The Church in the United States, Part 1

Recently, I picked up my outline for my Griffin Lake project and after reading it, decided that I should do some more substantial research to have a better grasp on what I looking to do. I am looking to develop a model of efficiency within the local church setting and for this I needed a better grasp on information about the Church of Christ in the United States of America. Now, with any research done, you’d hope that there would be a data set easily accessible for use for educational purposes, and so, who better to consult but 21st Century Christian, the official publisher and retailer of all things Church of Christ. Alas…

Continue reading ‘The Church in the United States, Part 1′

The Giving Campaign

onebook

Well, it finally came. This past Sunday [May 30, 2010], we [the Magnolia Park church of Christ] officially rolled out the One capital fundraising campaign for the congregation. After months of first planning, then sitting on our thumbs, then really picking up the ball and running with the fundraising idea, we finally got to present the message to the congregation. I had been developing a giving campaign outline for some time and it was great to see it finally get to play out as I had initially thought it up.

Continue reading ‘The Giving Campaign’

The CAMA Guides

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CAMA 2010 Viewbook

A New Understanding

And so it begins. The dawn of a new year in my life where I have decided that I would like to somehow make this one different on a couple of fronts. I’ve been thinking of how I would feel, and to be completely honest, I don’t ever recall feeling more optimistic in my entire life. I’ve been looking at where I would like my life to go, and for that matter, I’ve decided that working on projects that appeal to me, cool projects, is where I am going to focus my energy.

As I was thinking about where to begin, I’ve looked at the various elements of strategic focus, and decided that i’m probably going to get back in the habit of storyboarding, hopefully allowing for the free flow of ideas, understanding wholely that the impact of visual stimulation is good for work and, in the whole chain of operations management, where I generally find myself working, I believe this will allow for greater success in tracking progress in terms of where I should be at any given moment.

Now, understanding that I myself cannot draw, storyboarding, for me, really used to take on the more simplistic approach of writing ideas out on 5×7 cards of processes and of ideas, and anything else that really caught my eye; much more-so than the traditional idea of drawing out scenes. I’ve loved this concept ever since High school when I read Stephen Tweed’s ‘Strategic Focus: A Gameplan for Success’ and it talked about the idea of corporate executives writing down ideas on index cards and organizing them according to priority and overall scope of operational pull. For me, I simply would like the cards to serve as some sort of launching pad for daily ideas, a compass of sorts for daily operations.

I think the David Seah approach of the Groundhog’s Day resolution really appeals to me and works perfectly in that I generally wait until February 2nd to get things rolling myself. This year, of course, I look to actually utilize some of his strategies for productivity and organization, especially where I see the ability to redevelop habits, particularly in the area of management of my freelance operations.

One of the things that I truly plan to work on in earnest this year is developing a framework by which congregations can manage operations, especially smaller congregations in a larger local brotherhood setting. Having already begun the process of putting together my Griffin Lake layout of general statistics, I want to now work on applying concepts that can be developed into works ready for publishing. I’ve published a few pieces of work on my site, but I would like to go a bit further in developing full scale projects for the public, even more-so than the general work that I do on a private basis for independent parties.

It’s always interesting to begin thinking about goal-setting, something I’ve only ever vaguely been accustomed to doing. I’ve always been a sort of ‘Go-Get-It’ type, which most of times lends itself to taking what may come as a result of my particular doing in any given situation. This year, of course, I am going to set up just a few goals, most for the purpose of tracking my focus throughout the year. I figure, at worst, I will be able to possibly look back six-months from now and say,’What in the World was I thinking in February! That was never gonna work’, but then, we could be looking at it from the polar opposite and think that these were some of the greatest moves ever. In hoping to stay within the reasonable confines of reality, I’ve decided to begin with a manageable set of ideals for 2010;

  1. Cultivate a more focused networking mindset – I often find myself the wallflower at events and this really isn’t the greatest trait for someone whose main focus is marketing. In terms of real lfe metrics, I first thought I would link this to some sort of numerical goal in terms of people met, utilizing some sort of crazy guide like new Facebook friends or Twitter followers, but I’ve decided that for me I think I’ll measure success by real-life measure and that means trying to make true connections and not just artificial ones. That being said, I want to work also on being inclined to, as well as prepared to, deliver a quick pitch on whatever it is I am currently working on as I often run into people that I know would probably be interested in the various projects I am working on, if only I could quickly articulate those thoughts to them.

    As a sub-goal to that, I’ve decided that I really need to always have my marketing resources with me. I recently attended an event where I was given the opportunity to make a quick pitch to the audience, and I have to admit, I wasn’t the least bit prepared. I had no graphics, no collateral to hand out. It turned out okay enough, but it taught me the lesson of always being prepared.

  2. Devote more Time to worthwhile projects – I say this every year, but I really am going to make a focused effort to put time in things I feel will advance my enlightenment; simple projects that don’t take much energy, but are generally in need of attention of some sort in order to make them happen. I currently have a number of items on my to-do list that would fall into this category, including My song service planner, an artist event management package, as well as simple items here and there that I know would be of great use when released. I am going to devote time to projects each day, be it morning or evening as a way to free my mind and hopefully enhance creativity.
  3. Be more inclined to do instead of simply Plan – I have found that I do an awful lot of planning, both for myself and others, only to sit back and watch others execute on those plans. I’m looking to have a mind to get more involved in the execution of plans and not simply standing idly by while others make those moves. In that sense, I would like to begin a more defined approach to working on a daily basis, allowing for myself to get out more and not simply sitting in front of a computer all day.

I’d imagine three goals for the new year are enough to keep me busy and they’re just enough that I really do believe I can accomplish them. I also have some minor goals for the new year, primarily dealing as funtions of the previous goals. They’re simple, but are compelling in that I feel they will ultimately be the driving force to developing my main goals in the coming year. One just happens to be taking time to go out and hit places like Panera Bread on a more consistent basis. Being locked up for too long on a daily basis can drive a grown man crazy. But, I digress.

Finally, I look forward to finding a new purpose for this site. I’ve had it for nearly 4 years now and to this point have never really gotten around to using it the way I had initially imagined I would. I really do have a different mindset now in terms of how I want to attack this whole internet/blogging thing which involves mostly just jumping in and allowing my thoughts to take over. We’ll see!

Good Times!

The Millionaire Artist

I was going through the forums at AcaNetwork [Great network, email me to get in], and a topic piqued my interest. There was/is a discussion centering around whether there could ever be a millionaire artist originating in the church of Christ. Well, my first thought was of course, what about Brandy? Okay, seriously, my thought was, there is always that possibility, and then, my immediate thought led me to research [that's just what we do here].

Well, first a quick lesson in Marketing:

The first thing you’re taught in business school, or even high school marketing classes for that matter is the Marketing Mix; Product, Price, Place & Promotion. Now, for the purposes of this article, we’re going to just assume that all things are equal here, that being, the artist is of magnificent quality, that the overall market can bare another music artist, and that there is indeed an audience for said artist.

I previously brought up the idea of the Marketing Mix because there is an inherent lacking in one area that would prohibit the millionaire artist idea; Place. Place, that is, the proper distribution channels necessary to accommodate demand for the product being offered. Once a clear barrier for any artist outside of the industry model, now not so much. But, once again, for the purposes of this posting, I’ll assume that this could be worked out.

So, you want to be a millionaire Christian acappella music artist? Well, let’s play with some semantic ideals first. Let’s assume:

  1. This entire journey is going to take place as a mechanism for one album – We’re not counting cumulative success, nor are we looking at the basis of longevity.
  2. The Million Dollars is Gross – I think it gets confusing when we start looking at the US Tax Code, or if we look at post expense net capital functions [see, that already sounds drawn out]
  3. We’re looking at a single artist – Groups are great, but a little research will uncover the fact that in gospel music the biggest acts are solo artists who generally hire local nightly talent while touring.

There are so many that assume that the road to a million dollars is going to come by selling a million albums. Not Gonna Happen. The reality is that the road to building a million is going to begin with an immaculately planned strategic ground game, meaning, there is going to have to be, somewhere in your organization, an immensely talented marketing strategist working in the background along with a worldclass support team.

Alright, let’s get to it.

Album Sales

More realistic is thinking plan first. There are fifty states in the continental United states, but we’re only going to work with 40 of them. Any 40, you pick. Now, in each state we’re going to concentrate on selling 1000 albums which is going to give us a total sold of 40,000 albums sold. Now, if we look at the going rate in the church of Christ of $15.00, the, let’s look at the numbers:

40,000 albums sold x $15.00 = $600,000.00

Well, we’re already 60% of the way there. This is all assuming that you hit your maximum amount sold in every state. In every state you would have had to have sold 1000 cd’s.

$1,000,000 – $600,000= $400,000 remaining

Gate Revenue

Now, this is where the real work begins. Remember, we’re looking to build this million with this one album campaign, so, we need to create supplemental income around the album. The most likely route is the touring route. The idea here is to be proactive and plan the concerts yourself, controlling the gate and setting your own revenue model.

For this model, we’ll suppose that, of the 1000 in each state who purchased the album, around 56% end up attending the concert.

1000 x 55.56% = 555 attendees

Now, it doesn’t matter how the 555 get broken down, be it 2, 3, or 100 concerts in each state, but, the price must be set at a constant $15.00 rate. At this rate we’ll be looking at a gate of $8,325 in each state.

555 attendees x $15.00 admission= $8325.00

Quantify this in the 40 states and it adds up rather quickly.

$8325.00 (gate) x 40 states = $330,000

Now, if we’ve been good stewards and haven’t been dipping into the cookie jar, you should have a substantial amount of income from album sales and touring.

$600,000 (album sales) + $330,000 (touring)= $933,000.00 gross

Okay, so now we’re at $933,000 with a somewhat modest base (by general standards) of 40,000 fans. Let’s see where we’re at on the road to millionairedom [new word!]

$1,000,000.00 – $933,000.00 = $67,000.00

Merchandise

With $67,000.00 left to accumulate on the road to millionaire status, merchandise is the most viable route and also the one least sought after in the real market of Christian acappella music. Sure, every artist puts out the $15 cd, and everyone goes out on the road, but, how many actually have extension items [souvenirs] ready for distribution? Looking back at our concert formula with 555 attendees in each state, we need only 66 of those to purchase a souvenir t-shirt at the ever modest rate of $15.00 each.

$15.00 T-shirt cost x 66 purchasers = $990.00

We can expect to generate $990.00 in each state we tour in, but remember, we’re quantifying this by the 40 states we tour in.

$990.00 shirt revenue x 40 = $39,600.00

After we add these numbers up, we are now even closer to achieving our stated goal.

$933,000.00 gross + $39,600 added revenue= $972,600.00

And then we subtract….

$1,000,000.00 – $972,600.00 = $27,400

27,400! This is where it get’s kind of interesting. Why? simply put, if we were to reverse things and follow the current standard of pressing a thousand albums and selling them at the standard rate of $15, and if we did a concert say, every other weekend, covering costs and taking home a tad less than $500 for each show, then this is the number we’d be looking at come years end, and in truth, this is more realistic than the million dollar number, but, since we’re here to build a model, let’s look at the last component.

With 27k and change left to generate, we look to the time tested tradition of the poster. I mean, when I was a kid I had nothing but Four Christian Stars posters in room, but then again, I got them for free and i generally drew on the back of them. But, for most people, the Poster is a great way to commemorate the experience.

At the current industry rate, we’re going to say that 18% of all concert attendees will purchase a poster, or about 100 in each state. If we set the price at a very marginally sound $6.00, then we can expect about $600 at each location. Once again, we’re looking to quantify here, so..

100 sold x $6.00= $600.00 x 40 (states)= $24,000

Current tally

$972,600.00 current gross + $24,000= $996,600.00

And Furthermore, The remaining amount.//

$1,000,000 – $996,600.00= $3,400.00

Money left on the table

Well, we end with $3,400.00 needing to be accumulated. Why haven’t I build a function to gain this money? I think we should leave a little amount that would most likely be gained through appearance fees or some other function not seen here. One would have to suggest that If you came this close to $1 million dollars in a year, that you would probably end up finding a bevy of ways to accumulate other revenues, be it through the sale of ringtones, of through licensing or publishing, or most likely through extended album sales.

Conclusion

So, what have we learned throughout this whole thing? Well, the question of whether it can happen is an astounding yes. The more realistic question is whether it would happen given the fact that it hasn’t been done. The more appropriate question, even still, is whether there will be an artist who will take the time and effort to actually attempt to build a grassroots effort that would bring any legitimate amount of success?

What Do You Think?

Local Congregation Marketing, Part 2

Okay, while the last article dealt with the overall need to put marketing principles in place at your congregation, this time we’ll delve a little into specifics.

Identity System

In today’s environment, any great marketing system has to first address the overall identity of the congregation, and what better way than to have an identity system as the cornerstone. Now, an Identity system, at its core, is simply a stationary set that provides identification for your congregation. In most instances an identity system consists of a coordinated letterhead and envelope set and a business card. In more substantial cases, there are various labels and note cards and other collateral pieces that are used. The key, however, is the seemless transition from one piece of stationary to the next. This is achieved through 2 specific factors; The Logo and the color scheme.

The Logo – The logo, while important, is as simple to create as utilizing a stylized font in spelling out your congregations name. The key is consistency in usage, the fact that every time people see your name at your congregation it is always neatly displayed with the same characteristics, be it the same color and font, or any other way that generally sets your logo apart. At the Magnolia Park Church of Christ, there is both a primary logo and a secondary one. The Primary logo consists of a stylized spelling of “The Park”, the congregations name, with the title Magnolia Park Church of Christ directly underneath. This is done with the specific purpose of people associating the both the nickname and the congregation name. The nickname presents a friendly feel and is, in a sense, welcoming when seen and disarming, but at the heart is always the congregations name as to always remind people that The Park is a church. The Primary Logo is used mainly in-house for the members on all publications and there are plans to utilize it more on information that goes out to visitors and others.

The secondary logo is a much simpler logo that is just a styled capitalized M & P that appears on everything from the church bulletin to announcements and visitors cards.

The Color Scheme – It’s important to have a set of colors you work with when designing congregation materials. For one, with a defined color scheme, you’ll be able to always achieve a level of familiarity with those that receive your materials. Also, as an added bonus, you’ll not have to spend a lot of time with colors that may not work well. One of the prime points of creating a color scheme is great color usage. Think about it; on your bulletin board, which bulletins stand out? And which announcements wash out with their bland black and whites. Even if you’re pressed for money, a pre-designed letterhead with spot color will achieve both recognition and consistency in presentation.

Keep this in mind – The more time and effort that is spent on creating a smooth and consistent image for your congregation in print, the more likely it is that people will respond positively when your name is presented to them.

In Part 3, we’ll look at utilizing the bulletin as a ministry tool

Local Congregation Marketing

There’s a trend spreading nationwide that involves the marketing of congregations. Now, the idea of “Marketing” a congregation is one that many people object to on the basis of misinformation. They look at the word marketing and automatically think in terms of people who are trying to pilfer and sell bills of goods to members. The exact opposite is the case here. In marketing, the local congregation has an opportunity to have their message at the forefront of their audiences mind. With the plurality of congregations who basically look the same on the outside, the proper exposure is important for congregations who want to present the truth.

Now, the concept of congregational strategic marketing involves defining the resources that are available to you and building a strong set of practices around those resources that will greatly enhance the percieved profile of your congregation.

There are a few necessities that every congregation should have in building this strategy;

  1. Identity system – For the local congregation, an identity system is essential as its components are basically the first things that people will see when looking at your brand. A standard identity system consists of a coordinated letterhead, envelope and business card. In expanding upon this idea, a visitors card, usher name tags, and weekly bulletin shell can all fall in the category of identity system.
  2. Brand Logo – In addition to the identity system, the congregation may decide to build for themselves a logo – nothing elaborate, simply a stylized spelling of the congregations name or otherwise.
  3. Website – A web address is essential to todays congregation as many people look for congregations on the web. Consider looking into building a web presence, and notice the word presence, for the congregation. There are many open-source website platforms that are free to use and hosting is very reasonable for congregations.

    WordPress, Joomla, Google sites, Blogger – all are good platforms to get started with, and best of all, all are free to use.

  4. Dedicated E-Mail system – There was once a time when getting your own hosted e-mail was cost prohibitive for most people. The same can not be said in 2008. With services like dreamhost for hosting, and Google Apps, every congregation can have their own top level domain e-mail address. Which means… No more congregation email going through a Yahoo address. The systems that are in place now are so advanced that they allow you to set up many users instantly. Simply put, all of the leaders at your congregation can have their own e-mail address at your congregations domain.
  5. Use the Bulletin as a source of ministering – There is no reason that a bulletin can’t be used as a tool for ministering to lost souls. If designed right, a Sunday morning bulletin can house all of the announcements, as well as a message from the minister and even steps to becoming a member. If there is a monthly bulletin it’s even better.

In Part 2, I’ll provide actual examples of how to implement a marketing strategy at your local congregation.

On Layby Reporting

laybypackage

Of late, I’ve been developing a system for managing the reporting of layby for our members.

The Layby Package [i'm just going to go with that name] is a really a set of database and merge document that allows a congregation to deliver to its members an overview of their giving, either quarterly, bi-annually, or annually.

The key to the whole package is the record keeping. At The Park [The Magnolia Park Church of Christ], the leadership was planning on implementing a giving campaign to coincide with the already existing building fund plan. The result was a system that was first implemented at the Hallandale Beach Church of Christ – the Victory Campaign. Their plan included a campaign brochure, a presentation, and a pledge card. For The Park, I designed a campaign folio, a presentation, a pledge card, a reminder card, as well as the quarterly statement which outlined each individuals giving for the quarter as well as where they stood in relation to their initial pledge.

