For many years, I’ve had the privilege of coaching Executive Pastors who were new to the role, or just needed a second set of eyes during a season of personal growth. I’ve also helped a number of pastors during a construction project. With a heart for new church planters, it’s been my privilege to find ways to provide this coaching to you for practically free. For others, I’ve offered myself up at a nominal cost to offset the time borrowed from my family. Since coaching is not my main gig, I’ve been able to provide Executive Coaching for much less than those who do it full time. If this is something you are interested in pursuing, keep on reading and then reach out to me. It would be my privilege to help you grow in your ability to lead your church and staff well. Send additional questions or customized requests to [email protected].
Eight Practices For Effective Online Giving
I’ve spent a lot of time on church websites recently. Like, dozens of hours on hundreds of websites! Along the way, I noticed some trends about online giving. Having grown by 21% in 2020 alone, this is an area of leadership that deserves our full attention. Here are eight online giving practices that effective churches are doing right now.
- The giving link must be easy to find. In the early days of the internet, churches were hesitant to put a big clear “GIVE” link at the top of their website. It felt too pushy. But as online giving grew to 40%, 60%, even 80% in some churches, and web developers started looking deeply at the pages on your site that people actually spend time on, they made an interesting discovery. Lots of people are just clicking around until they find the giving page. They also discovered that when you make the online giving button easy to find, overall giving goes up! The great thing is that many online giving platforms will work with you to add a giving button to your site.
- Cell phones must be considered first. If you only check how your giving link looks on your nice 15-inch MacBook Pro, you are serving less than half of your people. That’s because nearly 55% of all web traffic happens on mobile phones these days. Most websites built today look different based on the device you are on. That beautifully planned out menu structure sprawling across the top of a computer screen becomes . . . a hamburger style menu in the top right corner on a cell phone. And that shift in screen size requires that hard decisions be made. This is not the time to relegate the GIVE button to a sub menu. Even on the smallest iPhone, GIVE should require one click only. If I have to scroll or search, my likelihood of giving goes down. I wanted to give, truly! I just couldn’t figure it out, so I gave up and figured I’d ask someone later. But then I never did. And then three months passed by.
- Have a “text-to-give” option and make it memorable. I like to start with the end in mind, and often the end is the ‘out loud communication’. So, it’s the end of your Sunday gathering, and the Executive Pastor is doing announcements today. The “offering moment” comes and he does a great job communicating the churches values and vision and celebrating generosity. And then he says, “and if you want to learn more about giving here at our church, just go to this website, click on giving, scroll down, etc. etc. etc.”. You’ve lost them. But if instead you can just say “and if you want to learn more about giving at our church, just text this word to this number”. Done. Any online giving platform worth a look is going to have a text-to-give option. Usually, you can work with the company to choose what word people will text to give. This choice is critical because lots of people are going to be saying it from the stage all the time. So if you choose “rvr_church.give” and you have to explain what an underscore is, and that it’s like River, with the vowels taken out because the creative team rebranded last year and apparently vowels aren’t cool anymore. Well, you just lost people again. But if you can say “just text thisisriver to 797007” then people can actually remember that and do it. So, brainstorm some ideas, practice them out loud, make a wise choice up front.
- Communicate your generosity language on your giving page. So, once people get to your giving page online either through the website directly or via text, what will they find? If it’s just a place to fill in data on ACH or credit card, you’ve missed an opportunity to share your heart. Don’t make the long-time giver dig too much, but at the same, don’t miss the chance to reinforce the language that your church uses to talk about generosity. A simple phrase like: “Here at River Church, we believe that giving should be . . .” A small amount of carefully crafted text is the minimum, but you could also consider a very brief 60-90 second video of a Pastor sharing the heart behind giving at your church. Not everyone will click on it, but those who do will really appreciate it and have a better sense of the big picture.
- Link to your most recent teaching on giving. Most generous churches are doing some kind of giving sermon once a year or so. Often, the teaching pastor will put a ton of effort into crafting that language well because (truth be told) many pastors are a bit nervous about the generosity and stewardship sermon. Why let all that work get buried in the sermon archive? Take the YouTube or Vimeo link and get your web person to drop it right onto the giving page with a sentence above it that says, “Here is our most recent sermon length teaching on giving if you’d like to go deeper”. This is especially helpful for the new people at your church, and even more so if they came from an unhealthy giving culture.
