A refreshing blend of nerd and cool.

What’s up?

hiding photo

Not much. 🙂

I don’t blog here much these days. Most of what I write ends up on the First Trinity blog, so if you want to read some of my stuff, you should head there. I’ll still post sometimes here, but not very regularly.

Preschool Advertising 101: The Plan

We are really excited to be expanding the preschool at First Trinity. We haven’t really done much advertising in the past. Most of our families come from the church or word of mouth from other families in the preschool. With the expansion, we wanted to get a little more intentional about advertising. We took a survey of our families and found (not surprisingly) that many people look online for a preschool in addition to recommendations from friends.

We decided to take 3 first steps:

  1. Reorganize our preschool portion of the website into several smaller, more focused pages instead of one giant page with information. We’re also exploring moving the preschool to a separate website so they can have a more appropriate theme/design.
  2. Create an “Open House” event on Facebook and promote it through paid Facebook ads.
  3. Purchase some ads in Google search results that send people to a special open house page on our website.

Website Redesign

We moved from a single page to six total pages. The pages are:

  1. Preschool Home
    1. Large photo of the teachers and students from Sunbeam Sunday.
    2. Brief overview of the school.
    3. Quotes from eight current parents that capture some of the best things about the school.
  2. Classes: We list what classes we offer, including a brief description of what students learn in the class, student/teacher ratios, days the class is offered, and a picture from that age group.
  3. Enrollment: Everything you need to enroll in the school on one page. Most of this is legacy content from the old site and will be reorganized when we launch a dedicated website.
  4. Areas of Study: A more complete list of what kids learn across all classes by participating for three years. This is a direct copy/paste from the parent handbook from this past year for now. More revamp to come in a new site.
  5. Staff listing and bios.
  6. Open House: A page dedicated to the open house event and used in the Google Ads campaign.

Facebook Ads

We chose to create an event for the open house and focus our advertising efforts on the event rather than “likes” or a specific product (in this case enrollment in our school). Facebook lets us use high quality stock photos for the ads for free, which is great. Here’s the 6 we used:

Preschool Facebook Ad 3

Preschool Facebook Ad 1

Preschool Facebook Ad 6

Preschool Facebook Ad 5

Preschool Facebook Ad 2

Preschool Facebook Ad 4

We have the opportunity to asses how the ads are doing and turn off the lower performers. More on that in another post probably.

Google Search Ads

I’ve never purchased ads with Google before, so this was a great first experience. We redeemed an ad promotion to get $75 free after spending $25, which makes for a pretty good deal. The ads point people to the open house page on our website. If I were to do it again, I’d create a campaign that focuses on a specific action on our website instead of just viewing the page to better assess the effectiveness of the campaign.

Here’s what the ads ended up looking like:

Preschool Google Search AdOn our survey, we asked parents to give us 5 words that describe the school. These three were the most frequently mentioned when we were ready to create the ad. Side note: we pay for each click, so don’t go searching for the ad to click and see what happens! 🙂

7 Effective Ways to Use Facebook for Churches and Why it Matters! | theCross Mount Dora

Found this post shared in a Facebook group I’m a part of for church people involved in communications. Very interesting stuff in the article, especially about how Facebook is a form of reaching into our community. As we think about new ways of measuring engagement outside of the church and living our faith outside the four walls of the church building, stuff like this will be super helpful.

I’m especially interested in the possibilities for posting quotes from the sermon and/or scriptures and celebrating volunteers. Interesting stuff.

For a church that’s only 3.5 years old and worships just over 400, we have just reached over 3000 likes on Facebook. And here’s the coolest part about the people that are engaging with us on Facebook: 98% of the likes and the people that are reached are people within our immediate context.

Source: 7 Effective Ways to Use Facebook for Churches and Why it Matters! | theCross Mount Dora

Lord’s Prayer 4: Lead us Not Into Temptation, Deliver Us From Evil

This is part of an ongoing series on the Cornerstone Confirmation Curriculum we are developing at First Trinity Lutheran Church. (Main Confirmation Page)


God always provides a way out when we are tempted. He also is our defense against all evil.

Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Read James 1:13-14

  • Underline: God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.
  • Circle: each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.
  • Margin: God doesn’t tempt me.

Read 1 Corinthians 10:12-13

  • Underline: he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
  • Margin: God helps me resist temptation.

Read 2 Corinthians 4:8-9

  • Underline: Both Verses
  • Margin: God is with me.

Read James 1:2-3

  • Underline: that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
  • Margin: Temptation makes us stronger.

God is good and can only give good to His people. Sometimes we struggle with why God would then tempt us with bad things. The truth, however, is that God does not tempt us. Rather, as James said, we are tempted by the devil and our own evil desires. Yet while God allows us to be tempted, he restrains the Devil in a way that always allows us to resist the temptation. We take courage in the fact that Jesus Himself faced every temptation that we do, and yet resisted them. We know that God walks with us through the temptation and refines and molds our faith through the process.

