Pastor, what if there was a way to triple the number of people in your church who:
- Read the Bible each morning
- Pray daily for the church and its mission
- Remember and apply what they hear during your sermons
Interested? I thought so.
There is a way. It’s a method as old as the church itself, recorded in Acts 2:46:
“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts.”
The early believers didn’t rely on a once-a-week sermon. They gathered daily in the temple courts to sit under the apostles’ teaching. As a result, the church exploded.
Now, thanks to modern technology, you can teach your people every day – and at the same time reinforce the message you deliver on Sunday. Try this strategy:
- Cut your sermon length by ten minutes. Hold back a few points.
- Take those extra points you didn’t preach and fashion them into series of devotions that build on your sermon.
- Deliver the devotions each morning via technology (email, text, app and social).
- BOOM! You’ve fed your flock daily.
I could sense you were excited – until I said that word: “technology.” I know – you’re a preacher, not a programmer.
Fortunately, there are inexpensive tools that can automate this process. Just hire a techie for 2-3 hours to create templates and automated workflows. Once everything is set up you can focus on content – not code.
So where to start? You should name your devotional series. Just for grins, let’s call it TIME WITH GOD.
Next, you need to start a blog. That’s where your devotions will be accessed and stored.
- If your church has a web site, chances are there’s a blog built into it. Ask your web administrator how to activate it.
- If your church does not have a web site or blog you can set up a free one at com.
- Title your blog TIME WITH GOD.
- Learn how to post to the blog – both text and photos.
- Learn how to schedule a release date and time.
- Create a couple of practice devotions. Share them with friends to make sure they connect.
Once you have your blog in place, it’s time to start gathering e-mail addresses from the congregation.
- Sign up for a commercial e-mail service such as Constant Contact or MailChimp.
- Ask your congregants to register using your e-mail service’s sign up tool. They can probably do it from their smartphones while they’re sitting in church.
- Ask for sign ups every week, forever. Explain the strategy: “We believe strongly that every Christian should spend time with God every day. We distribute TIME WITH GOD each morning via e-mail, text and smartphone app. Please sign up to have TWG delivered 5 mornings a week.”
Next, set up your automations. Call the techie back in and put him to work.
- You can pre-publish your devotions to your blog and schedule them to “drop” at 2 a.m. on the appropriate release day.
- You can set your e-mail service to send out a message automatically when your blog post drops. Subscribers awaken to an e-mail or a text message. All they have to do is click on the link and “volia!” — they are redirected to the devotion on their computer or smart device.
- Once you’ve pre-published your devotions, a social media manager such as Hootsuite will allows you to preschedule your daily devotion drop on Facebook, Instagram and a host of other platforms.
- If your church has an app, there may be a way to automatically share the blog post to your app.
Now it’s time to build your first week of devotions on your blog. Here’s a possible schedule:
- Monday: include a scripture reading, a brief devotion, and a guide to prayer. Also, if you record and post your sermons to the internet, include a link so people who might have missed your sermon can watch online.
- Tuesday: a scripture reading, a brief devotion, prayer guide and action steps.
- Wednesday: a scripture reading, a brief devotion, prayer guide. A family devotion or something to involve the kids.
- Thursday: a scripture reading, a brief devotion, prayer guide and action steps.
- Friday: scripture reading, and a summary of the week’s main points. Talk about what’s coming up at church next Sunday.
- Saturday: Use this day for whatever you want: volunteer needs, a word of encouragement, etc.
- Sunday: Day of rest. Don’t post.
Now, before you walk down this path, here are two things to consider…
- If you’re a procrastinator, this is not for you. Writing and preparing devotions requires you to think ahead, plan ahead and work ahead. Ideally you should have a full week of devotional material queued up on the blog before you preach on Sunday. You don’t want to be writing Monday’s devotion Sunday evening.
- You have to be committed. Once you open this communication channel you must maintain it. You can’t just flake out and decide not to feed your flock for a couple of days. People will anticipate their daily devotion and scripture reading – and that’s a good thing.
Yes, preparing daily devotions is a little more work, but since you’re drawing from existing sermon content it shouldn’t be too hard. You can keep it simple: a Bible reading, a one paragraph devotion and an item or two to pray for. Or you can go all in with photos, diagrams, ideas for family devotions, etc. It’s up to you.
Once you open this communication channel, you can use it for a variety of other purposes. Send out urgent prayer requests. Ask for volunteers. Publicize upcoming events and opportunities at the church. In short, these daily emails can become a platform that drives church involvement as well as personal spiritual growth.
Posting your devotions on social media is a great way to expose your church to seekers. They enable you to teach members who miss church on Sunday. And after a year you’ll have a library of 250+ daily devotions online – a library that grows with each passing month. In five years you’ll have more than a thousand published devotions accessible to anyone with a smartphone, tablet or computer.
Pastors are always telling their members to spend daily time with God – but how many actually equip their people to do so? Be the shepherd who feeds his flock daily and see what God does in their lives.