Fruitage

Comparison between types of outreach

Below is part of an email I sent to The Mother Church's Broadcasting forum on 10/31/2018. Since then, The Mother Church has quoted it as useful information for branch churches.

If you’re trying to reach the Christian Scientists in your area, radio, call-in with a phone, and website are the best option.

HOWEVER, If you’re trying to reach the non-Christian Scientists in your community, then I highly recommend Facebook – especially after analyzing the other methods of outreach.

Click here to see specific examples of Facebook connecting newcomers to Christian Science services and lectures…

In Georgia (the Christian Science Joint Media Committee for GA caring for our 16 statewide churches and societies) we have used four methods of outreach. Below are my observations of each:

Radio broadcast of the Sentinel

  • Good: that it reached the newcomer.
  • Good: we had one man come into the downtown RR as a result.
  • Bad: unable to know conclusively how many listened and who in fact it reached.
  • Bad: impossible to connect with the listeners in any manner to answer questions, unless they called a number or came by a RR.
  • Bad: only reached the City of Atlanta (couldn’t afford to broadcast outside of ATL), so the rest of the churches in GA were unbenefited.
  • Cost per person reached: inestimable

24/7 call-in lines for Bible Lesson and Sentinel Watch

  • Good: non-techie Christian Scientists can call in without needing a smartphone.
  • Good: great for listening as-needed on the road or in the car.
  • Bad: an analysis revealed the likely 90% of the callers were Christian Scientists; meaning the outreach possibilities with this was very low.
  • Bad: around 40% of the callers to our 24/7 phone lines were from outside of GA; meaning that we were paying for non-GA residents to use this expensive service.
  • Bad: suboptimal method of outreach – no way to follow-up afterwards with a newcomer. Of course, it appears there weren’t many, so this wasn’t a huge worry.
  • Cost per person reached: $17.83

Website for the Cause of Christian Science across GA. Here we providing lists and links to each branch church/society and a newsletter option.

  • Good: is a great place to land if you’re a new Christian Scientist moving into GA as you can find the church closest to you, as well as a compilation of all the CS events and lectures going on across GA and can sign up for a newsletter to come to your inbox for every new event added to the statewide calendar.
  • Bad: not great for outreach. The site can only be found by people Googling ‘Christian Science Georgia’ – so you have to know about Christian Science already in order to find it. Websites are a lot like our church buildings – you have to know about Christian Science already to find them.
  • Bad: unless someone uses a contact form (very rare) we never know who’s come to our site to follow up with them.
  • Good: We reach about 600 per 3-month period, and suspect these are mostly Christian Scientists across the state.
  • Good: Cost per person reached: $1.07

Facebook with daily posts of JSH articles, Bible Lesson, hymns, and invitations to that church’s Sunday/Wednesday services.

  • Excellent: Through Facebook connections alone, we’ve seen visitors begin regularly attending services at FCCS, Rome, GA; we’ve seen one young man purchase a set of books and begin marking and reading the Lesson each week, then he joined the branch church, now he’s the Clerk of the church, and he’s signed up to take Class Instruction this summer (FCCS, Athens, GA); when churches have advertised their lectures on FB we’ve seen impressive responses – from up to 3 visitors at a lecture due to FB, to sharing the invitation, questions answered through FB, and lots of positive comments.
  • Good: Excellent outreach to the newcomer. 68% of Americans now use Facebook (http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/), so this is where we reach the newcomer to Christian Science in the State of Georgia.
  • Bad: probably half that percentage of Christian Scientists today use Facebook, so it reaches existing church members less (but we have the website for that)
  • Good: the outreach is customized to reach into each church’s particular field of labor. in GA we have one FB page per CS church/society and are posting daily to each reaching only the non-Scientists living within a 30-mile radius of each particular church/society.
  • Good: over a 3 month period in 2018, we reached 99,854 non-Christian Scientists across Georgia telling them about Christian Science, inviting them to read a bit of the Bible Lesson for that week, or a JSH article, and always inviting them to the next service/meeting at the church closest to them.
  • Good: we are engaging personally with non-Christian Scientists daily who respond to our posts. We’ve seen attendance to lectures come from FB. We’ve sent out copies of our Pastor to a few folks who asked. We’ve had a *lot* of gratitude expressed by these non-Scientists for the articles and posts. They’re getting to know us and what we’re about.
  • Good: Facebook is much cheaper to run and advertise on than the expense included in the Radio broadcasting and dial-in services.
  • Best Option: cost per person reached: $.30.

And note what The Mother Church Board of Directors said recently on the topic of moving away from traditional outreach methods (radio, etc.):

“A primary reason for the shift is our desire to increase the number and breadth of churches, societies, and even practitioners who participate in the broadcast activity by including Christian Science audio content on their websites, social feeds, etc. By focusing our resources in Boston on supporting methods that lower the cost and complexity of participating in the broadcast activity, we foresee a democratizing and broadening effect that will make our content more widely available and shareable.”
*My highlights above. From The Christian Science Board of Directors 12/18/2018 to the Christian Science Broadcast Forum

I can provide more details on any of this information upon request.
Let me know however I can help your church in its outreach plan!
Lovingly,
Joyce Kimberley Bain Hancock