Deliver us from evil

Read Proverbs 18:10

  • Underline: The name of the LORD is a strong tower
  • Margin: The Lord protects.

Read 2 Thessalonians 3:3

  • Underline: Entire Verse
  • Margin: The Lord protects.

Read John 17:14-15

  • Underline: My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.
  • Margin: We will be attacked, but God protects.

God is oftentimes referred to in the Bible as our protector. He is a strong tower, a mighty fortress, our deliver. And so here we call upon God to protect us from all evil. Jesus tells us that we will in fact have trouble in this world. He didn’t ask God to remove us from this evil world, but rather that God would protect us as we live in this world.

Class Documents

Lenten Worship Backgrounds: New and Expanded!

Back in 2012, I released my first set of Lenten Worship Backgrounds. At the time, we were using the same blank slide for the entire service. I’ve since gone back and re-done the slides to include the different parts of the service. Here’s a preview of some of the slides:

You can access the full set of backgrounds for General Lent/Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday via this Dropbox folder. There’s a green version for use on Easter in the original post linked above, but it’s only the blank slide. I ended up creating a completely different set for Easter.

Solving the Church Communications Conundrum

communication photo

Church Communications is a difficult and often thankless job. When you are doing it well, people don’t seem to notice. When you aren’t doing it well, people aren’t afraid to let you know. Lately, I’ve been struggling with people telling us that we “don’t communicate well” at First Trinity. I’m not entirely certain that I know what that even means except that we aren’t doing it well.

Here’s what I think it could mean:

  • People aren’t hearing what they want to hear. Lots of talk about about why we use Garamond over Times New Roman in our print publications when no one cares about the typeface is not communicating. It’s just noise. (FWIW, it’s because Garamond looks much more fluid than Times New Roman, which is just plain ugly.)
  • People want to hear process, not (just) results. It’s great that we’re trying something new, but why are we doing it? How did we arrive at that decision? Who even made the decision?
  • People like Paul Harvey and want to hear “the rest of the story.” You told us about this all-church study, but then it just disappeared into oblivion. Did anyone do anything as a result of this class? How did it go? Did anyone even come?
  • People want you to communicate with them, not at them. More simply, people want to be involved in the conversation.
  • People want to hear from a variety of voices. It’s easier to ignore one person than multiple voices. Different voices/styles reach different people. Adding more people to the conversation helps communication. It’s harder to coordinate, but it’s more effective.

I’m trying to figure out what exactly we’re doing wrong with communications, but there’s no sense waiting for the answer before getting started. If you wait for the “right” answer, you’ll end up spinning your wheels and never addressing the problem. I actually created a content plan a few months ago, but I got caught up in “perfecting” the plan and the systems to make it happen that nothing actually happened. Ooops.

So we’re diving in. Here are some of the things we’re either already doing or will be coming up soon on the new First Trinity Blog:

  • Process, not just results: Why We’re Trying No Sharing of the Peace
  • The rest of the story: 40 Days of Love Recap, Kingdom Quest Service Project Update, God is Moving at the University of Buffalo
  • Multiple voices: In addition to myself, Sue Steege, Bekah Freed, and Annie Reed are writing content for the blog. Annie is doing a series of four Advent devotions, the first of which is coming on Monday. I’m also working at finding a mix of regular writers for recurring types of posts (like the devotions) and also including some guest writers.

I’m not sure we have the right answer yet, but I feel good about being on the path to get there. If you have ideas for content that people might be interested in from a church blog, I’d love to hear them.

FREE Advent PowerPoint Backgrounds

Advent is just around the corner. If your church is looking for some free backgrounds to use in worship (or wherever) during the season, you’re welcome to download and use these as you see fit. As I worked on the design, I wanted to capture the spirit of Advent, while staying away from the candle motif. As we think about Advent being a season of anticipation as we journey towards the birth of Christ, it felt like Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem was a good fit.

The silhouette in the background came from Shutterstock.These files may be freely distributed under the Creative Commons Non-Commercial Attribution License. Please link people to this blog post when sharing the files. You might also be interested in my other backgrounds.

Download FREE Advent Backgrounds

Now Testing: Church Membership Portal

Bob Face

In our ongoing efforts to update the First Trinity website, we are getting ready to launch an online portal for members and guests to access and update some of their information and have it sync up with our database. Here are some of the things you can do through the portal, along with a note indicating how “ready” the feature is. (NOTE: Everything is protected by both a password on your end, and a manual approval on our end before you can access many of the features belowActually: If the email you use matches the one we have in our database for you already, your account will automatically be linked to your records after you click the validation link that comes to the email address you register. In other words, no one can sign you up except you, provided you don’t share your email password with others. If your email does not match the one in our system, then we have to make the match manually before you can see your giving records.

