How Does Your Church Get Results With Direct Mail?

This question shows up in my inbox every week.

Though we are in a digital age, people are still opening their mail every day.  In fact, with the flood of email we get, you actually have a better chance of standing out with an actual mail piece.

At the same time, if you don’t know what you’re doing with direct mail, you can waste a lot of money.

So, here’s 5 things you must know if you’re going to get great direct mail results: 

#1 – You must know who you’re trying to reach – most churches have no idea who they’re best equipped to reach

#2 – You must know what you’re going to say to them – Most churches are not connecting their copy with the recipients of their direct mail.

#3 – You must know why you’re reaching out – direct mail that doesn’t give a call to action doesn’t make any impact.

#4 – You must know who you’re not equipped to reach – we’re not good at reaching everyone. Focus on who you’re best equipped to reach.

#5 – You must get their attention with your copy AND your design – everyone thinks they can do this; few actually can.

So, next time you’re about to send out a mailer, at a minimum go through this list of 5 items and make sure you’re covered.  Otherwise, you’re wasting your church’s money.

To help you a little more I’ve written a short ebook for you called “Direct Mail Secrets.”

You can get for free here:

Darth Vader On Leadership

I loved the New Start Wars Movie (comes out on DVD soon!) but I will say that I miss our classic villain: Darth Vader.  So today I’ve got 3 leadership takeaways from this villain who got it all wrong.

Takeaway #1: Insecurity

You remember the scene. You were probably 5 or 6 when you first saw it, but by now you’ve seen it close to 150 times. Darth Vader walks into a meeting on the Death Star and someone challenges his authority.

So what does this leader do? He decides to choke the guy until he agrees. He even throws a spiritual phrase in there to boot: “I find your lack of faith disturbing!”

starwars-lackoffaithWhat’s the deal with this guy?

It’s really simple: he’s insecure. Insecure leaders refuse to have someone disagree with them.

Let’s be honest, no one likes it when people disagree. If you do, let me recommend you ask your doctor for stronger medication!

But leadership is about fulfilling the vision for your church or organization. It’s not about the leader needing to be right.

I think that was one of the biggest problems I had when we first started our church. I was under the impression that I had to come up with all of the good ideas and solutions to our problems as a church.

Then I discovered the people that God has placed around me were really gifted and talented. They were sitting on the sidelines waiting for me to ask them for help. The day I did, a flurry of new perspectives, ideas, and solutions arose that I would have never thought of.

That’s when I realized we were all on the same team. So the question is, are you empowering your leaders to think freely and even disagree with you in a healthy manner? If you do, you’ve find some of the most innovative ideas will emerge and you’ll be a lot less stressed as a leader.

Takeaway #2: Dealing with Mistakes

Mistakes. Everyone makes them. The issue that will affect your ability to lead is, “How do you handle it when those around you make mistakes?” Let’s look at Darth Vader’s leadership on staff mistakes.

In The Empire Strikes Back, Captain Needa has made a critical error in allowing the Millennium Falcon to escape. He apologizes to the dark lord of the Sith and Darth Vader chokes him to death and says, “Apology accepted, Captain Needa.”

apology acceptedWhile we probably don’t choke people to death when they make mistakes, let’s be honest, we probably want to. No one likes mistakes, but they are going to happen. We are all going to screw things up at some point in time. That’s just a fact of life. But a truly great leader is one that can take a failure and make it an opportunity for teaching and training.

If you decide to take that moment and turn it into a lesson, we’ll gain an ally for the long haul. But we will never build trust with our teams if we humiliate them publicly and ‘choke them’ through our words and reactions.

The truth is if our team members are making mistakes, it means they’re doing something. And I’d rather have active team members making mistakes than perfect benchwarmers any day!

Takeaway#3: Trust

“I am altering the deal. Pray I don’t alter it any further.” – Darth Vader

altering the dealThose words must have hit Lando Calrissian like a ton of bricks. He made a deal with a leader and he broke his promise.

One of the keys to leadership is trust and when we go back on our word we lose whatever credibility we have built.

I believe Kouzes and Posner were right when they said that the foundation of all leadership is credibility in “The Leadership Challenge.” John Maxwell called it, “The Law of buy-in: People buy into the leader, then the vision.”

It only makes sense because a person can have a great vision, but without proven character very few will get on board. That’s is why when we promise to deliver something to someone on our team, we need to follow through.

The greatest leaders make a promise and keep it because they know that if a leader doesn’t have his word, then no one will be willing to follow him.

