The Top 3 Reasons We Decided to Host Indestructible This April

Larry Witzel COVID-19 Response, Evangelism Practices, From the Field, Marketing Practices, News

An article scheduled to be featured in Best Practices February 2021
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The Top 3 Reasons We Decided to Host Indestructible This April

By Pastor Travis Walker

“Love as Christ loved.” That’s what we strive to do for everyone who walks through the doors of Daytona Beach Seventh-day Adventist Church. And through this pandemic, that desire has extended to our online ministry as well. Whether in-person, on Facebook Live, on YouTube Live, or on Zoom, reaching our community through a “love first” mentality—and leading as many as possible into a relationship with Jesus—has been the ultimate goal of every event we plan.

A few weeks ago, we were trying to figure out what to do next to reach people in our community in the midst of all this chaos. We considered many options. But most of the digital options currently available don’t address our desire to connect broadly with our community. We want this effort to make a clear, significant difference in people’s lives.

Other options will require us to put in a lot of work ourselves, to develop and implement the program. For instance, recently we reached out to SALT (Service and Love Together) to begin exploring a partnership with them, and we’re continuing to move forward with them. But that will take time and considerable effort. We’ll also continue developing our digital evangelistic resources through Adventology which we’ve been doing since even before the pandemic began. But frankly, at this point we’re tired. I’m tired. My leaders are tired. We need something simpler.

Then, out of the blue, the answer I was looking for came straight to my email inbox. I was invited to a 1-hour webinar where it became clear what our church would be involved with this spring.

We decided to host Indestructible this April.

Indestructible is an all-new series from Faith for Today and SermonView Evangelism Marketing that promises to deliver compelling content without the hassle. Indestructible is like a modern version of a NET meeting, which was designed to use the technology of the day to present some of our strongest speakers, in a way that connected people with the local church. Indestructible is similar but with content more relatable to our climate.

Here are our top 3 reasons why we decided to host Indestructible:

1. It will reach a lot more people.

How many events do you know that have a nationwide following? Let’s face it, community outreach is challenging during non-Covid times, but it’s been twice as challenging during the pandemic. As pastors, we’ve had to learn, and relearn, the best ways to engage new audiences from behind a screen, and, so far, we haven’t had a lot of resources to do so.

Indestructible promises to be different. Faith for Today is the oldest continuous religious broadcast in the world, with over 4 million viewers weekly, making Pastor Roy Ice an internationally acclaimed speaker. His energy and charisma will work great for an online broadcast.

Unlike trying to reach a cold audience, people will be hearing from someone they already trust andhave a relationship with. Plus, there’s a national ad budget being tossed into the mix. That’s a powerful combination! Given its scope, this event promises to reach a different demographic—one that we wouldn’t be able to reach without hosting an event like this.

2. The subject matter is compelling.

Right now, people in our community are looking for an anchor in the middle of all this chaos. We’re always looking for ways to bridge our church with the community. We have enjoyed a great relationship with AdventHealth and their outreach program, Creation Health, over the years, targeting people’s felt needs in ministry partnership. That’s exactly what I believe Indestructible will do with powerfully up-to-date material.

Pastor Ice will present current, relational topics that touch on his AWARE principles from Lifestyle Magazine: Attitude, Wellness, Activities, Relationship, Existence. During each nightly episode he’ll show interviews with celebrities from his program and deliver real-world tactics for helping people in your communities grow in their relationships and start living a life of purpose, all from a biblical perspective.

3. We get to be at the center of all the excitement.

Viewers across the country will be invited to access this program exclusively through a local church portal, putting our church front and center. That’s really exciting! This isn’t a media ministry sending us leads weeks or months later. The guests in our community will be in our portal, start to finish, so we get to build the relationships immediately. This event will spark relationships as we gather online with friends and neighbors to hear a timely message of hope and wholeness.

Hosting any evangelistic event is a big undertaking, and it’s hard to know how to move forward in this pandemic. But it’s also something we can’t afford not to do. The lifeblood of the church is connection, and this type of relevant event will build connections and improve our reputation. Over time, we’ll have the opportunity to invite the curious to attend our Sabbath services and ultimately grow members. I believe Indestructible has the potential for all that, and then some.

We’re really excited to be part of this nationwide event and to reach new people in our community who are hungry for hope and a message of healing from God’s Word. That’s why we’ve decided to host this Indestructible this April.

