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How Our Facebook Page Grew to 250K Likes

Min-Outside-Box FacebookI get asked a lot about the Online Church Facebook page and how it grew to more than 250,000 page likes in less than two years. People often expect one secret sauce solution. That simply does not exist. This page grew through experimentation, systematization and plain old hard work. Over the first two years of the Online Church page’s existence, we have failed at many experiments and succeeded in just a few. However, those few successful efforts have been tremendous for our growth. Here are our three success points:

1. Schedule posts.
We post approximately four to six times each day. Many people suggest this is too frequent, but the reality is that Facebook users rarely go to your actual page. They interact with your posts in their newsfeed, and they likely only see about 10 percent of the posts you make. This means that if we post four to six times each day, the average user will see just one of our posts every other day. Doesn’t seem like too much to me, and our Facebook community has yet to complain. By the way, we schedule out most of our posts through Facebook’s scheduling feature so that we don’t have to manually post with this regularity. We monitor the page closely and always strive to constantly engage with our audience.

2. Post variety. We have a posting formula, which helps create a balance of posts focused on inspiration, conversation and information. Most churches want to get straight to the information and let people know about their events and activities. We’ve found that the more we offer inspirational and conversational posts, the more effective our information becomes. We try to add even more variety by posting these three different styles using multiple formats, such as text, images and videos.

3. Consider paid ads. You don’t have to, but I think paid ads are a great tool to reach more people. For the Online Church Facebook page, we spend about $5 per day on ads, and the exponential growth these have fueled has been well worth the cost.

On our way to finding these success points, we’ve made dozens of mistakes. As we now look ahead to the milestone of 500,000 likes, I’m sure we’ll try dozens more experiments that will fail. At the same time, I believe that through those experiments we will find two or three more things to add to this list. We plan to keep experimenting, keep tweaking our systems and keep working hard as there are more than a billion active users on this network that need to hear about Jesus and engage in community.

Nils Smith is the author of Social Media Guide for Ministry and web pastor at Community Bible Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he helped to launch He blogs regularly and is passionate about serving the local and global church using technology in ministry.

All articles excerpted and adapted with permission from the website


Are You Suffering from Brand Overload?

D-MOTB-AreUSufferingRemember that trick you used to play on your friends: “Want to play 52-card pickup?” Then you’d throw a deck of cards in the air.

I feel like my church does this each week with their bulletin. An usher hands me that beautiful piece of literature. Then my next five minutes are spent picking up the pieces that have spilled out.

Each piece of paper advertises some church ministry:

  • ?Fire Explosion Ignite Youth Ministry
  • ?Proverbs 31 Zoe Grace Women’s Group
  • ?Passion Eagle Holy Spirit Worship Arts


Chuck E. Church Mouse at a Church Near You!

Min-Outside-Box Chuck-EChuck E. Church Mouse at a Church Near You!

Recently I was part of a team that used a store mascot to do some local marketing. We visited a family carnival night at a local elementary school. The evening was a massive success. In fact, I even overheard a few kids talking about when the bear mascot had refereed their hockey game a few months ago.

It reinforced an idea I’ve been thinking about for a while. Why don’t children’s ministries in church use some kind of mascot to connect with kids? I know how much my own kids love going to Chuck E. Cheese and singing and dancing with Chuck E. the mouse. Most kids really enjoy interacting with an over-sized animal. I think churches need to get on board with this and use it as a way to get kids excited about church each week.

Now obviously, I’m not proposing that we eliminate Jesus as the hero, or that we replace Him with some critter costume. But couldn’t we at least use a mascot to get kids excited about Jesus? Why not use something larger than life to teach kids about the one who truly is larger than life? My instinct and experience tells me that our kids would go nuts over this kind of thing. Something about fantasy hooks the attention of kids.

I do have one fear, though: that churches might start creating really cheesy Bible mascots. Let’s meet kids where they’re at and connect a non-Bible character with Bible characters—and teach biblical truths that are eternally significant.

Brenton Balvin is a writer, blogger and speaker passionate about helping churches create great ideas and  first impressions. 

All articles excerpted and adapted with permission from the website


5 Minutes on Twitter

Min-Outside-Box 5-MinutesRecently, I got a question from a church leader asking if I thought he should get his church on Twitter even if he could only post once a week. My advice if you’re considering getting involved in social media: Start small and build up. If you have time for one tweet a week, great! Just make sure to build time in your schedule to make that tweet appointment.

Most people actually have much more time than they realize. If engaging in social media is a priority (which it should be), try to carve out just five minutes a day to build a strategy. You’ll be surprised at what you can do in those few moments.

Build small. Build simple. Be consistent. Scale as you’re able.


Justin Wise is a writer, blogger and executive director of the Center for Church Communication. 

All articles excerpted and adapted with permission from the website


True Stories Go Viral

Min-Out TrueWant to create something viral? Create something real.

My church recently held a creative worship night. It was filled with dancing, music, painting and other artsy things I usually don’t enjoy. But one particular piece got my attention.

As the Gungor song “Beautiful Things” played through the sound system, people emerged from backstage carrying handwritten stories written, typed out, painted, scrawled, etc., on poster boards:

“I was going to get life without parole, but God intervened.” 

“I struggled with feelings of inferiority, but God loves me so much.” 

They were well-crafted stories. I assumed the people carrying these poster boards had found the stories on the Internet and just “copied and pasted.”

But as more people emerged, I saw people I knew who were carrying stories that sounded remarkably familiar. Wait! These are actually their stories! The emotion was real. They were baring their souls. Tears welled up in my eyes.

After the program ended, something bubbled inside me. I had to tell people about this. I struck up conversations with everyone I passed about those amazing stories: Could you believe they were real? 

That night went viral for me.

Hollywood blockbusters can’t compete with that. Their special effects and perfectly crafted stories don’t go viral. Videos shot on webcams that reflect honesty and truth go viral.

We live in an increasingly phony world filled with Photoshopped images and special effects. People are cleverer at faking things. And we spend a lot of emotional energy trying to separate the fake from the real. Look at the comment stream below a viral video or incredible photo: “Photoshopped!” “This is so fake.” “Actors.”

People are trying to find truth.

So while we’re spending more money in churches, mimicking Hollywood blockbusters, let’s never forget that the greatest thing we can do is tell a true story. True stories go viral. Openness and honesty go viral. We have a viral message—the gospel. Let’s present it as honestly as possible.

Jonathan Malm writes and speaks about the creative process, especially for churches. He blogs about creativity at and

All articles excerpted and adapted with permission from the website  


Kim Martinez: Do You Have a Balanced Ministry?

working-with-tools-small“You have to have the right tools to do the job right!” Remember your dad telling you this? It might have been when you tried to use pliers to pull out a nail, or a rock to pound it in. Tools make a difficult job easier, and make a rough job look finished.

In ministry, we use tools to help other people, but there are tools that we can use to understand the ministry God put us in, help us determine what our next steps should be, and insure that those next steps get accomplished. This month, I’m going to help you use some basic process tools to take a look at your ministry and set some goals for 2013. To start with, we have a three-part series that will help you, your board and staff lay a firm foundation for the next stage that God is calling you to.



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