The new year is upon us, which can only mean one thing:
Every year, as regular as the mail, the clock strikes midnight and millions of people all over the world flip the switch into becoming the “best version of themselves.”
I, personally, love it.
I’ve always been that special breed of weirdo that loves Mondays. I love the “resetting” nature of it, the freshness, the belief that the week is yours to create.
(Of course, it also helps that as a preacher, Mondays are a little bit like most people’s Saturday mornings. Most preachers take it as a day off since Sunday is usually pretty hectic.)
The New Year then, is the ultimate reset. It’s a massive new beginning — a time when you can re-evaluate the past year and start over on things. There are no failures (yet), no missed deadlines (yet). The year is yours for the taking.
What are you planning to make of it?
7 Digital Evangelism Goals for 2024
I’m a big fan of making specific goals for myself. I feel like in order for these goals to be actually reachable, they need to be defined.
Saying that you’ll “lose weight,” in other words, isn’t as actionable as saying “I want to lose 35 pounds.” Two different goals, the primary difference being that one has a bullseye.
As you plan out your goals for your local church (or yourself), here are some “bullseyes” for you to aim at. They’re not the only ones, but prayerfully, one or two of them can spark some creativity for you to create your own.
Start a Weekly Podcast
Despite the fact that podcasts aren’t really new anymore, they’re still an insanely powerful way to reach a brand new audience.
Think of them as audio blogs. With optimization, you can have a similar effect that blogging had nearly 20 years ago — a few decades after blogging became a thing.
And if you’re a preacher, you already have ideas for your blog: your weekly sermons.
And before you ask, I am not advocating for you to turn your sermon into a podcast, but to take that sermon — and accompanying material — and create a podcast out of that.
Boil your sermon down to 15 minutes and create a professionally-produced podcast out of it, minus the “stand and sing” at the end. Or, take all the material you have and blow it up into a full hour plus. Whatever you prefer.
Try it for a full year and see what happens. You might be surprised who you reach.
Start At Least One Ads Campaign
If you’ve been following along with my Bible Blog Project, you know that I’m super bullish on list building.
I believe — down to my very core — that building an email list is an absolute game changer for churches. It allows you to reach and engage with people from your local community in a way that is almost on autopilot.
And it’s relatively inexpensive, compared to some other marketing initiatives.
But you don’t have to have to build an email list in order to take advantage of paid ads. You can do a simple engagement ad, a video ad, a traffic ad (to a blog or landing page on your website), or even a boosted ad.
You don’t have to even commit that much money to it. Just try out a simple $1-2 per day ad at least once this year and monitor the results. I promise you you’ll be a convert after that.
(And if you’re getting stuck knowing how to start, ask Colton McDaniel for help!)
Install a Chatbot On Your Site
One of my goals for all the churches we work with is to install a chatbot onto every single website.
Despite the frustration that many people experience with these little AI-based robots, the benefits are tremendous, such as:
- Answers to quick questions
- Redirect to studies
- Filtering out spam comments and messages
- Enable multilingual capabilities
Those are just a few of the benefits a chatbot can have on your site. I know they’re relatively easy to install — a tad more difficult to optimize, though — so check your site to see if that’s something your hosting provider allows.
Create a Digital Outreach Team
I personally had never heard the concept of a “digital outreach team” until I talked to one of the members at the Douglas Hills church in Kentucky. He mentioned that a group of about 20 people met every month to discuss social media outreach, paid ads, the website, and anything else that they could do to reach the lost online.
What an amazing concept. I grew up in the era of “in touch meetings” and handing out flyers the Saturday before a Gospel Meeting, so I love the idea of getting a small group together for a singular purpose.
The beauty of a digital outreach team is that it utilizes the unique skillsets that your members already have in the secular world and harnesses it for an evangelistic purpose.
For instance, you may have a person in your church that does digital graphic work for local businesses. Why not enlist them to create social media images for your church?
In my experience, people are always looking for ways to be useful to the church, and teams like this provide them the perfect opportunity to do so.
Ask for Three Google Reviews a Month
Every church needs to be generating reviews for their Google profile. Ideally, there would be a steady drip of them — around 1-2 a month on average.
Unfortunately, most of us simply forget to do so (*raises hand*). We get caught up with everything else and neglect the one thing that may provide the most benefit to our online presence.
Google makes it super easy to do this. There’s a link embedded right on your Google Business Profile that you can share with others that will take them straight to the review form. Or, if you want, you can generate a QR code and put it on a business card and hand those out.
However you do it, getting more reviews should be a regular thing for your church. The easiest way to do that is by simply making it a habit, and there’s no time like the New Year to kickstart something like that into motion.
Get One Guest Post a Month
In order for Google to know how to rank your church website online, they need to know two things: where you are and what you are.
This means you need to generate two very specific type of backlinks. First, you need local backlinks. This can be anything from a local newspaper to a link on a local government or education website, and anything in-between. Just something that signals where your church is located.
The other type of link you need is an industry link — i.e. something that signals that you are a church. “Christian” bloggers are your best resource for this, but if you’re lucky, you may be able to also snag one from a Bible website that has a blog too. The more prominent a website, the better the backlink.
In order to get these links, you’ll most likely have to reach out to each individual website and ask about doing a guest post. The reputable ones will have some stipulations, but you shouldn’t have to ever pay for writing a guest post. It’s sort of a gray area, but Google prohibits any kind of unethical link-gaining methods, including paying for posts (without disclosing them).
Like most everything else on this list, it’s all about establishing a habit. Make a goal of reaching out to 20 people a month to get one of these two types of links, and your website will be in great shape by the end of the year.
Utilize Direct Mail
I know, I know — direct mail is not exactly a “technology” initiative. In fact, it’s one of the oldest forms of traditional marketing that’s still around today. The first legitimate example of direct mail was from 1,000 B.C., when a guy offered a cash reward for a runaway slave.
I know what you’re also thinking right now: People hate direct mail. And you’re right, they absolutely do. Like you, I throw away nearly every piece of direct mail that enters my mailbox…
…but not without glancing at it first.
This time of year, for example, you’re likely to get dozens of advertisements every single week for politicians. And you’ll do what most people do, glance at it and throw it in the trash.
But there’s a reason why businesses still do it, and that’s because it works. Like everything else though, it has to be done with volume. You have to send out a lot to see a return.
Before you bust out the printer and start rattling off thousands of flyers though, you should know that there are companies that will actually print these off and mail them for you.
Moreover, most of these direct mail companies will actually use AI to scour property records and send mailers to every single person or family that moved into your community within the last 30 days.
AND it’s all done on autopilot.
Interested? We partner with a company that offers this, so contact us if you want more details.
January is the Perfect Time to Start a New Habit
I don’t care what anyone says, New Year’s Resolutions are worth it. They may be just the motivation you require in order to get started on that new initiative. If so, ignore the stereotypes and get moving.
Alongside those goals, though, remember to make a goal to be consistent. Even if you’re only doing a fraction of one of these items, make sure that it’s done on a specific, pre-determined schedule.
That’s the way you’ll close out 2024 better than you started it.