Sticky Next Steps

Growing ministries offer easy, obvious, strategic Next Steps ...

From Ice Cream Social to Large Group to Small Group to Discipling
From Bible Study to Workshop to Leadership
From Sunday Morning to Community Group to Serving Team

But so often, people forget what the Next Step is ... or don't know that there's even a next step for them.  How many people do you know who belong to a church but only engage on Sunday morning, unaware that there are more opportunities to grow?

How can you change that?

Make sure your communication about Next Steps is sticky.

"Sticky" is a concept that started circulating several years ago, receiving clear articulation in the book by Chip and Dan Heath: Made to Stick.  In their book, they get to the bottom of why some ideas and messages stick and others don't.  This is particularly relevant to us as we communicate Next Steps.

To craft "sticky next steps" make sure your communication has these 6 Elements:

Make it Simple

Communicate exactly what they need to know to take the Next Step and nothing more.  Communicate one Step at a time, the Next Step.  Use simple and direct language to describe the Next Step.

Make it Unexpected

Don't communicate the Next Step the same way every time.  If you want people in Small Groups or Community Groups, don't just make an announcement.  Make a sermon illustration, a video, a sermon application, a contest, a party.  People expect Next Steps to come in announcement-form.  People forget announcements.  Go for the unexpected.

Another application of this idea is pretty complex, but I'll sketch it out.  One way to create surprise or unexpectedness is to make people aware of gaps in their knowledge or experience.  Show 'em what they don't know or can't do before you tell them about the Next Step.  This curiousity or sense of need will help them remember the Next Step.

Make it Concrete

Use multiple senses to demonstrate the Next Step.  Andy Stanley didn't just tell you to go from a big group to a medium sized group to a small group.  He talked about Foyer and Living Room and Kitchen.  His team built those environments on stage.

When we started getting serious about helping InterVarsity students step from Large Group to Small Groups, we had them turn their chair into a circle and meet some folks who they would be in a Small Group with.  This was way more effective than an announcement.

Make it Credible

This is where our "Don't ask people to do something you wouldn't do yourself" rule comes in so handy.  As you invite people to take Next Steps, you have a lot more credibility if you've taken them yourself.  On top of this, if the people communicating Next Steps are known to be people of character the communication will be a lot more sticky.

Lastly, create sample space.  Ask people to come to a Small Group once.  Pilot a one-week Bible Reading program.  Invite them to a one-time discipling meeting.  Asking for a huge commitment up front actually decreases credibility.

Make it Emotion-engaging

We remember things that tug on our hearts.  When communicating Next Steps, use language that tugs.  Don't just invite people to a discipling appointment, tell people you want to invest in their lives and to help them uncover the awesome things God has for them.

Too often, ministries use dry, short-hand ways of communicating Next Steps: Sunday School, mission trip, retreat, committee ... these are dead words.  Inject emotion and the Steps will stick. 

Tell a Story

Wrap all of this up in a story and your Next Step will stick.  Testimonies, illustrations, videos, interviews ... all these demolish announcements when it comes to communicating Next Steps.

This post is a bonus post in the Series: On Marketing and Ministry. For further development of the content, check out this post: Marketing and Building Ministry.

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