Learn more about how your own church can participate: www.IndestructibleYou.org/host
Learn more about how your own church can participate in Indestructible at www.IndestructibleYou.org/host
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Pastor Travis Walker, MDiv has been serving as pastor of the Daytona Beach Seventh-day Adventist church for 5 years. He finds real joy in proclaiming the Everlasting Gospel and helping seeking individuals to develop a deeper relationship with Christ. He is also the creator, host and editor of Adventology, a podcast and YouTube Channel that focuses on asking the big questions of life concerning God, faith, truth, and eternity from a Seventh-day Adventist perspective.

Chesapeake Conference Forecasts Hope

Larry Witzel COVID-19 Response, Evangelism Practices, From the Field, Marketing Practices, News

An article scheduled to be featured in the Columbia Union Visitor
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Chesapeake Conference Forecasts Hope

By Katie Fellows

As the pandemic continues to run its course, conferences and churches are once again determining how best to spread the love and hope of God from afar with their community.

In hopes of pushing past the coronavirus restrictions, churches across the Columbia Union Conference participated in the Forecasting Hope virtual evangelism series.

The nationwide online series, organized with help from SermonView Evangelism Marketing, started on October 9 and included sermons with David Klinedinst, Chesapeake Conference Evangelist and Church Growth director.

Throughout history, the Bible has proven itself to be a source of hope and truth. In Forecasting Hope Klinedinst dives straight into the Bible to help people of all levels of Biblical learning to understand the complex prophecies of Daniel and Revelation and its relevance for today.

"We are living in unprecedented times. People are uncertain; they're scared; they're not sure what to think about the future. And we have a tremendous opportunity to give them something positive to cling to, and that is Jesus Christ,” says Klinedinst.

The series is “designed to answer questions and dig into biblical truths without the need for fancy technology run by your church. Built in the midst of COVID-19 this Christ-centered, relational, and hope-filled series of messages will appeal to the hearts of those filled with fear and anxiety.”

With relative ease, participating churches across the North American Division were able to host the series without the worry of running their own live stream. The series, a modern take on the classic NET meeting, allowed churches to gather interests in real-time and interact with guests outside of the series, whether by sending an email, message or inviting them to a small group virtual meeting.

“The system is extraordinarily flexible, and it all works automatically without someone or a team entering attendance data by hand,” says the Forecasting Hope website. “Forecasting Hope will be the first national event to automatically handle everything from registration to attendance-tracking with one simple platform. This new system is easy to use and requires no technical skill.”

As pastors shared their members and non-members excitement for the series, Peter Simpson, Ohio Conference Hispanic Ministries & Global Mission Director, was elated.

“I think it has been a very positive experience for every participant church,” says Simpson. “As of November 16, we are celebrating eleven baptisms directly from the series, five more are in preparation for baptism, nine are beginning Bible studies and two more are considering returning to our church.” Simpson reports that a significant number of people were following the Forecasting Hope series.

“One church has reported that at least 27 non Adventists were watching this series and some others are still watching it through recorded videos or following up the series through the weekend presentations, this is simply awesome!” says Simpson. “Because of this, our pastors are still expecting more decisions in days to come. We praise God for what already happened and for what will surely happen as fruit of this outstanding series.”

Webinar: Introducing Indestructible, an Evangelistic Bridge Event for 2021

Larry Witzel Evangelism Practices, Marketing Tools, News

Join Faith for Today as they partner with SermonView technology to present an all-new series coming April 9-13 and designed for 2021. In this webinar, Faith for Today’s Roy Ice joins SermonView’s Larry Witzel and Vince Williams to introduce this brand new evangelistic bridge event, called Indestructible: Building an Indestructible Life in a World that’s Falling Apart.

Is your church trying to figure out how to connect to its community in the midst of all this chaos? During this 1-hour webinar, we’ll walk through how Indestructible will work to connect people from your community to your church with no delay.

This 5-part life coaching event is based on Pastor Roy’s 5 keys to living your best life, looking at how Attitude, Wellness, Activity, Relationships and the questions of Existence and the divine impact one’s overall health. It’s a great introduction to the Blue Zone life your church lives every day, and a powerful way to meet people in your community looking for what your church has to offer.

Watch this webinar to learn more about how your church can participate in the event, then sign up to participate as a host church at IindestructibleYou.org/host.

