In today's fast-paced culture of modern design, slick marketing, and ever changing technology preferences, the church website is often seen as the red-headed stepchild of the Internet. And usually for good reason. Let's face it: Most of them are cheesy, confusing, poorly put together, and simply can't keep up with their chic and stylish counterparts. We live in a Digital Age where even many small businesses and mom-and-pop restaurants hire professional web designers. This has sadly led to a lot of church sites being laughed off before they have a chance to make a connection or impression. Bottom line: A lot of church websites aren't taken seriously.
But, it doesn't have to be this way. Just what exactly is it that causes so many church websites to be unsuccessful? It could be ignorance about good web style and development. It could be a lack of financial resources to pay, hire, or outsource a skilled designer. Perhaps the lead pastor doesn't really see it as a necessity. Maybe the board or elders are standing in the way of approving the needed finances to enhance the current site.
Whatever the situation, here are a few dead giveaways that you might have an awful church website:
#1. It's unfriendly.
Your site has the potential to be much more than just a giant billboard on the high-speed freeway of the Internet. If a visitor is whizzing by at 120 miles per hour, will they even notice your site long enough to slow down, pull over, and check it out? For this to happen, it needs to be engaging and personable. The only way to ensure this is by making your site friendly. — Friendly in tone, friendly in language, friendly in photos, and friendly in overall design and appearance. Here's a good starting tip: Make sure your staff members actually smile in their photos.
#2. It’s confusing.
Seriously, folks. If the average seeker can’t even navigate around your site without getting lost, there’s a problem. They should be able to find the staff page, the service times and location, the beliefs page, the “new here” page, the sermon audio/video/podcast, the calendar, and the ministries page all without ever missing a beat. This means your menu bar should be easily accessible and visible both on the desktop view and mobile view of your site. The menu bar should also conform well to any template you might be utilizing.
#3. It doesn’t have a Google Maps Plug-In
Speaking of location, it never ceases to amaze me how many church websites I still see that don’t put a Google Map plug-in somewhere on their site. Google basically does half the work for you. It really couldn’t be any easier to copy the provided HTML coding and then embed/paste it into your site. Seekers will not only want to have quick access to this map for GPS features on their smartphone, but will also appreciate being able to see frequently updated exterior photos and Street Views of your building when they are prepared to make their first visit.
#4. It has obsolete and/or useless content.
Is the sermon audio three months behind? A year behind? Did you hire a new youth pastor and forget to update the staff page so parents are showing up looking for the dude who was there four years ago? Did your ladies small group stop meeting last month, but still has their own ministry page with photos and everything? Keep your site updated with current information. Otherwise, people will ask: What's the point of this website even being here in the first place?
#5. It implements cheesy typography, fonts, and design templates.
*Insert facepalm emoji here* Too many church websites have had fantastic photos, powerful messages, and great content all mutilated and marred by terrible font choices and design templates from the early nineties. Please don't do it. Just...don't.
#6. There's no mobile version.
I've mentioned this in previous posts before. The vast majority of the folks landing on your site will be viewing it from a smartphone or tablet. Your site should have a mobile view to accommodate these people. Not everyone church shops from their laptop or desktop computer. In fact, most people don't. They Google "churches near me" on their iPhone or Android and start searching. Make mobile view a reality for these people so that they can easily access and engage with your site.
#7. It has no clear objective.
What's the point of your website? Have you even paused to ask yourself this question? More importantly, what is the point of each page? Is one page designed to feature the history of your church? Perhaps another page is meant to attract people through your church's worship experience. Still, another page is meant to offer effective sermon content. Every page and subpage has a unique function. It's your job to ensure that those functions are carried out and that each goal is met.
A lot of church websites today are sort of the equivalent of large buckets of paint thrown at a blank wall. Whatever happens to come together just happens while the creator shrugs it off and says, "Well, it's the best that we can do." And nothing is ever touched or updated again. This sort of apathy is the problem in many churches regarding digital and social media, technology, and several other areas of revitalization. Don't erect a site for your church simply because you feel like it's the thing to do. Truthfully, you'd almost be better off without a site.
