Four reasons to include mobile giving as part of your church giving strategy:
So, HOW are they paying?
Lots are using their mobile phones. In recent years, payments via cell phones have increased from $30B to $545B (106% CAGR).
This amazing growth rate is predicted to continue with the younger generations for whom paying by phone is the norm.
To help you get started with texting for churches, download this free guide.
Creator, editor, and social media manager of Humans of Adventism.
You are Adventism.
I recently had the opportunity to speak at a large communication conference. As I stood before a room of film workers, bloggers, internet personalities, and communications students, I couldn’t help but reflect on how I’d gotten there. I am not a pastor. I am not an employee of the church at all. I don’t have a degree in communications, and I’ve never been employed, despite my best efforts, in the fields represented at this conference. Yet, there I stood, speaking as a humble authority on digital evangelism. How?
Two-and-a-half years ago I graduated from the College of Charleston. I had miraculously been given the opportunity to speak to my classmates and their gathered families, an enormous crowd of people who had no idea who I was. I was not the valedictorian, I’d never worked in student government, and yet again I had managed to land myself on a platform with relatively little tangible merit. On paper, there was no reason to have me speak at my own graduation. Even the professors who knew me well wondered at how this had happened. But it did.
While I’ll never know all the intricate aspects of how the events in my life come to be, I’ve learned that many of us have been believing a lie. We often think that titles and money determine our ability to impact the world. To some degree, that’s true. Pastors are invited to speak at evangelistic series far more often than anyone else, business managers handle a large amount of responsibility in the countless companies across America, and celebrities can dramatically shift consumers toward or against the products we buy. But in my experience these aren’t the only ways to impact the world.
Early in 2017 I went public with a storytelling Facebook page called “Humans of Adventism.” The mechanics were simple, mostly because my resources were incredibly limited. I had no money, no big names backing the page, and very little ability to do anything outside of what I could manage from my cell phone. I had an idea, and I had my phone. From my work truck I began to conduct interviews. I started with the people I knew--other writers and students, even a few family members. From there I began exploring deeper into the Adventists I found on social media and reaching out to them for their stories. It turned out most people didn’t really care about my qualifications at all, they cared about what I was doing and the effect it was having on the world. The Humans of Adventism community now consists of over 4,000 members and is growing more quickly than ever.
I don’t know who made this phrase up, but it’s stuck with me since I heard it.
God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies those he calls.
It’s true. We can own our faith. We can define what it means to be a Seventh-day Adventist. It’s a scary responsibility, but God has also given us so much freedom here. He led me to speak to my fellow graduates, then on to present at the Society of Adventist Communicators conference, among other things. He didn’t make me wait for titles, and I would guess this is true for the rest of us, too. Maybe we’re holding ourselves back. Maybe we already have permission.
Is God calling you to realize a digital ministry idea? What's holding you back?
Kaleb Eisele is the Social Media Director for the Orangeburg Seventh-day Adventist Church. Humans of Adventism is an independent storytelling platform that shares the lives and perspectives of Seventh-day Adventists. It is entirely funded by its readers. You can sponsor Humans of Adventism for as little as $5/month by visiting patreon.com/adventisthumans, or by purchasing an “Adventist Human” shirt from teespring.com/adventisthuman.
Jamie Jean Schneider Domm
Digital Strategist for the North American Division.
Digital Bible Worker: Sample Position Description
A sample of what a job description could look like for local churches and conferences looking to hire a Bible worker to lead online evangelistic campaigns. Feel free to adapt to your specific needs, and HR requirements. View this template as a type of menu to guide you in the creation of a position that makes sense for your organization’s structure. These positions can be adapted for paid or volunteer workers based on the level of commitment and budget.
The Digital Bible Worker will implement a comprehensive, multi-channel digital evangelism strategy designed to meet the spiritual and social needs of the 18–35 year old, collegiate, career-focused, single or married adult seekers (may include other target audiences based on the goals of the conference or church) in the local community. While engagement and relationship building will start in the digital space, the intent is to bring the target audience to an in-person experience. Ultimately, the goal of this position is to coach young people towards a relationship with Jesus and involvement in the local church—empowering them to also be effective digital disciples.