The Evangelism Pyramid

Larry Witzel Evangelism Practices, Marketing Practices, Marketing Tools

THE EVANGELISM PYRAMID

Evangelism is not just a series of meetings held every year or two. In a healthy church, a culture of evangelism flows through everything the church does. A variety of regular, intentional, activities that connect with your community will bring more people into your sphere of influence and increase the decisions made through any reaping events.

In this video, SermonView's Larry Witzel shares the Evangelism Pyramid, from Dr. Roger Walter. It's a great framework for developing a balanced outreach program that encompasses friendship, kindness and compassion ministries, sowing, bridge events, and reaping meetings

The Evangelism Pyramid illustrates the mix of activities that will results in maximum impact. Each level of the pyramid builds on the others below it, resulting in a healthy church that grows organically.

Friendship. Start by building the spirit of friendship in your church. First, help your members learn to like each other. Then help them build genuine and honest redemptive friendships with people outside the church, always remembering the ultimate goal of leading them to Christ. As a leader, help your members catch the vision by modeling it and talking about it frequently.

Kindness. Get into the community and show God's love in a practical way. Kindness and compassion projects help your members think beyond themselves. Find needs in your community and meet them: clean up a park, sort clothes at a homeless shelter, or visit a retirement home. Do random acts of kindness, like washing windshields at Walmart or handing out free water at the fair. Doing a kindness activity in your community every month will infuse your church culture with an outward focus and build a positive reputation for your church.

Sowing. Systematically offer Bible studies and other materials to people in your community, with Bible study card mailings, online advertising, posters, or literature racks in area businesses. You could even go door to door with a Bible study offer. Do intentional sowing activities 3-4 times every year.

Bridging. Bridge events bring people through your church doors in a non-threatening environment. These are 2-5 night events (whether in a row or once per week) that offer something of value and build bridges with people in your community. Bridge events can be focused on health—think cooking classes, stop smoking clinics, or weight loss groups—or family matters, such as marriage seminars, parenting classes or a course in personal finance. They can also be religious in nature, on topics like creation, biblical archaeology, or even prophecy. It is important that bridge events don't "feel" like church. The goal is to help the community get comfortable, not to make other Adventists feel at home. Aim to do 3-4 bridge events every year.

Reaping. This is your evangelistic series, focused on helping people to make decisions for Jesus. When built on a foundation of friendship, kindness and bridge events, you'll see more success in your reaping events. Invest in a full evangelism marketing campaign for your reaping event, while leveraging your church's interest list built from the other efforts.

Polarization of the Pyramid

The Evangelism Pyramid represents a holistic approach to evangelism. However, we live in a polarized world, and this has crept into the church, too. Today, most of the discussion about evangelism in the Seventh-day Adventist Church focuses on either the top or the bottom of the pyramid.

Compassion Only

Some churches focus exclusively on friendship and compassion ministry, ignoring the rest of the pyramid. To be clear, some of these churches are having success at reaching people in the community, and they are experiencing some baptisms.

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The greatest risk to focusing exclusively on friendship and kindness is that no matter how many needs you fill, there will always be more. If you wait to do reaping until after you've met all the needs in your community, you'll be waiting a long time.

Public Evangelism Only

Other churches ignore everything else in the pyramid, and every year or two hold a public evangelistic series. Some of these churches are also seeing success, and the data show that churches in this category are growing faster than those who focus exclusively on friendship and compassion. So if you wanted to grow your church, and had to choose between the polar opposites, the numbers suggest this is the more pro-growth approach.

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But a holistic approach is best. Friendship, kindness and compassion ministries are crucial foundations for evangelism. Scripture is clear that we’re called to compassion ministry. It helps members grow an outward focus, and establishes a positive reputation in the community. But the data says, if we don’t ask for decisions, people don’t join the church. And the Seventh-day Adventist churches with the most baptisms across the NAD almost all include public meetings as part of the evangelism cycle.

So we need to reject the tyranny of the “or” and embrace the genius of the “and.” We can’t look at compassion versus public evangelism. The healthiest churches do both.


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Webinar: A New Era of Evangelism, A Review of 2020

Larry Witzel Evangelism Practices, Fall Evangelism, Marketing Practices, News

In this webinar, SermonView's Vince Williams and Larry Witzel reviews data from 300 online event marketing campaigns handled during the Covid-19 pandemic, and share some key learnings that churches can apply heading into 2021.



