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Posts Tagged ‘visitors’

Picture of Twitter Bird

some_communication

Last week I was interviewed by MSNBC for an article about how churches are using social media (read it here). As I prepped for the article, I created a list of reasons why churches should consider using Social Media (SM).

5 Reasons to Consider Using Social Media for Your Church:

  1. Local Context– Unlike most communication mediums, SM is grassroots based- meaning it provides a powerful way to reach out to people in your specific community.
  2. Be Present in the Conversation about You– People discuss all kinds of issues on SM- including their church. In order to be part of conversation, you need to be present. This is especially key when communicating about brand, major events, or in times of a crisis.
  3. Reach Gen X and Millenials– Younger generations are skeptical about institutional church- SM offers a way to engage with them, whereas they would be hesitant walk into a church building.
  4. Connect with People not Present– SM offers tools to connect with people who are unable to be physically present- traveling, hospital, shut-ins, etc. With SM they can participate live or by watching/engaging with an event later.
  5. Facilitate Conversation– more than just telling people about your church and its ministry, SM provides a place for a larger conversation where everyone has a voice- providing more transparency and accountability for organizations.

If you want to consider how Social Media can improve the operations and ministry of your church, I would also encourage you to follow Rev. Courtney Richards on facebook or twitter (@c_rev) – links are for her pages.

Courtney is a minister at Geist Christian Church in Indianapolis (facebook link), and when I asked her about SM, she said, “I use SM all the time to keep us with members and with what is going on in the community. It has been great way to reach out to people and to offer either a word of support or to give someone a shout out for their hard work.”

If you are considering using Social Media, feel free to read a number of blogs that I have posted here, and to also find someone in your local community who can assist you. You can begin by just listening and observing first, and then jump in as you feel ready.

Blog Notes: Special thanks to Courtney Richards for the quote and letting me share her online twitter profile.

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On Monday I was interviewed by Alex Johnson, a reporter for MSNBC.com about how churches are using social media.

In the interview I really tried to stress that churches really have a great opportunity to connect with their local communities (via social media), and that the conversation was taking place, with or without their official presence.  Here is the link to the full article: “For Some Churches, The Internet Clicks; for Others It Doesn’t”

social media

some_communication

Much of article focuses on how different denominations and local churches have adapted to using social media.  But, the article also helps to spell out that congregations need to think through how they plan to use it.  It is not enough just to create a facebook page or to have a static website.  Instead, churches really need to think about their ‘brand’ and what messages they hope to convey to their potential audience.

As you read the article, here are some helpful questions to ask about your church’s use of Social Media:

  1. Who are we trying to target?
  2. What is our overall goal for using Social Media
  3. What messages should we try to communicate?
  4. How can we participate in the conversation, rather than just push out information? (more…)

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Worship Bulletin

Paulo Brabo

Over the past three weeks, I have been a visitor to three different churches, and at each, I was struck by what their worship bulletin (program) told me about the congregation and its overall ministry.

Here are some questions to consider as you review your bulletin:

  • Does your bulletin look historic or modern?– Visiting a traditional and historic church, it was no surprise that their bulletin looked out of date. It looked like the church had not updated their bulletin design since the 1980’s. In contrast one church’s bulletin had a more recent design, with colors, that conveyed a sense of life in the church.
  • Does your bulletin have pictures and colors?– similar question, but a good one to consider as we increasingly live in a world defined by visual images.
  • Is your bulletin easy to read?-This is more than just the size of your font. Hopefully the layout and flow of your bulletin is easy to read by visitors who will not be familiar with the rituals of your worship.
  • Does your bulletin welcome visitors?- Certainly a welcome note is helpful, but does it help give instructions for people who are unfamiliar with when to stand, sit, sing, take communion, pray out loud, etc?
  • Is more than half of your bulletin about the news of the church?- Some news and announcements can be good, but often (more…)

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On Monday, I talked about how technology can bridge the accountability gap that separates donors from beneficiaries, and in the post I shared that I would write 3 blogs showing how such examples can be used. This is the last of three posts.

When I talk with pastors and nonprofit leaders I often hear the complaint, “There is just so much to do, and it is really hard to keep our website updated.”

Having been a pastor and a leader of several nonprofit organizations, I totally understand.

Question: So how can an organization create a great website that has the normal static and important information, with a website that is updated frequently?

Answer: Using RSS Feeds, Blogs, and Twitter Feeds.

One of the best examples of this combination is Keep Indianapolis Beautiful ‘s website- www.kibi.org (Be aware that the organization uses green colors to match their environmental theme). By looking on the main page, you will see a twitter column (newsfeed) on the bottom right and a blog feed in the middle of their main page (the pic below is a screenshot- click to enlarge).

 

By using these tools, you can use blogs and twitter to help communicate the many ways in which your organization impacts your community.

Blog Notes: Thanks to KIB for letting me highlight their page.