- Make it clear where people can go to ask questions. Often, the giving page isn’t just for giving. It’s also where you post last year’s annual report, or you talk about the one-story campaign that you are in the middle of. If your people have a question about how the finances work at the church, they are likely to check the giving page for follow up info. All you need here is one sentence like: “If you have further questions about the financial side of our church, just email . . .”. The interesting thing based on my experience is that hardly anyone will ever actually email that person with questions, but the very offer of a follow up method demonstrates transparency and gives people peace of mind. BTW, the follow up contact person should be someone who has a clear and detailed handle on how the churches finances are being stewarded and be a strong enough communicator to explain it well to someone.
- Integrate online giving into your church management software. Again, any online giving platform worth a look will be well informed on how to have online giving talk to whatever platform you use for your database, kids check-in etc. This will make generating giving statements way easier throughout the year. Fair warning, this can get a little snarly on the back end as you try to make various things work together. Before you sign up with an online giving platform, find out what kind of tech support is included during the implementation phase and beyond. Trust me, you’ll have questions.
- Finish well and thank the donor. After a person completes an online donation, what happens next? If it ends with “Your transaction has been processed”, you’ve just missed a massive opportunity to express thankfulness and remind them what they just gave towards. In most cases, a good online giving platform will have customized options available for the confirmation text or email. The person who set up the online giving may not think to tell you that you have options to make it a little more warm and fuzzy. So make sure you ask “How much space do we have for text to include in the thank you? Could the thank-you be a 30 second video from the Pastor that is embedded in the email? Could the creative people make a new video once or twice a year talking about recent ways that your generosity is having an impact?” This is a moment where you want to make sure you really get the language right. It’s the last thing your people experience after having just taken a step of faith with their finances. Make it a good moment that strengthens that faith and points them to a greater dependency on the cross of Christ and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
by Phil Taylor
Phil’s life mission is to help bring vision into reality. He’s spent 20 years serving the local church in Executive and Lead Pastor roles of all sizes while simultaneously serving Pastors around the country through leading cohorts, individual coaching and teaching at conferences. He is the author of Defining The Executive Pastor Role and Eldership Development: From Application to Affirmation. Phil can help you call your people up to a higher level of engagement with a lifestyle of generosity. Email him at [email protected]
This Article originally appeared on ElevateGroup.us
Have you ever tried to read the Bible in a year? How’d that work out for you? I tried it once. I got behind after a few weeks, got discouraged, and stopped. Then I found a two-year plan. I stuck with that one a little longer, but still found that it left little time to wander into other passages that were not in the plan. Finally, I decided to look for a three-year plan and I’ve been doing it for almost ten years!
There were ferns and moss growing in between the tiles that had long since come detached from the concrete floor. Sunlight streamed through the leaking roof creating interesting shadows in this massive 78,000 sq. foot space. The smell of mold was overpowering even with the required mask. It was quiet, desolate even—the calm before the storm. Exactly one year later, on December 10th 2017, 3800 people piled into this building for the grand opening of our new church home.
Recently, I was talking with a friend who taking his first position as an executive pastor. He asked me for input on what his first few months should look like. I remembered that a few years ago, when I was new at a church, I had jotted down a few simple notes on what my first few months would look like. I shared that file with him and he found it to be very helpful, so I figured I’d share it here as well. Here it is, unfiltered.
The second book in the “Backstage Pastors” series is available on Amazon.com. Eldership Development-From Application to Affirmation can be purchased in E-book and Paperback formats.
There have been many great books written on the need for biblically qualified elders in the church. They do an excellent job unpacking the pertinent scriptures and theology to explain both why we need elders and what they should look like, act like, smell like, etc. once we have them. This is not one of those books.
A few years ago, I was out running one morning with a guy in my church who has helped me a great deal in thinking through the discussion that surrounds generosity. In between strained breaths, he recounted for me some of the things that he thought our church was really good at. I knew that a “But” was on it’s way. And then he said it. “But you know what our church is not so good at?”
Recently, my friend and fellow author Aubrey Sampson asked me to be on her radio show in Chicago called “The Common Good”. Yes, people still listen to the radio! I got to talk about the importance of generosity in the church and the importance of cultivating a generous lifestyle personally. I had exactly 9 minutes! And the producer for the show let me know that it would air at exactly 4:19PM. (Man, live radio is stressful!). If you feel like listening to my rapid fire interview, you’ll find it here. And if you’ve never seen Aubrey’s books, you should look her up on Amazon! Enjoy!
Recently, I was on a coaching call with a great Executive Pastor that I have the privilege of coaching. He’s working on a building project for his church and as such, he’s moving a lot of money around. 300K almost got moved into a hackers account!
At the end of our coaching call, I said “Hey, can we take 5 minutes and record this story? I want to share it with others so they can learn from you.” I hit record on Zoom. Please forgive the bad lighting and productions skills. This is just meant to be a quick thing to help you out.