Let's Talk Evangelism


To learn more about practical tools for evangelism marketing and online meetings, get a free quote today or call your dedicated campaign manager to discuss comprehensive solutions for your church.


Get a FREE Quote
1-800-525-5791

Webinar: Attendance Tracking for Online Evangelistic Meetings

Larry Witzel Evangelism Practices, Fall Evangelism, Marketing Practices, News

In this webinar, SermonView's Vince Williams and Larry Witzel share a suite of evangelism technology available for churches to pre-register guests, track attendance with automated check-in, and interact with guests during a live stream.



Helpful links mentioned in the webinar:




Let's Talk Evangelism


To learn more about practical tools for evangelism marketing and online meetings, get a free quote today or call your dedicated campaign manager to discuss comprehensive solutions for your church.


Get a FREE Quote
1-800-525-5791
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An easy, all-inclusive online evangelistic series for your church.

- NET-style meeting starts October 9, 2020
- Live streams three times per evening, for different time zones
- We focus on the technology, you focus on relationships

Learn More

Webinar: Online Evangelism in an Age of Social Distancing

Larry Witzel Evangelism Practices, Fall Evangelism, Marketing Practices, News

Interest in Bible prophecy may be the highest in a generation. Google searches for "Second Coming" have recently spiked to the highest in over a decade.

How do we respond to this unprecedented interest, when public meetings are restricted? What are the technologies available for holding evangelistic meetings online? What content is available to use this fall? And what marketing methods are most effective for promoting online meetings?

In this webinar, SermonView's Vince Williams and Larry Witzel work to answer those questions as they share practical tools for evangelism marketing and online meetings. They discuss the 7 ingredients of evangelistic events, then share some evangelism recipes that you can use to propel the Everlasting Gospel forward in your community this fall.



Helpful links mentioned in the webinar:




Let's Talk Evangelism


To learn more about practical tools for evangelism marketing and online meetings, get a free quote today or call your dedicated campaign manager to discuss comprehensive solutions for your church.


Get a FREE Quote
1-800-525-5791

Interest in Bible prophecy may be the highest it’s been in a generation. Won’t you commit to doing something for evangelism this fall?
Take the Evangelism Pledge!


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Why to Use Zoom for Online Evangelism (and not Facebook Live)

Vince Williams Basic Marketing Principles, Evangelism Practices, Marketing Practices

We’re in a series about the Seven Building Blocks of Evangelism, and this week’s building block is Delivery. By this, I mean the channel used to deliver the content to your audience. Historically, this primarily has been through public meetings at the church and in-home Bible studies, but neither of these delivery methods are available to us right now in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. In this season of social distancing, we seriously need to consider online evangelistic meetings as the delivery vehicle.

Authentic, effective evangelism requires engagement: smiling faces and personal conversations that build trust and encourage interests to feel welcome in a local church.

So, how do we encourage engagement in an online world? Whether in person or online, engagement happens two ways: depth or width. Depth is the idea of the meaningfulness of the connection. Am I talking to someone who understands my experiences, my community, my circumstances? Width comes down to how many times you engage with a person. We know from studies in marketing and customer interaction that a group needs to reach out to a person 7 times on average before they will engage back.

Once we understand these two important aspects to meaningful engagement we need to overlay that onto our online evangelism dilemma.

Zoom: The Right Platform for Engagement

We’ve researched a number of technology options for online evangelistic meetings, and in the end we recommend Zoom. Platforms like Facebook Live or YouTube Live may give you more exposure, and potentially help get the message out more widely. But we don’t believe they do a good job with direct engagement. In order to have a small group session, capture an email address, or check actual attendance (other than through likes and comments), you need to use tricky marketing techniques, such as lead magnets, signup buttons, or popups. None of these build a feeling of trust. Facebook Live and Youtube Live are designed for reach, not for connection.

Zoom, on the other hand, is all about connection. That is why it works for schools, churches and other organizations that need people to see each other face-to-face.

Here are some reasons to use Zoom for your online evangelistic meetings:
  1. You capture data that you can keep. When you invest in evangelism marketing, it’s crucial that you have something to show for it. Even if you don’t see baptisms directly from an event, you want to know who your guests are so you can continue a dialogue with each one. You can reach out about future events, or invite them to a small group Bible study. When you know who has previously connected with your church, and tracked their engagement, you can help each one take the next step. Zoom allows you to see who is participating and gives you the opportunity to capture usable information—not just account usernames.