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Yesterday, I talked about how technology can bridge the accountability gap that separates donors from beneficiaries, and in the post I shared that I would write 3 blogs showing how such examples can be used. This is the first of three posts.

Have you ever experienced listening to a member of  a church, or nonprofit organization, who can’t clearly articulate the mission or the impact of the organization?

Maybe the experience came as a friend asked you to donate money to support a charity. Or maybe, it happened when someone invited you to church, or as a friend described why they volunteers their time.

In many cases, these experiences are awkward attempts to tell the story of an organization. However, because most of these stories are told by volunteers or members, they often miss the true power of sharing the core mission and impact of an organization.

Given this experience, many organizations are now turning to technology to help them to:

  1. Tell the Story- Using their own words and images (pictures, blogs, videos, etc) (more…)

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Most of us know the phrase, “You only get to make a first impression once,” but for organizations, this first impression is rarely face to face.

Person looking at a computer screen

bmhkim

Instead, most visitors will first find you online- think website, facebook, and or twitter. Most businesses get this concept already, but for many churches and nonprofits, going online is a hard transition:

  • It can be difficult to design a website if you don’t have experience
  • It can be hard to image its purpose, target audience, and how it can be helpful to visitors (outsiders)
  • It is easy to be overwhelmed
  • You may have too many chiefs and no one able to commit to completing the project (more…)

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Did you know a tree can add 10% of value to a property?  Or, that trees can help to lower heating and cooling costs to a facility?

trees

Ben.Millet

The answer to both of these questions is “yes, both are true.”

In 2005, Susan Wachter, from The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, conducted a study entitled, The Determinants of Neighborhood Transformations in Philadelphia.” The study was designed to analyze the economic impact of how planting trees and creating site improvements impacts the value of property values.

Some of the highlights of the study include:

  • The study finds that vacant land improvements result in surrounding housing values increasing by as much as 30%. (more…)

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Today’s guest blog was written by Mary Heron Dyer, a Unity minister.   Since Mary’s becoming deaf, a main focus of her ministry is informing congregations of faith about the prevalence and effects of adult hearing loss and consulting with them about appropriate and affordable hearing assistive technologies. Mary is married to Sheryl Butler, a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) minister, and together they run www.journeyroad.org

I awoke on May 22, 2008, ready to leave the hospital after knee surgery. But something was wrong. I couldn’t hear.

(L) Mary Dyer (R) Sheryl Butler

Panicked, I rang a nurse to call my spouse Sheryl to come ASAP! As the day wore on, doctors trooped through, offering guarded opinions about my inexplicable deafness.

Home a week later, I hoped the steroids and antivirals might cure me. It soon became clear, however, I would be deaf for the rest of my life. I struggled with depression, fear, and by far the worst, isolation. For seven months everyone had to write out EVERYTHING they said to me. A true test of friendship!

I now have a cochlear implant, giving me some hearing: mostly face to face, without background noise.  Every time I go out I have to “come out” as deaf, asking people to repeat. I cannot go to non-captioned movies. I struggle with telephones. I miss nuances in conversations. (more…)

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I was recently visiting a church to assist them with some financial planning, and during my visit I asked them two questions:

  1. What is your niche ministry and mission?
  2. If I asked someone who is (name of org) how would they answer?

In response to the first question, the leaders had a difficult time naming who they were as a congregation and what they saw their specific ministry as (think uncomfortable silence). In response to the second question, the leaders were almost unanimous in saying, “People would ask you, ‘Who is that?'”

Not it could be easy to criticize this church, but in my experience, they are not alone. In almost 60-70% of the churches and other nonprofits I visit, I ask the same questions and I get the same responses.   For what ever reasons, many organizations have lost their focus on the mission that they provide.

In a recent paper, Success by Design: How R&D Activates Program Innovation and Improvement in the Nonprofit Sector, by Peter York, I found a similar reflection about designing a mission and program based on actual impacts. (more…)

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Two times this past week, I was reminded about the importance of relationships in congregations:

  1. The first was in a conversation with my wife about church, and the difficulty of entering into a community without developing friendships.
  2. The second was in worship as my pastor, Randy Spelth, said, “Churches often offer programs, but programs don’t change lives. People change lives.”

In both instances, the conversation centered on the idea that churches are social organizations.  Churches are communities of people who share a common vision, believe, and faith, but they are also organizations composed of families, friends, and small groups.

relationship chart

Relationship Chart

These various groups, when combined, create the whole, and each member of these groups, represents a node or

connecting point where relationships meet.

In this reality, it is important to realize that when a church leader or volunteer offers to help with a project or position, they often do this because of their relationship to the person asking and the organization itself.Thus, if we are going to conduct a capital campaign or manage the use of the church facility, we need to consider how a person will respond based on their relationship to the church.

By taking time to gain this perspective, churches can better understand the performance of their activities, when relationships are strengthened or weakened, and why offering a program to a visitor will never work to connect them to the organization.  Churches need to offer relationships, and create strength from connecting people inside and out of the congregation.

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