How Can I Help You?
Need help overhauling your church website? Stuck on how to design and develop better social media graphics or manage your social media pages? Want some help with effective church marketing and community relations? Book me for a coaching session or request me to speak at your church about these issues. Want to meet for coffee first? Visit my contact page and send me a direct message.
If you've ever been behind a laptop or computer screen during a worship service with the weight of perfectly timed slide transitions, video cues, and sermon media resting on how quickly you can think and pay attention, then you know the intense pressures that go with this job. Live digital media management is no easy task. You are literally responsible for displaying every song lyric, sermon point, or Bible verse for an entire congregation as it happens in real time. Whether you're at a church of 40 or 4,000, everyone in the room is depending on you for accurate typography spelling, proper media formatting, video and audio prompts, and — above all else — well-timed and smooth slide changes.
Let's just be real for a minute: Even if your graphics, worship backgrounds, and fonts all suck, your people should — at the very least — be able to read and follow the slides. There's a lot that goes into making digital media look presentable, much less attractive, but the bottom line is that none of that will matter if your folks can't even figure out what the crap is going on. The live digital media management operator can often be one of the most demanding, nerve-wracking, and frustrating roles in the church tech world. However, it need not be this way.
Here are 10 suggestions on how to keep your cool under the pressure while you juggle media, run slides, and attempt to avoid frustrations as gracefully as possible:
#1. Be flexible and adaptable.
Anyone with seasoned ministry experience will tell you that things won’t always go as planned. The worship leader will change his mind at the last minute about the order of the songs. The soloist who was scheduled to sing the offertory special will get sick and cancel thirty minutes before the service. One of your two media screens will go out on Sunday morning potentially leaving half the congregation straining to see the words to all of the songs and sermon notes. The pastor will come to you four minutes before the service and ask, “Is it too late to drop in a really cool YouTube video I found as a sermon illustration for one of my points?”
These are all just a few of the many situations and scenarios that you need to be prepared to handle on the fly. As a digital media operator, you should maintain a positive attitude of flexibility, knowing that you’ll have to adapt in the moment. There will be times when you can make things work and times when you can’t. Learn to know the differences. If the worship band suddenly decides to improvise and play a random song that isn’t in your morning media set, be OK with that. If you have enough time to drop it in, then do so. If not, just revert back to a generic title slide. Adapt in the moment and then step back and let God handle the rest. Trust me, He’s more in control than you are anyway.
#2. If you have a slide guide, print it well ahead of the service.
If you like to have a hard copy of the slides in your hand — rather than a digital view on a tablet — while you run the media, be sure to print this way before the service actually starts. There’s nothing more stressful and frustrating than realizing the countdown video is almost done and you don’t even have your slide guide ready yet.
#3. Make sure your team and fellow staff members are prepared.
If you have someone designated to make announcements at the top of the service — which will be accompanied by media — then make sure that individual is ready and knows his or her role. If someone is going to be giving a missions update — accompanied by photos on the screen — then coordinate and chat with that person before the service. In other words, don’t wait until the last second to see if the media you’ve created even remotely matches what the person will be announcing or if it even meets their needs. It would be rather embarrassing to find that out in the moment. Better to find out before the service begins.
#4. Arrive early to the church to rehearse slides with the band if possible.
Your church’s worship team probably practices their music early. You can always run through some or all of the worship slides in real time as they play. This will allow you to determine whether you have all the verses and choruses that you need — especially if they are performing a new song or a song that they have never done at your church.
#5. Pay attention.
It sounds rudimentary and you might think it would go without saying, but “pay attention” is one of the best pieces of advice you can give your digital media operator. A live worship service is full of potential distractions and it can be easy to get lost or to be overwhelmed by having to multitask.