Objectives and Responsibilities:
Essential Job Functions:
Education and Experience:
Other Recommended Items of Consideration for This Type of Position:
Background Check: highly recommended
Employment is contingent upon successfully passing the background check and online training through www.verifiedvolunteers.com.
Bible workers are considered mandatory reporters, and by extension, digital evangelists or digital bible workers are considered mandatory reporters.
Position Wage Class: Exempt (salaried)
Same as Local Bible Worker. Please refer to the NAD Remuneration Wage Scale located on www.nadadventist.org under Treasury Resources. Page 10 of the NAD Remuneration document provides the range for a Bible Instructor (also known to the local church as Bible Worker) Range = 75% to 95% of the voted remuneration factor.
Limitations and Disclaimers: edit based on your organization’s HR guidelines.
The statements found in this job description are general in nature. The information above is not exhaustive and should not be construed as such. Digital Evangelism is an emerging field and many organizations have requested guidance regarding altering existing job descriptions or creating entirely new ones. This is merely meant to be a template for churches and conferences to reference. You are welcome to adapt as needed to meet your organization’s specific needs. The contents of this sample position description may be changed at the discretion of the organization and/or Supervisor at any time.
The Center for Online Evangelism is a missionary project devoted to developing online mission stations.
You may be wondering, what can we actually do to optimize our web presence?
Since optimizing content for search engines primarily means optimizing content for people, many principles of SEO follow fundamental principles of advertising, marketing, psychology, and sociology. Remember, it’s all about people and their behaviors.
However, since search engines are the vehicle by which this content is delivered, there are several technical aspects involved as well, such as web development, data gathering and analysis, and research (get your spreadsheets ready!).
This why digital marketing agencies and large organizations typically have an entire team to carry out SEO strategies, often comprised of copywriters, content managers, web developers, and SEO specialists. These team members spend considerable amounts of their time just keeping up with this industry, as trends and best practices can change even daily!
While this can sound overwhelming, take comfort that much of this research has already been done for you, and each blog post in this series is based on the latest data available.
We’ll introduce you to the concepts and processes that are major players in a complete SEO strategy: a checklist overview, writing and optimizing content for online readers, User Experience Engineering (UX/UXE), off-site SEO basics, tracking and analyzing your audience’s activity, and any technical setup or modifications that will be needed throughout.
Let’s start with a checklist of major elements involved in SEO.
NOTE: Make sure to check the dates of our SEO blogs as you read through—this guide will be updated frequently as trends change or if there’s a major Google algorithm update.
The following SEO fundamentals checklist has three categories: roles, onsite work, and offsite work.
ROLES refers to the different positions, expertise, and points of view that contribute to successful SEO. Often this means specific job positions that work together as part of an SEO team, but it can also demonstrate the wide range of different facets involved in truly optimizing content for search engines (people).
ONSITE refers to adjustments and development done directly on the pages of your website.
OFFSITE refers to SEO efforts done on platforms other than your website, such as social media, directories, review sites, external websites, etc. This can create more listings in search results that relate to your website/topic/organization, and they can also catch different audiences and send that traffic back to your website. When done correctly and legitimately, offsite efforts can also boost credibility, relevance, and authority.
(Note: Most offsite SEO, especially with external websites, is also referred to a “backlinking,” and it must be managed with care.)
These items will be covered in depth in later posts.
1. COMMON ROLES IN A WELL-ROUNDED SEO TEAM
2. ONSITE SEO BASICS
3. OFFSITE SEO BASICS
While this checklist covers several of the fundamental facets of SEO, this is a process of perpetual motion. Your work is never “done.”
Google releases updates, websites need to consistently post fresh content, and trends in online behavior can change almost instantaneously.
However, a consistent, concentrated effort can reap big rewards. You can find these checklist concepts expanded in the coming posts.
Click here for the SEO series and resource guide.
Digital Missionary, That Christian Vlogger.
Jamie Jean Schneider Domm
Digital Strategist for the North American Division.
