How Can Yelp Help?

If you’ve ever found yourself in an unfamiliar place wanting to find the best pizza in town or the best hot wings or the best family-friendly dining, Yelp requires no introduction. You can’t google “best breakfast tacos in Richmond” and not be smacked with multiple results from the online community whose sole purpose is “to help (142 million) people find great local businesses.” Their mobile or tablet app has probably even become the go-to source for recommendations for many of you.

But let’s say you’re not looking for Breakfast Tacos. Let’s say you’re looking for a place to worship and to connect with a community of people seeking to follow Jesus together. What will you find? Believe it or not, Yelp has an entire category for religious organizations, and your church may be missing an important opportunity for those looking for a church home.

The following are five tips on how you can maximize your church’s Yelp experience for the people who find you there.

1. Make Sure Your Church is Listed

No one will find you if you’re not there. Go to Yelp and search for your church in your area. Do you show up? If not, use their link to “Add a Business.”

2. Make Sure Your Business Profile is Accurate

Yelp may have an entry for your church, but the address or url might be outdated. Maybe it’s still the address you were using when you were meeting in that school gym. Be sure your information is up to date. Make updating yelp a part of your marketing plan in the future.

3. Make Your Profile Attractive

In fairness, when I’m on the road, I’m attracted to holes in the wall. The cruder and less-polished the photos, the better. But, that’s probably not what people want to see when looking at your photos on Yelp. Use those photos to show potential visitors what they can expect. Don’t just feature shots of the building and facility – include pictures of people interacting between services, show off your kids’ program (with permission!), and show some of your local outreach.

4. Provide as Much Information as You Can

Take the guess work out of the equation. Yelp allows you to include “open” times, expected attire, whether or not you’re kid-friendly, etc. Use those fields to paint a picture of what people can expect. Address those fears and jitters for potential visitors.

5. Solicit Reviews from Your Church Members (and Community)

People love Yelp because they get to listen in to others’ experiences. Invite your people to talk about what your church and its ministries have meant to them. Have relationships with folks in the community who may not attend? Get their feedback as well. Show that your church is not just for the people who show upon Sunday mornings.

Does your church use Yelp? If so, tell us about your experiences, good and bad.


Harness Your Brand


Good news, I’ve been approved as a Church Planter with the Evangelical Covenant Church.  I’m so excited about the future of creating a space for people to be known and loved, a place where people have a seat at the table regardless of who they are, or where they’ve been.  Someone asked me the other day, after finishing seminary and being approved as a church planter, “are you super idealistic now?”  I simply answered, “yes.”  I am idealistic—I really believe that God wants to do BIG things through the church.  I really believe that the church can harness all of its gifts, talents and resources to see a tremendous change in our world. This is why I’ve been called to plant here in Richmond, VA.  This is also why it’s incredibly important to harness your voice and brand because it–quite literally–expands your reach.

Part of the process of planting, as some of you may know, is coming up with an identity.  While this may seem like an easy task, let me tell you—it’s not.  There is so much you have to think about, the voice of the church, the logo, the typeface (font), the color schematics, website, church décor, handouts, templates, so on and so forth.  It can be a whirlwind and a headache for one person to attempt to navigate.  It’s incredibly important, to think about identity and branding.  I realize that this brand is going to carry with the church I’ve been called to plant for years to come.  Further, note, branding communicates the vision of the church.  Churches and leaders should carefully determine the mission and craft branding accordingly.  I’ve been gathering proposals from a few different branding companies, so I figured I’d give a few tips to help you with branding. I hope this is helpful for those of you rebranding your organization or if you’re starting a new church.

  1. Mission

I sound like a broken record because I feel like I’m always talking about vision and mission in my previous blog posts.  It is important to over clarify that this is step one in the process of branding, or any movement in a church.  Your brand identity should reflect your mission and values.  If you want to reach predominantly “unchurched” or “de-churched” people you may not want to have a brand identity that is overly Christianese. So be aware of the goals of your organization and how you want to change lives. Filter every single proposal through the mission statement and if it doesn’t match up, go back to the drawing board.

