Watch Overview

The Central Hub: How To Boost Church Signups By 53% (Step-By-Step Case Study)

Today you’re going to see how a church used The Central Hub strategy to increase ministry signups by 53%.

(not just for one week – but permanently)

The best part?

They didn’t need to spend a ton of time or money to do this.

In fact, most of their growth came from actually doing less.

And in this case study, I’ll walk you through the step-by-step process that they used.

How Forefront Church boosted signups by 53%

Last year, Forefront Church was struggling with engagement.

As Forefront’s lead pastor, Jason Bedell, put it:

When I first came on staff, there was signup sheets for everything at the connections table, a connection card, a first timer card, a sign up for 'welcome lunch' card. People were getting lost in all of it. We still saw people making decisions for Christ and getting baptized, but not much after that.

On paper, Forefront was doing everything right:

  • Signup sheets
  • Connection cards for new visitors
  • Connection cards for the existing congregation
  • Table in the lobby

But people still weren’t taking next steps. Participation amongst churchgoers was stagnant.

Keep reading to see what happened next.

Now, let’s see the results…

Since following my advice and implementing The Central Hub strategy, Forefront’s next steps have increased dramatically:

A year after introducing the central hub strategy at our church, we’re up in digital connections from 15% on Sundays to 31%. Small group engagement went from 42% to 74%. But the biggest was our Fall outreach. We routed everything through the central hub. We went from 400 people to 900 people. Our pre-tickets sold increased by 53%!

Not only have next steps increased, but event attendance is up also:

Our Easter attendance went up from 802 people in 2017 to 998 people in 2018. We saw similar upticks on Christmas, our Fall kick-off series, etc. The central hub makes it easier for people to know what’s happening and invite their friends. Signups to serve the homeless in our city had 87 people commit to taking a day off from their job to serve.

It gets better…

Because more people are even listening/watching sermons!

Even our podcast numbers went up using the central hub. More people are viewing our messages and sermon videos because they're more accessible now.

You might be wondering:

“How did they do it?”

Three words: The Central Hub.

Forefront’s Secret Weapon: The Central Hub

The Central Hub strategy is wildly simple and easy to implement – and it is rooted in one simple truth:

Next steps are more important than church attendance

Here’s how Forefront explains it:

We’re a 20-year-old church that consistently reaches the unchurched. From 1998 to present, we’ve had 1,987 baptisms, which is one of our strongest measures to see the impact of guiding people to Jesus. That’s because we strive to measure next steps, not seats filled.

Here’s the bottom line:

Every church’s reason for existence can be condensed into three simple phrases:

  • #1. Love God
  • #2. Love people
  • #3. Make disciples

Now…

Pay special attention to each of those three objectives: love God, love people, and make disciples.

Do you see how each of these objectives begins with a verb?

Each objective demands action.

This is why next steps are more important than church attendance.

Is church attendance a next step? Absolutely! But it’s just one type of next step a person in your church or outside your church can take.

Now, you might be wondering…

What actually is a “next step?”

Simply stated, a “next step” is any action a person takes towards loving God, loving people, and making disciples.

Because that’s what really matters, right?

In my experience, there are at least 17 different next steps almost every church should be tracking – click here to learn more about measuring next steps.

Still not convinced?

Consider what Carey Nieuwhof says about this:

"At our church, I find our most engaged people—people who serve, give, invite and who are in a community group—are our most frequent attenders." - Carey Nieuwhof, Connexus Church

Bottom line:

Focus on next steps – and attendance will follow.

What is The Central Hub strategy?

Now it’s time to show you exactly what The Central Hub strategy is…and how to implement it at your church.

Here’s how most churches promote next steps:

Most churches confuse their congregations with chaotic messaging: Check the bulletin! Call the church! Talk to the pastor! Sadly, messy communication like this is complicated and results in fewer next steps.
Most churches confuse their congregations with chaotic messaging.

Just think about all the different connection points churches will use on a weekly basis:

  • Check the bulletin!
  • Call the church!
  • Talk to the pastor!
  • Visit the table in the lobby!
  • Download the app!
  • Check out the website!
  • Email the ministry leader!

Sadly, messy communication like this is complicated and results in fewer next steps.

The solution?

The Central Hub strategy consolidates every connection point into a single destination – for every next step…

…always.

The all-in-one central hub for your church, so you (and your team) can eliminate congregation confusion once and for all…and see more next steps in your church every single week!

The Central Hub strategy eliminates congregation confusion once and for all by merging every next step into a single destination.

The results?

More next steps in your church every single week!

Don’t believe me? 