The last thing you want is to wind up three slides behind the worship band or to be scrambling to find that sermon bullet point that the pastor is asking for as the entire congregation turns around to look at you. You can avoid a lot of unnecessary frustration and stress by simply keeping up with what is happening as it all unfolds. Be present in the moment. Know what’s going on. Concentrate.
#6. Check your tech before the service.
I can’t tell you how many times a random software upgrade or a Facebook Live glitch has thrown off the success of an entire service or made a sermon moment terribly awkward. Before the service begins, make sure you won’t be interrupted by any foreseeable “ghost in the machine” sort of problems. In other words, do a little basic troubleshooting. Know your stuff. Aim for quality in your work. You’ll thank yourself in the long run and so will your congregants, your online audience, and your fellow staff members. Of course, you can’t predict every problem. That’s just the nature of the beast with technology. But you can certainly strive for excellence and make sure everything is in proper working order beforehand.
#7. Develop good rapport and communication skills with your fellow AVL and media staff.
Depending on the size and layout of your church, there’s a very real likelihood that you’ll be working in rather close proximity to other tech personnel during each service. If you’re tasked with running the digital media, you may literally be standing or sitting just a couple feet from the sound and/or lighting guy. This is a good thing, of course, because it opens the door for teamwork and synergy. But it can also mean the occasional moment of friction or tension. The Enemy would love nothing more than to take advantage of this and destroy the Kingdom's work in your church. Don’t let that happen. Have patience when needed. Develop harmony. Strive for workplace compatibility. Above all else, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6, ESV) You'll be shocked at how many frustrations and little irritations you can avoid by simply exercising Christlike communication. Bonus note: Listen more than you speak.
#8. Take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Newsflash: You're not indestructible. Despite what you might think, you do need adequate sleep, proper hydration, appropriate sustenance, and healthy emotional support. Schedule time in-between services or worship events to recharge your batteries. You need to relax. You need to eat. You need breaks from electronic devices and time away from your laptop screen. Do the things that keep you healthy and energized. Next to God, no one knows your body better than you. Sometimes something as simple as a relaxing walk with a friend, spouse, or significant other can be a healthy emotional recharge before diving into your next service or event.
#9. Stay organized.
Yeah I know I probably sound like your mom telling you to clean your room. But there's a reason that our moms always knew best. A sloppy tech booth environment is the quickest way to add frustration and stress to your live worship service media management experience. If you relax your standards for cleanliness and efficiency, you'll soon be misplacing flash drives, losing slides guides, and spilling coffee on your tech, all during live worship. Be as neat and orderly as possible.
Last, but not least, is the most important thing that you can and should do before and during every live worship service: pray. Pray by yourself and pray with your team. Ask the Lord to usher your congregation into His presence that they might experience a true sense of worship free of distractions and that your team might help to facilitate that free from frustrations — technical or otherwise. Remember: "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." — James 5:16
Did I leave anything out? Would you follow these tips and suggestions? Is there something else important that we should add to the list? Leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail and let me know!
Let me start this post by telling you a few stories. I think stories are powerful and can serve as good illustrations. I also think that they have the power to change people and to change circumstances. At Northside Bible Church, where I serve as Communications Director, we're really big on testimonies and personal stories of grace, redemption, and hope. In fact, we have a monthly worship event called Testimonies On The Lawn. The name is a bit misleading because it's held indoors, but if you know the history behind the event — and the fact that it all started in a small backyard in southern Alabama — then it makes a little more sense. This event highlights stories of redemption and never fails to encourage and bless everyone in attendance.
But the stories I want to share with you right now are from my Church Communications Facebook Group, a group that was started in 2015 by a girl named Katie Allred. Katie is a graduate of The University of Mobile and went off to work as the Web Content Manager for Brentwood Baptist Church in Tennessee for a while. She later returned here to Mobile in 2018 and is now an assistant professor at UM, teaching digital media and software development to the students there. Our group is comprised of over 29,000 church tech directors, media directors, graphic designers, pastors, volunteers, audio engineers, lighting and video experts, all spread out across the continental United States. And we're all in this one group where we can bounce ideas and questions off of one another, ask for feedback on designs, and other related topics.
