to effectively collect info from first time guests
    • how to consistently stay in touch with people
    • tips for convincing your congregation to start a guest followup system
    • how to help people see your church as friendly
    • how to do all this without significantly increasing your work load!

After this Tuesday, I’m moving on to other things, and won’t be offering this webinar again for a good while.  Here’s your chance:

Register NOW!

My Spectacular Failure in Food Pantries

And what I learned from it...

Lexi was an enthusiastic new attender of our church.  She was about 35.  She, her husband & several kids all lined up and nearly filled a pew — back when a full pew was a rarity in our church.  She invited others.  She seemed hungry for the Word of God.  She even seemed eager to put the Word into practice.  I still remember when she called me one Sunday afternoon after I preached on reconciliation, and told me she’d called her dad and asked his forgiveness.  They had not spoken in years.

She had enthusiasm and ideas.  One Sunday, she came up to me and asked if she could start a food pantry ministry.  I was all for it!  We live in an economically poor area where 34% of households are under $20k/yr income.  People called the church all the time asking for food or other help.

She started working.  She named the ministry “Love Thy Neighbor Food Pantry.”  She set up a simple, free website.  She called grocery stores and got managers to donate food.  She called furniture manufacturers and got a lumber donation to build shelves.  We hauled the wood to the church.

I was flying high.  This was the kind of people-helping, city-blessing ministry I’d dreamed about starting when I was a pastoral student in college!

A Sudden Change

About 3 weeks of this kind of work, one Sunday she didn’t show up for worship.  I called, and she said she wasn’t feeling well.  The next week, she was gone again, and this time she didn’t answer my calls.  I checked with a mutual friend, and what I found out floored me.

How to Build a Killer Guest Follow-Up System – before Christmas!

And without significantly increasing your workload!

Below, you can watch my free webinar! 

Here’s what you’ll discover:

  • 7 specific action steps you can take to create a great guest follow up system
  • how my failure in a key outreach event changed our guest followup forever
  • ideas for giving gifts to guests
  • how to effectively collect info from first time guests
  • how to consistently stay in touch with people for the first few weeks they attend
  • tips for convincing your congregation to start a guest followup system
  • how to help people see your church as friendly
  • how to do all this without significantly increasing your work load!

A special bonus, just for Showing Up, is this 31 question resource, “31 Questions About Getting Ready for Company” that will help you evaluate if your church is ready to welcome new people.

How I Completely Blew a Big Outreach Event

And the 3 simple decisions you need to avoid it!

Four years ago, my children’s leader came to me with an idea for an outreach event: A trunk-or-treat with a Gospel emphasis.  (Honestly, I had never been a fan of Trunk-or-Treat!) She called it “Candy Thru the Bible.”  Each trunk/station was a Bible story with a candy that went along with the story.  She shared her plans, and I was impressed.  We decided to go for it.

Trunk or Treat Candy Thru the Bible

We got started planning.  We didn’t really think it seemed like very many kids walked our street trick-or-treating, so we planned for 120 kids.  Our volunteers were amazing & creative with their trunks… people donated candy… we bought candy… 

4 Ways You Must Think Differently About Guests To Keep Them

A few years ago, I pulled up in front of a “Babies-R-Us” store.  My wife was expecting our first child.  It was the first time I had been to this kind of store, since my style runs more toward electronics stores, and sporting goods.  As I turned into an aisle to find a parking space, I noticed that the spaces closest to the entrance ones had a pink sign that said, “Reserved For Expectant Mothers.”  Cool.

 

I felt welcomed, expected, valued.  I felt like they were glad I was there, and wanted me to come back.  I knew they wanted my money.  But when they were looking out for me, there was an emotional connection.  It made me less suspicious of their efforts to sell me small pink things.

They had thought about me long before I got there.

I recently chatted with a man who came to our church as a guest.  He said his family had been searching for a church for several weeks, and he mentioned one that was closer to their house than ours.  They entered the main entrance, a few minutes late.