Recently, advertisements sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints began running on prominent YouTuber Justin Khoe’s videos. What makes this surprising is that Justin is a digital missionary for the Seventh-day Adventist Church. For every advertisement that runs on his videos, Justin gets a percentage of the revenue. In other words, when the Church of Jesus Christ targets their ads to subscribers of his channel, they are financially supporting his ministry, an Adventist ministry. Before we get into why this strategy makes sense and what it means for Seventh-day Adventist evangelistic methods, let us share some background information.
Who is Justin Khoe?
Justin Khoe is a digital missionary. Known online primarily as “That Christian Vlogger,” Justin runs a Christian YouTube channel with over 65,000 subscribers (as of October 2018) that seeks to have a positive impact on those searching for spiritual answers online. His YouTube videos have been seen around the world by over two million people. With over ten years of preaching, literature evangelism, and teaching experience under his belt, Justin’s current focus is leveraging social media to help reach unchurched young adults. Co-hosting the show with him is his wife, Emily. Justin and Emily aim to encourage young adults to have a stronger and deeper relationship with God and to help them discover who God has created them to be. They call this way of living “experiencing faith in the first person.” In the past year, Justin has created an interactive Christian community and received 2,334 requests for Bible studies.
How YouTube Advertising Works
Advertising on YouTube is simple and straightforward: pay Google a set amount ($0.20 per view, on average) to insert a commercial to play before a particular video. The revenue from this advertising is split between Google and the content creator.
With over 1.8 billion people watching videos on YouTube each month, it’s easy to see why advertising on the platform is attractive for businesses looking to reach a wide audience. And they are coming in droves; in 2018 alone, advertisers are expected to spend an astonishing $3.9 billion dollars on YouTube advertising.
It’s makes sense. Armed with an endless supply of targeted data from Google’s immense user base, companies can now target prospective customers with pin-point accuracy. Travel agencies can target young families with an interest in exploring South-East Asia. Makeup companies can target 13-17 year old girls from the United Kingdom who have recently searched for specific brands of lipstick. The examples could go on and on.
Opportunities Beyond Profits
But YouTube advertising isn’t the exclusive domain of makeup companies and travel agencies looking to turn a profit. For many organizations with non-financial motivations, YouTube has become an ideal platform for influencing targeted groups of people. Using Google’s powerful targeting tools, politicians use the platform to target key voter segments, nonprofits use it to target likely donors, and—most recently—churches and other religious organizations have begun using it to target spiritually-interested people searching for answers to spiritual questions.
This last scenario is one that should be of particular interest to the Seventh-day Adventist Church. As mentioned above, a religious organization has recently begun running ads on Justin Khoe’s (aka “ThatChristianVlogger”) YouTube channel. One ad in particular describes the conversion experience of Richard, an Asian-American atheist who became a Christian.
The approximately three-minute video describes how Richard was unhappy with his life and how he began to search for a greater purpose. Richard ultimately found, not only a faith that could fill his need for purpose and meaning, but also one that appealed to his need for logic as a scientist. Eventually, Richard met with some missionaries and decided to join a church that loves and welcomes him with open arms.
A Neglected Field
The crazy part of this story lies in which organization is sponsoring these ads on a Seventh-day Adventist YouTube channel: The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints. The Church of Jesus Christ, known for their evangelistic zeal, have recognized—better than most churches—that when young people have questions about purpose and identity, they don’t turn to pastors and teachers as they did in previous decades. No, they turn instead to social media—Google, Facebook, YouTube, and the like. In fact, Generation-Z can’t live without YouTube, with 95% of them using the platform and half stating they can’t live without it.
Gen Z prefers to watch, rather than read. They view digital video and short-form clips almost six times as much as they read traditional digital publishers/blogs. Social influencers play a significant role in defining what youth audiences like, view, and buy…This is particularly true when marketing to Gen Z, who grew up with the internet and are not only demanding that all brands entertain them, but also that entertainment shifts to behave like a friend—it’s also why influencers are so effective in selling to this generation. —Maude Standish, Vice President of Programming Strategy, Fullscreen
Rather than ignoring this trend, or attempting to counteract it, the Church of Jesus Christ has made the evangelistic leap that all churches seeking to remain relevant in the 21st century will have to take: they became digital missionaries. They found an existing online community of spiritually interested individuals (built by Justin Khoe through his YouTube channel), and then paid Google to spread their message to that targeted audience through advertising.
