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.

How to Create Social Media Content From Your Pastor’s Sermon

How to Create Social Media Content From Your Pastor’s Sermon

Social media is relentless. Each day requires fresh content to engage with your audience. Luckily, one of the most valuable sources of content is readily available to you every single Sunday – the sermon. Every week you need new content and every week your pastor creates it.

Here are a five ways to repurpose the Sunday sermon for social media.

1. Verses
Keep the main passage of Scripture or supporting verses in front of people through the week. You can simply post the text or turn them into images using Canva or Over (App). See an example

2. Quotes
Take the memorable quotes from the sermon and turn those into images. See an example

3. Video Clips
You can do this easily in iMovie or a similar program. Clip a short (3 minute or less) snippet that can be easily understood, even without the context of the entire sermon. Post to Facebook. See an example

Tip: Upload directly through Facebook, rather than linking to Vimeo or another site. This will give you greater reach.

4. Sermon Bumpers or Video Stories
Did you create an awesome sermon bumper? Share that bad boy! Folks love to watch these again and it’s a great way to share what happened on Sunday for those who missed it. See an example

5. Next Steps
Did your pastor talk about the importance of serving others? Create a post encouraging people to get involved with a volunteer or mission team. Emphasize Sunday’s application by creating a clear next step for your audience to take. See an example 

Bonus tips:

  • Ask your pastor to send the manuscript or outline to you each week.
  • Take notes during service to remember quotes and verses.
  • Use tools like Hootsuite and Canva to schedule posts and create images.
  • Plan out your content for the entire week. Don’t try to remember to post each day.

What about you? How do you create and plan social media content each week?

Why We Switched to a Monthly Bulletin

Why We Switched to a Monthly Bulletin

The bulletin. The word brings dread to church communicators everywhere.

Like many churches, we created, proofed, printed and folded hundreds of bulletins each week only to watch them be tossed into a trash, left in seats or crammed in Bibles to be thrown away later.

Surely there’s a better way!

In January we took the plunge and made the switch to a monthly bulletin.

Now we produce a monthly news that highlights major events and a story. We pass it out on the first Sunday of the month and make it available at our Guest Services all month. Each week we pass out a simple front and back card with our current series branding, information for first time guests and a perforated tear-off for a connection card.

Here are a few reasons why we made the switch.

1. We launched an app
The app is now the primary way for our regular members and attenders to see upcoming news and events. It’s geared toward our internal audience and we continually push people to check the app and use it to connect with us.

2. The bulletin didn’t change week to week
We emphasize small groups, volunteer teams, family ministries and missions. This means we don’t have significant programming changes week to week. If something does come up, there are other effective channels (email, social media, push notifications) we can use to get the word out.

3. It forces us to plan
All communication requests have to be submitted by the 15th of the month prior to be considered for the monthly news. The monthly method eliminates last-minute promotional requests and ensures details are mapped out well in advance.

4. It allows us to share stories
Every month we include a life change story or highlight a mission team. This gives us another avenue to share the mission of our church (connecting people to Jesus for life change), rather than simply pumping out more events and ministry leader requests.

How’s it working so far? Great! We’ve received positive feedback on the switch, saved money and can use time more effectively throughout the week.

There are no formulas for church communications – it all depends on your context and audience. For us, the move to a monthly bulletin has been the right one.

What about you? Does your church do a weekly bulletin? Are you ready to switch to a monthly?

Resources:
Monthly News – Example
Weekly Bulletin – Example

How to Use Asana to Plan a Sermon Series

How to Use Asana to Plan a Sermon Series

I’m an Asana fan. I use it for my weekly to do’s and to manage projects for our church . Sermon series are a major project that happen several times a year. To help me stay on track and make sure all the pieces for our series come together, I use a project template.

Here’s how it works.

Typically after a series planning meeting or talking with a our Lead Pastor, I’ll go into Asana and copy the project template from a previous series. The project is divided into sections based on the major things that go into a pulling off a series like design and graphics, promotions and then post-series tasks. I like to add a section that covers the marketing materials, just to make sure I have everything covered.

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Design

First, I’ll map out the timeline for design and graphics. Typically, we run a 4-6 week timeline, depending on the series and how much marketing will go into it. I’ll add dates for when the initial design concept is due and how long we have for feedback and edits. After the design work is done, I’ll upload it into Google Drive and begin ordering any of the print or marketing materials.

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Tip: Begin with the end date and work backward to establish your due dates for tasks.

 

Promotions

Promotions and marketing varies for each series. Usually our staple promotions will be social media graphics, eNews/bulletin and invite cards. For a longer series or one that is geared toward reaching our community, we may add a mailer or a video, too.

In this section, I outline the promotions timeline. We’ll promote a series 2 to 4 weeks out from the start date.

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Post-Series

Finally, I create a post-series section. This is where I mark tasks that I’ll need to do after the series launches, like update web links and banners with the series page.

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There you go! That’s how you can use Asana to map out your next sermon series.