Hey friends, I wanted to share some big news in our family and my work, and I’d love to frame these changes in the bigger context of a couple decades of ministry. Skip to end if you don’t feel like reading it all. I posted a shorter version of this on Facebook and Instagram, but I felt like my blog gives me the freedom to unpack things a bit more for those who might care.
Not long after finishing seminary in 2002, I remember sitting in my new church office in upstate NY where I was serving as a Lead Pastor at the time and coming to the realization that I might be in the wrong role. That maybe, ‘Lead Pastor’ was not the right seat on the bus for me, at least at that time. Over the next six months, I spent a lot of time praying, seeking wisdom, and getting input from others. I felt like God slowly but clearly revealed my life’s mission saying “Your job—for the rest of your days—is to help others in the church bring vision into reality”. That new life mission ultimately led us out of that great church (King’s Chapel) as we helped plant Terra Nova Church in New York’s capital region. Those 9 years as the Executive Pastor with that team were an absolute blast, as together, we saw vision become reality at our church as well as in the northeast region for Acts 29 Network.
And then that season at Terra came to an end through super clear guidance from the Holy Spirit (I have a whole sermon about it) that ultimately led us to central Florida where I became the Executive Pastor at Mosaic Church and began helping a growing team bring vision into reality. What a wild and action packed ride these last 8 years have been. I will always look back at the projects I got to be involved in with great fondness. But more importantly, each of those projects involved an incredible team of people for whom I was deeply privileged to work with and will miss greatly.
Now, as our 8 years at Mosaic come to an end, and I round the corner on two decades of serving on staff in local churches, I’m excited for this new season of helping lots of church leaders bring vision into reality throughout the country as I join the team at Elevate Group! For the last 20 years, I’ve given the bulk of my efforts to one church at a time, and then served other churches with my leftovers. Now, I get to the bulk of my time into all sorts of churches and I can’t wait to do so.
I first met Chris Willard, (co-founder at Elevate) in 2015 when we brought him in to help with a major new initiative at Mosaic. Along the way we became great friends and I guess it was only a matter of time before we started working together in a more formal capacity. He and Greg Morris’s new organization is already having a massive impact on churches all over as they help “increase engagement and multiply results”. In so many ways, their companies mission aligns so clearly with the calling language that has guided me personally—“helping bring vision into reality”. This is really just the next step in that journey.
As a side note, I’m equally excited for the freedom this work will give me to put even more time into some of the other ways that I have loved serving pastors, leaders and churches in the last few years. If all goes according to plan, I’ll eventually find myself putting about 60% of my time into helping churches work through Generosity issues for major initiatives, building campaigns, or just looking deeply at their overall approach to giving. I’m committed to putting up to another 20% of my time into coaching Executive Pastors. In the past I’ve always had to limit the amount of time I invested in that to balance it out with my main church job. And the last 20% of my work time will hopefully find a home on the pages of new book projects I’m dying to work on as well as short articles here and there that benefit the church at large. My wife Aimee also has some ministry goals and I want to press into some of those dreams for the future. Stay tuned for more on all that down the road.
If you read this far, thanks! Please pray for us. This has been a crazy year for sure, but this new step of faith feels really right for Aimee and I at this time and it flows out of many months of prayer.
Recently, I was asked to describe briefly what staff development looked like at our church. After taking a few minutes to sketch out a response it seemed like something that might benefit others so I took a little more time to do this well. I don’t believe this is perfect. I’m sure that there is more that I could and should be doing, or things that I could be doing more effectively, but here is what it looks like in general right now. I’m 100% sure it will change. Here is a year in the life of staff development for me at Mosaic Church . . .
So you’ve read my book on Eldership Development. Maybe you even read a few other books on Elders in the church. They sit nicely on your shelf but you haven’t yet built out your churches process for Eldership Development? What happened? You got busy. You hit a wall. You had too many unanswered questions. Coronavirus happened. I get it. Sometimes, we just need a little extra push and a little extra coaching along the way.
English and Spanish versions available on Amazon in Paperback and Kindle E-book.
- Executive Pastor Coaching with Phil Taylor
- Eight Practices For Effective Online Giving
- Three-Year Bible Reading Plan
- What Type of Executive Pastor Are You?
- Five Systems Every Church Planter Needs
- Learning From A Building Project
- Your First Few Months at a New Church
- Phil Taylor’s book on Eldership Development
- The ROI on Generosity
- Should You Hire A Staff Search Firm For Your Key Positions? Four things to consider.
My name is Phil. I spent 20 years pastoring (mostly executive pastoring) and now I serve churches all over through consulting on buildings and brands at Plain Joe Studios and coaching Executive Pastors. My wife and I have three kids and one grandchild. I’m into running and kayaking.
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