Tag: communication

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?

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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?

 

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?

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

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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Communication Vocab: Words You Need to Know

Communication Vocab: Words You Need to Know

The next time you are involved in communication or strategic planning, these are a few key definitions to keep in mind.

Strategy – What

What are you going to do? Your strategy is the words you put down on paper to overview the plan you have created. 

Tactics – How

How are you going to accomplish _____ ? This is the set of activities that you and your team will do in order to accomplish the strategy. 

Audience – Who

Who are you trying to reach? This is the people group that will be the focus of your tactics. 

Goals – The win

What does a “win” look like?  These are generally expressed in numbers; although, that can vary in a church setting. For example, we want to see __ % growth in our groups ministry by next year.