FREE Social Media Web Event

Does social media ever feel like a waste of time?

Like you’re spinning your wheels?

Not getting traction? No clicks, likes, fans, or opens?

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Join the web event “The 7 Social Media Mistakes You’re Making and How to Fix Them” hosted by Think Digital Academy founder, Justin Wise. I’ve learned so much from Justin the past couple years and I have no doubt he is going to do a slam dunk job with this web event.

On this web event, you’ll learn:

1. Where 80% of your social media results (more purchases, traffic, members, etc.) will come from.

2. What an editorial calendar is and why virtually nobody uses one.

3. Why “engaging the conversation” is the worse social media strategy on the planet.

4. Why online influence is more important than ever.

5. How to instantly improve your search engine rankings with social media.

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Registration is free. Anyone can sign-up.
Get more details and join this exclusive web event by clicking here.

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God Sees Your Service

Even though I am not currently serving on a tech team, this post made me cry. Mike Sessler hit the nail on the head with this one and I wanted to repost it because it was just so good. His post is in between the separators.

__________________________

One problem with serving behind the scenes is that you are, by definition, invisible. Most of the time, we technical artists are OK with that.

A big part of the problem with serving behind the scenes is that you are, by definition, supposed to be pretty much invisible. Most of the time, we technical artists are OK with that. We’d rather not be the ones on stage, talking to the crowd; or even in a big room full of people if we’re honest. We like to be in the background, and that’s OK. But there’s a problem with being invisible.

We tend to feel invisible, too.

I’m sure it’s happened to you (and if it hasn’t, it will) on a Sunday afternoon that while you’re picking up the stage, eager congregants will come up and tell the worship leader, band and pastor what a wonderful job they did. They’ll go on and on about how much they love to worship, and how much they got out of the message.

This is all good. But it can sting a little, too. We know that we helped make the service happen. Shoot, we may have even made the band sound a lot better than they really are (reverb covers a multitude of sins, and sometimes turning down a guitar is better than turning it up).

We made sure the pastor’s slides were made—and displayed at the right time. All the mics worked exactly the way they were supposed to. The lighting complemented the music, and the service was technically excellent.

And nobody noticed.

Those are the times when we don’t enjoy feeling invisible. It was after one of those weekends that I happened to be reading through a passage in Mark 9. One verse in particular caught my attention and re-framed my perspective (the Bible is cool like that). I take comfort in the fact that God notices when people give a cup of water to someone in the name of Christ (Mark 9:41).

Surely he notices the hours we put in working on the mix, the lighting, or slides. No doubt he sees and is pleased with what you do each weekend.

Somebody does indeed notice.
So take courage, my fellow technical artist. Just a few verses later, Jesus reminds us that, “Many who are the first will be last, and the last first” (Mark 10:31).

Maybe, just maybe, those who received all the praise in this life will be surprised by the praise those who served in the shadows receive in the next.

_________________________

Usually when people notice us (technical artists), its to tell us something was bad, we made a mistake and/or the sound was too loud. Next Sunday, I challenge you to try and notice the good things. Take time and notice your church’s tech team every once in a while.

Send them a thank you card. Make them brownies. Bring breakfast early one Sunday morning. Notice something positive about the lights (something as simple as the pretty matching colors) or the sermon slides and thank them for their hard work. It would mean so much to us, even though we like being unnoticed and are naturally not drawn to the spotlight, we need encouragement from the body of Christ.

Strategy?! Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That!

If you find that you “ain’t got time for that” then I encourage you to make time. This is so important and should actually help guide you in some way, shape or form towards a more developed communications strategy. I want to share with you some steps I have had to learn over and over again when figuring out how to develop and carry out a strategy. These are by no means perfect and I am sure compared to some of the experts, I have left out something. The cool thing about these steps is that I can use them constantly. I have to remember that communications strategy is an ongoing process,

# 1. Your vision – Make it known.

This is the most important step. Without a vision, nothing is communicated. Clarify, cast and integrate your vision.

#2. Your Priorities – What is important?

Separate what is important into levels. (Yes, everything is important but if you don’t set priorities then everything becomes important, which in turn makes nothing important.) Communications levels can be decided by the team in the order of importance. Use verbiage like “Big Days” would always let me know what was a level one. Levels can be decided into examples like this:

Level One:  Easter, Christmas Eve/Day, Giving, Vision Casting, etc. Its going to be something that is going to impact at least 80-85% of the church.