What about you? What tool do you use for sermon series planning?

The Tension Between Relationship and Rules

The Tension Between Relationship and Rules

 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” – Exodus 20:2

Context, context, context. My pastor always drives home the importance of context when preaching the Bible. You have to look at the context of a passage of Scripture to understand the meaning.

Keeping this in mind as I was reading through Exodus, it hit me how God delivers the 10 commandments (Exodus 20) after establishing His relationship with the Israelites (Exodus 19). He establishes His relationship with them before giving the commandments to them.

This is an applicable lesson for church communicators.

It’s important to establish a relationship with your pastors and team mates before you introduce rules and systems. Communication is relational. It requires trust. Trust is established through relationship. Not rules.

At the same time, guidelines and systems are vital for clear and effective communication. Without them, you end up communicating everything which translates to nothing. Your message will get lost in the clutter and noise.

There’s a tension between the relationship and rules. In my few years experience working in ministry, I’ve found that many pastors and leaders are highly relational and prefer to focus on that, rather than systems and structures.

As a communicator, it’s your job (and mine) to help balance this tension within your church. Provide the structure and the systems but do it in the context of relationship.

When leading church communications, remember to establish relationship and build trust before you implement rules.

 

Case Study: Easter 2015 Communication

Case Study: Easter 2015 Communication

You made it. Another round of planning, prepping and praying for the biggest Sunday of the year under your belt. Congratulations!

We had an incredible day at Southbridge Fellowship with our highest attendance ever and saw more people accept Christ than at any other service in our history.

Here’s a quick look at what we did for Easter:

easter-2015
Aerial view of our 2015 Easter service

The Service – This was the second year of outdoor Easter services. We currently meet in a movie theater and use the adjacent parking lot to bring in a stage and chairs to host the outdoor services. One benefit to this approach is the amount of people who find out about our church simply by driving or walking by. My favorite story was from two young women who were originally on their way to Target saw the gathering and decided to attend. One of them made the decision to trust Christ during the service! How awesome is that?!

Design – We drew inspiration from vintage Billy Graham era posters and hatch print design. The outdoor service and gospel focus reminded us of revival days so we took the concept and ran with it. Web banners, social media graphics and print pieces were created from this design.

Promotion – Our promotions focused on visual and easy to share social media content and personal invitations. We shared videos and graphics on our social networks leading up to Easter. Our social media efforts were a combination of organic and promoted posts. We spent about $50 and reached thousands of people.

We handed out invite cards multiple weeks before Easter with an announcement from our Lead Pastor about the importance of personal invitations. We produced a silly video with the help of our Children and Youth Pastors to give tips about how to (and how not to) use invite cards.

Results – Over 1,100 people attended and many people accepted Christ as their Savior!

Easter can be an exhausting day when you work at a church. Take some time this weekend to rest, recharge and reflect on God’s work …and then get ready ’cause Sunday’s coming!

How did your church celebrate Easter this year?

 

 

Here’s a look at some of our social media posts: 

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3 Lessons from Video Announcements in the Snow

3 Lessons from Video Announcements in the Snow

For the past few weeks we’ve experienced a mix of snow and ice in Raleigh. This sends our city into panicked frenzy to scavenge grocery stores for milk and bread because those are necessary for survival in .5 inches of snow.

One of our staff values is “make it better.” This means any team member can offer ideas and improvements to any area of ministry. One of our pastors and my friend has encouraged me to dream and think about ways we can improve our videos by adding touches of humor and creativity.

With that in mind, our team decided to have a little fun and leverage the snow for our weekly video announcements. We ventured outside into the thick of it and shot right in the middle of the snow storm. It still included our weekly welcome and a few events, but we added some humor at the end. Our Executive Pastor even joined in. By doing this, we engaged our audience with what they were currently experiencing in their own lives and gave them a chance to laugh. We actually got an applause at the end of them!

When was the last time someone clapped for your video announcements?

Here are three lessons I learned from this experience:

1. Mix it up. 

Most video announcements have a pretty standard format and flow. (Welcome to guests, sign up for this event, check us out online) This is great for familiarity and consistency. But mixing it up every once in a while makes people perk up and pay attention.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You could add a new host, include a special interview with a ministry leader, or ask a volunteer to share about the team they serve with, have a missionary record a short update video on their laptop and include it. There are tons of options out there!

What small change would make your announcements better this week?

2. Your audience will be as engaged as you are. 

We had fun filming this and in turn our church had fun watching it. Sometimes we focus too much on making sure we include all the right information that it’s easy to forget it matters how we say it. We should enjoy what we are creating. Because if we don’t, why would anyone else?

3. Get out of your comfort zone.

To be honest, I find most attempts at humor in church videos to fall flat. I shy away from this approach so I was hesitant at first. But our church loved it. I’m learning, with the help of my teammates, to think outside the box and try new things, even if it’s outside of my comfort zone.

What do you think? What lessons have you learned with video announcements?