Categories
Communication Daily Thought General

Are you Friends with God on Facebook or do you Follow Him on Twitter?

That question hit me this morning.  Not that I am trying to reduce God to a facebook friend or twitter feed, but rather, do I seek God with the same veracity that I check Facebook and Twitter?  I thought about it this morning.

My general routine is to get up, head to the restroom, where I check the Facebook updates of all my friends on my phone.  I’ve had that same routine for months, until this morning when I realized, how am I following God and seeking His ‘updates’. 

Now I am not suggesting that God will be on Facebook or have a Twitter feed, but in what ways are you communicating with God on a daily basis or seeking His ‘feed’ for you?  It sure would be simpler if God had Twitter or Facebook and would just update us, but you know what?  He kind of does.  He gave us the Bible, His word for us, we only need to read.  He also sent Jesus, to die as a sacrifice for us, so that we could have a connection with the God.

Take some time today to seek God’s ‘feed’ for your life.

Categories
church technology Communication Web

What does your website say about your church?

The question is very simple.  When someone visits your church website, what impression are they getting of your church?

We visit church websites from around the country trying to get a pulse on what people are doing.  We see some great, some good, and many terrible!  In a day where the Internet is so prevalent, churches must keep up with the times and have a website that accurately reflects who they are as a congregation of believers.

Are you using a free, or cheap stock template?
For many churches, this is an unfortunate reality.  What a cheap template says to your visitors is that you don’t care about reaching new people and you really just want to have something online because a guy like me posted something in a blog.  Hogwash!  Take into account that 85% of new visitors are looking for churches on the web BEFORE they step foot in the door or will look in the phone book.  What image is your website giving potential visitors about your church?

Relevant Content?
One thing that will kill a church website faster than anything is a lack of content.  People want your site to be a resource.  Think of your website as a secretary/receptionist that works 24/7, doesn’t take breaks or ask for days off. Train your congregation to utilize the website as a source of truth for answers.  Keep the content on the fresh and current.  Put links to articles or other sites you find online that you think may be of interest to your church members.  Oh yeah, GET YOUR CHURCH ON FACEBOOK!

FACEBOOK
While some may say that Facebook is just for kids, I’d beg to differ.  Did you know the average age of facebook users is 38 years old and 61% of facebook users are over 30?  Also, where else can you have direct access to share your message with people who have given you permission to tell them, any time, for free?  Get our free article on ways to use facebook for your church.

A Web Ministry
We meet with pastors everyday, and I repeatedly tell them that the website has to be used as a ministry of your church.  You can think of it on the same level as your student or adult ministry.  It is, after all, a major communication tool for your church.  In many ways, if used correctly, your website can be a major ministry tool for your church.

Let me suggest this.
We have years of experience getting churches online, and utilizing the web as a ministry tool.  Take a minute to contact us and tell us a bit about your church here and one I will call you personally to discuss how to increase your web ministry presence.

Categories
Communication Leadership

Effective Church Communications

I recently happened upon a blog post in Outreach Magazine entitled “The Next Thing in Church Conferences“.  After reading through the post, it was less about new church conferences and more about effective communication principles.  The article talks about how most conferences have a basic programmatic structure that doesn’t lend much room for interaction other than lunch or moving in between sessions.

The article did however mention some snippets of answers they received to a question they posted asking “What are some church communications best practices.”  Some that I found most relevant and useful were:

“Effective communications has less to do with sending the right message, and everything to do with releasing the right response. To release the right response with anyone, you’ve got to take time to figure out what makes your message worth their time; figure out how it relates to their world.” –Kem Meyer, Granger Community Church (@KemMeyer)

“For every piece of communication, before you do anything else, determine the goal. Do whatever you need to do to gain clarity about the desired outcome and keep it in front of you during the entire creation process” –Lori Bailey, LifeChurch.tv (@LoriBailey)

“If your goal in church communication –whether you’re designing a bulletin or launching a social media campaign–is something other than serving people, stop and start over.” –Scott McClellan, Echo Conference (@ScottMcClellan)

“Resist broadcast mode! Megaphoning (a.k.a. “sermonizing”) prevents listening. Ask as often as you answer.” –Cynthia Ware, Pepperdine University (@CynthiaWare)

Church communications is about the audience.  You can put out and preach anything you want, but if no on is there to listen, you are wasting your breath.  Take a few minutes to think about your audience.  How can you more effectively communicate your message to reach your audience?

Categories
Communication Visitors Web

10 tips for church Facebook pages

10 tips for church Facebook pages
By Diana Davis
INDIANAPOLIS (BP) | Take this quiz:

— If your church could make free public announcements to thousands of your own members’ friends, would you do it?