  2. You can track attendance. The information you get from Zoom is richer than that of social media platforms. By setting up a Zoom meeting you will be able to easily track attendance, instead of just watching people come and go through your feed.

  3. Small groups are built in. Zoom offers a feature that mimics one of the great techniques for evangelism. With break out sessions, you can create small discussion groups. With this tool, you can even preset the groups with a combination of members and guests and add a leader to ensure things stay on track. Once the discussion time is over, you can bring everyone back to continue the main meeting.

  4. Communication is in a closed loop. While some church members love seeing their friends on Facebook Live, it can be off-putting for a guest viewer to see the comment stream of personal, Adventist-related interjections. (Really, the phrase “Happy Sabbath” does not foster a sense of inclusiveness for guests who have never heard that greeting.) A stream of inside-speak can quickly make someone feel more of an outsider if they are not yet aware of that terminology. Meanwhile, Zoom allows you to control communication. You can use polls and breakout sessions to create an interactive environment without permitting freewheeling, unfocused communication.

Meeting or Webinar

With Zoom, there are two methods to hold online evangelistic meetings: meeting or webinar. In working with this technology ourselves, we have seen benefits and detriments to both. Which way to do it will depend on your goals and your ministry environment.

Zoom describes meetings as ideal for hosting interactive sessions and people who want to break into small groups. Webinars, on the other hand, are described as more like a virtual lecture hall. Although this may make webinar sound more similar to an evangelistic meeting, remember that the goal is engagement—the kind you would get in a physical setting, but won’t get from an online lecture.

Meetings offer the ability for everyone to see everyone else the way they would in a church setting. You can still mute everyone upon entry, remove chat, and control the meeting environment. But now you can also set up breakout sessions and give everyone the experience of knowing there are others in the “room” with them.

Running your online evangelistic event through a Zoom meeting does add complexity, and you’ll want to have an experienced host to help it go smoothly. In our experience, the webinar format is a little easier for a host to manage, but it will result in less interactivity between participants.

Finding the Right Platform for You

Ultimately, it’s your choice. Use the platform that is right for you. To help you consider all the factors, we’ve created a chart that compares Zoom Meetings, Zoom Webinars, Facebook Live and YouTube Live.

View the chart »

Can evangelism work online? Yes. We saw it work last Spring in several churches, resulting in guests making the decision to join the church. But it does require intentional engagement with your attendees. Using Zoom is one powerful way to create a relational environment that will encourage future engagement and long-term connection—leading new members of your community into a meaningful relationship with Jesus and members of your local church.

Reducing Friction to Help Drive Decisions

Larry Witzel Basic Marketing Principles, Evangelism Practices, Marketing Practices

We’ve all experienced marketing friction. At some point it has impacted each of us from following through, or making a decision. Friction is any barrier to someone taking the action you want them to take. It could be an emotional barrier (“I don’t trust you”), a mental barrier (“I don’t understand”), or a physical barrier (a long checkout line).

As we’ve looked at the Marketing Principles used by SermonView every day in evangelism marketing, we’ve already talked about the Sales Funnel, which breaks down a big ask into smaller, lower-friction steps. We also looked at how to get interests into the mouth of that funnel using a marketing campaign, with its components of the Offer, the Audience, and the Creative. In this article, we’ll look at Friction and how to make it work for you.

Every time you ask someone to make a decision, there’s going to be friction. We are creatures of habit, and asking people to get out of their routines requires them to overcome inertia. Your job is to remove as much of that friction as possible.

Reducing Friction

Okay, so you feel you have a strong offer and you’re communicating it to the right audience with great creative. But you’re not seeing the results you want. Somehow people aren’t moving through the funnel the way you expected.

That could be from too much friction in one or more of your steps. So here are five ways you can reduce any friction to your offer:

  1. Add value. The more valuable the offer, the lower the friction. A free physical book has more perceived value, and therefore lower friction, than a free downloadable PDF. A 50% off coupon has lower friction than a 15% off coupon.

    Now, we’re talking about perceived value here. It’s interesting that in e-commerce, studies show that free shipping has a higher perceived value than an equivalent discount in dollars. More people respond to a free shipping offer than a coupon with a higher dollar value, like $20 off when shipping only costs $10.