  1. Demographic

Have an idea of whom you want to reach with this rebrand or your new brand strategy.  Thinking through your audience will help your team or those you hire to solidify your brand come up with a clear and concise voice.  Sit down and think to yourself, “what is the goal of my church; who am I speaking to?” If you’re hoping to have a multi-cultural church, your brand should incorporate a multi-cultural vibe.  If you’re predominantly in an affluent neighborhood, your brand should reflect that.

  1. Hire

Hire the right people and consult with experts.  I’m going to be honest; it’s easy to cut corners on brand.  For example, you can hire someone to come up with a logo, but not pay for the typeface, color palette, environment, and website.   However, the reality is you’re not doing yourself–or the future of your church–any favors.  You will in essence be fragmenting your voice so much that it will become convoluted and more confusing than anything else will.  Hire a design firm that will handle all aspects of your brand.  If you’re a church plant, like I’m doing, and money is an issue—I would recommend doing a staged rollout.  We’re first hiring someone for the logo, typeface, voice, and color scheme and later we will be going to phase two and three which includes website, print collateral, and environment (décor).  Be strategic and be wise with your income.


Voice:   The expression of your church or organization’s brand through words and prose.

Typeface: The font or design of a particular type.  This will be the font you will pick to use in all print and digital media.

Logo: A symbol or design that will be adopted by the organization as a standard. The logo will bring awareness in lieu of, or along side of, the name of the church or organization.


Five Articles To Improve Your Leadership


There is no shortage of articles on how to lead effectively in just about every situation imaginable. So here are 5 articles that can improve your leadership and how it can impact your ministry.

My Greatest Struggle: Delegating
4 Common Struggles To Delegating Effectively by Download Youth Ministry
Definitely one of my biggest struggles in leadership, whether in the office or in a ministry. “Just because you like doing something doesn’t mean you should be doing it. In fact there are items on your to-do list that would be better given to others.” This not only makes you more productive as a leadership team but it doubles or triples your bandwidth. Check out these 4 common struggles of delegating!
Read Full Article

Create ways for people to grow into leaders
How to Create a Leadership Factory by Joel A’Bell of Hillsong
Some churches have small groups or life groups while other churches have root groups, tribes, or home groups. No matter what the group is called “these groups create small communities of connection for people, in what could otherwise be a large anonymous body of people. They provide space for individuals to grow both personally and spiritually; amongst a group of likeminded, supportive, encouraging and trustworthy people.” Out of these groups, leaders will grow naturally and can be easily cultivated and change your ministry long term.
Read Full Article

Leaders build a healthy team
7 Common Elements of a Healthy Team by Ron Edmondson
These 7 elements are great reminders of what makes up a healthy team. The one that resonates with me the most is creating an atmosphere that celebrates each other’s wins. “People need to feel appreciated for their work and that their participation is making a positive difference.”
Read Full Article

Sometimes, you have to lead yourself
Leading Yourself Well Through Tough Ministry Seasons by Orange Leaders
Here are 5 ways to lead yourself through the tough times of ministry. Number one on the list for me is finding the ultimate vision again. “When the vision is not clear, it is easy to mix up your priorities allowing arguments, conflicts, and other difficulties to take the spotlight. A clear vision can help you focus on what’s important.”
Read Full Article

You won’t always be perfect, and that’s ok.
Sometimes you don’t do everything right or sometimes you wake up to a massive train wreck that only you created. It’s okay, you aren’t perfect and showing your imperfections, humbly owning up to them, and “failing forward” are qualities that every leader must have.

Here are 2 of my favorite leadership fails from amazing worship leaders and how they handle honest and potentially embarrassing mistakes.


Make your Sermon “POP”

IMG_0141I was having a conversation with my friend last night about the power of pop music. Pop music has an uncanny way of making its way into our brains and sticking there for a long, long time.  You don’t even have to know all the lyrics, you just have to know the melody of a chorus and it’s stuck.  What’s that you say, you’re not a fan of 1-D (One Direction) and JT (Justin Timberlake)?   Come on, there is much to be gained from taking a few cues from our pop-star-friends.