Level Two:  VBS, Student Camps, D-Now’s, Men/Women’s events, Promotion etc. A major ministry event that is aimed toward a large majority of your people.

Level Three:  Women’s Bible study, Men’s breakfast, Celebrate Recovery, etc. This pretty much is everything else. Things that are reoccurring throughout the year.

#3. Your Channels

What communication channels are most important? You should choose between 2-4 channels. (Social media – you should start out with 2-3 channels of this as well – blog, newsletter, email, announcements, etc.) This should be based on your vision and overall audience. (Note: I italicized two very important ones. You’re welcome!)

#4. Your Audience – Who you talking to?!

Whose is your audience? Make sure to have this written down.

#5. Your End Result – See, what had happened was…

Did this turn out the way you initially wanted? Identify what you want the win to be and then use that to measure your results.

#6. Adjust

This just means to start over and constantly have this process being followed throughout your church or organization.

My Go-To Books.

communications_gotolist

A lot of my learning I gained from reading books and learning from others.  I created this list of books for anyone involved in not only church communications, but ministry in general. Each of these books will definitely help you communicate your church’s vision and message with intentionality, with simplicity, and overall with effectiveness. I know they have definitely helped me.

–> Check out My Go-To List of books <– What books would you add? 

These 7 things.

7 things churches communicate each sunday

Working in the church has allowed me to learn and observe some awesome things and some not so awesome things. If there is one thing churches need to work on is communications ministry. So many times we shout at the top of our lungs from the pulpit with so many announcements from every which way that our congregations get confused about what is important for them. We need to learn how to communicate what is important. We need to learn how to communicate what matters the most. If there is one thing you get out of the next 7 points I am going to be going through is: By communicating everything, you communicate absolutely nothing. Each Sunday, we as church communicators and leaders need to communicate what matters.

#1.

thegospel2

#2.

vision2

#3.

mission2

#4.

values2

#5.

stories2

#7.

calltoaction2

Remember:

By communicating everything, you communicate absolutely nothing. Each Sunday, we as church communicators and leaders need to communicate what matters. Everything else can go on your website or other avenues of your communications.

Your New Ministry Job.

Hand-ShakeThe first month as the ____ pastor/director/minister/associate at a new church I think can be one of the toughest months as you get to know the congregation, learn the culture, and try to figure out how things work. You get all sorts of people coming up to you with smiling faces and firm hand shakes, telling you their names and after a while it sounds like the all familiar teacher from Charlie Brown – “Whon whon wha wha whooon.”

If you’re in worship ministry, you may get tons of emails of people within the congregation wanting to do ‘new’ songs. (Looking at the bright side…your iTunes library will grow with free mp3’s that were attached to all those emails). If you’re in outreach or small groups ministry, you may get phone calls and  ‘surprise’ visits from people who want to know what you’re all about and what makes you the right person for the job. (Questions like: “Why did the other guy really leave?” “Have you ever worked with my type of small group; I just started it” “What is the most exciting mission trip you have been on?”) All questions to get to know who you are. Be confident. Be prepared. If you’re in Youth ministry, you get to meet parents and teens. And you sometimes may get extremely varied responses. Some teens may look at you like you’re their long-lost best friend. Others act like you shot their puppy and then ran over him with your car. Some parents may give you the pleasure of awkward conversations about their teen dealing with [insert issue here]. Some parents will want to be involved with your planning and want to sit in the back every week and meet with you to give you their encouraging critiques [do those words go together?]. No matter what areas you come into, ultimately, you have to learn the rhythm of the church. [Where to put forms, what drawers in the kitchen you must never touch under any circumstances, etc.]

The worst part, though, is that a lot of times you just don’t know what to do! It’s a weird contradiction. You simultaneously have a whole lot to do and very little to do. How? Well, you don’t have a daily routine of things to get done, but you have a lot of “newbie steps” to do that can seem overwhelming.