I don’t think Lando is going to make any more deals with Mr. Vader any time soon. Because a leader that alters the deal is a leader that isn’t worth following…

I hope you enjoyed these lessons from our classic villain.  I created a short ebook to help you get a few more pointers on leadership.  You can get it here free:

Need More Church Staff After Easter?

I’ve been talking to a lot of pastors, especially those in our coaching networks, and a lot of them experience a lasting bump in growth each Easter.

If you’ve broken a certain threshold, you might now be thinking about bringing on another staff member.

So how do you go about finding the right person? 

When it comes to staffing, most leaders start with a person they’re looking to hire. I believe that’s the wrong approach.

When you’re looking to add someone to your team, the place to begin is with a job description.

This is important when staff come to you and say, “I need help. Can you hire me an assistant?”

The first thing that should should happen is for that staff member to write a job description of the position.

The key here is to answer the questions:

– What skills does this person need?

– What responsibilities are required?

– What gifts and talents are needed to make this person excel in this person?

This is the only way to interview well. If we aren’t beginning from a clear job description, it’s next to impossible to interview well. Without a job description, we can decide is we like the person we’re interviewing and if they’d gel with the rest of the team (this is really important, but they won’t last if they’re in the wrong position no matter how nice they are), but we can’t discern if they’d be right for this position.

So if you’re looking to add staff, start with defining the position. Then begin the search. It will make your process easier and you’ll hire better.

To get more staffing tips get my free Church Staffing Survival Guide here:

Mastering a Pastor’s Time

Easter came and went like a whirlwind.

Now we’re celebrating what God has done, following up with guests and new believers, starting a new series, getting ready for Mother’s Day…and the list goes on.

Obviously, I don’t personally do all those things.  We do it as a team.

But as the leader, people ask me all the time, How do you get your “to do’s” done?  

So here’s what I personally do…

#1 – Group tasks together – I don’t know why, but it takes me only slightly more time to respond to 5 email as it does to 30 emails. So I plan to respond to email all at the same time.

#2 – Understand Myself – My best creative energies are in the morning, so I never schedule appointments in the morning. I use that time for message prep, developing systems, and problem solving. My afternoons then become times for me to meet with people, do admin, write letters, etc… It allows me to be much more effective.

#3 – To Do Lists – If I don’t have a list on my desk of what needs to be done, I am completely lost. Every morning before I get to the office, I spend 10 minutes writing down everything that I need to accomplish (this ranges from calls I need to make, research I need to do, messages to write, things I need to listen to, etc…). Backpack has really helped me in this regard. Now I do all of this online.

#4 – Be organized – You can’t make good use of your time if you’re spending 1/2 your time looking for stuff. This store will help you get organized and store things in an orderly way. Trust me, you’ll save time just by knowing where stuff is.

#5 – Use technology – My Trello helps me by having so much information stored in one place. The beauty of technology is that it can help us accomplish more by having what we need at our disposal. I just added a text messaging feature (I know I’m late to the party) to my phone because sometimes a 2 line text is all someone needs. If I call, it’s a 20 minute conversation about everything under the sun. Sometimes a call is necessary, but I like having the option to text, email, or call.

#6 – Utilize “Dead” Time – My executive pastor has helped me in this regard. He makes many of his calls while he’s in the car siting in traffic. This way the time isn’t wasted. I’ve been doing this as well. I always have a list of people to call, so when I’m hopping into my car I’ve usually got my phone in hand ready to call someone.

If you want some more help generating time I put together a short ebook called “The Productive Pastor” for you.

Get it free here:

Fix Your Follow Up For Easter

I learned a ton about plumbing a couple of years ago.

A leaky pipe burst and left me without a kitchen for the better part of a month.

I learned that when you have a leaky pipe, you have to pump twice the water through the pipe to get 1/2 the amount H2O when you open your faucet.

Here’s how this relates to church leadership and outreach…

Your church can spend lots of money on outreach and fill your seats on Easter.

However, if you don’t have a good follow up system and newcomers and new believers, they will slip out the back door like water through a leaky pipe.

So what’s the solution?

Fix.the.pipe.

You can see more growth in your church by simply fixing your follow up strategy.

What are the common problems of a leaky follow up system?

Here’s 5 common leaks in the follow up funnel…

#1 – Not continually working on your follow up system

#2 – Not capturing contact information

#3 – Not preparing for New Believers

#4 – Not Giving Clear Next Steps

#5 – New Believers aren’t valued by the staff and leaders

The bottom line is, we more we work on these issues, the better our follow up becomes and the better we can serve people and help them take significant next steps in their faith.

If you want some more pointers on follow up, I created a free follow up strategy you can get here: