4 Ways to Use Push Notifications

4 Ways to Use Push Notifications

There’s a lot of debate happening around church apps right now. Critics say that a well-designed, mobile-friendly website eliminates the need for a separate app. And there are certainly valid reasons why churches shouldn’t launch an app, like additional the cost and maintenance.

However, one reason I love having an app for our church is the ability to send push notifications. These quick little messages allow us to communicate and stay in front of our church throughout the week.

Here are four ways to use push notifications in your app.

1. Inclement Weather Closings
This is especially important in my state of North Carolina where Southerners (like myself) tend to launch into a mild panic at the first flake. With a push notification, we can quickly let our church know if services and ministries will be held or cancelled.

2. Sunday sermons
Recently, we started sending out a notification when our Sunday sermons are ready to view. This is typically on Monday or Tuesday. With fewer people attending church every Sunday, it’s a helpful reminder and way for people to stay engaged with the teaching series.

3. Online Bulletin
Every week we create a quick online bulletin post that is linked directly in our app. Sending a push notification on Sunday morning with a link to the bulletin acts the same as if we were to pass out a physical bulletin as people come through the door.

4. Big Day Reminders
Have a baptism service coming up? Need to remind folks to reserve tickets for Christmas Eve? A push notification is a fast and easy way to send reminders for the big days happening at your church.

What do you think? How do you use push notifications for your church?

2 Easy Ways to Improve Staff Communication

2 Easy Ways to Improve Staff Communication

One trap of church communication is to focus so much on communicating with our church and community that we neglect clear communication with our staff team.

While staff members may not need to know every event or detail, it is wise to give periodic updates about your church calendar. This helps prevent silos and gives leaders an idea of what’s happening outside their ministry area.

Here are two easy ideas to help your staff have better internal communication.

1. Create a Monthly Staff Update

I started putting together a monthly update email. I call it “Staff Sync” because the goal is to keep our staff in sync for the month. (See how I did that?)  I send it out at the first staff meeting of the month. You can pass it out or email it, depending on what’s best for your staff. This could vary depending on your staff size.

This is pretty high level and gives key dates about upcoming events, sermon series and it has a section directly related to staff items. You can also add fun stuff like staff birthdays and trivia questions. Some months contain more information than others. I always add a reminder about making sure all communication requests are submitted by the necessary dates.

2. Make your communication plan available.

We use Google Drive to share and store files. You can use a tool like Google Drive or Dropbox to upload your communication plan and make it available to your team. This allows them to see what’s coming up and how it’s going to be communicated. I update the plan directly through Google Drive so it stays current. The plan includes the church-wide calendar and a communication outline for each week.

There you have it! Two easy ways to have better staff communication.

 

What about you? How do you keep your staff updated?

 

Communication Planning Sheet for Big Days

Communication Planning Sheet for Big Days

Christmas. Easter. Baptism. There are big days in the life of every church. My solution for mapping out these days has been to create a basic planning sheet. This allows me to see the overall picture of dates and communication channels in one place. This doesn’t capture every action item in a project (I use Asana for that), but it helps visualize what needs to happen and when.

Here’s an example from Christmas.

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Here’s a blank one you can download.

How To Plan For Christmas At Your Church

How To Plan For Christmas At Your Church

Do you hear that? It’s September and I can already hear the jingle bells in the distance. With Christmas on the horizon, here’s a look at the planning process at our church and ideas you can implement when planning Christmas this year.

1. It starts in January.
After our staff returns from holiday break, we review what went well, what didn’t, and what was missing from our Christmas services. Often, our Lead Pastor will have an idea in his mind for the coming year’s Christmas series. I save these notes in Evernote so I can bring them back around when Christmas planning begins.

2. Gather ideas through the year.
I save articles and ideas to Evernote all throughout the year as I come across them. Church Marketing Sucks has oodles of useful articles related to Christmas Eve and planning.

