For 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:
Photo 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:
Now 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.
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.
In this 50-minute wide-ranging interview I talk with The Rev. Chris Yaw from ChurchNext.tv about church websites, social media, digital ministry, welcoming newcomers and reaching out beyond our congregations. I really enjoyed the conversation, which we did via Skype. Chris has many great interviews on his site including Bishop Mike Rinehart, Phyllis Tickle, Stephanie Spellers, Maggi Dawn, and many, many more. (The video begins with a short ad. The rest is all interview. Enjoy.)
In Four Easy Steps
QR or Quick Response codes are an increasingly popular way to quickly provide links and information to users of smart phones and tablets.
When scanned with a QR Reader App, they quickly convey contact information, website addresses, email addresses, phone numbers, calendar events, and more. Now, rather than typing in a website address, people can just scan the QR code and be taken directly to the site.
Our congregation has been using a QR codes for a while now. We include one in the Sunday bulleting that links to our Facebook page. This Sunday we took it a step further by making the entire liturgy available to people on their mobile devices.
I've always hoped for an alternative to all the paper we use on Sunday mornings, but I always imagined that the solution would be a technology that the church would provide - much like we do the bulletin. Now people are already coming to church with these devices - their smartphones and tablets. We don't need to invent or invest in the technology. We just need to make the materials available to them. Once you know how, its easy to do. And its free.
Here's how you can deliver your liturgy or any document to mobile device in four easy steps: