Communication has become very fragmented in the world. Gone are the days when we could get word out with a simple announcement in a worship bulletin and a blurb in the newsletter. Communication today happens quickly and though we may speak in the same languages, we need to learn how to use a variety of “tongues.” We need to move beyond the spoken and printed word and communicate in additional ways, if we are to continue to engage younger folks. Here are a few of technological tongues that can enhance the church’s ministry.
Website: The church’s website remains a critical part of what we do in ministry. It is, first and foremost, our presence on the web for those who are looking for a church home. It functions like the yellow pages used to. People looking for a church use google. They want to know a bit about the church, when worship services are held, and where the church is. We keep these things front and center on a site that is clean, up to date, and attractive. Today it is easy to put a site together. We use a drag and drop editor provided by fatcow.com, the company that hosts our website.
Facebook: Our facebook page communicates with the community around us and our members. We post to it several times a week. Whenever we can, we include pictures of people engaged in activities, especially pictures of our younger folks. We announce upcoming worship schedules regularly and post links to newsletters. When people visit our page they see what is important to us and get a feel for what we are about.
Constant Contact: Adults still read newsletters, albeit, not as much as we’d like them to. In addition to our printed bulletins and newsletters, we send out a weekly electronic newsletter. We use constant contact to do this. We focus on upcoming activities and special announcements. Constant contact is easy to use, is not very expensive, and allows you to see who is opening your newsletters.
Remind 101: This is a great tool for working with youth. It is a free text messaging program that is designed primarily for teachers. After creating a group, people subscribe to it by sending a text message to it. From then on, text messages can be sent to the group. You can schedule these messages far in advance. We use it to announce youth events and to keep our youth band up to date on rehearsal schedules.
Phonetree: Six and a half years ago, we began using phonetree to send messages to our congregation via phones on a weekly basis. We purposely don’t use the word “robocall,” when speaking of this tool, but that’s what it is. Once we bought the system, we record a single message and it uses our phone lines to send it out. We have saved hundreds of dollars in postage. Other than the upfront cost of buying the hardware, our only other expense for this is the cost of calls made to long distance numbers.
Twitter: We are still watching twitter to see how to use it best. A lot of our youth are using it regularly. It is free to use.
Hootsuite: This is another free tool that allows you to post messages to twitter (to tweet) and facebook. I use it regularly to schedule ahead messages for our facebook page. In a matter of a few minutes, I can prepare fb posts for a week or two in advance and hootsuite will post them for me.
These are a few of the “tongues” we employ to communicate in the church. What do you use? I’d love to hear more about tools you have found helpful. Feel free to leave a comment about your favorite, or send me a note: LJ@jabboksedge.com.