It’s not just Forefront Church seeing huge results with The Central Hub strategy. Thousands of churches have begun adopting this model:

"Before our central hub, people at my church had so much trouble knowing where to go to find information. Email addresses were constantly forgotten. Bulletins were thrown away. Our connection desk was cluttered. But with the central hub, our members know exactly where to look." - Chris Taylor

And don’t be discouraged into thinking this is only for big churches or young, trendy churches – because that’s simply not the case:

"We're a church of all ages. Our first event using the central hub strategy was our summer baptism & picnic. We had an overwhelming response! More registrations than we have ever received vs. the old "see Patti at the table after the service" method. We now use our central hub exclusively for all registrations.” - Patti Dowling

The 3 rules of The Central Hub strategy

Here are the three rules you need to follow to properly implement The Central Hub strategy at your church:

Rule #1: The Central Hub must be accessible 24/7

Consider this:

Your week has 168 hours. If Sunday service is just 1 hour – how is your church reaching people in the other 167?

This is one of the biggest downsides of using bulletins or your church’s lobby to facilitate next steps.

Sure, it works on Sunday, but about the other 6 days of the week? What about the other 167 hours in a week?

This is why The Central Hub at your church needs to be available at all times – 24/7.

The central hub gave us the ability to promote things on Facebook with an immediate action step...so all of a sudden people were signing up for things all week long. We used to only have people indicate interest in something on Sundays. Now, we have more people sign up on weekdays for things.

Rule #2: The Central Hub must be accessible from every device

The Central Hub needs to be accessible from any device – so that means phones, laptops, tablets, and desktops.

This is why we never recommend using a downloadable mobile app for your church’s central hub.

Why?

Because an app is only accessible after downloading it – and you can’t access it at all from laptops or desktop computers!

So you’re immediately losing half of your access points – which is not good at all.

Bottom line: Your Central Hub should always be a website. A website is accessible 24/7 and is also reachable from every device.

Rule #3: The Central Hub must be able to capture, store, and distribute information

Remember, the purpose of The Central Hub strategy is next steps – people in your church taking action:

  • Signing up for baptism
  • Joining a small group
  • Giving of tithes and offerings
  • Registering for events and ministries
  • Signing up to volunteer
  • Submitting a prayer request
  • Etc.

As it turns out, every next step requires a certain level of submitted information.

Knowing this, The Central Hub needs to be able to capture that information, store it in a database, and then distribute that info where it needs to go.

For example:

Imagine a person signs up to join a small group. That information should be stored in The Central Hub, and the leader of that small group should be automatically notified that a new person is wanting to join.

The central hub led to more types of signups. We actually have some people signing up for things on the hub before we've even announced it...

Now, a traditional church website likely won’t allow you to do all of the things that The Central Hub requires.

Because most church websites are essentially digital versions of a Yellow Pages listing. Sure, they have information about the church, but when it comes to next steps, the options are limited.

Here’s the good news:

We’ve taken the initiative to build from scratch the world’s first and only central hub platform for churches. We call it Nucleus.

Nucleus can be the software that powers your church’s central hub because it was built for that precise purpose and comes with all of the features that The Central Hub strategy requires.

Most importantly, the Nucleus drag & drop editor is incredibly simple and straightforward to use. In fact, it was specifically designed to be used by the everyday church staff member or volunteer – so no coding skills are needed.

30 DAY FREE TRIAL: Ready to give Nucleus a try? We offer a 30 day free trial with no credit card required. Click here to get started with Nucleus for free!

The science behind The Central Hub strategy

I’ve seen The Central Hub strategy work in countless churches.

But why is it so effective?

Simply put:

Less options equal more action.

Here’s the proof:

In 2000, psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper published a remarkable study. On one day, shoppers at an upscale food market saw a display table with 24 varieties of gourmet jam. Those who sampled the spreads received a coupon for $1 off any jam. 

On another day, shoppers saw a similar table, except that only 6 varieties of the jam were on display. Those who sampled the spreads also received a coupon.

Here's where things get interesting:

The large display attracted more interest than the small one. But when the time came to purchase, people who saw the small display were 10X more likely to buy than people who saw the larger display.1

Less options equal more action.

Here’s another example:

Whirlpool (the appliance manufacturer) conducted a test by sending two different email campaigns.

In the first email, multiple links and calls-to-action were offered. In the second email, just a single call-to-action was included.

(one option vs. multiple options)

The results? The email campaign with just one call-to-action link saw 42% more clicks than the campaign with multiple links.2

Again, less options equal more action.

But wait, there’s more:

Neil Patel, a highly-regarded marketing expert, saw a 26% boost in conversion rates on his contact form simply by eliminating a single form field and reducing his overall number of fields from 4 to 3.3

Similarly, ImageScape saw a 120% increase on their form submissions after condensing their form from 11 fields to 4.

Moreover, ImageScape also saw a 160% increase in form submissions after reducing the number of fields all the way down to 3.4

Bottom line:

The Central Hub strategy is low-hanging fruit.

Simply by consolidating every connection point at your church into a single destination – you can see an increase in next steps and engagement.

Don’t overcomplicate things for your church. Make it simple. Make it easy.

Less is more.

Less options equal more action

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions about The Central Hub strategy?

I’ve helped thousands of churches implement this strategy – and below, you’ll find answers to the most common questions I hear.

Question: Does The Central Hub website replace our existing website? Or is it a different website altogether?

Answer: Whichever you prefer! For example, Forefront Church has their main website here and their Nucleus central hub here.

Similarly, Church on the Move has their main website here and their central hub here.

On the other hand, Life Abundant uses Nucleus as both their central hub AND their main website.

So it’s totally your call.

My recommendation? If you’re a smaller church, use The Central Hub strategy as your main website AND central hub. And if you’re a larger church, consider using The Central Hub strategy as your “insiders-only” site.

Question: Does The Central Hub strategy mean we should eliminate our physical connect card and/or printed bulletin?

Answer: Not necessarily. Of course, you can make the switch to a completely digital strategy if you choose. But, if you’re feeling internal pushback, print media can still play a role in The Central Hub strategy.

Here’s how:

  • The Connect Card: Using the single-click template within Nucleus, you can create a digital connect card with a full visitor follow-up sequence in minutes. Nevertheless, offering a physical connect card can also be helpful. Need help? We have a downloadable visitor card template that is meant to be used alongside The Central Hub strategy at your church – click here to download our connect card template for free

  • The Bulletin: We asked more than 100 churches how much it cost them to print bulletins and the average price (for a church of 100 people) was $65/month. The Central Hub strategy allows you to reclaim all of that money because The Central Hub can serve as your digital bulletin! On the other hand, if your church is still clamoring for a physical bulletin, we have a downloadable template (coming soon) for that as well. This bulletin template is meant to be printed only monthly (or even quarterly) to cut costs –  and it works in partnership with The Central Hub strategy as well.

Question: How do I promote The Central Hub within my church? How do I get everyone on board with this new strategy?

Answer: The best thing you can do is be persistent and consistent.

Here’s what Jason from Forefront Church said about this:

But that’s just part of the story…

Another great promotion strategy for The Central Hub is to configure an inexpensive lobby kiosk:

  • The Super Church Lobby Kiosk: Using tablets and inexpensive stands available on Amazon, you can construct a full lobby kiosk to promote The Central Hub at your church. Of course, every person in your church with a mobile device is walking around with The Central Hub in their pocket. But for those more resistant to change, the lobby kiosk will work wonders – click here to learn how to build your own lobby kiosk

  • On-Screen Graphics: The final piece of The Central Hub promotion puzzle is to use your screens to point people to The Central Hub website. Every Nucleus user gains access to the promotional Photoshop graphics displayed below for free.

Question: What are some other cool ways that churches are using The Central Hub?

Answer: To see how more than 1,000+ churches are using Nucleus and The Central Hub strategy every single week, make sure to check out The Nucleus Playbook.

Here are a few of my favorite examples:

Question: Will this strategy work for smaller and/or older churches?

Answer: The Central Hub strategy works in churches of all sizes and ages.

Consider this:

According to Google, those ages 50+ spend an average of 19 hours online every week.5

Bottom line? Don’t fall for the misconception that older people don’t already use and love digital media. It’s simply untrue.

And don’t just take it from me! Hear it from churches that have already done it:

Central Hub Testimony #1

Central Hub Testimony #2

Central Hub Testimony #3

Central Hub Testimony #4

Question: Where can I find real examples of churches that are using Nucleus and The Central Hub strategy?

Answer: Below you’ll find a list of our favorite Nucleus central hub websites to inspire you and show you what’s working for real churches using this strategy every single week.

Now it’s your turn…

The Central Hub strategy is a proven method for increasing next steps and engagement at your church.

It doesn’t require a ton of time. And it’s wildly affordable.

(in fact, in most cases, it actually saves churches money)

The best part?

We’ve taken the initiative to build from scratch the world’s first and only central hub platform for churches. We call it Nucleus.

Here’s the good news:

Nucleus is 100% free to join. And you don’t even need a credit card to get started.

30 DAY FREE TRIAL: Ready to give Nucleus a try? We offer a 30 day free trial with no credit card required. Click here to get started with Nucleus for free!