As a result, a Seventh-day Adventist digital missionary—Justin Khoe—finds himself in the ironic position of being sponsored (via YouTube advertising) by the the Church of Jesus Christ, because they recognize the immense evangelistic value of the audience he his building, and the need to target the next generation on the digital platforms where they are searching for answers.
Supporting digital missions can take a variety of forms. For the individual, this may mean leveraging your own digital influence for the gospel or supporting your favorite Adventist influencer financially. Encourage friends and family members who feel called to the digital mission field, especially when they are frustrated and have doubts. When you don’t understand what they are trying to do, ask questions and never dismiss their ideas due to their “youth.” In my experience, most principles gleaned from the physical mission field have application in the digital one. If you have evangelism and discipleship experience, be a guide and a mentor that encourages young people’s ideas. You may not be a content creator, but if you’re on social media, you can share their content to help expand their reach.
This will take a cultural shift at every level of our Church to recognize, encourage, support, and assist our youth, who are the best suited to reach their own generation. We must recognize digital missionaries as legitimate missionaries. This means not only making room for digital evangelism and discipleship in our churches, but preparing our youth for this mission field by equipping them with the right technical skills. We, as a denomination, must value the tech-savvy and social influencers if we are to accomplish our great commission in a digitally-focused society. It’s time to invest heavily in digital missionaries, platforms, technologies, and advertising strategies at the corporate and local levels of our Church.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church began as a grassroots effort that became a global movement. The explosion of digital technologies is affording us the opportunity to once again unite in a common purpose to expand the gospel. We are more connected than ever before, and the mission field is huge. I believe the next great awakening will be a digital one. I am challenging us to another grassroots movement of skilled individuals using their different talents (blogging, video, design, podcasting, IT, preaching, writing, healing, etc.) to share one message. I know there are thousands of faithful believers with the skills, expertise, and faith necessary to take our message online en masse. There is a place for everyone in this movement, but it will take everyone working together. The wisdom of traditional evangelism combined with the technical fluency of the youth could preach the three angels’ messages with a loud voice to the ends of Earth. This is possible if we seize this opportunity before it’s too late.
Follow Justin Khoe on YouTube
Support his ministry on Patreon
Texting is relatively new to churches but can be a powerful tool to help keep members informed, engaged, and nurtured. Here are the top three activities that can benefit from having a texting strategy.
Sending emergency updates, news updates and newsletters: One of the main reasons for using SMS messaging is to keep your members updated. Sending out emergency messages asking for prayers or help to members who have encountered hard times or medical emergencies is extremely important.
Promoting recorded sermons and special prayers: Sending messages with links to your website, containing newsletters, videos of important sermons, or other relevant information, helps your members to keep up with the church life when they are unable to attend.
Creating discussions on current events: Using social media is an excellent way to stimulate discussions among your members and to get ideas in terms of what they think in relation to specific topics or to source topics for use in future services. Text messages can also be used to help create or draw attention to these online discussion groups among members to help increase attendance, involvement, and to lift the spirituality of both current and new members.
Using surveys to evaluate member interest in topics: Creating surveys is fun and easy to do. You can craft messages that will elicit a useful response to any question. Multiple choice questions, true or false, and short answer are some of the ways in which you can craft a question. Your members can text back their answers to be automatically tabulated. For example, you can use text surveys in church to enable members to vote on an event option, or engage by answering a quick Bible knowledge question.
Gathering ministry ideas, recruiting volunteers, assessing community needs, and promoting special events: You can send out a text message with a number of different discussion ideas, asking your members to text back their thoughts on what interests them. Sending messages regarding the needs of your community or special events is a great way to keep members continually involved. It's also an efficient way to recruit volunteers for a ministry, invite people to events, as well as send important updates before, during, and after the event.