  • View an online directory. Accounts that have been verified and linked by a staff member can choose to “opt in” to the online membership directory. You control how much information various permission levels can see in the directory. You can only view the directory if you have opted in. This feature is ready, but very people are in the directory as we are just starting with the roll out.
  • Access giving records. Accounts that have been verified and linked by a staff member are able to view their giving statements. No one else has access to your records. The reports can be downloaded directly from the website and printed for use in filing taxes as well. This feature is ready.
  • Find a ministry group to participate in. All users who register are able to look for open groups and request information from the group leader directly through the website. Once you express interest, group leaders are able to follow up and add you to their group so you can see some additional information like meeting times/locations, group directory, etc. This feature is only partially implemented as we only have a few test groups currently.

Become a Beta Tester

As we get ready to launch this portal to the entire congregation, I’m interested in people creating accounts so we can test the system and see what pitfalls there are. At this point, I only really need people who have been to First Trinity in person. We have the ability to add people from the web registration process to our database, but I don’t want to add unnecessary records. I’ve included a set of directions below for signing up. If you have questions about the process, you can get in touch with me via the comments here or on Facebook.

Registration Instructions

  1. Go to
  2. Click the green blue “Sign Up” link in the bottom right of the white window.
  3. Fill out the information that is requested.
  4. Click “Create Account”.
  5. You will receive an email with a link to verify your account. Click it to do so.
  6. Go back to
  7. Sign in using your email and password.

Remember that there is a delay as we manually sync your account with the one in our database, so some features like the online giving records won’t work until we make the link for your account.

Church Member Website Usage Data

Numbers And Finance

I recently ran a survey to find out how members of a church use their church’s website.

A note about the data…

Let me preface this by saying the sample size is nowhere near large (or diverse) enough to be incredibly meaningful, but it does provide some helpful data nonetheless. There were a total of 42 responses. I don’t know for sure, but I expect a vast majority of those responses came from people at my own church. Our existing website undoubtedly influenced their answers. I realized this when I had a conversation with one member about the survey. She was surprised to see that “online giving” was even an option people would look for. We don’t have that feature currently, so people don’t look for it. Therefore, a disproportionate number of people probably did not choose that. Similarly, our previous website was almost exclusively built around upcoming events and registrations for those events, which you will see reflected as a high priority from these results.

So for now, take the survey with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, here’s a breakdown of some of the more interesting things from the survey:

Frequency of Visits

I asked people how frequently they visited their church’s website in a given month. Here were the responses:

[table class=”table table-border” colalign=”center|center”]






As I mentioned earlier, our website didn’t have much to entice people back on a regular basis. I am considering some sort of more regular content in a traditional “blog” style as a way of getting people to interact with the website more and to double as a teaching opportunity.

Purpose of the Visits

Here are how the pre-configured options ranked in the survey for the question “What were you hoping to find/do on your church’s website?”

[table class=”table table-border” colalign=”center|center” colwidth=”65%|35%”]


“Information about Upcoming Events”,40
“Sermon Recordings”,21
“Sign Up/Register for Event”,16
“News/Photos From Past Events”,13
“Prayer Requests”,10
“Leadership Information (Staff Bios, Contact Info, etc.)”,10
“Volunteer Opportunities at Church”,10
“Resources to Grow Closer to Jesus. (Devotions, Bible Reading Plans, Prayer Guides, etc.)”,9
“Participate in an Ongoing Ministry (Youth Group, Sunday School, etc.)”,8
“Online Giving Options”,5
“Resources to Help in Your Daily Living (Parenting Tips, How to Cope with Grief, etc.)”,5
“Join a Small Group/Life Group”,3
“Give Feedback to the Church Leadership”,2[/table]

Again, the results were not surprising considering the primary emphasis of our previous website. I was surprised to see a relatively large number of people who look for news and photos from past events. We don’t report these things much on our website, but we do post pictures and recaps of ministry on our Facebook page pretty regularly. Also not surprisingly, “Join a life group” was very low in our results. There is no easy way to even find life groups on our old site, let alone join one.

What Was Missing on the Church Website

This section asked people to share what they had hoped to find on their church’s website, but couldn’t. Some of the frequent responses:

  • Current newsletter/calendar/announcements.
  • Staff photos/bios/contact information.
  • Service/Bible Study times.
  • Address/Contact info.

Biggest Frustrations with Church Websites

This section asked people to share their greatest frustrations with their church’s website. Some of the key themes in the responses include:

  • Navigation – People found the websites to be too difficult to navigate and find what they were looking for. This was one of the main goals of our new site–to simplify the navigation system so people can quickly find what they are looking for.
  • Lack of new/updated contact – We’ve all seen that church website that lists a coming event prominently on the front page, only to see that it actually happened several months ago. This also includes sermons not getting posted for several weeks from a couple comments.
  • Lack of online giving options – People are looking for convenient ways to give to a church and aren’t able to find it on their church’s website.

If you would like to contribute to the survey data, you can find it here. Feel free to share with friends who are members of a church.

Why do you visit your church’s website?

There’s lots of information online about why guests access a church website, but what about members? I can’t find a good source of information about why members at a church visit their church’s website. So I need your help! This survey is by no means scientific, but it will give me a starting point. Mark your answers below and if you don’t mind, send the link to your church-going friends to get their feedback. I’ll report back with my findings in a later post.

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