An online magazine for pastors and church leaders.

We live in the clickbait era.

  • You’ll never believe what this toddler did to his dad!
  • Man revives dead pigeon using this weird trick.
  • 15 squirrels you’ll swear look like George Clooney.

They’re all titles that offer nothing other than an enticement to click and visit a webpage. And it works, because a click is cheap. Unfortunately, the payoff is rarely even worth that. It’s usually a slideshow stuffed with ads that you can barely navigate through. And even then, the content is never as promised.

This sort of approach rarely yields brand loyalty or repeat visits for a website. They’re quick hits that focus on short term traffic boosts in order to yield short-term ad revenue. But you’ll probably never visit again unless you get suckered in by another clickbait headline.

I wonder if sometimes churches resort to this sort of marketing strategy (if you can call it a strategy).?Our clickbait isn’t necessarily a webpage visit, though. It’s a visit to our church. And we’ll use verbiage that’s meant to entice people to walk through our doors, but doesn’t actually add any value to them until they take the action.

  • You won’t want to miss this life changing service.
  • Don’t miss the first 5 minutes of this service; we have something amazing planned.
  • 5 songs and 1 message that will solve all of your problems.

Of course, we do actually have something good to offer. We’re messengers of the only words that will change lives. But I wonder how many times people have visited our service and not actually experienced what was promised in the headline.

To a degree, we can’t control what happens. We work to do everything with?excellence (you are working on excellence, right?) and we trust God to change lives (you are trusting God to do the impossible work, right?). But it’s hard to honestly promise something that we can’t guarantee.

That’s why we constantly post articles here on Sunday| Mag that teach the concept of under-promising and over-delivering. Promise what you’re sure you can deliver and then add a little extra at the actual event. That’s one solution to the problem of clickbait creativity in our churches. But I’d like to propose another solution too. It’s a complete decentralization of creativity and it might be a huge mental shift for you, my dear reader.

The solution is this:

Don’t make people “click”?before you offer value.

Traditionally, churches have made almost everything about the event. All of the creative energy goes into getting people to the event and making it awesome. That’s because, previously, the only way to deliver the life-changing message was to get people to the event. We could communicate to the masses when they filled the seats in our buildings.

Communication has changed, though. Our ability to communicate truth through art, teaching, and music has changed. We can now deliver all of that goodness immediately through social media. Heck, we can even give people an opportunity to tithe online. And systems are growing each and every day that make this exponentially easier and more effective:

  • Streaming video.
  • YouTube.
  • Facebook Live.
  • Snapchat.
  • Instagram Stories.

We no longer need people to “click through” to our services to give them something valuable. We can give it to them in a medium that’s immediately consumable.

True, our services are still the best ways to deliver what we offer. But they aren’t the only way. Yet most churches are still exclusively trying to get people to walk through their doors. Everything they post online is about getting the visit. They miss out on the ability to offer value without asking anything in return.

Look at it like this: Have you ever been part of a group online that’s meant to offer support and help to its members. Yet there’s one person in the group who only posts links to their own blog whenever someone asks a question; they don’t actually answer the question without requiring an action on your part… Doesn’t that appear self-serving and selfish? Even if they have all the answers on their blog, it doesn’t come across very generous.

I think that’s often the type of reputation churches get by only asking people to visit their building. They have all the hope and all the answers, yet they only give it to people after the “click”.

I’d like to propose a new approach. What if, instead of putting all of our creative energy into the service and getting people there, we started putting energy into creating good things that don’t require a single action? What if we started reserving some creativity for encouraging posts or quick videos that help people get out of debt. They don’t have to visit your church to see the posts. They don’t have to visit your website to get access. There’s no email signup before they get the goods. It’s just there, generously.

I believe, if more churches started doing that, the invitation to actually visit a physical building would?be much more effective. Once people had?the opportunity to “taste and see”, they’d?want more.

I encourage you: Start adding value without asking anything in return. Yes, you can still invite people to your services. Don’t stop doing that. But don’t let your communication and creative thought process end there. Reserve some extra to add value and creativity that doesn’t require the “click” from your audience.



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