Tag: communication

Communication Vocab: Words You Need to Know

Communication Vocab: Words You Need to Know

Photo by Diomari Madulara on Unsplash

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. 

How to Start in Social Media

Social media is not a fad or a trend. It has radically changed how people communicate on a day-to-day basis.  But still, there are churches that remain unsure about how to make the leap into social media. It can seem overwhelming, so here are a few tips to get started in social media.

1. Pick a platform.

You don’t need to be on every social media platform right off the bat. Look at the make up of your church. What social media do they use most? Is it college students? Try Twitter or Instagram. Mostly young family’s? Try Facebook. For most churches, I’d recommend starting with Facebook.

2. Set a strategy.

Who do you want to reach? What will you post? How will you manage your social media presence? Outline a strategy before you start. It’ll provide clarity for you and your team. And, if you have leadership who doesn’t see the value of social media, a well-defined strategy will provide you with answers to their questions about why your church needs to engage in this space.

3. Curate some content.

Your church is bursting with content. Post photos from events along with links to register. What’s the message for Sunday’s sermon? Post verses that will prepare the hearts of your audience. What’s the worship team singing this week? Post a video with a new worship song or a behind-the-scenes photo of practice. Ask questions about what people took away from the sermon series. And, include images when you can.

4. Start a schedule.

There are many free tools available to help you post on a consistent schedule.  The two best tools I’ve seen are Hootsuite and Buffer. These have free and paid options. If you’re just starting, try to post at least once a day. Develop a rhythm where your audience can expect to hear from you. Find a volunteer or staff member who can manage this schedule and commit to interacting with people on a weekly basis.

Remember, social media should be two-way communication. It’s more about conversation than publication.

What do you think? What are other tips for churches starting in social media? 

Bulletins Are Not Magic Bullets

The weekly bulletin is a struggle for me. Truthfully, I’m not a huge fan of bulletins. I’m from a digital generation so I prefer to read and receive my information online. However, I concede it still can be a valuable tool in church communication.

In my experience, the bulletin is the number one communication request. People always seem convinced that a blurb in the bulletin will result in truckloads of people attending their group or signing up for an event. The bulletin rarely delivers on that expectation. As communicators for the church and advocates for our audience, it’s important to keep the bulletin clear of clutter and take the time to explain why the bulletin is not a magic formula for success.

Here are two reasons why the bulletin is not a magic bullet.

1. The bulletin is a high-level communication piece.

We focus our bulletin on connection points for first time guests and information that impacts 80% of our Sunday morning audience.  Keeping that in mind, it’s unlikely that niche opportunities and specific ministry events will hit the right person. It might but the chances are small.

2. More = less.

The more you cram into your bulletin, the less effective it becomes. Adding every event or happening at your church will not accomplish your objectives or allow your audience to take next steps. More is not an effective communication strategy.

When these requests come though, I try to explain the above and offer alternatives. You can see my post on how to make a no feel like a yes for more about that.

What do you think? How do you keep your bulletin communication clear?

3 Ways to Communicate in Bad Weather

I live in Raleigh, North Carolina.

snowpocalypse
This really happened in Raleigh in February 2014. This is a road that I drive every single day to go to work.

That means that I’ve seen schools close for even the possibility of snow. And by snow, I mean flurries. Just look at what happens when it actually does snow in Raleigh.

It’s important to communicate with your church and keep everyone updated when there’s inclement weather.

Here are three ways to do that:

1. Post it on your website.

Create a web page that’s the first thing people will see if they visit your website. It’s a key place to keep people informed about any potential cancellations to services or events. Include “updated on” with a time stamp too so people know if  the information is current.

2. Change your answering message.

Believe it or not, people do still use the telephone. Make sure to update your church’s answering message if you’re going to be out of the office for a few days. Let people know  you’re currently closed and when you plan to reopen. Also, include an alternative way they can get in touch such as an email address.

3. Share through social media. 

Social media is a great way to keep people up-to-date in real-time. If there’s bad weather coming, people look to social media for traffic reports and news updates so it’s a perfect place to share how your church services and activities are being affected by the weather.

What do you think? What are other ways to communicate during bad weather?

Aim Small, Miss Small

Remember the scene in “The Patriot” when Mel Gibson instructs his son how to shoot and says, “aim small, miss small”? He also tells him to keep both eyes open.  It struck me that this principle can be applied to church communications.

A smaller aim increases the likelihood of hitting your target. And keeping both eyes open helps you see your target twice as well. 

For example, if I’m promoting a women’s bible study it doesn’t make sense to do a Sunday announcement video because the Sunday morning audience is not a small target. Rather, I’ll instruct the women’s ministry leaders to share it through their social media accounts, personal conversations and in the women’s ministry Facebook group.

Too often, church communications blasts the entire crowd with a single shot through the Sunday bulletin or an announcement in hopes that it will land on the appropriate target. Take the time to scope out, with both eyes, and decide which communication piece will have the most impact on your intended audience.

So keep both eyes open and aim small. You’ll be less likely to miss.

10 Posts to Share on Your Church Blog

Churches are discovering the benefits of blogs.  Blogging helps you stay connected with your audience throughout the week. It gives your church website a voice and  personality. It can be an additional tool to equip your people.  Many churches would like to blog but aren’t sure where to begin.

Here are 10 posts to get you started. 

1. Sermon Recaps

Sermon Recaps are easily generated content and can be posted on a weekly basis. Ask your pastor to send you his teaching outline earlier in the week or simply take notes during his sermon to post a handful of quotes and main points from the sermon. Be sure to include a link to the full message and encourage people to share on social media.

2. Photo/Event Recaps

This is a favorite at our church especially around major events like Easter and Christmas. You’ll need a photographer for this one. Capture photos of major Sundays or events like baptisms and share the story of the event. People love photos. Mars Hill does a great job with these.

3. Volunteer Spotlights

What gets celebrated gets repeated. Celebrate your volunteers by highlighting them on your blog. Take photos of them serving in various places. Write a short post giving an overview of what team they volunteer with, how long they’ve been part of your church and thank them for their service.

4. Three Reasons to Join a Small Group

Small groups are a major ministry in many churches. Offer reasons why joining a small group is important. Highlight the traits of a strong small group like experiencing community, building friendships and studying God’s word. Show by the WHY behind joining a group.

5. Three Reasons to Join a Volunteer Team

Similar to #4. Explain the WHY behind volunteer teams.

6. How to Study Your Bible

Blogs offer a place to share equipping resources. Give people practical tips and answer questions about where to start, study tips and how to memorize verses.

7. How to Pray

Same as #6. Keep it practical. Show people how to pray like Jesus prayed.

8. Devotional Series about Your Values

Blogs provide a lot of opportunity to reinforce the vision and values of your church. There was, hopefully, reasoning and purpose behind the values your church has chosen. Tell the story of how those values were chosen and how they drive your church forward. Offer ways to live out those values in everyday life.

9. Three Reasons to Bring a Friend to Church this Week

Have a big Sunday planned? Generate some excitement. Share a teaser about what the weekend has in store and why your members need to bring their friends along. Cast vision for why inviting and bringing guests is so vital. To see an example of how we did that click here.

10. Life Change Stories

If you blog about nothing else, make sure to write about these.  Capture the stories  of your church and share them. You can share videos, posts and pictures all about the people whose lives are changing by what God is doing through your church.

I hope that gives you a start! If you’re thinking, “Those are great topics but how will I even begin to manage a church blog? Who will write all these articles?”

Don’t worry. I’ll post about that soon.

What do you think? What other posts should churches share? 

How to Create Video Announcements

Video announcements are a great interactive way to share announcements and important info with your audience every week. I love using video because it’s versatile and can be easily shared in other places like on your website and social media. There are a few initial start-up costs to creating videos but I believe it’s worth the investment.

Here’s how we create them: 

Equipment:

  • Canon Rebel T4i with lenses. We typically use the 75mm – 300mm lense.
  •  Tripod
  •  Rhode NTG2 Microphone, mic cable and mic stand
  •  Beachtek DXA-2T Audio Adapter
  •  Dead Cat (that furry piece over the microphone…it blocks out a lot of wind noise.)
  •  Light Scrim

Editing software: 

  • Final Cut Pro X for basic editing
  • Adobe After Effects for text and graphics

Our Worship Pastor films and edits these every week. Typically, we shoot 2-3 weeks worth at a time. We keep our announcements at about 2 minutes in length. Much longer and people will begin to lose interest. If we have a life change story or special video it will run  longer.

I don’t use a teleprompter. First,  we can’t afford one. Second,  I’ve found most people look pretty obvious when they are reading from one. I write out the script and rehearse a few times before we shoot.

We don’t have lighting equipment so we travel around our city and shoot outside…no matter rain, sleet, or snow…wait, that’s the Post Office. Never mind.

 Here is the finished product. Ta da! 

What about you? Do you use video announcements at your church? 

How to Create Bulletins In-House

The weekly bulletin. So many options to choose from. To print in-house or out? Full color or black and white? Tri-fold, bi-fold or half sheet? Or go rogue and ditch the weekly bulletin all together?

My church used to order bulletins that cost thousands of dollars and went straight into the trash can. We decided to bring them in-house to cut costs. First, we want to be good stewards. Second, this freed up our budget for higher impact areas. By doing this, I discovered you can create a simple, well-designed bulletin in-house and it can be just as effective.

Here’s how we create our bulletin in-house: 

photo (8)

Printer
We have  a pretty heavy-duty of a printer. It could be a transformer. If you’re going to do bulletins in-house, make sure you have a printer than can handle the capacity and won’t jam on you. Also, we print with color so we needed a printer that could do that well.

Paper
We use a 28 lb. paper for the bulletins. This seems to be a good weight that’s sturdy but light.

Design
A few volunteer graphic designers update the cover art.

Software
I use Apple Pages to add content to the bulletins.  Here’s an example. We limit our bulletin to 5 events per week. The inside panel is catered to guests with information about where to take their Connection Card and different ministries they can connect with. We offer a blank page inside for note taking. We insert a Connection Card. It’s simple and mostly points people back to the website.

We’ve found a clean and clear bulletin can be created without the expense of a out-of-house printer. I don’t have any problem with churches who do print out-of-house. If you have the designers and resources, that’s great!  But it’s encouraging to know that you don’t need a massive budget to create a great bulletin.

What about you? How do you create your bulletin?

Christmas Communication Case Study

Christmas Eve is big at our church. Our folks celebrate really well with us. This year we decided to kick the service up a notch and make it a family experience. We wanted an event that was easy to invite guests to and open to the community.

To do this,  we offered a  carriage ride with a friendly horse named Willie (scroll to the end of this post to see pictures). People could get a family photo taken together. Kids decorated ornaments and we had music, hot chocolate and cookies for people to enjoy before the service began.

Here are a few ways we promoted the service:

1. Video

Our Shepherding Pastor and Worship Pastor love Christmas. They can quote entire Christmas movies at our weekly staff meeting. I asked them to create a video that captured the holiday spirit that we could play on Sunday mornings and that people could share on social media. They delivered. I usually am not a fan of over-the-top church videos because usually they are pretty cheesy. But if there is ever a time for that, it’s Christmas. We also created a few mini-clips to share during the week.

Check it out

2. Invite Cards

I ordered 1,000 4X6 invite cards from Overnight Prints. (They are my favorite place for invite cards). We put these in our bulletin for two weeks leading up until Christmas and encouraged folks to hand them out. We passed them out to employees at local restaurants near our church. Stacks of them were  available at our Guest Services Kiosk on Sunday morning.

3. Social Media

We posted all of our content on Facebook and Twitter. We shared videos, blog posts and photos reminding people about the service and encouraging them to bring their friends.

4. Door Hangers

Our staff decided to do an outreach and visited an apartment complex  across the street from where the service would take place. We placed door hangers inviting them to join us. You can see them by clicking this link:  Christmas Eve Door Hanger

All-in-all, it was a win. We had more people in attendance than ever before and many people raised their hand to accept Jesus.

What about you? How did your church promote Christmas?

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This was our artwork for the service. 

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Here’s Willie the horse! He was a hit. 

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