LUP037 – Initial Insights from the Deputation Survey

Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll hear in Episode 37:

  • Update – Progress on our 2017 Deputation Survey for Churches and Missionaries.
  • Encouragement – Early insights gained from the responses to the survey so far. Explore what they’re teaching me about irrational fears in ministry.
  • Tech. Tip – Stop making embarrassing grammar mistakes and improve your writing when you communicate in ministry.

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Update

  • Deputation survey launched with a bang
    • Posted to a Facebook group called The Ministry Connection, hosted by my friend Bryan Ries, missionary currently raising support for a work in Thailand. You can find out more about his ministry at ThaiLight.org.
    • First 24 hours: nearly 50 missionaries and 50 pastors.
    • 100 pastors and 200 missionaries in the first week.
  • At a graduation party, happened to see a friend who is the general director of a mission board.
    • He asked how the website invitations were going.
    • I mentioned the survey; he expressed interest in results.
    • I created a signup page for mission boards to get a copy of the results – if at least five pastors and/or missionaries complete the survey as a result of one of their invitations.
  • So far, a little over 140 pastors and not quite 220 missionaries.
    • Initial interest has really stalled.
  • Emailed representatives of about a dozen mission boards
    • One other board has filled out the form, but only that first one has had enough complete the survey to qualify to get a copy of the final report.
  • Took out Facebook advertisements targeting Independent Baptist Pastors. Trying three different possibilities to measure what headline was most effective.
    • Spent a little more than $63 on this one-week experiment
    • For most of the week, only one pastor completed the survey as a result of one of the three ads. The other two brought in nothing.
    • Sunday afternoon – last day of the experiment, four other pastors completed the survey – two on each the two advertisements that had been ineffective the rest of the week.
    • A total of 129 clicks on the ads. Most of those (92 of them) on the one that brought in the early survey respondent.
    • Summary: 3 ads = more $63 = 129 clicks = 5 surveys = $12.75 per survey overall.
    • Break it down by specific advertisement? The first one cost me $28.50 for a single survey. The third one cost me $6.77 for each of two surveys.
    • What do I conclude about the effectiveness of those ads? Two things:
      • Even the cheapest advertisement was still expensive for what it produced.
      • The response rate was so unpredictable, all I know is that I don’t know which headline would really be the most effective.
    • Probably won’t take out Facebook advertisements again for the survey.

Encouragement

 

So far, even though I’m still only about a third of the way to my final goal of 500 pastors and 500 missionaries, I’ve already been able to learn a few interesting things just from the responses I’ve had so far.

On today’s encouragement segment, I’d like to share five initial insights from the 2017 Deputation Survey – four about the process, and one thing I’ve learned about myself

About the process

  1. Relationships are far more important than technique and technology.
    • Hardly any responses came from my initial announcement.
    • Almost all came from referrals of those who completed the survey.
    • Mission boards: Their promotion efforts seemed directly proportional to the strength of my personal relationship with the representative.
    • Cold emails – practically zero response
    • Facebook Ads – very limited; poor choice of investment for this purpose
  2. People really do want to solve the problem.
    • Missionaries – obvious
    • Pastors, too.  One-third of pastors answered all of the questions but declined to be entered to win the gift card.
    • To hear missionaries tell how hard it is to speak to a pastor, you might think that the missionaries care more about improving the process than pastors do. The responses from the survey seem to indicate that pastors are about equally invested in improving and streamlining the process.
    • For one thing, once a church has started supporting a missionary, they’re eager to see that missionary on the field doing the work that they advertised in their presentation. Nobody wins when deputation stretches out to three, four, or five years.
  3. Apparent trend toward larger initial support amounts
    • Seeing this both in numbers and in comments.
    • No specific analysis until I have all 500 pastors, but spot checks haven’t revealed anyone that matches the cliché of hundreds of missionaries all supported at <$50.
  4. Expectations of accountability seem to be all over the map
    • Will need to analyze with more precision to see if there is a trend, but so far it seems that pastors expectations to hold missionaries accountable don’t necessarily correspond to the pastor’s proportion of the missionary’s total support.
    • Comments reflect this – many missionaries and pastors commented to say that the sending church and mission board should be the primary sources of accountability. Other pastors wrote that a big frustration was not having the missionary heed advice from the pastor.

About me

  1. I’m fearful
    • Afraid to ask people to take the survey
    • Afraid to ask people to use their influence
    • Seems common.
      • Name for it: Imposter syndrome.
      • Christians, afraid to share faith.
      • Missionaries, uncomfortable asking for meetings.
    • 2 Tim. 1:7 (not given us the spirit of fear) – directly follows Paul’s encouragement to “stir up the gift that is in you.”
      • Mom referenced this verse early on as I was starting Edify Hub – stir up the gift God has given me.
      • Not one of traditional ministry, but of technology, mathematics, and analysis.
    • It’s how God has gifted me. I shouldn’t be bound by fear, but continue to take action.
      • Get over that fear.
      • Be willing to engage with others and reach out and ask for people to take the survey and influence others to take the survey.
      • With enough responses, I can put my God-given analytical skills to work and accomplish something useful.

How about you? Do you find yourself doubting whether you’re really qualified for the ministry you believe God has called you to?

On the one hand, it’s tempting to see that as a form of humility. We recognize of course that none of us is really qualified in the truest sense of the word to do God’s work. But if God has given you a skill to use, don’t let yourself be hindered by fear in those areas that surround that gift. For me, the fear isn’t in crunching the numbers or creating a useful report from the raw data. My fear is in asking people to participate. Conversing with people is not my gift. I’m afraid that because they don’t know me, they will assume I can’t crunch the numbers properly. I fear that they’ll mock what I’m attempting to do. I imagine them wrinkling up their noses, scoffing at the idea that anything useful could come of the survey.

