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Social Media Resources

12 March 2013

Send Great Church Emails People Actually Want to Read

Posted in How To, Resources, Social Media

emailFor all the advances in digital communications and social networking, email continues to be the most reliable way for congregations to digitally communicate with members and potential members. Why? In the transition we find ourselves in between print and digital communication, email is the most reliable way of digitally sharing your ministry’s news and information. It’s as close to mailing a letter to everyone’s home as you can get, just without the paper and postage.

Unfortunately, most congregations fail to get the most out of their emails for several reasons:

  • Uninteresting design
  • Inconsistent scheduling
  • Incomplete email lists (who gets it)
  • Inability to measure their success (who reads it)
  • Too much or too little information
  • Lack of focus

However, for some that use email well, a weekly email update is becoming the anchor of their communications strategy, lessening the need for a time and paper intensive production of a monthly newsletter.

Here are some ways and a few examples of how to send great emails that people will read:

19 February 2013

Helping Our Youth Become Digital Disciples

Posted in How To, Resources, Social Media

textingTechnology pervades nearly every aspect of our daily lives—especially those of our teenagers—and yet we rarely talk about it in our churches.

People carry powerful smartphones, wonderous tablets, and they work daily on desktop and laptop computers. They are continually plugged into the internet and social networks—technologies which have completely saturated our daily lives and work.

And yet, as pervasive as these technologies and digital media are, we don't really talk about them in church. Why?

Perhaps there is an unspoken presumption that these devices and networks don't have anything to do with our faith. In fact, they powerfully shape our faith in ways we are often unaware of—both by the information we receive through them (how we are formed), and how we live out of faith in digital spaces (how we enact our faith). It may also be our own relative discomfort with understanding and operating these technologies ourselves. We can feel less than knowledgable and outpaced (read: intimidated) by our teenagers.

In this digitally-integrated time, churches need to take seriously and engage in conversation at the intersection of faith and technology for all ages, but especially youth. As our youth live more of their lives online, they will also live out their faith there too. If we don't engage it, we will miss out on a huge part of their lives...and leave them without spiritual guidance.

19 December 2012

Social Media Strategies for Synods and Dioceses

Posted in ELCA, Resources, Social Media

iphone-iconsChurch judicatories, such as synods and dioceses, have a unique set of challenges and opportunties when it comes to employing digital social media to further their mission and ministry.

In this webinar I led for ELCA synod communicators, I suggest some crucial and often overlooked steps in developing a judicatorial social media strategy by applying the approach to social media for ministry that Elizabeth Drescher and I put forward in our book, Click2Save: The Digital Ministry Bible.

In the course of the webinar I quote Elizabeth, who once noted that, "Institutions don't do social. People do social." One of the dangers of judicatories and larger church institutions is that with the understandable need to disseminate news and information, we lose sight of the point of social media—actually developing relationships, not only with the judicatory or its staff, but congregation to congregation, person to person. It can be more difficult for larger instutions to make the shift from broadcast to social media, marketing to ministry, from the instituitional to the personal—but this is what will ultimately prove most effective.

Much of the advice here also applies to congregations and individuals.

02 October 2012

I Love to Tell the Story: Use Podcasts to Improve Your Preaching

Posted in Resources, Social Media

old radioPhoto by Andrew TaylorIf you want to keep your preaching fresh but don't have the time or money to attend a big conference, consider using podcasts to spark your imagination and become a better preacher.

At its heart, preaching is storytelling - whether its retelling the Bible stories, the story of what God is up to now in the world, God's people, places, or encounters.

However, storytelling is becoming a bit of a lost art. We have less time these days to sit and weave together tall tails and stories. We are not as steeped in story as we used to be and, I fear, if only for myself, losing something in our proclamation.

Podcasts are a rich resources for modern day storytelling. They are schools for storytelling, if we listen not only what they say but how they say it - the pace, timing, wordsmithing. Best of all, it's free and you can listen from home, on a run, or in the car.

In the last year, I've made it a point to listen to storytelling podcasts, and I have definitely noticed an improvement in my story telling and preaching.

Here are three of my favorite storytelling podcasts:

23 September 2012

Social Media Bishop: A Conversation With Bishop Jim Hazelwood

Posted in Resources, Digital Ministry, Interviews, Social Media

Jim Hazelwood

Bishop Jim Hazelwood of the New England Synod of the ELCA is using social media to help make his synod more relational and his office as bishop more accessible.

In this video conversation we talk about the ways he is using blogging, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and texting to connect and tell the story of his synod - and to remind us that "we are the synod."

Bishop Hazelwood makes extensive use of video to document his travels, bring greetings when he cannot be somewhere in person, and share what's on his mind and heart. He also relates the story of doing a "Talk and Text" gathering with synod youth, recieving 369 text messages in an hour. His blog, Bishop on a Bike, serves as the hub of his digital ministry and provides a personal, less institutional, way to connect with the bishop.

Bishop Hazelwood is doing great stuff and his practice of digital ministry has great application to people in all ministry settings. The video starts after the jump. Enjoy!

10 August 2012

10 Commandments for Church Websites

Posted in Resources, Social Media

moses iphoneNow more than ever, it is essential to have a well designed and engaging church website. Here are my top ten commandments for getting the most value out of your church website.

Audience

1. Focus on Newcomers

Your church website's primary value is as an introduction to newcomers and then secondarily as news, resources, and information for members. Of course, there is overlap between the two. The difference is that members know where to find what they need. First time visitors don’t.

The home page and prominent menu items should focus on newcomers, providing the most crucial information on the first pages they see. Of course, you also want news and information for current members. You can place links/portals with this internal communication, especially administrative information, to the bottom or side of the page (and let people know where to find them.)

Help newcomers find your website on Google search using this technique.

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