So, what do you do in the first few months at a new church? Let’s go through some of them so that things can go a bit smoother for you:

1. Get to know people.

This is priority number 1, and priority number 2, and 3, 4, 5…

If you do nothing else the first month at a church, this should be it. If you can avoid it, don’t jump into leading a small group or teaching a Sunday School class. Try to hang back and use the time to meet people and get to know them. Learn names. Learn names. Learn names. [It’s one of the hardest things for me. And the bigger the congregation, the harder and longer it’s going to take to learn names.] If you’re church still has a paper back directory [most churches today use online tools like this] or grab one and study it. Once your first Sunday has passed and you have been able to meet some people…go on Facebook and reach out to as many of those people you met as you can. Identify the people who are the ‘social butterflies’ and ask them to introduce you to everyone! You’ll of course get to know the teens, but you need to get to meet everyone you can. Those little old ladies and the other people who might not come up to you could have a big impact on your ministry so get to know them as well.

2. Learn the culture.

This may be obvious to you but just in case you don’t know…each church is different. If you can, sit down with a staff member or church leader and have them clue you into everything they can think of. You’ll get it all eventually, but whatever you can learn early on will keep you from stepping on a landmine down the road. If there is a way for you to, go back and read old newsletters and bulletins. Those things are filled with clues to the church culture. Most importantly, just be observant. You can learn a lot by keeping your mouth closed and opening your eyes and ears. If you are conscious of how the church operates and try to adapt yourself to its rhythms, you’ll be good to go.

3. Your office.

The first couple weeks, you may find yourself saying, “Hmmm, I’ve got nothing to do…” Use this time to organize your office. You probably won’t have time to do it after the first couple weeks. If there is one thing I have noticed about offices, is that when someone has an organized office…it communicates something about them – that their professional and they take this job seriously. It’s just a good idea to take a couple of days to set it up right so you don’t have to worry about it later.

4. Meet with core people.

You will have a lot of people you need to meet with. Church staff, parents, leaders, students, volunteers, – the list goes on. You may or may not be able to meet with all these groups of people in the first month, but you should at least make plans to meet with them at some point. You are meeting with them to get to know them, of course, but you are also meeting with them to share your vision. They need to know what you’re about, what you’re going to do, and most importantly the role they play in it.

5. Get to know the community.

This one can be easy or hard, depending on your community. Drive around and get to know the area. Learn where the schools are. See where students hang out. Read the local newspaper or check out online resources about the town. Get an idea about the heartbeat of the place. This is your mission field – study it carefully. Ask questions. This should be something you continually do, but make the first steps in this first month.

6. Evaluate.

You should be observing and evaluating the ministry from the first minute you come through the door. What are its strengths? What are its weaknesses? What sort of things did they do in the past? What curriculum (if any) is used? How are the facilities? Just look at every aspect of the ministry, and see how it works. Again, ask questions. Even asking those you will be working with (staff, volunteers, students and parents, etc.) on how things are. Getting that clear picture will help later.

7. A plan for the future.

You should start laying the foundation of your plans for the ministry. You don’t need to lay out exactly what you want to do, just some general goals for the future. (Example: let’s say in a year you want to have started a special needs ministry. Set that as a goal, and then make some plans on the how to. Or, say you need new volunteers: set a goal that in 8 months you’ll have 4 new volunteers.) Have an idea of what you want to do, but remember to keep it flexible enough so that if it’s not a good idea that’s ok. And in 8 months when you have learned some new things, you can apply them.

The first month at a church can seem a bit overwhelming, but it is also an awesome time to meet new people, make new friends, learn about a new place, and have an opportunity to do some awesome things for God’s kingdom.

Enjoy the first early months, but be sure to use them to your full advantage.

Storytelling Rules.

Storytelling is used everywhere! As a church we have the most incredible, life-changing, powerful story to tell and share with the world…the Gospel. Churches mainly use storytelling in testimonies, cantatas, videos, promo videos, etc. Maybe your church has even more things it does when it comes to storytelling. Here are a few tips I grabbed on to on storytelling…from Disney Pixar’s own, Emma Coats. Yea…she’s legit. Although she is now a director in L.A she knows a thing or two about storytelling:

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?

#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?

#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

Emma CoatsTwitter: @lawnrocket

Church Communications – What is that??

Anything people read, touch, or click is considered communications. Maybe there is something to add to that, but I haven’t really found that yet. When it comes to church communications I think this is crucial because:

  • Read would include any written messages communicated from or about the church…be it in print or electronic form.
  • Touch would include a weekly bulletin, newsletter, brochures, mass mailings/postcards, or anything else that represents the church or has the church logo on it…in print form.
  • Click would relate to any form of web or email based technology, as well as new social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, etc.