It’s a ridiculous fear, I know.  And it’s one that by God’s grace I am overcoming.

But what about you? What’s your fear? What is the activity that isn’t quite your gift, but is one you need to do in order to open the opportunity to exercise your gift? Are you letting fear hold you back like I have been?

I’ll make a deal with you.  I’ll reach out to people and recruit survey promoters between now and the next podcast episode so that I can exercise my gift. Will you overcome your fear so that you can exercise your gift?

I’m going to ask you to do something I often don’t ask for.

Leave a brief comment sharing the step you find fearful, but that is important to allow you to exercise your gift. It doesn’t have to be one that is currently stalling you, but just one that you often find particularly difficult.

If you do leave a comment between now and the end of May 2017, I’ll commit to pray for you every day left in the month of May that God will give you the spirit of power, and of love, and of a sound mind to take that fearful step.

Tech. Tip

Today’s tech. tip idea came from a friend of mine, Jason Mann, a missionary to Hungary. You can learn more about Jason and his ministry in Hungary by visiting gothyway.org.

So far, Jason and I have never met in person; only via social media, but tomorrow morning, he’s traveling through my area of the country, and I’ll actually get to meet him in person for the very first time. He’ll be visiting my church Sunday morning in between meetings, and we plan to have dinner together afterward. I’m really looking forward to that.

Before I tell you about the technical tool that Jason suggested, let me explain why it’s helpful to me. See, I use the Gmail web interface to write personal emails. I use the MailChimp editor on the web to write bulk emails. I compose show notes and Edify Hub articles in an editor on the web.

Now, I like to think that I’m pretty good at English grammar. I know when to use the different there‘s and to‘s and its‘s. If you give me a multiple choice, I can consistently pick the right answer. But sometimes after I’ve hit send or publish or post on social media, I still surprise myself to find that I’ve gotten it wrong. Even though I know the rules, I slip up. And then there are still rules I don’t know, and clunky phrases that I could clean up if I knew better.

Enter Grammarly. Now, no automatic grammar checker is ever going to be perfect, but even the free version of Grammarly is quite a bit better than any of the built-in ones I’ve seen. For free, it’s available as both a native Windows or Mac application and as a browser plugin. That means that it’s there, watching over my shoulder and helping me avoid embarrassing mistakes whether I’m drafting a personal email in Gmail, composing a bulk message for my MailChimp mailing list, or typing a message on Facebook or Twitter.

I’ve heard pastors say that when they read a missionary’s communication with spelling and grammar errors, those errors cast a shadow on the missionary’s ministry, giving the impression of carelessness.

After using Grammarly for a while, I’ve been impressed with the simplicity and elegance of how it injects itself into all of the different editors on the web. It also does a good job of explaining why it suggests what it suggests – far better than any other grammar checker that I’ve seen. Now, it doesn’t catch everything, and I don’t always agree with all of its suggestions. It is just a computer, after all. But I still think it’s the most elegant grammar checker I’ve seen yet.

And I’m still using the free version.

If you upgrade to Grammarly Premium, which is just under $140 for a year, then it does a lot more. It checks a lot more grammar rules and even a bunch of general style recommendations to help you communicate more clearly, improve your vocabulary, and even check for plagiarism. If you use Windows, it also embeds itself directly into Microsoft Office so you can share the same options and customizations wherever you write. If you’re not sure it’s worth it, you can try Grammarly Premium and cancel in 7 days for a full refund.

So far, even the free version of the Grammarly browser plugin has been helpful for me. And if you do want to check a document from Microsoft Office, you can just drag the document into the free Grammarly app for Mac or Windows, and it will do the grammar and spell check there. With the free version of the app, you’ll still need to go back into Microsoft Office to apply any fixes that Grammarly recommends.

If you want to get the free version, just go to liftuppodcast.com/grammarly to sign up. And when you register a new account and install the free browser plugin, Edify Hub will get a small commission even if you never upgrade past the free version. If you do find it helpful and you do decide to upgrade, Edify Hub will get an even bigger commission. That will certainly help cover the costs of producing and hosting the Lift Up podcast for you.

I do want to say how much I appreciate those of you who sign up for things using the links I mention on the Lift Up podcast. With Grammarly, you can actually help financially support the podcast just by installing and registering the free version on a new account, without ever spending any of your own money. If you decide to do that, I’ll be sincerely grateful. Again, just visit liftuppodcast.com/grammarly or come to the show notes page for this episode and click on the link that you find there.

So, if you want to catch more spelling and grammar mistakes on your ministry communication, sign up for a free account with Grammarly. When you do, you’ll also be giving back to Edify Hub without costing you a dime.

Closing

So today, you’ve learned about how you can improve your spelling, grammar, and writing style with Grammarly. You also heard insights that I’ve pulled out so far from Edify Hub’s 2017 Deputation Survey.

I also mentioned my friends Bryan Ries, missionary to Thailand, and Jason Mann, missionary to Hungary.

And finally, if you’re a pastor or a missionary and you haven’t yet taken Edify Hub’s 2017 Deputation Survey, please do me a favor and contribute your answers. You can start by visiting edifyhub.com/2017survey.

And if you’re not a pastor or a missionary, or if you’ve already taken the survey, could I plead with you to use your influence to encourage every pastor and missionary you know to take the survey? An invitation from you will be far, far more powerful than any channel I could possibly use to ask them.

This has been a roller coaster watching the survey responses arrive in waves with silence between. If you could use your influence to send another wave of responses to the survey, your action would honor Hebrews 12:12 and lift up someone today.

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