Encouraging meeting attendance and setting up meetings with members: Here is where churches can increase member and visitor attendance with event options such as Wednesday night Youth Services and special weekend events. Have a another event similar to the one your first-time guest attended? Fire off a text inviting him or her to “another one you might enjoy.” Current members can be encouraged to come out to special events or mid-week services. Texting platforms can also be leveraged to improve connection in small groups by providing each group with its own keyword code as well as a mobile form, enabling each small group leader to easily and quickly contact group members. Providing members with short or long code offers them easy and effective ways to reach out and contact you whenever and wherever they need to do so.
Collecting donations for church goals such as needy parishioners and special events: Many churches are using portals to collect donations for specific goals; for example: sending a church group to a conference, carrying out repairs to the church structure, etc. Text messages keep your members updated on where you are in regard to reaching your goals, and enables you to celebrate with them when you have reached or surpassed a goal. While in-service collections continue to fall by the wayside, online and mobile donations are on the rise. Collecting digital donations is simple: members send a message via a long (or short) code or are directed to a donation portal or mobile app.
To help you get started with texting for churches, download this free guide.
Jamie Jean Schneider Domm
Digital Strategist for the North American Division.
A checklist for cleaning up your digital influence to avoid embarrassing situations and misunderstandings
Many of this blog’s readers are church employees with a potentially large digital influence. What you do with that influence matters. We’ve all made mistakes communicating online, but it’s never too late to start fresh by conducting a personal social media audit. Below is a checklist to help you evaluate your social media profiles and identify areas of potential change or improvement. Whether you have four friends or four thousand, as disciples we must strive to reflect Christ always, drawing others to His life-saving truths and love. We cannot do this effectively when our words or actions send mixed or divisive messages.
Social media is public by nature and has blurred the lines between a person’s work life and personal life. No matter how high your privacy settings are, your activity is always public at some level. As representatives of a faith group, your individual accounts are no longer just personal. This can be a positive thing. Each of us are called to be disciples, and this includes reaching the digital mission field. I believe that God is calling a generation of youth to the digital mission field, but, to be effective, we must begin by setting boundaries with ourselves.
I encourage you to read through these questions carefully and make any necessary changes to your social media profiles. This may include removing old posts and pictures. In extreme situations, deleting accounts may be necessary.
Personal social media audit checklist:
☐ Do you list your employer or ministry on your social media profiles?
☐ Are you taking the necessary precautions to protect you and your loved ones’ personal information?
In summary, if you are unsure whether or not to share or write something online, err on the safe side and simply don’t post it. It is likely that you have friends who are not Christians or who may be struggling with their faith. Don’t be another reason for them to leave their Church. Find ways to use your digital influence to encourage others and share your faith in positive ways.
If you are forgetful or ignore the guidelines above, there are a few things that could happen.
A special note to employers and supervisors:
In regard to an employee sharing their personal life on their social media profiles, “offenses” must be evaluated on whether the content or behavior is in clear violation of Church doctrine, and it is not to be gauged by individual preferences or interpretation. Behavior on social media prior to conversion or a re-commitment to the faith should not be used against an employee who is now a member of the Church in good standing.
On a personal note, I converted in my early 20s from atheism. I have since lived as a committed Adventist for over 10 years. Until I did a personal social media audit, if you dug far enough back in my post history, you’d find images of me drinking wine and eating unclean meats, because this is what many non-Adventist Italians are culturally raised to do. At the time, I did not know that there was a Biblical way of living healthier. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent”: Acts 17:30.
This was prior to my conversion and my commitment to the health principles, and I think it’s important that we understand that personal social media often captures snapshots at different points of an individual’s spiritual journey. Given the gospel of grace, these snapshots should not be held against a person years after conversion and seasons of dedicated service. By removing old content that does not reflect who we have become, we can prevent it from sending mixed messages to those we witness to online or providing fuel to those who seek to find fault.
Download this social media audit checklist to print and share.
Learn more about how your personal social media can affect the gospel: