Most of us didn’t expect to still be in the pandemic as we start 2022. We’re almost two years into this thing that was supposed to last a few months. When this started, we all had to adapt quickly. There was more church innovation in a month than we had seen in the past decade. But as the pandemic dragged on, many people stopped innovating, and they went back to doing it the way they used to.
But everything is not going back to the way it was pre-pandemic. As much as we try to pretend it is, it isn’t. I know you’re tired and so over it. I feel you! I am too. But now is not the time to fall back, get lazy or have a pity party. It’s time to innovate!
Time to Innovate
I have looked at this season like I’m planting a new church. Seriously! A large chunk of people haven’t come back in person yet, and around 50% of our in-person crowd is unique since we reopened in the fall of 2020. Plus, we have a lot of new people watching us online from all over the country. It’s a new church! It’s exciting and meaningful, but we must reintroduce our vision and get new people plugged in continually. In some ways, it feels like we’re starting over.
We’re working harder than ever, but we’re seeing it pay off as our church is thriving in so many areas. This is the time to keep learning, experimenting, and seeking God for what is next in your church. I’m constantly reading, observing, and trying to stay on the pulse of the rapid shifts in our culture. I regularly talk to other pastors, business leaders, and entrepreneurs about what they learn and work on. Our team has been super intentional in trying new things and putting new systems in place. Some of them didn’t work, and we stopped them. Others worked for a season and ran their course. Then there are some things we’ve done that have been a game-changer.
Follow-Up Systems for First-Time Givers
One example is our new follow-up systems for first-time givers. When someone gives for the first time, I send them a signed copy of my book What Happens When You’re Generous? I also put a handwritten card in there. Who handwrites anything in 2022? It stands out big time! Their email also gets added into a drip campaign through mail chimp that is five videos sent out over the next 40 days. It helps them get to know us better and see what their giving is going towards. It builds trust and relationships. We also started a program called “Fire Starters” for people who automate their giving at least $20 weekly. We send them a FireBox with three books in it, a T-Shirt, and some other goodies.
We do a quarterly gathering on zoom with this group where we do a devotional on one of the books, cast vision, and pray with them. In the fourth quarter of the year, we do an in-person gathering to celebrate them and what their consistent giving has helped our church accomplish. At the beginning of the year, we had 52 families that automated their giving, and a year later, we are at 143 families after launching this. Our budget in 2021 went up over 15%. Even in the middle of the pandemic, we’ve been seeing growth in several areas because we’re innovating.
If you are interested in learning some other church innovation ideas, I lead a monthly coaching network called “The Innovative Pastors Network.” Check out the details of what’s included at www.tranzlationleadership.com.
Tommy “Urban D.” Kyllonen is an author, artist, and coach, and serves as Lead Pastor of Crossover Church in Tampa, Florida.