    So when you look to add value to an offer, make sure you’re thinking about it from your prospect’s perspective. For it to actually lower the friction, they need to recognize the value themselves.

  2. Reduce effort. You intuitively know that lowering cost will reduce friction. But how does that help us in evangelism when the cost is free? Well, there are other aspects to cost than just monetary value: time required, reputation, and risk are a few. But in the context of evangelism, the most important one is effort.

    The more effort required, the higher the friction. For example, a free book mailed to someone is lower friction than a free book delivered to the door by a volunteer, because getting up to answer an unexpected knock on the door takes effort. But asking someone to leave her home to attend an event is more friction, and asking someone to come to 24 meetings is even more.

    Look for ways to reduce the effort required to respond to your offer.

  3. Be clear. Confusion increases friction, so be clear about the action you want someone to take. State it simply and clearly. Use the imperative voice.

    Get inside your prospect’s mind to make sure you’re clearly communicating the value of your offer. That’s a common misstep, and a key reason why the SermonView crew will often recommend making changes to sermon titles in an evangelistic series. Congruence in the message increases clarity. You can also clarify the value by talking about the benefits of your meetings, and tightening the language to clearly articulate what you’re offering.

  4. Ask Less. Part of the exchange for a free Bible study offer is personal information. The interest provides some information like name and address, and you deliver the Bible study. Obviously, we would like as much information as possible about each interest, to help us decide where they fit into our cycle. Unfortunately, our request for information can mean we lose people that would have been great attendees or prospects. This happens when we ask a question that benefits us and not the interest.

    Asking for a phone number is a good example. If you just ask for a phone number while someone is requesting a mailed Bible study, the respondent may think, “Oh great, I’m going to get spammed with calls,” and leave the funnel. But if you tell them why you want the phone number—like offering to send a text when the resource has been mailed—you can reduce the friction. Asking for a physical address to access an online webinar doesn’t make sense, and will cause a lower response rate. But asking for that address to send them a free book that comes with registration makes perfect sense and shouldn’t materially harm your numbers.

  5. Build a relationship. An established relationship reduces friction. When people feel like they know someone, whether it’s a brand or a person, they are more willing to do something when asked. Think about it: if a stranger calls you to pick them up because the car broke down, how likely are you to do it? Now what if it was your best friend? Relationship reduces friction.

    That’s one reason we believe it’s important to put the name of your church on marketing materials instead of Church Auditorium. The more someone sees the name of your church associated to events that clearly offer something of value, the more that person feels they know your church. (Of course, if you live someplace where the name of the church increases friction, you might want to leave it off. Better yet, find ways to improve the reputation of your church through friendship and compassion ministries.)

    That’s also why it’s crucial for your members to be building relationships with the people around them, because those people will more likely respond to a personal invitation when that relationship already exists. It is also important for your members to participate in evangelistic events, to build relationships with your guests. Knowing someone reduces friction.

When More Friction is Better

Let’s close by reviewing a case where we intentionally added friction into the process. This happened to us when we were first experimenting with Facebook advertising for evangelistic events. Facebook has a system where a user can complete a form right on the Facebook feed, with field data already pre-populated with the user’s information. We found that more people pre-registered for an event when they could complete that form right in Facebook. It was a lower-friction action.

That’s good, right? Not quite. Few of them actually attended the meetings.

As we reviewed the results, we realized that we actually needed more friction in that step. Remember, a funnel breaks down a big ask into smaller, lower-friction steps. What was the big ask in this case? Attend in person on opening night. The interest has to get off the couch on a Friday night, drive to a church she’s never been to, walk through the doors of a strange building, and find a seat among people she’s never met. Friction is really high!

To improve our response rate, we’ve added the interim step of pre-registration. Our call to action on the handbill or postcard is to reserve a seat, and we direct them to a website and phone number to do that. There is friction to pre-register, but once that step is taken they are closer to actually attending. There is less friction for that final step of showing up on opening night.

So what did we break by using Facebook’s form system? That interim step of pre-registration was so easy, the resulting next step was left with nearly all the friction. It was too much to overcome. So instead of using Facebook’s form system, changed the flow send them to our own website, where they had to take the time to key in their information. That higher friction resulted in fewer pre-registrations, but more of them attended on opening night.