Before I gave my speech at our recent Shepherd's Summit pastoral conference here in Mobile, I polled my group and asked them to share a personal story about a time when the digital or social media ministry of their church had a positive impact or led to a victory. I was overwhelmed by the amount of feedback that I received. Here are the four that I chose to share with the pastors at the conference:
From Rie Collett: "I had posted a prayer request asking that our congregants pray for The Marriage Course that we were launching that evening and a person asked in the comments whether it was too late to join. I said no problem, but was curious because I thought he was divorced already. Turns out he and his wife had been separated for 4.5 years, heartbreaking because they had three young kids. But they did the course together and decided to reconcile and get re-married!"
From Brandon Rodgers: "Guy was invited to church, but was afraid to come and watched 6-8 weeks online before giving his life to Christ. Came the very next week and was baptized soon after."
From Marcy Carico: "A few years ago I was posting our church's Sunday set list every Friday to our church page. I didn't see too much reach, or engagement, but our people liked it and I didn't have to put too much thought into content on my day off... I got a DM [direct message] from a guy at a small church plant in another state. They were so small and so new that they didn't have the people/budget for a real worship ministry. He said he was using our set list to load YouTube lyric videos for his congregation every week. I realized we were having an impact on a whole other body of believers without even knowing it."
From Justin Nava: "A student who was having suicidal thoughts saw our Instagram post of a Bible verse [Ecclesiastes 3:1-2] and called the student pastor for counseling that night."
Whether you're a Church Comms Director, a pastor, an elder, or just a volunteer, I want to challenge you to see how church communications and everything it entails — print, digital, social media, website, audio/video/lighting — is not so much a function of your church, it is a ministry of your church. It has eternal, lasting impacts on people for the Kingdom of God. It's as much of a ministry wing or arm as your youth group, men's group, ladies ministry, small groups, etc.
I think oftentimes — at least what I find — is that many pastors (though not all) are hesitant to think of digital and social media and technology in this way. It could be for any number of reasons, but usually it's for reasons like this:
Captain James T. Kirk once famously said, "You know, the greatest danger facing us is ourselves, an irrational fear of the unknown. But there's no such thing as the unknown — only things temporarily hidden; temporarily not understood."
With all of that in mind, let me give you some quick statistics. Right now there are about 2.8 billion active monthly users on Facebook and over one billion monthly active users on Instagram. I'm not even going to bother mentioning Twitter because I might be the only nerd still using Twitter. I don't know. Is anyone still on Twitter? Comment below if you are. Anyway, there's also over 500 million monthly active users on Snapchat and over 100 million monthly active users on TikTok. So obviously the amount of time that people are spending online and on social media platforms has increased significantly within the last decade or two. This was all true pre-COVID, but the quarantine just amplified those numbers all the more because everyone was stuck indoors and glued to their gadgets, right? We all remember getting bored with the games on our cell phones. I mean, how many times can you really fling those birds into little green pigs? We were all texting a lot, e-mailing, working from home on our computers and our laptops.
And with more people — real people — being online, The Church has to leverage this space to build relationships and prompt the beginnings of discipleship, spiritual growth, church attendance, church involvement, etc. The very thing that Jesus told the Church — His core remaining Apostles — to do when He was leaving the Earth — was to go and make disciples. The Great Commission, right?
And I believe with all my heart — in fact it's one of the core reasons that I do what I do — that if people are online...on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, browsing websites...then the Local Church doesn't just have an opportunity, it has a responsibility to be there too, reaching them, talking to them, engaging them, making them into Christ-followers, making them Christ-pursuant and local church pursuant.
THIS IS DIGITAL MINISTRY.
It's really nothing complex. It's simply "ministry that happens digitally." It occurs when The Local Church takes advantage of technology and leverages it in order to spread the Gospel, thereby helping people grow in their faith; their knowledge of the Word; get involved in a local church and later become disciple-makers themselves. It's all part of the cyclical process.
I would venture to say that most church comm directors or pastors who are reading this are at least working at churches that are recording the Sunday morning sermons and sharing them in some way. I mean, even if you're just recording to CDs or tapes and passing them out to people like we did back in the Stone Age, that's STILL a form of content distribution. (And if you ARE still using tapes or CDs, please see me or see us at 6.14 Ministries and we can help get you out of the Stone Age.) So if you're recording or live-streaming your messages to your Facebook Page or YouTube channel or your website or posting the audio to your podcast platform, this is all the beginnings of digital ministry. You're impacting people for the Kingdom digitally through your teachings and through the Word of God which has the power fo change lives, right?
But since all of this stuff is two-dimensional, we need to do some important things and implement some strategies in order to shape digital ministry. Here are a few questions you need to be asking yourself as you go about working through this process:
Questions To Ask In Your Strategizing
What Do I Want Them To Know?
This is where you're going to decide on exactly what it is that you're posting or sharing. Are you posting one of your sermons? Are you posting a graphic with a Charles Spurgeon quote? Are you posting a Bible verse quote graphic related to your recent sermon or small group study topic? Whatever it is, you're posting it for a reason and for a specific purpose.
What Action Do I Want Them [My Audience] To Take?
If you're posting a meaningful quote, you're probably hoping that it will elicit some feedback in the comment threads, not to mention some likes on Facebook or Instagram and things of that nature. But ultimately, the real action that you want them to take is to SHARE these things (sermons, quotes, Bible verses, etc.) and not just share them digitally, but share them in their daily life — share them IN THE REAL WORLD outside of social media.
You want your church (and other social media followers) talking about the Sunday sermon or the devotional or the Bible verse at their workplace, in their classroom, among their friends, etc. Then ministry is happening all over in places you didn't even know or think that it would happen all because of your faithful efforts in the digital sphere. And you never know where is can lead or how it can impact someone for eternity. A student's life or soul could literally be saved because of an Instagram or Facebook post. The more digitally and readily accessible that content is, the easier it will be for your church to share the content in real life with their friends, family, coworkers, etc.
What Are The Next Steps?
This is what it all comes down to — using your digital platforms to not only bring people into church and regular attendance, but to bring them into regular discipleship and small group opportunities for spiritual growth. Next Steps is Ok, I found your church online and I really like it and want to attend now. What else can I do or what can I get involved in?
So just to wrap this out, I encourage all of you — communicator, techie, pastor, elder, teacher, volunteer — to have an understanding that the Communications Ministry of your church is precisely that: It's a ministry. It can be and so often is used by God to move the hearts and minds of people into pursuing a relationship with Him; and also provides a platform for your church to engage with and connect with people in a realm where the Enemy would love to devour them.
But we have the hope of the Gospel. And that's why we can be and must be a light there, pointing people toward Jesus, guiding them into church attendance and discipleship.
One question I hear all the time from other Church Communications Ministers — as well as pastors who are juggling their church's media — is "How can I keep people engaged online?" This question was huge during the height of the pandemic when many churches were scrambling to either enhance or, in most cases, establish their digital presence. But now the vast majority of churches have regathered across the country and some churches still have a certain demographic of folks who simply won't return to the physical building at all. For whatever reasons, these individuals are content to merely watch the worship service online via Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, or the church website. Sure it helps to keep things as "normal" as possible, but if your church is still mostly empty, then you need to accept that is NOT normal and be willing to admit that God is still at work in the midst of the craziness, then embrace the reality that digital engagement is part of the new normal in this post-COVID environment.
Things were heading this way before the pandemic — and many churches were already active in the livestream world — but COVID exacerbated the situation all the more for every church no matter their size, demographic, or location. Even many small town churches, country churches, and rural churches began entering the digital world for the first time. And regardless of whether you have a healthy attendance or not, live-streaming your service always allows people who miss the service the chance to catch up later that day or week at their own convenience.