The role of church communications is changing…it’s no longer about a church secretary typing announcements into a pre-printed bulletin shell. Church communications now involves a lot of planning, strategy and people who are focused on directing the different communications channels of a church. In 2 words, hard work. There are some churches that have started to see the need and importance of having a full time staff member as a communications director. The director of communications is responsible for managing and directing a church’s internal and external communications. They work to create communication strategies and (depending on their role or level of authority) serve as the key spokesperson and media contact for the organization. The director of communications typically reports to an executive pastor and/or lead pastor. They handle all messaging in the church outside of the Sunday morning messages and work to build teams to support all facets of church communications (print, media, web, etc.).  They are passionate about the church’s vision and care about how it translates to people inside and outside of the church. They defend it. They design it. They care about it.

The local church is the hope of the world. I believe it has the greatest message that’s out there, the message of the Gospel. And with that, the greatest message deserves the greatest marketing, creativity, and storytelling. If there is one thing I am learning from school is that marketers spend millions of dollars every single year to tell us that our lives would be better or enhanced with the products, services, or ideas they are selling. I know that we are not about selling salvation as a product. The goal of the church is not to try and woo people to our ‘services’ (haha) or trying to convince them to convert or whatever….we are about seeing the trajectory of people’s lives changed. Seeing hearts surrendered to Jesus. Being a young person, I have the privilege and curse of being part of the generation that has made it harder and harder to communicate with. The cool thing is…with that comes the challenge of communicating the unchanging, timeless message of the Gospel in way that is relevant and compelling to the culture of its time.

Watch this video:

That commercial was for a WEB BROWSER. Google Chrome. What? Wow. Why didn’t they focus on the features and explain why Google Chrome is better than the rest or the best for you to use? Because Google understands the power of storytelling. They focused us on the story of Sophie and her Dad. They wanted us to watch it, get attached, say a few “aww” and “how sweet!” and emotionally connect with it. Less product. More story. Well, it worked for me.

What message are the experiences people have with your church communicating?

What does your marketing say about you and your church?

Is there a disconnect between what you say and what people experience?

What if Starbucks marketed like churches do? Watch this video:

Paint the Town..err..Web!!

Post originally on Church Marketing Sucks

There are endless ways you can promote your church online and we’ll just list a few ideas to get you started. Remember that the idea is to spread the word about your church, not relentlessly spam people. Keep it relevant and personal.

  • Facebook – It’s the largest social network ever. If you want to connect with people, they’re probably on Facebook. There are a lot of ways to promote your church on Facebook, from liking your church’s page to adding comments on their posts. To get more involved you can share their content with your friends, post your own links, photos or videos, invite your friends to church events and more. The activity of your friends is what gets noticed on Facebook, so talking up your church is a good way to casually introduce your friends to your church.
  • Local Listings – Make sure your church is listed accurately in local sites like Yelp, Foursquare and more. Check in, post a comment, add a rating or review. Whatever the particular service lets you do, do it so your church has some activity and credibility.
  • Create Pages – Head over to some of the content creation sites like Pinterest, Squidoo, Storify or Wikipedia and create pages for your church. Maybe you pin your church’s sermon graphics or you create a Squidoo page about an upcoming event. It might be harder to meet Wikipedia’s guidelines, but some historic churches might fit (remember that Wikipedia is about unbiased facts, not marketing—follow the rules or your page will get deleted).
  • Create Groups – Create groups for your church on various social networks like LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, etc. It’s a good way to pull people from your church together and that can be stickier for new people. Sometimes it works best to have a specific topic in mind, like a jobs/networking group for LinkedIn.
  • Conversations – There are a lot of local groups, forums and sites online where you can join some local conversations. This is where you need to be personal and relevant. Form relationships and talk about your church when it’s natural. Don’t just blow through local forums posting random invites. That’s spam and will do a disservice to your church.
  • Links – It’s as simple as linking to your church. Google has turned links into gold by pairing them to search results. So link to your church from your site. Add links in your blog posts whenever you can and help boost your church in the search results.
  • Email Signature – It’s kind of old school, but your email signature is another place where you can promote your church online. It might be a little odd to constantly promote your church there, so maybe reserve it for special events or tack on a holiday invite when you’re emailing local friends.