Monday, February 22, 2016

LUTHERAN SCHOOLS: Social Media and Marketing

Ever hear of Humans of New York (HONY)? It's snippets of the stories of human beings in New York City and it gives me joy when it finds its way into my newsfeed. It's short compelling stories of individuals around New York City. From the moment I saw it I wondered how we could do the same thing for marketing Lutheran schools. How can we share the beauty and excellence of Lutheran education over social media?

Graphic created by Laura Langhoff Arndt
First, before you're overwhelmed by the time it might take, there are tools out there to help. Social media management tools will post it all for you when you need it done. The one I know many other church workers use is #1 on the list, HootSuite.

Second, before you start posting away and if you are an employee of a Lutheran school, know your strengths. If you want to promote a rigorous curriculum, be sure you have a stronger, more effective curriculum than the schools in your area and be sure you can show why it's better. Don't just say it. Be able to prove it with comparable data and examples of work. Be familiar enough with your curriculum and that of your competition to be able to compare it to what the other schools are doing and show how it's stronger than what they are doing.

Third, parents don't have to be a Christian or a Lutheran to want their children to have a great education. Parents who aren't looking for a Lutheran or Christian school are looking for an excellent school, and safe place for their children to learn that has a proven curriculum. Get them in the door for an excellent education and let the Holy Spirit do the rest..

Today at Lutheran School

Once you've got those three items taken care of, here is how social media might be used to help market your Lutheran school:

  • Come up with a good tag! 
    • Because your kids are worth it! 
    • Check out a Lutheran School! 
    • Lutheran Schools - An all around good idea! 
    • What education should be! 
    • The positive side of education! 
    • More affordable than you think! 
    • A wise choice! 
    • We're not your public school!
    • Far more than an education! 
    • Start your day at a Lutheran School! 
    • Positive, life-changing education!
    • Raising faithful students in a changing world.
  • Have a clear, concise mission using phrases that appeal to those in and outside the church: In the spirit of Lutheran education students will learn to Live like a Friend, Love like a Servant, Learn like a Follower, Lead like a Guide. Along with "Christ Centered" and "Christian" use words or phrases like wholesome, family values, supportive, consistent, rigorous, challenging, family partners, encouraging, equipping, respect, relevant, genuine, guidance, mentors, etc.
  • Let them know where you are located. Many people don't know there's a Lutheran school in their neighborhood.
  • Through questions and observation, write snippets from kids to share regularly online. Choose wisely and look for things like why they love their school, what they learned in class, why they like the book they're reading, etc. Little kids have trouble verbalizing when asked directly so you have to observe or ask teachers for quotes to share or stories about things that happened in class or on the playground. 
  • Only use photos you've been given permission to use online or for marketing purposes and get permission to use first names as well. Never use the last names of children.

Once you've got your format down you can share it on Facebook, LinkedIn, tweet it on Twitter, put it on Instagram, etc. Here are a few of my examples (photos in public domain).

Wednesday, February 17, 2016



I ran across these four LIFE MEASURES that Pastor Dan Schepmann and the congregation at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Houston, TX have developed. They make more sense than any other metric I've seen for a church because they no longer measure spiritual growth by attendance and/or giving. They are personal to each individual. According to the church website they are:
  • Living as a Friend 
    • Do I love others the way God loves me? 
    • Am I available and responsive to developing new relationships?
    • Do I show compassion for the needs of others?
    • Do I intentionally cultivate relationships where spiritual growth occurs?
  • Learning as a Follower
    • Am I growing in my relationship with God by spending time in conversation with Him?
    • Is my worship igniting my desire to follow Jesus every day?
    • Am I getting to know God and His will for my life by spending time in His Word?
    • Am I consistently responding to God's leadership?
  • Loving as a Servant
    • Am I attentive of the needs of others in my community?
    • Is there capacity in my life to respond to the needs of others?
    • Do I put the needs of others before my own?
    • Am I serving in a way that uses my God-given gifts?
  • Leading as a Guide
    • Am I willing and prepared to share my faith with others?
    • Am I equipping others to lead?
    • Am I growing in financial generosity?
    • Am I working with members of the Body?
The church website is comprehensive assessment that includes Scripture references and questions you can respond to in order to assess your personal growth and the areas in which you might want to seek a deeper understanding. If you check these out you will love them!


If not on a congregational level, you may find this way of thinking far more helpful with youth leadership and planning. I have four components to my youth ministry philosophy that mirror these life measures. They are:
  • Spiritual Growth -- Worship, Bible study, devotions and prayer.
  • Leadership Training -- Opportunities to lead and be a part of the congregation at large.
  • Opportunities for Service -- Inside and outside of the regular life of the congregation.
  • Activities for Building Friendships -- Knowing people on a deeper personal and spiritual level. 
The same LIFE MEASURES can be used for youth too. I would suggest you have the youth do them at the same time once or twice a year so you can see where they rate themselves in these areas and how the group is growing together. Keep in mind that sometimes teenagers will rate themselves far higher than they actually are if they think it will bring unwanted attention.

Personally, I think this is a fantastic plan and wish it was available for every congregation! In our walk with Jesus, it never hurts to take a moment and think about where we are, where we hope to be, and what we're doing to get there. 

Thursday, February 11, 2016

LENT: Imposing Ashes on Each Other

After posting this on my Facebook page and getting a positive response, I thought I should share it here too. It's too late for this year, but it's never too late to plan ahead.

I go to a small church. At our Ash Wednesday service last night the pastor and his son imposed the ashes. Pastor did the adults and his son did the kids (and mine). It made me wonder about how cool it would be to impose ashes on each other. The message is the same, but what an amazing community building moment. I think we need more of those. I think we need more moments standing in front of each other and being reminded that we are all sinners, that we all fall short of the glory of God and, quite frankly, each other, and that Jesus died for each of us. We spend so much time trying to fit in, appear cool, appear good, appear on top, appear strong, appear smart, and appear like we've got it all. Maybe it's a good idea that once a year we stand before each other and be reminded, "From dust you came, to dust you will return."

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

FUNDRAISER: The Great Dime Challenge

Oh my goodness, I just ran across a fantastic individual fundraising idea! If you fill a 2-liter bottle with dimes you should get at least $500. WOW!! This is fantastic because so many kids are trying to raise money to go on mission trips or to a youth gathering and let's face it, parents are tapped out and congregations get tired of giving money to the youth for trips.

Fundraisers that kids can do outside the church and home are in great demand and this is one of them! People are always trying to get rid of their change and giving away a few dimes is not big deal. Kids can feel comfortable walking around their neighborhoods asking for any dimes people have laying around to put in their 2 liter bottle. It's not like asking for $5 a mile or a $20 donation. Here are a few suggestions;
  • Decorate the bottle to show what's being saved for and make sure it has a lid. 
  • Have the kids develop a SHORT speech so they know what they want to say ahead of time when approaching people.
  • Put a few bottles around the church for people to add to. (No pennies please!)
  • Encourage them to reach out to people in their neighborhoods or friends at school. They're just dimes!
  • If everybody fills their bottles you can use other raised money to do a special activity on the trip that you wouldn't otherwise be able to afford.
If each person can earn $500 toward their trip, the group fundraising should be able to do the rest!