3. Schedule a meeting in September.
In early September, I schedule a Christmas planning meeting with our Lead Pastor, Worship Pastor, and Executive Pastor. We review the Christmas sermon series, nail down location and service times for Christmas Eve and begin brainstorming ideas for the Christmas Eve service. Depending on the size of your church and what you want to accomplish for your Christmas series, you may want to have that meeting earlier than September. But for us, September works.

After this smaller meeting, we will bring up the plan to all staff during a weekly staff meeting for feedback and additional creative ideas.

4. Create a plan.
After those meetings, I begin crafting a plan in Asana. This outlines the tasks I’ll need to accomplish based on the ideas we discussed for the services. This plan covers everything from Christmas Eve graphics, social media, promotional materials, and creative service elements. It helps me stay on track during the busy season.

5. Work the plan.
Once the details are set and the plan is made, we’re off and running. We begin hard promotion for Christmas the week after Thanksgiving. We will do teaser posts on social media and light promotion the week of Thanksgiving as people begin to get into the Christmas spirit. Promotional and creative elements are determined by the series messaging and the theme of the Christmas Eve services.

For example, one year we made it a big event with horse-drawn carriage rides and family photos before the service. We did a larger outside marketing push that year with radio ads and mailers. We’ve done a simpler, traditional service and emphasized personal invitations to family and friends. We created social media graphics and invite cards so our people would have tools when inviting their guests.

 

Christmas is by far my favorite time of year to work at a church. It’s also one of the busiest. As church communicators, it’s important to stay focused on why we are celebrating and not lose focus by checking our to-do list twice. This means giving yourself margin for prayer and time with the Lord – another reason planning ahead is important!

What about you? How do you plan for Christmas at your church?

Resources:

Church Marketing Sucks
SundayMag.tv
God Rest Ye Stressed Communicators

 

How to Add a Communications Volunteer

How to Add a Communications Volunteer

No Communications Director is an island.

There are too many moving parts for one person to do it all with quality and excellence. Plus, you will burn out in the process. But it can be difficult to hand off areas to a volunteer. What if they don’t do it like I would do it? What if they are inconsistent? The best way to set up your volunteers (and yourself) to win is with a clear volunteer process and defined roles

I recently decided to add a volunteer role that wasn’t as specialized as a graphic designer or videographer. I needed a person that could do everything I do, and help in creating content and planning for the year. I created the role of Communications Coordinator. There was a gal in our church who had a similar role in her job. I asked her to come on board.

Here’s what that process looked like.

1. Set up an initial face-to-face meeting.
Setting up a meeting with your volunteers is important. This gives you an opportunity to cast vision, explain the role, and hear feedback from them. Ask them what they want to do and how much time they can commit to each week. This sets up expectations for you and them. You should walk away from that meeting with clear action items and a scheduled time to follow-up.

2. Follow up within 36 hours.
For me, this is usually done via email. In this email, I will give an overview of our meeting, action items and next steps, and a date for our next face-to-face meeting.

3. Give them the tools they need.
I set up our Communications Coordinator with an Asana account, access to the guidelines, and tools we frequently use to communicate.

4. Let them do the job.
For the control freaks out there (myself included) – don’t micromanage. You’ve set them up to win and now it’s time to let them do the job, and even do things their own way. Often the best ideas come from our volunteers – not our staff!

5. Provide feedback.
Build in touch points for feedback. I tend to give frequent feedback in first 3-4 weeks with a new volunteer. Highlight and appreciate the great work they are doing and offer suggestions to make things even better. Ask your volunteers if they have all the resources they need to do the tasks and if they gave identified any gaps. You also should ask questions to evaluate if this is really their ‘sweet spot’ for ministry based on their unique skills and gifting.

If you’re feeling like you can’t do it all alone, you’re exactly right! And that’s okay. You need teammates, and hopefully this process gives you a good place to start.

 

What about you? What’s your process for adding volunteers to your team?

The Crowds Are Coming

The Crowds Are Coming

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36

Crowds are coming to your church this Sunday. Remember that every interaction is an opportunity to show compassion and display the care of Christ.