Rebuilding Programs in Congregations from Scratch!

congregations Aug 17, 2023

Do you need to relaunch, rebuild or start a new program this fall?    

In this live strategy session, I share tips and strategies for rebuilding programs especially when you are starting over from scratch.

How do you gather people and get them excited when you have NOTHING??!!   

How do you avoid having people see they are the only ______ (young adult, young family, etc...) and run for the door? 

How do you communicate honestly about having nothing while gathering people to form a new amazing ministry, program, or community? 

I've worked across areas of congregational life and have started many programs over the years including programs for children, youth, young adults, and adult small group programs.

This session shares successful approaches plus some of the latest from my hands-on work with congregations.

Listen via my podcast.

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Budget Deficits? Communication Tips for Congregations

congregations May 04, 2023

I know things are challenging but I want you to pause and ask yourself an important questions.  Are you vision-casting or manifesting a congregational death spiral? If you have a budget problen, gloom and doom talk is going to make it worse!  Here's a live stream on this topic followed by a shorter 5 minute version.


Full 28 minute live stream:


Listen via my podcast.

I’ve been reviewing congregational fundraising communications. Many communicators are so caught up in their challenges, the congregation’s vision has been lost. In this session, how gloom and doom communication can undermine your fundraising capacity especially with newcomers and how you might approach it instead.

The last few years have left most congregations with fewer members than before the pandemic. This is driving widespread budget deficits.

As leaders and communicators you get to choose how you frame the challenges you are facing. You can...

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How "Meet the Minister" videos support membership development

congregations May 03, 2023

Learn how "meet the minister" videos on congregational websites support the visitor research process and membership development.

Have you ever heard someone say they chose to visit the congregation after meeting the minister somewhere? This happens all the time. After getting to know the minister at a wedding, funeral, protest, or elsewhere in the community people feel comfortable visiting.

Today, we can help people get to know the minister on-demand when they land on your website, through social media, and if you choose, advertising. It is part of building a digital path into the life and heart of your congregation.

This session introduces strategies from my Video Message Academy for Congregations program. 

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No visitors? A BIG mistake many small congregations make

congregations Dec 02, 2022

Does your congregation have very few or no visitors?  Talking with leadership teams in small congregations, I'm finding some are waiting for visitors to come BEFORE they establish or re-start their process for welcoming and connecting with visitors and COMMUNICATING what that visitor experience will be like. 

In this episode, I explain why we can't wait for the visitors to show up before we map out how we are going to welcome, greet, and connect with them AND to communicate "the plan" to potential visitors.

For many, to feel comfortable visiting, they need to know what to expect. 

What's it going to be like?  Where do I go?  How do I connect with people when I visit so I don't have to suffer through an awkward and painful experience?  Is it going to be okay?  Can I do this or should I just stay on the couch watching Netflix?  I have a lot of shows waiting for me... What's the plan?  

Watch Episode 23 // ...

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Congregations versus the Algorithm!

congregations podcast Oct 27, 2022


Social media platforms are changing how they determine what people see online!

Driven by TikTok's success, they are shifting from a "social graph" to an "interest graph."

What's that mean?

Instead of showing people content based on what they SELECTED they want to see -- like, follow, subscribe -- they are showing them MORE of what they are actively watching and engaging with!

These companies know what your members, friends, and potential newcomers are watching on their apps and websites. They have the data.

To get people to spend more time on their platforms and see more ads, social media algorithms are being re-designed to show people more of what is capturing and holding their attention.

If we aren't careful, this has the potential to SQUEEZE CONGREGATIONS OUT!

Where does that leave your congregation? 

In this episode, I explain the shift, what it means for you, and three communication priorities. 

Watch, listen, and read some key takeaway points below.


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Time for an Announcement Makeover!

congregations podcast Oct 14, 2022

In this episode, how to write announcements that get results!  Download my free Announcement Makeover worksheet discussed in this episode:

The average congregation is an announcement making machine!  However, many are not getting results.  There's a reason for this.  Today, people are bombarded by information online. THEIR need to rapidly identify which content is relevant to THEM changes how WE need to write announcements.  I’ll tell you how!

 Watch Episode 21 //  Subscribe on YouTube

Listen to Episode 21 // Listening Options


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Three Ways to Start Growing Your Congregation

congregations Oct 06, 2022

Congregations across religious traditions are challenged, stressed, and worried about their future.

In this episode of The Peter Bowden Show I share the KEY to growing congregations today (in my experience) and three easy ways to start growing your congregation.

  • One is focused on connecting newcomers.
  • Second prioritizes congregation-wide community building during periodic services -- I'm talking during PRIME TIME, not an additional program people have to register for.
  • Last, making important changes to your small group program.

Sign up here to receive new episodes of the show and other content for congregational leaders delivered to your inbox.  This will allow you to forward specific episodes to other leaders based on the content.      

Watch Episode 20 //  Subscribe on YouTube


Listen to Episode 20 // Listening Options


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Small Group Life Boats for Today's World

As we approach the Fall, here are some tips for your congregation. We are in what I consider STORM conditions. I think most of you will benefit from a "Get everyone in lifeboats ASAP!!!" approach -- this means small groups, prioritizing and promoting group life, and helping newcomers bypass all barriers between them and face-to-face community experiences (online and onsite).

Jump to video YouTube video chapters using time code links below or in YouTube video description.

(0:00) Welcome
0:40) Training Preview
1:00) Digital is here to stay
2:30) Hour long online worship not a viable first step
5:00) Prioritize lifeboats = small groups!
6:26) Expect group-LESS people to drift away
7:20) Designing a viable congregation
8:30) Different types of groups
10:20) Connecting worship and group life
12:25) If you have declining membership
13:18) Use video to communicate and connect
14:20) Engaging with video now essential skill
15:00) Digital is a primary context of...

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Making Innovation a Community Practice

community congregations Apr 05, 2022
With the rate of change in our world accelerating, we need a new approach to changing our approach!   I believe we need to "institutionalize innovation" and make experimentation, exploration, and play a community practice.
Many leaders have a process whereby they SET their approach, model, process, methods, etc... and use it until it stops working in a major way. 
Then, after frustration and associated debate, there is a focused process launched to assess the problem and "fix" it.  That might include bringing in an expensive outside expert and perhaps a major redesign of communications or staffing.  Then, once the new way is established and everything seems to be in working order, that way gets locked down.  
This no longer works.   Things are changing too quickly. 
Instead, we need to develop a mindset and process that is more like surfing on the edge of constant change. 
Given the rate of...
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5 Shifts Tipping Congregations Toward Decline

congregations Mar 23, 2022

The following is the replay from my March 24, 2022, live strategy session discussing the following question:

 "Changes in US society and culture seem to have made organized religion less relevant to our population. How can churches change how they "do church" to make them more relevant?"

What should congregations do in response to the decline of organized religion?  My short answer: Change HOW you organize!

Today's culture demands new approaches to how you lead, design, and facilitate congregational life.

Here are the 5 shifts I discuss in this video:

Shift 1: Where people spend their time and attention.

Shift 2: How people learn, research, and make decisions.

Shift 3: What online visitors need from congregations.

Shift 4: What people want from their leaders.

Shift 5: How people want their communities to be led.

The good news is that these cultural shifts are all things that congregations can adapt to.  If you have the desire, smartphones, and internet access, you...

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