As church leaders, you are very familiar with the altar call, but calls to action are needed more frequently than once a week. Action items for ministry involve a lot more than just personal decisions.
Basically, a call to action is giving someone a specific task to complete. You receive calls to action every day, several times a day. When you get a bill in the mail, and it says, “Pay now.” That’s a call to action. When you open your email, and it says “Click here.” That’s a call to action. When you are on Facebook, and you see a note that says, “Read more.” That’s a call to action.
With the increase of social media, action items have become even more frequent. Yet, many still fail to see the value of including them in church marketing plans and communications. For some, there may be a fear of seeming “pushy.”
Action items don’t have to be obnoxious. They can actually make ministry easier for you and more effective for the people in your church. With a little careful crafting, they can help you better communicate with and increase participation among your congregation.
Determine what you want you reader to do
Obviously, the first goal of any church should be to share the gospel, but break that down. Ask yourself what steps would be needed to get to the sharing of the gospel. Do you want people to:
- Sign up for a weekly devotional newsletter?
- Submit a prayer request?
- Join a small group?
- Tune into a virtual sermon?
Make a list of specific actions that would help people who are in your church become more engaged. Then, make a separate list of actions that would help people outside your church.
Draft your call to action
Make sure that your items are written as simple, clear statements.
Always start with the verb — the action that you want completed. For example, “Sign up for a free Bible.” Not “If you want a free Bible, sign up here.”
Be concise and commanding. If there is a time limitation, put that in your message. Everything should not be “Sign up TODAY!” However, if you really do need a response by a certain date, let your readers know. For example, “Register for VBS by ___.”
Remember, more details can be included in the text of the document. The purpose of action statement is to get people to DO something now. When finished, let someone else read your lists to determine if they are clear.
Put them in place
Put action items in the Sunday bulletin, the church newsletter on your website, Facebook page, basically everywhere. And remember, typography matters. You need to make action items stand out. Make the font bigger and bolder. Use a different colored font or place the words in a colored box.
Don’t make people scroll all the way to the bottom of the page (or turn to the last page) to find the call to action. Many people simply won’t follow through. In addition, place the same action item in several places. Give readers multiple opportunities to do what you want.
Don’t forget the details
The action item needs to connect in the simplest way to the task that needs to be completed by the user.
If “Click here for more information” leads to an empty webpage, users will be frustrated and confused as to what to do. If you announce “Sign up at the front desk” and no one is there to help, people are unable to sign up.
If you want readers to share something on Twitter, highlight the desired quote and link it to Twitter for them. Make it so that all they have to do is click the “Tweet” button.
When including action items in print media, include the relevant information as near as possible to the action item. For example, if you make a request for VBS volunteers in your bulletin, include a card insert for them to complete. Remember, the point is to get them to take a first step. The easier you make it for them, the better.
One word of caution: take privacy seriously. Don’t ask for too much information. If you want an email address, ask for an email address, not their home address, phone number, cell phone, etc. And always seek to protect your members from identity theft. If you are asking for people to give, make sure to offer secure options such as PayPal.
Calls to action really are critical for a thriving ministry; so, don’t be afraid to use them. When you are both creative and considerate, action items can be a win-win for everyone.
Tricia K. Brown is a writer, editor, keynote speaker and Bible teacher. In addition to being a wife and mother of four sons, she is the sole proprietor of The Girls Get Together, where she and her team provide women's event programs for churches and other organizations.