Church Communications resources and tips from Justin Dean

One Small Step for Man

Growing up, I was a huge fan of daytime dating talk shows. The Love Connection, The Newlywed Game, The Dating Game…you name it, I watched it. (I?m almost ashamed of this admission, but summers in Iowa were hot and I?ve always been a hopeless romantic.)

There was one show, however, that trumped the rest. It was called ?Kiss or Diss?, and the premise of the show was as absurd as its title.

Contestants (if you could call them that) revealed their crushes to host, Bob Eubanks. Next, ol? Bobby and a camera crew tracked down the object of the contestant?s undying affection and cornered him or her. The contestant popped out of a van (I?m not making this up), declared their love, and then (this is the best part) Eubanks asked the crush (in this case, a woman), ?Will you kiss him or diss him??

At this point the crush would either pucker up and kiss his/her pursuer or, the more likely situation, completely humiliate them on national television with an enthusiastic, ?I?m good, thanks.?

In most cases, the two individuals (pursuer and crush) had never met. There was no relational context for the pursuer to ask the crush for a smooch. An incredibly intimate ask (kiss me, you fool!) was based on a hunch and a bizarre motivation to have the entire escapade documented on national TV.

Think about it: how would you respond if someone you barely knew showed up on your front doorstep with a camera crew, begging for a kiss?

Yeah, me too.

As unlikely a scenario this may seem, churches do it to their communities all the time. We may not show up asking for a smack on the lips, but we?re just as intrusive with our communication methods.

No relationship.
No context.
No mutual benefit.
No warm-up.

Just a self-serving ask while others stand awkwardly by, hoping you don’t ask them the same thing next.

From where I sit, churches typically fall into one of two ditches when it comes to making asks from the congregation. See if you don?t agree:

The first ditch is failing to make a call-to-action. This happens when churches produce great, informative, helpful content and never give their community a follow-up course of action.

It’s like going to a barbecue and eating only side dishes: potato salad, watermelon, corn-on-the-cob, pasta salad…but nothing off the grill! The community is left guessing what to do next and, quite often, they don’t do anything. That?s not their fault. It?s yours!

People are busy and don?t want to guess what they?re supposed to do. They want you to clearly tell them and let them make the decision without being pressured. Which brings us to the other side of the road…[quote]People are busy and don?t want to guess what they?re supposed to do.[/quote]

The second ditch is when churches only make asks from the community. Like a relative who only comes around when they need money, churches are notorious for pushy, self-centered calls-to-action:

?Come to this event!?

?Support this cause!?

?Volunteer for this ministry!?

?Come to this new worship service!?

?Help us build our new building!?

?Give, give, give!?

?Need! Need! Need!?

?More! MORE! MOAR!?

You might say, ?Justin, you don’t understand. We have to constantly ask or people won?t pay attention! We have sky-high needs and a limited budget. How else are we supposed to meet all the needs in our church??

Great question. The answer comes way before you make the ask itself. Just like our opening example of a star-crossed ?Kiss or Diss? would-be lover, you have to start building trust before you make your move.

My friend, Gary Vaynerchuk, calls this the ?jab, jab, jab, right hook? concept. A boxer weakens his opponent with consistent jabs before delivering the right hook knock-out blow. In our example, you have to provide consistent value (jabs) to your online community before you can ask them for anything (the right hook).

Churches are so busy delivering right hook after right hook, they don?t realize there’s no opponent in the ring. In fact, there?s no audience either. They?ve all left!

You don’t get to make the ask until you?ve built trust. If trust isn?t there, all you can look forward to is a long line of disses. That?s a fact, Jack.[quote]You don’t get to make the ask until you?ve built trust.[/quote]

In many ways, having your church community respond to your asks is a by-product of trust:

Want more volunteers for your ministry? Do nothing for the next 30 days but telling the stories of people who have been changed by the ministry. No asks. No sign-ups. No event promotion. Nothing.

At the end of the 30 days, make one (one!) ask. I guarantee you?ll double your regular response rate.

Need more people to tithe at your church? Spend the first three months of the year describing where offering dollars go. Tell the stories of people who have experienced life-change because someone at the church gave.

Leave no story untold. Look high, look low. Find the strange ones. Find the obscure ones. Put a face to the offering for every single person in your church. Concentrate on sharing, not asking.

At the end of the 90 days, do a biblically-based sermon on tithing. (Don?t worry, you can still collect offering during the three months!) If you do this, your offering dollars will skyrocket. I promise.

You may think, ?Justin, that’s great. But those examples are impractical. We could never do that at our church!? You can, and they aren?t impractical. I?ve seen them work firsthand and they absolutely change the culture of a church.

Do you know what’s impractical? Walking up to someone you hardly know and asking for a kiss. Same with always asking your church community.

Add value. Give without asking. Build trust first, then ask. Who knows? Your community might be so happy, they kiss you!

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