Anticipate the Ask

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When we moved from our home town to our current home, we moved several counties away.  We didn’t know anyone who lived here, we had no connections and started from scratch.  One of the first orders of business, for me, was to find a new church.  I knew this would be an endeavor that would take some time, we would visit a few different churches and hope that one would just “fit”.

Having access to the internet gave me a head start on the process.  A google search would help me identify the names and locations of our local churches.  It also pointed me to the websites of these churches, which allowed me to do some preliminary research and whittle down the list of churches we would actually visit.

If your church doesn’t have a website, we didn’t visit it.  I must admit that sounds strange to me even now, but it is the truth.  There were so many different churches to choose from, a church website made it so much easier on us.  Which means we may have skipped over some amazing churches, with amazing Pastor’s, with Gospel teaching, and shared beliefs simply because there was not a way for me to learn about your church before we walked through the doors.  If this was something we relied on 13 years ago, you can only imagine how much more important it is today.  With so many options out there today, there really is no reason to not have a basic informative website.  We visited churches that didn’t have fancy graphics, scrolling images, and live feeds.  The website doesn’t have to cost the church a lot of money to design and require a lot of upkeep.  If you don’t have a website, I highly suggest getting one.

If your church website was not easy to navigate, we didn’t visit it.  Having a website will do you no good unless it is easy to follow and use.  I should not have to struggle to find the church address, statement of faith, service times.  Within the last year, I have visited church websites in my city that do not contain that basic information… or, if they did, I couldn’t find it and I’m pretty internet savvy.   Something I always recommend is to ask someone who knows nothing about your church & has never visited your church before to check out your website for you.  See if they can find the most basic information (location, service times, statement of faith, etc.) as well as important information you want people to see (missions, study groups, etc.).   If we are involved in the design process, or doing the design work ourselves, what makes sense and even seems obvious to us may not be so to the first time visitor.  You need fresh eyes.

If your church didn’t have certain information, we didn’t visit it.  Knowing that we were searching for a new home church, we had certain criteria that was important to us.  We had children, so a Children’s Ministry was important to us… but so was finding a church with a decent or growing Youth Group.  We wanted a church our family would grow into long term.  People want to know if there is a Men’s or Women’s Ministry, study groups, recovery ministry, etc.  You do not need to have a highly detailed, dedicated, page to each of these ministries.  However, having even a single page that listed what types of ministries, service opportunities, and study groups were available was helpful.  Guests can always request further information when they visit & begin to connect.  Having just a basic list will alert guests to the culture of the church.   If a church website didn’t include anything about Women’s Ministry or Youth Ministry, we put that on the pass list.  This also means that if your church does have these ministries but they were not listed on your church site… we assumed you didn’t and moved on.

When you have been a part of a church for a long time, it may seem super obvious to you all of the wonderful things that you have to offer a person or family.  You may even believe that all a person needs to do is visit and they will see it for themselves.  We have left the days where first impressions are made in the first 30 seconds of meeting.  We are in a time where first impressions are gauged through internet searches before a person will even walk through the door.  

If we instead learn to anticipate the ask, the questions that matter to people who may be interested in attending our church, we can set up a website that steps ahead of us.  Conveying the basic information, with an invitation to inquire within.

Once people arrive to visit, make sure that you have informed people who volunteer as greeters, at the info desk, etc. that have also anticipated the ask.  Do they know when study groups meet?  Do they know what day the youth group meets, what time, and the location?  Are the familiar with the church calendar and upcoming events?  Do they at least know where to access the information or where to point guests for more information?

This same position, anticipating the ask, will also apply to your Women’s Ministry.  Begin to ask yourself what questions you would want to know about the Women’s Ministry at your church, if you were a guest considering joining?  Talk to your friends who do not attend your church, find out what questions would matter most to their decision making process.  Then create a plan for communicating that information to your guests.

Some considerations:

Make sure the church website has some basic information on Women’s Ministry, so that visitors will know the church has a Women’s Ministry & who to contact for more information.  This is very minimal information that takes up little space, but serves as a connection point.

Set up a Facebook page for the Women’s Ministry.  Ask the church to include it (even if only occasionally) in the church bulletin.  Also as you post to the WM page, share that to the church’s main page so that members will also learn that their is a FB page for communicating WM information directly.

Set up a place for sharing WM information with in the church lobby, welcome center, or other points of interest (including the Women’s Bathroom).  This could be as simple as having a WM brochure or info card on a table with other ministry information, or as extensive as a static WM table or bulletin board where information is shared regularly.

Use some or all of these avenues to promote your upcoming event, but consider even highlighting a “save the date” for the following event.  It helps our guests to know that if they missed an opportunity to register for an upcoming event, that there are other events to look forward to.

When displaying information, make sure you are answering the right questions.

  • When is it? (Date/time)
  • Where is it?  (Church or off campus, what building in the church)
  • Is there a cost?  Is registration required?
  • Will childcare be provided?  Can children attend?
  • Are the attendees expected to bring or contribute anything to the event?
  • If a women’s study & books need to be purchased, is the information on where to purchase and how much the book costs included on the announcement?
  • Who is speaking?  Or, what is the event about (or purpose)?
  • What is provided (will breakfast or lunch be served)?
  • Is this for members only or are guests welcome?