So let's look at a few simple ways that you can enhance your livestream engagement. Here they are, in no particular order:
#1. Ask meaningful questions in the chat feature.
Pro Tip: Don't go crazy with questions in the livestream thread. Ask ONE question and then sit back and wait for a reply to that question. Do not ask a million questions that elicit no engagement. Then there's no point. Plus, people tend to get pretty annoyed with that and you'll end up driving them away. If you're just mindlessly rambling as the church account, it looks really goofy, silly, and unprofessional.
#2. Use lower thirds to point them to external links, places, resources, etc. (prayer request forms, podcast and audio platforms, calendar of events, etc.)
In the video world, a lower third is a graphic overlay that is placed in the "title-safe" lower area of the screen, but not necessarily in the entire lower third of the screen as you might deduce from the name. In its most basic form, it's really just text and/or graphics on top of the video. For your church's livestream video, use lower third graphic to promo your website, your prayer request forms, your calendar, your podcast, and other valuable resources that the viewer may want to access.
#3. Ask questions that specifically relate to the Scripture/passage/content/theme of the message that is being preached during the livestream.
This still ties into number one a little bit, but involves more interactivity on the part of the livestream manager. While the pastor is speaking, fire off a question or two about the content of his message to spark healthy spiritual dialogue in the chat thread. This may also mean you'll have to monitor the comments that people leave, but you have to do that anyway as a Page administrator. It's great to know that people are watching your livestream, but it's even better to know that they're actually paying attention to the sermon and getting something out of it.
#4. Insert a poll into the live chat or onto the Page.
Facebook has a poll feature and it's a great way for people to "vote" on something and feel like they're a part of the online experience of the church. Whether it's voting on their favorite message from the pastor's current series or something fun like the best summertime activity, it will almost always boost engagement. Give it a shot and see what happens. You might be pleasantly surprised.
#5. Keep your service livestream available on each platform permanently.
People want to be able to watch the service on THEIR time. If they couldn't make it to the service or if they've been out for a while, they need to be able to watch and engage with the livestream conveniently. So don't go back and delete the livestream video later that week just because the service is over. Just let the archive build up and folks can rewatch them at their own leisure.
The ultimate goal with your livestream engagement is not to entertain people — although that may be an occasional byproduct — but to minister to people. When you share a Bible verse with a person through the live chat, or respond directly to their prayer request with a realtime prayer response, it means something to that individual. Yes, it's a two-dimensional form of communication, but seeds of ministry, encouragement, help, and hope are being planted. You have no idea how one verse, quote, or prayer request interaction might impact a person or change their life and alter their destiny for eternity. And ultimately, that's what Church Communications is all about.
How Can I Help You?
Need help overhauling your church website? Stuck on how to design or develop better social media graphics? Need help establishing your social media presence? Managing your livestream? Want some effective strategies on church marketing? Community relations? Book me for a coaching session or request me to come speak at your church about these issues.
As we head into the summer and many churches rekindle some sense of post-pandemic normalcy, I think now is a perfect time to pause and reflect on effective communication strategies. What worked? What didn't? How can we do better moving forward? What worked before COVID that may no longer be adequate or useful? Are there some methodologies we can ditch? Are there some new ones we should adopt?
The more I speak with small church communicators and pastors who double as communicators, the more I come to realize just how overwhelmed everyone remains. There may be a renewed passion for church life in some areas — which is fantastic — but the reality is that many weary pastors and communicators are just now beginning to find their footing and look to the future with hope.
Long before words like "COVID" or "pandemic" were in our daily conversations, church comms was often intimidating and stressful enough even for the most talented and seasoned of communicators. There are weekly projects, deadlines to meet, social media channels to manage, new tools to learn, design trends to follow, videos to shoot and edit, podcasts to host, bulletins and flyers to proofread, and a million other things we could name. But — like any other job or ministry position — the key is to not allow yourself to become overwhelmed.
I believe healthy churches can and should focus on streamlining their communication procedures in ways that keep everything smooth, uncomplicated, simple, and as peaceful and stressless as possible. This ensures that everyone on the team is working together in harmony so that they can focus on getting the Gospel message to the audience with proficiency and ease. It also ensures that the audience can access that Message, which is the ultimate goal.
Here are some communication tools, tips, strategies, and techniques for healthy churches to be using as we continue to navigate through the remainder of 2021:
#1. Multiple Channels and Outlets for Information Access
During COVID, many small churches, understaffed churches, and churches in rural areas suffered due to a lack of more than one platform. Others completely backed off and only focused on one platform (usually Facebook.) Their people didn't know where to turn to find out what was happening, when they would be regathering, or if there were digital ways to watch their pastor preach. Many of these folks would have simply had to resort to calling their pastor's personal cell phone, assuming they even had the number. Much of this hassle, frustration, and confusion could have been avoided altogether had there been an updated website and/or social media channel.
Healthy churches keep their information and presence in more than one place whenever possible by utilizing both digital and print methods. A website is great, but maintaining a regularly updated Facebook Page is even better. You'll also have folks in the church and/or surrounding community who will want to know if you're on other popular social media platforms like Instagram or Twitter. Are you active on those platforms? Why or why not? Maybe your church wouldn't have a large enough following on Twitter yet to justify a presence there, which is perfectly fine. Maybe you have a large demographic that still prefers traditional printed bulletins to take home. These are things you will need to take into consideration, particularly if you're a small church pastor managing all of this yourself without the assistance of a Communications Director and/or team. Every church is unique and has specific communication needs. Either way, the general rule of thumb: The more channels, the better.
#2. Relevant Messaging
This has become all the more critical in the post-pandemic church movement. People want to know what they need to know. They don't have time for things that don't apply to them. This was true pre-COVID, but the pandemic exacerbated it all the more. Be sure that your announcements, posts, and messages reach the specific individual groups for which they are meant. In other words, your senior saints probably don't need to be included in a group text about an upcoming young couples retreat. Talk about awkward. When it comes to social media posts, you can always tag specific people in the comment thread who you believe need to see the announcement the most. These sort of things go a long way in helping everyone cut through the noise and filter out what is unnecessary or irrelevant to them.
#3. Enhanced Visitor Follow-Up Protocols
If you weren't doing visitor follow-ups before COVID, now is the time to start. (I discuss follow-ups briefly in this post here.) With so many folks still on the fence about how often to attend, whether they'll return to their home church or find a new one, and how long they'll even stay in one place, every single visitor to your fellowship matters. If you truly desire for them to grow spiritually, undergo discipleship, and become faithful attenders and subsequent participators, then you have to make some sort of effort to pursue them with personal phone calls, e-mails, texts, and even visits to their home or office. You might even meet with them for coffee or a meal. It's all part of the relationship-building process, which is also more critical than ever in the post-pandemic church movement.
Perform a quick assessment of your church's follow-up process. Do you even have one? Why or why not? Who is in charge of it? Is he or she friendly? Does the senior pastor also reach out? Do you use more than one communication method? Phone and e-mail? Text and coffee with the pastor? Whatever you do though, don't let a visitor slip through the cracks.
The challenges wrought by COVID upon the Local Church At Large have given us a unique opportunity to reassess our communication methodologies. Don't try to revive old strategies that didn't work in the past. Don't make up new ones just for the sake of newness. Focus on establishing relationships with people in the church and the surrounding community and be sure to lather that relationship in trust, kindness, and a whole lotta Jesus. And, in the process, don't be afraid to try something new or make adjustments to the way you did something before if the situation calls for it. It just might be time for a change.
What did I miss? What is has your church changed in regards to communication techniques that has been successful in the post-COVID emergence? Do you have any advice, tips, or suggestions from your own experiences? Leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail!