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Churches find out who’s new in community via LifeWay site

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Matt Cannon used to think big-time ministry strategies were only for big-time churches.

The bivocational pastor of Cardiff Baptist Church in Rockwood, Tenn. –- a church that averages 70 to 80 people in Sunday School each week –- changed his opinion after logging onto LifeWay Prospect Services’ website last fall.

LifeWay Prospect Services, produced by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, enables church leaders with congregations of all sizes to transform their old-school outreach tactics into high-tech strategies.

“At first, I didn’t know if [the service] could help us because we are so small,” Cannon said. “I figured it would be more beneficial for big churches. We found it to be really user-friendly.”

For about $10 and a two-day wait, Cannon received an e-mail with 60 names and addresses of new folks who had moved into the neighborhood. The church then mailed brochures and other information to the new neighbors. He said the church continues to follow up on prospects and plans to gather more names in the coming months.

When the service first started 10 years ago, customers were limited to placing orders by phone during business hours only. Today, the service is Web-driven and always available, making it easy for volunteers and church staff alike to use at their convenience. Church leaders now can create custom-made lists of prospects for a variety of church gatherings.

One search option, for example, allows churches to locate information on singles, families and recent movers within a given radius. Information on new homeowners and new parents can be obtained by using the traditional zip code search.

Jacqueline Swartz, marketing supervisor for LifeWay Christian Stores, said effective community outreach should be a natural part of every church. Many churches don’t get the results they want, she said, because they set their goals too low, limiting their list to small sizes and general categories like recent movers.

“Let’s say a church orders 30 names and mails a letter to those people inviting them to worship,” Swartz said. “The standard response rate in direct mail is only 2 percent, which measured on a mailing of 30 people only yields .6 of a person –- not exactly what the church was hoping for.”

Increasing the number of names in a list will help, she said. Another tip is to look beyond general types of lists and get more specific.

“The great thing about this system is it equips churches with the ability to reach out to anyone for any purpose –- a new children’s program, a ladies’ Bible study, even Wednesday night dinner,” Swartz said.

A monthly subscription is available and helps churches stay current on changes in their community. Communities are continually growing with people on the move, and LifeWay Prospect Services gives churches an edge in responding to the influx of new faces and needed adjustments.

With this new technology, Swartz hopes churches will take advantage of opportunities available on the site.

“This service is so important,” she said. “The church should be an example of love and acceptance and reach out to our community with constant effort.”

LifeWay Prospect Services is on the Web at http://lifeway.conclusivestrategies.com. Any church with a current LifeWay account number can immediately log on to the site to browse, run counts or place orders. Church staff members who wish to set up an account number may do so by contacting a LifeWay Prospect Services account representative at 1-800-464-2799 or by sending an e-mail to [email protected].

    About the Author

  • Shawn Hendricks