— If there was a simple way to help members and guests feel more connected to your church, would you use it?

Small and large churches across our nation are effectively using a Facebook organization page to enhance in-reach and outreach. Should your church have one?

Do the math. Ask for a show of hands to find out how many church members use Facebook. The average Facebook user has 130 registered “friends,” so if just 20 church members use Facebook, that’s potentially 2,600 people who could read posts about your church. One hundred members with Facebook could touch 13,000. This is multiplication at its best. Convinced? I interviewed several churches to compile these Facebook tips to help you get started.

— Tip No. 1: Begin well. Study other churches’ pages for ideas. Use tips from Facebook’s help section (http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php) to create your church organization page. Then ask church members and guests to “like” (join) your page so posts will display on their newsfeed.

— Tip No. 2: Keep it short. Want posts to be read? Keep them very brief. Give basic info to ignite interest and provide a link to the church website for more details.

— Tip No. 3: Add a graphic. Attract more readers by attaching your church logo, event logo, a photo or graphic to posts.

— Tip No. 4: Post regularly. Consider allowing several leaders or members to post. Two or three posts per week would be desirable.

— Tip No. 5: Keep it positive. Never forget that thousands of people may read posts. This is no place for whining. Positive posts convey the emotion and reality of true fellowship and confidence in God.

— Tip No. 6: Connect. Announcements help readers feel connected with the church. Tell about the upcoming men’s breakfast, kids’ camp or Easter celebration. Announce a new Bible class, staff member or benevolence project. Communicate weather cancellations or disaster relief.

— Tip No. 7: Develop a relationship with the reader. Be authentic and encouraging. Tell the story of God at work in your church and in individual lives. Encourage readers to comment or add photos. Their personal enthusiasm and involvement will add excitement and draw readers to your church and to God.

— Tip No. 8: Use video clips. Professional video isn’t necessary; a Flip video camera will do. Record one- or two-minute clips of members sharing life stories about God’s power. An Indiana church posted a hilarious video of a tithing rap. Introduce the upcoming sermon series, peek into a youth Bible class or show senior adults exercising.

— Tip No. 9: Different groups, such as a Bible class, worship team or youth group, could have another Facebook page for communication. My neighbor noticed an announcement from our women’s ministry on my Facebook and asked about attending a Bible study.

— Tip No. 10: Wait a minute before posting. It takes seconds to write a post, and it’s online immediately. Before submitting, re-read carefully to check tone, grammar and spelling. It represents God and His church, so do it very well. Pray for God to use it to touch lives, then hit “post.”

Of course, this doesn’t take the place of face-to-face outreach and fellowship, but it may enhance your church’s impact. Half of active Facebook users log in on any given day. If your church members’ Facebook friends log in tomorrow, will they learn something about what God is doing at your church?

Diana Davis is author of “Fresh Ideas for Women’s Ministry” (B&H Publishing) and wife of the Indiana Baptist Convention executive director. Visit her website at www.keeponshining.com.

Categories
Communication General Priorities Visitors Web

Churches have websites but many aren’t utilizing them, LifeWay survey finds By David Roach

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) | Though most churches have a website, there is a divide between congregations that use their sites only for one-way communication and those that maximize their online presence with interactive technology.

That is the finding of a new LifeWay Research study sponsored by Axletree Media, one of LifeWay’s partners in its Digital Church initiative designed to enhance delivery systems and keep up with the digital needs of the church.

The survey of 1,003 Protestant churches found that while 78 percent have a website, less than half of those congregations use their sites for interactive purposes like obtaining and distributing prayer requests (43 percent), registering people for events and activities (39 percent) and automating more church processes (30 percent).

A majority of congregations with a website use it for one-way communication, the survey revealed. A full 91 percent provide information to potential visitors online and 79 percent provide information to the congregation. Fifty-seven percent encourage increased attendance and involvement among the congregation and 52 percent solicit interest in ministry or volunteer opportunities.

“Many churches are using their website like a Yellow Pages ad characterized by basic information and infrequent updates,” said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research. “This is in sharp contrast with churches that use their website like a bustling church receptionist registering people for upcoming events, collecting prayer requests and obtaining volunteers.

“There is nothing wrong with using a church website to simply give directions to the church or state the church’s beliefs,” McConnell added. “However, we must realize that more and more people expect to be able to interact online without having to drive or make a phone call to the church.”

Larger churches are more likely than their smaller counterparts to use their websites interactively. Among churches with a website, 69 percent of churches with 500 or more in average worship attendance register people for events or activities online, but only 25 percent of churches with one to 49 attendees do the same. Fifty-two percent of congregations with 500 or more attendees seek to use their website to “allow more processes at (their) church to be automated,” compared with 15 percent of churches with one to 49 attendees.

In contrast, large and small churches are about equally as likely to use their websites to provide information to potential visitors. There is also little difference between large and small churches using their websites to provide information to their congregation.

The study also found differences in the frequency of website usage. Forty percent of churches with websites update their sites once a week and 15 percent update more than once a week. But nearly half of churches with websites (42 percent) update them only once a month or less. That includes 7 percent that update once a year or less.

Among the factors that keep churches from providing more content and services online are limited time among church staff (46 percent), limited financial resources (41 percent), limited time among volunteers (39 percent) and little interest expressed by the congregation for more online content or services (35 percent).

Bill Nix, CEO of Axletree Media, lamented that more churches do not take advantage of online ministry resources.

“With the low cost of online technology today, any size congregation can build and maintain a helpful website,” Nix said. “Plus, updating a website has become so easy that no church needs to feel like it lacks the technological savvy to have a presence on the Internet.”

Digital photos are the most common technology utilized among churches with websites and the only technology used by a majority of those congregations. Eighty-two percent use digital photos in their online ministries, 47 percent use digital audio files or podcasts, 31 percent utilize digital video files, 26 percent use text messaging, and 26 percent of congregations use blogs.

The poll was conducted Sept. 8-20.

David Roach is a pastor and writer in Shelbyville, Ky.

Categories
Communication General Leadership Priorities

How will your church reach your community in the New Year?

It’s that time again, the time we all tell each other how we can’t believe how fast the previous year has gone by.  I will admit, 2010 has seemed to fly by.  It’s amazing how we start each week on Monday and before we know it, its Friday.  Time sure seems to be moving along quickly.

Question  of the week:

How will your church reach your community in 2011?

Here are some ideas:

Setup a plan to serve, without expecting return. I know, novel right?  But when was the last time your church did something for the community just because it was the right thing to do?  I’m not talking about doing something for the less fortunate.  I’m suggesting something that benefits everyone.  Some ideas we’ve seen before are:

– Gas Day – offer to pay a set amount per gallon at the local gas station.  Take it one step further and offer to pump for the person.  This is a good way to strike up a conversation and meet more people in the community.

– Car Wash – Have a day where you wash cars for people in the community.  While your local cheerleaders might get upset that you are taking a fundraiser from them, just do it because its the right thing to do.

– Oil Change – Have a day at the church parking lot where men will volunteer to change oil for single mothers.

– Rake Leaves – travel through neighborhoods and offer to rake leaves.

There are surely countless ideas and ways you can help out your community.  Ask your town mayor or other leaders about things that they know of.  It won’t hurt your church and will reap rewards for your congregation.  Remember, the question to ask yourself is:

If your church closed its doors, and left the community, would the the community know?

Categories
Communication General Web

Church Email Address – Effectively using email for your ministry

Still thinking it is too difficult to have email addresses for your staff and volunteers at your churches domain?  Does your church have a domain?  Do you know what a domain is?

Chances are you do know what a domain is, just may not realize it.  A domain, or domain name, is the name you use online to access websites, email, etc.  Ever gone to Google.com?  That is a domain name.

Has your church registered a domain name yet?  If the answer is no, then you are missing out.  Acquiring your churches domain is one of the simplest and cheapest ways to brand and market your church.  Once you’ve registered your domain, you can use it to direct visitors to your website or email addresses.

Is your church email something like ‘mychurch@yahoo.com‘?  If so, you are definitely not presenting your church as professionally as possible.  @yahoo, @hotmail, @aol and @sbcglobal addresses are generic, impersonal and give visitors the impression that your church or ministry is not keeping up with modern technology.

IT REALLY IS SIMPLE!

Categories
Church Management Communication Time Management

Video Teleconferencing for Cheap

We needed a good way to stay in contact with our clients, especially those that were hours away.  I spent a lot of time looking for good solutions for video teleconferencing but failed to find any that provided what we needed, at a cost that was feasible, until now.

We have started using Skype here in our offices to conference call with clients.  It provides the communication medium we need, with a price that fits any budget….FREE!  I purchased a $99 HD webcam from Tiger Direct.com and have been very pleased with the results.  We can now communicate with our clients that are hours away from us, without having the time and cost associated with driving.

There is still a learning curve for some people to see how to use it, but that will be overcome soon.

If you are looking for a great way to stay in contact, this is a great option.