Today’s churches are serving up technology to reach targeted audiences.
Technology has provided solutions to a vast number of problems in the workplace, so it should come as no surprise that a significant number of pastors are utilizing high-tech strategies to attract people to their churches. Today, these methods include satellite broadcasts that feature a variety of programming, including business, financial and spiritual training seminars and conferences, all designed to empower the church and help them be more effective in outreach.
Among the companies providing churches and other organizations with this cutting-edge outreach tool are the Church Communication Network (CCN), which broadcasts monthly events including “Why Believe the Bible?“ and “The Case for Christ“; INJOY, which transmits John Maxwell’s annual “Maximum Impact“ simulcast for business professionals; and the Lampo Group, which broadcasts Dave Ramsey’s personal finance seminars twice a year.
Churches subscribing to these simulcasts are equipped with everything from satellite planning timetables, to promotional materials designed to attract people, particularly the unsaved, to the events. Many also include guidelines for evangelism and follow-up related to the event.
NEW MEDIUM, TIMELESS MESSAGE
Churches nationwide have confirmed the outreach impact of simulcasts like CCN’s “The Case for Christ.“
“The best part of offering the simulcast to our community was that it motivated our people to share their faith without fear,“ said “Jim Collins, pastor of Outreach at Grace Fellowship Church in West Milford, N.J. “learned how to answer some difficult questions about our faith, and used it as a springboard for bringing people to Christ.“
“We had about 250 people at ‘The Case for Christ’ simulcast, including a number of unchurched people and those from other area churches,“ said Tom Lundeen, senior pastor at Hope Community Church in Cottage Grove, Minn. “Some church members brought family who made personal commitments,
including first-time professions of faith.“
In addition to “The Case for Christ” broadcasts, CCN recently broadcast “The Great Debate: Atheism/Christianity” featuring Dr. Michael Newdow, the atheist who tried to remove God from the Pledge of Allegiance and apologist, author, and pastor Cliffe Knechtle. The debate offered churches a rare opportunity to reach out to atheists who would not normally attend a Sunday service, as well as providing a forum for discussion afterwards.
CCN, which is also planning to broadcasting evangelist Luis Palau’s Spring Break event, “BeachFest,” from Fort Lauderdale in March, is experiencing a great deal of interest in it’s outreach-focused broadcasts.
“Outreach was always one of the categories that we had talked about and planned to do, but we didn’t realize it would be this big,“ said Bill Dallas, CCN’s founder and CEO. “We broadcast a number of outreach events last fall and will continue every quarter going forward.“
FROM ONE CEO TO ANOTHER
Joe Neikirk, outreach pastor at Union Chapel Ministries in Muncie, Ind., says that INJOY’s “Maximum Impact“ simulcast is an effective tactic for networking in the business community, and he has seen the results in increased church attendance.
“It’s all about building relationships, and this simulcast is a great way to do that in the business community,“ Neikirk said. “Business leaders are seeing that they can be equipped in a church in ways they never imagined. The simulcasts have allowed me to build personal relationships with CEOs in the community, and now I’m being invited to speak to their management people regarding leadership issues. Best of all, several key business leaders have come back and really plugged into the church.“
“John Maxwell’s credibility in the business community is very strong, especially with the publishing of his New York Times best-selling leadership books,“ Lyons said.
Maxwell, University of South Carolina football coach Lou Holtz and author Denis Waitley were the featured speakers at the 2002 “Maximum Impact“ simulcast, and Maxwell will be joined by business guru Ken Blanchard and another speaker this March for the third annual event.
The “Maximum Impact“ simulcast, seen by approximately 50,000 people at nearly 500 sites each year, does not include any spiritual messages. It covers only business topics such as influence, fulfillment and success. But with time for introductory and closing remarks, pastors can invite attendees to return to the church for regular services, programs and special events.
“Four people have joined our church as a result of the ‘Maximum Impact’ simulcast, and two were recently baptized,“ said T.G. Ayers, senior pastor at Community Advent Christian Church in Roanoke, Va. “It’s been a great thing for us, and it’s gotten our name out in the community. One company that attended invited me to speak at their Sept. 11 observance.“
SOLUTIONS FOR SPIRITUAL AND FINANCIAL DEBT
Dave Ramsey has been conducting personal finance seminars for more than seven years, and in 2001, the Lampo Group began broadcasting two of his 16 annual live events via satellite. Between 20,000 and 25,000 people attended each “Financial Peace“ simulcast in 2002, and Lampo Group Vice President Matt Woodburn said he is expecting similar crowds at the 300-plus locations this year.
“I’d say about one-third of the people who attended our Dave Ramsey simulcast were from outside the church, and we’ve seen some of them attach to the church, including a couple of previously unchurched families,“ said Kerry Andrews, senior pastor at New Heights Assembly in York, Neb. “You might think that a church would be the last place people would want to come to talk about finances because they’d be afraid it would all be about tithing, but this has worked very well and has helped a number of people in and out of the church reduce their debt.“
The five-hour personal finance simulcasts do not feature a heavy-handed spiritual theme, but there may be as many as a dozen biblical references during a typical session.
“This is not a boring, dry, numbers-crunching event,“ Woodburn said. “It’s a great combination of good common sense and stand-up comedy. It’s a good way to get people to church who normally wouldn’t be there. And we have a great follow-up for people who get fired up by this seminar called Financial Peace University, a 13-week course that brings people back to the church.“
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