What do you do when it's 2016 but your outreach is stuck on mailers that worked in the 1990s? Well, if you asked Larry Lacefield, founder and lead pastor of Restoration Church in Granite City, IL, he'd tell you to reinvent your outreach. Larry saw a 5x increase in exposure, all while saving thousands of dollars a year. Here's his story... but we warn you, it might make you swear off mailers forever.
Struggling With the Same Old Outreach
Early in his church's growth, Larry tried some traditional forms of outreach, but didn't feel like they were a great value. “We sent out two different mailers and spent about $18,000. In all, I think we were able to connect with a couple of people from them,” Larry said. “We also used invite cards to generate guest visits. That was a little more helpful, but I knew there had to be a better way to reach people.”
Larry tried Facebook next, but their team just couldn’t get it going. “We were not very good at engaging members and guests on Facebook,” Larry explained. “Sometimes we’d create official events and invite our members. We’d also post updates and reminders on our page. The problem was that our Facebook visibility just fell off, so very few people would see our posts.”
When Larry heard about Reach, he knew it could be a powerful tool to tell more people in the community about Restoration Church. Why? Reach makes a donation to a Kingdom-building cause each time one of his members checks in on Facebook at church.
Because Facebook check-ins are typically seen by about 200 friends, they're the perfect way to tell others about places you love. With Reach, churches can be truly effective at outreach by helping others in need. It's the perfect combination for a church who wants to reach more people in an authentic way. Once Larry talked to the Reach team, he launched the program that Sunday.
5X More Exposure With A New Approach
Turns out, Reach was the spark Restoration Church needed to reinvent their outreach. “Reach gets our community excited about outreach. The causes we support with check-ins are amazing. With a single check-in we provide drinking water for refugees or coats for kids who need them. That’s a powerful way to get people to tell the world about your church,” Larry said.
Not surprisingly, Restoration Church members never miss an opportunity to check in on Facebook. Since starting Reach, Restoration Church has seen a 5x increase in Facebook exposure. Every month, about 95,000 people see their members check in on Facebook. But the visibility doesn't stop there. Each check-in normally creates a follow-up conversation, and that’s the real magic of Reach.
The Real Magic of Reach
“I always see friends post questions or comments after our members check-in. People ask about our worship times or say they want to come next week. Of course, those comments are followed with invitations to our church,” Larry explained. “It’s great seeing our church exposed to so many people with so much excitement. These personal conversations are really helping us grow.”
Not only has Restoration Church generated exposure on Facebook, but they are now well-known throughout town. “When I’m out buying groceries or getting a haircut, I always get questions or comments about our church,” Larry said. “Most of the time people will say something like, ‘Oh, you guys are the church that does missions each week with Facebook check-ins,’ or something like that.”
Enjoying Exposure Seven Days a Week
“And it’s not just a Sunday thing either,” Larry told us. Small group members check in throughout the week after their meetings, so Restoration Church is in the Facebook News Feed all week long. “Reach tells our greater Granite City community that we have something going on seven days a week. You just can’t do that with regular outreach like mailers.”
“I recommend Reach to all the pastors in my network,” Larry explained. “Reach is by far the most effective outreach we’ve done. I mean, you almost have to be a jerk to not want to help these amazing causes around the world. It’s too awesome not to use for outreach.”