There is another reason to add friction: decision longevity. The harder someone works to make a change in his life, the longer that change sticks. Adventist evangelism has always had a problem with losing people after they join the church, what has been called the “back door problem.” This is obviously a concern, and we would prefer 100% retention of new members. But the real number of 65% is actually one of the highest among all denominations in the United States. Why is it so high? Because once someone puts forth all that effort into doing Bible studies, and attending meetings, and shifting perspective on multiple core beliefs—well, that person is more likely to stick with that decision.

Consider Friction in Your Funnel

Once you understand the concept of friction, you can look at your funnel and see where people are getting stuck. You can then test ways to reduce the friction of that step and, if necessary, break that step into two or more smaller, lower-friction steps.

When you ask someone to do something, there’s going to be resistance. We are creatures of habit, and asking someone to get out of routines requires them to overcome inertia. Remove as much friction as possible out of the equation, to help others make life-changing decisions for Christ.

Innovating Evangelistic Content

Larry Witzel Basic Marketing Principles, Evangelism Practices, Marketing Practices

When it comes to the Seven Building Blocks of Evangelism, the one that historically has had the most ongoing innovation is Content. Evangelists and pastors routinely create new sermon series and Bible study guides that are more relevant to each new generation and various cultural groups. Today, we need another burst of that innovation.

Present Truth

Over the last four months, a seismic shift in society has changed the public conversation. There is a need right now for content that is truly Present Truth, speaking to the public health crisis, the resulting economic calamity, and the social unrest that has swept the nation. Content developed just six months ago is already missing critical components to the message that might reduce its effectiveness.

Interest in Bible prophecy may be the highest it’s been in a generation. Since COVID-19 struck, searches in North America for End Times, Book of Revelation, and End of the World have seen marked increases, and searches for the term Second Coming have spiked to their highest level in over a decade, more than 4x higher than normal.

Whatever content you use for evangelism, it should speak to this interest. In our experience, no offer has been more effective in motivating people in your community to come to meetings at your church than Bible prophecy. And in the present environment, we believe this will be even more true.

So whatever you do for content for evangelistic meetings this fall, it needs to be new and relevant to the times we’re currently living in, and speak to the interest of this moment.

Your Content: Live or Pre-recorded

For online evangelistic meetings and online bridge events, if you are presenting your own content you have two options: preach it live or pre-recorded. If you’re doing your own content, it does need to feel like a full meeting, not like someone sitting in front of a webcam on a Zoom call. That works for Bible studies, but not for meetings. It needs to feel like a bigger deal. When live or pre-recorded, you’ll need a solid A/V team and the technology to do it well.

Using Content Online

When you are sharing your own content online, there is are two shifts you need to make.

First, find ways to break up the presentation and engage the participants. With in-person meetings, participants might check out mentally, but they are unlikely to get up and walk out. With online meetings, however, the physical and social barrier to “walking out” is minimal: the guest just closes the laptop lid.

Because of this, you have to work harder to maintain engagement. Shorter presentations are better. And you can use polls and other methods to invite interaction with the audience.

Second, talk to the camera. You are not preaching to a group of people in a church or auditorium. You are talking to a collection of individuals, each watching on a screen. For them to get the sense that you are talking to each one personally, you need to look them in the eye. And that means looking directly at the camera.

TV personalities do this by using a teleprompter, which you can set up yourself with an iPad app and other equipment costing under $100. But Myckal Morehouse, a pastor in the Oregon Conference, recently did something similar with just a large TV. He moved the camera back 25 feet with a zoom lens, then put the TV right under the lens. At that distance, he could read off the TV and it looked like he was looking directly at the camera. (Watch my full interview with Pastor Morehouse about his experience holding online evangelistic meetings during COVID-19.)

Someone Else’s Content

Alternatively, you can use someone else’s video content for the presentations (as long as you have permission to use it for this purpose). You can act as the host on a Zoom meeting or drive them directly to the content without having to run any technology. If you run it through Zoom you can cut to yourself before and after the video to engage the visitors and discuss what you just saw.

Again, you’ll want to look for recent, relevant videos.

We are currently compiling a list of other people’s content available for online evangelistic meetings and bridge events for this fall. We’ll post this as soon as it’s available.

As one of the key building blocks of evangelism, the Content is crucial to success. For best results, whether you preach your own series live, preach it pre-recorded, or use someone else’s content, make sure it speaks to the needs and interests of this moment.