Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Open Source Outreach: Enlisting Your People for Fresh Outreach Ideas

If you're tired of the same ol' marketing tactics, or the previous post left you a little cold, you may want to try an "open source" approach to finding creative outreach ideas for your church community.

Despite the relative success of many of our outreach marketing pieces at Artisan Church, it sometimes felt a bit stale. At one point we also worried our people might be losing their edge, relying too heavily on external efforts, clever tools, and letting the "professionals" do the heavy lifting. So being a creative community, we decided to unleash the wisdom of the crowd (with some simple guidance to keep it from mob rule and complete mayhem :)

  • First, the pastoral staff created a message series worth inviting to called "Failed Christians" to run during the Easter Season (an excellent time of year to focus on outreach and evangelism).
  • One month before the series we presented the "open source outreach" idea at The Gallery (our quarterly ministry showcase for celebration, evaluation, Q&A, vision-casting, and future plans; members expected, everyone welcome).
  • The end result was very encouraging. With the members of each design team truly feeling invested in the process and seeing tangible fruit from their creative efforts. We easily saw as many new people come and get connected as we had from any other outreach efforts, with relatively little expense, and far more people involved.

Here's a modified version of the handout we presented:

Real-Life Example of How It Worked:

I found an old email thread I had with some Eastman School of Music students as they formed a design team and put something creative together. Here's the synopsis of their initial Brainstorming Session:
  • Some Key Descriptors of Eastman Students
    • 17-22 years old
    • Spiritually Curious (eg aware of 'Easter' but not church-goers)
    • De-churched (busy, new place, disconnected, lack of transportation)
    • No 'green space' to enjoy on campus
    • Musically savvy :)
  • Top Outreach Ideas
    • Feature the Eastman musicians at one of the service where Ben's "Failed Christian" story is shared [Ben was one of our our band leaders and a Masters student at Eastman that many of the undergrads knew and looked up to; he's featured in the videos with the beard, wearing a grey "Geneseo" sweatshirt - great guy]
    • Facebook event
    • Posters around campus
      • tear-offs or invite cards attached [here's the final simple poster]
      • create webpage: www.artisanchurch.com/eastman
        • contact info and rides details
        • Cheryl, Jonathan, McKenzie all listed as the key contacts
        • Facebook event listed
      • use humor!
        • rough example: "Come hang out with "Failed Christians" of Eastman! (they're just more fun)"
    • Cookout and Games on the Artisan grounds (thought it might be a great follow-up when weather is consistently better)
In the end they put together an incredible music ensemble and even performed an original composition for their particular Sunday. Following that, many more continued to come from Eastman and get connected.

The other "design teams" had similar success stories, though using very different ideas - part of the beauty of this "open source" approach!