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7 marketing resolutions for 2010

SUMMARY: With the new year, talk of resolutions fills conversations. January visitors may be more serious about making life changes than those who come to your church the rest of the year.

Unlike Easter and Christmas visitors, January newcomers are likely to return in the following weeks—if they have a positive experience and feel welcomed and included. How serious is your church about marketing—including meeting the needs of visitors—during 2010?

1. Rethink Church.
The beginning of a new year is an ideal time to rethink church and to participate more fully in the United Methodist Rethink Church initiative. Think about it—if your church were a verb, what would it look like? We can help you create that vision with the tools at www.rethinkchurch.org.

2. Complete, implement and review marketing plan.
Create a strong theme that encapsulates your church’s top priorities and goals. How does that theme work with your outreach plans? Strategize so the two go hand in hand. A comprehensive church marketing plan enables you to reach out more successfully and effectively. Identify the budget and non-financial resources to support your monthly marketing plan. You will find a helpful resource for developing your plan at www.umcom.org/churchmarketingplan.

3. Change the world. 
SAVE THE DATE: United Methodists everywhere are encouraged to begin planning now to join in Change the World, a church-wide event on April 24-25 that prompts members to join with others in the community to make a difference locally and globally. Look for more information in the coming days at http://www.rethinkchurch.org/.

4. Find alternative ways to do things.
Use humor or pop culture. Consider how you communicate and interact. How might you do things a little differently? Infuse your sermons and newsletters with appropriate humor. You may connect effectively with youth and young adults when you base programming on cultural trends. Use the themes of blockbuster movies, books or TV shows as a springboard for sharing the gospel. Host viewing parties and book discussions or plan trips to the local theater.

5. Engage the congregation.
Give parishioners a reason to interact with your church online and help them to achieve personal goals. Add a poll to your Web site. Change it periodically and post results instantly. You might ask, “What are your New Year’s resolutions?” and include choices such as:

  • Pray throughout the day.
  • Attend church regularly.
  • Volunteer; do not wait for someone to recruit you.
  • Spend more time with family and friends.
  • Participate in church mission.

6. Retain and involve visitors.
Once you reach people and they start attending your church, what do you do? Is your church warm, welcoming and friendly?

Most churches think they are welcoming, but visitors may not find that to be the case. Formally assess whether your church is the environment you and your congregation want it to be. How do you involve newcomers in church activities? Do visitors have a reason to return week after week?

In religious circles, we call this process “assimilation,” now a popular buzzword for turning first-time visitors into active and continuing participants, and ideally, members. You need a well-thought-out program and follow-up plan for assimilation, just as you need one for marketing.

Involve members and active participants in planning activities for the new year. Ask them to post comments on your Web site, take a survey in the church bulletin, and call or drop by the office with an idea. Then ask them to participate in a ministry to accomplish some of those ideas.

7. Use social media. 
A good way to get your congregation into the social media scene is to create a Facebook page for your church. Facebook’s popularity puts your church where people are. It is a great way to connect. These articles (part 1 and part 2) can help you to start using social media for ministry.