  1.   Filter everything through the chorus. 

The chorus is the moment where you hit your listener with a dopamine kick.  I have found it helpful to clearly lay out a bottom line and filter every, single, word through my bottom line. The bottom line is that one takeaway that you want your audience to leave thinking.  By clearly laying out the bottom line, it helps maintain a clear, consistent voice throughout your sermon.  Pop stars—and their writers—know exactly what they’re going to convey and exactly the right time to hit that chorus home.  This is why it gets stuck in our head because the writers have thought through the “voice” of a song.   What song are you singing in your sermon?  Is your audience leaving with a catchy tune stuck in their head, or are they leaving bored and confused?

  1. Make it sticky.

I’m not a huge fan of a three-point sermon; I’m not going to lie.  I’m not sure if it’s too traditional or if I’ve seen countless, speakers rely too heavily on it.  Sure, I think it’s helpful to structure your sermon, but there are ways to do that without saying the inevitable, “Which leads me to my next point, Jesus love Grace.”  Pop Artists know the right combination of words to make something stick.  Instead of using points, I have found it helpful to craft sticky statements, here are a few examples:

“What you say is whom you portray.”

“Wonder in the ordinary leads to the extraordinary.”

“Creating a home brings people home.”

“Don’t just say it, display it.” (when talking about faith)

Sticky statements are great, for me, because it moves away from points and it acts as a natural transition that people know exactly that you’re moving on from your previous statement.  It’s freeing to not have to use three points.  You should try it, artist are always rethinking the chorus and how to make it stickier.

  1. Structure it.

Gosh, I love that Coldplay song, “Fix You.”  That song makes me want to spread my fingers outside of a moving car’s window and sing at the top of my lungs.  I feel like Jack from the Titanic standing at the bow of the ship saying, “I CAN FLYYYYYY.”  It’s so catchy and so emotive you can’t help but like it.  Well, it’s because it was structured well.


Verse 1

Verse 2



Verse 3





It is important for something to stick that you have to structure it in a way that people can understand.  With every sticky statement and bottom line, I have a structure I follow with most sermons (of course there are a few outliers).  Here is what I do in each section.

Sticky Statement

ME (How I’ve experienced the point, maybe an anecdote)

YOU (How you might experience the point or struggled)

GOD (Point back to the verse and reveal God’s truth)

WE (How we then apply it to our life).

Point back to the bottom line.

You should find a structure that works for you, it doesn’t have to be articulated the same way I have articulated.  It just helps me to see what I’m doing and where I’m going with each section.  I highly recommend having a look at how other communicators structure their sermons and come up with your own style and structure that works for you.  There are many helpful resources for discovering what other communicators are doing.  I frequently look at sites, like SERMON SEARCH.COM to see what others are doing with their structure and how they’re harnessing their voice.

What song are you singing to your listeners, are you singing a hot mess or have you thought through what you’re communicating so your audience gets your bottom lines stuck in their head?   God has called you and I to be compelling communicators of the gospel, let’s do it to the best of our ability.


Father’s Day In Kids Ministry

Father’s Day is all about showing and honoring your dad. Showing him how much you love and appreciate all that he is. Dads play an important part in reflecting how we see our Heavenly Father and explaining this in our kids ministry should be number one on our list every year! To help you put together an amazing service for your kids, check out these resources and ideas!

HONOR_ALL_STARSHONOR, A Father’s Day Curriculum
For this Father’s Day teach your kids all about how to honor their fathers the right way, with their words, attitudes, and actions. Based off of Ephesians 6:1-3, this curriculum comes with a full script and lesson layout, a fun coloring sheet of 9 different Bible characters, a lesson logo, scripture backgrounds, motions and stills. This curriculum pack also includes song suggestions and game options!
Learn more

sth-averyspecialdaddyA Mini-Movie and Background Combo Pack
Crayon drawings animate these real-life responses from boys and girls as they talk about their fathers. Both entertaining and emotional, this video is sure to be a very special addition to your Father’s Day service. This collection includes a mini-movie, countdown, and five stills.
Learn more

yancy_all_about_familySongs Galore
This bundle from Yancy features songs that are “all about family”. Includes worship songs with theme of giving thanks for your family and mom and dad. Songs also focus on obedience and being kind and loving. Perfect for “Mother’s Day” and “Father’s Day” and anytime during the year you want to focus on the family. Featuring the five songs: Obey, Praise Party, Gonna Serve, Love One Another, and Super Wonderful.
Learn more

Free Craft Ideas From Pinterest