Now, the Quarterly statement really began in December, 2007, as we were trying to roll out the official yearly statements for members. We decided that in addition to giving them the official statement with the church seal and everything, it would be nice to let each member see exactly what they gave each week. This, in turn, was well received, as many people were surprised to see the peaks and valleys in their giving throughout various times of the year. At the start of 2008 a decision was made that the initial statement would be developed further to include many elements that would be useful to the member. The Following were added for the first quarter statement:

  1. My Statement Summary – The statement summary includes an overall synopsis for the quarter, letting the member see their Total given, the congregations giving total, Their total given shown as a percentage of overall congregation total, their Weekly Average, their ranking amongst all givers, and finally, The Forecast of their giving for the remaining three quarters, based on current weekly average.
  2. My 13-Week Report – A charted representation of the quarter with the date and corresponding amount given.
  3. My Total Amount Given – Pretty much self explanatory.
  4. My Average Per Week Giving – The average given as a funtion of overall total divided by the 13 week quarter.
  5. My Personal Rank – We show a ranking that allows the member to see exactly where they stand numerically. We based the number on qualifying givers.
  6. My 52 Week Forecast – The 52 Week forecast is a total number for the year based on their current weekly average spun forward for the rest of the year.
  7. My 13-Week High – The 13-week High shows the Largest amount given in any one week. No provision is given for same high given in multiple weeks.
  8. My 13-Week Low – The 13-week Low shows the Lowest amount given in any one week. As with the 13-week high, no provision is given for same low given in multiple weeks.
  9. Congregation Total – The congregation total is a whole sum of givings for the quarter by all members for all collections.
  10. My Percentage – The percentage function is a showing of the members impact on the overall total given for the quarter.
  11. The Top 10 Givers – The Top 10 Givers for the quarter shows just that – The Top 10 Givers; No totals, just names.
  12. Graphical Overview – Lastly, we give a graphical overview of the quarter in terms of congregational giving, the overall average per Sunday, and the Per Sunday total. In the future we plan to make use of the Google Charts API to build individual graphical representations for each member, as well as an internet application for congregations.

In the Future, we look to build an internet application that shows the same information for each member.

What do you think? Is this something that you think your congregation could use? What, if any, layby reporting mechanisms do you use?

Song Service Planning – Redux

Redux? Remember, I posted all of these articles before, and then lost them all. It was a tough summer, Charlie Brown.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the planning of the worship service, how that it takes more than a notion to make a service go smoothly. In addition I’ve been looking forward to the day when we would officially begin our quarter and work to actually plan the service ahead of Sunday.

One of the areas i’m always excited about is the song service. I’m in the monthly rotation and so I always feel blessed when it is my opportunity to lead the congregation in song. To this end, I generally like to plan a song service ahead of schedule, which gives me more time to actually find songs that go well together.

I’ve been looking at different solutions for planning the worship service, and also solutions for developing a lineup for song service. I’ve stumbled upon a few software packages that i’ve read about over the years, but I figure, for a congregation of our makeup, there is really not the need to get that far ahead of ourselves with all of the interesting technology out there.

Paper Planning

For some time I’ve been reading David Seah’s productivity blog for insight and have been intrigued by his use of paper in planning, task management, and organization. I’ve been a fan of Franklin Covey since they were FranklinQuest and Covey Leadership Center, so I’ve always been a lover of paper planning products. So, my immediate thought was, why not just create a simple solution for planning a song service involving paper? Simple enough! I’ve been using the solutions for sometime now, even incorporating them into my Field Notes pocket journal. For the time being, I’ve developed a few variants that hopefully will serve as a start to something better as I continue to develop the idea.

First, The Long Sheet is just that, a long form list that allows for more songs to be written down. At first I thought about the idea that no one would ever need to have a listing of 18 songs for one service, but upon second thought, I realize that a.) There is some congregation out there that is probably singing well over 20 songs in each worship service, and b.) Even for those who sing a generally normal amount of songs, the form allows for listing a large selection of hymns thus giving the song leader options in the pulpit. Yeah, I’m going with B.

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With the theme of free form planning, I also created a FreeForm Song Service Planner which is meant primarily for events outside of worship service that call for singing. I’ve been thinking that it could actually be used as a set list for a group, but, since I’m in the process of creating a dedicated sheet for groups, I’ll just designate this one for song services only.

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And, finally, I just did a simple update on the original Part of Worship form that had the designated parts of worship [communion, collection] as well as the song of invitation and the closing selection.

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Note // Actually, I went ahead and included the originals. Have Fun

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Good Times




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