Why Your Church Website Needs Help..Now

Depending on who and what you read, you can find different opinions on how often you should redesign or refresh your website. If it’s a website design company, the answer is probably “six months ago.” They like the business, after all.

I don’t think you should have a timeframe for website redesigns, though. It’s an as needed event and also one that should be carried out with much planning and intentionality.

Website redesigns should be carried out strategically and to meet a need. So if your church has one of these needs, then it may be time to refresh your site.

  1. Your site is not mobile-friendly. This is a top priority right now. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly, responsive website, find someone to fix that right now.
  2. Your logo or branding changes. This may seem obvious, but if you’re going to invest in a new logo or graphic branding package, then make sure your website is redesigned to reflect the change.
  3. Your site is not guest-friendly. Consider the content and layout of your site. Is it mainly for guests or members? If everything is geared to members, it might be time to fix some things.
  4. You need to change website platforms. This redesign is typically forced. If you’re moving to WordPress or Squarespace as your web platform, then you will likely have to make design changes to the site. It’s rare that you can move across platforms and keep a consistent look and feel.
  5. Your site is dated. This is more of a design aesthetic than the other items in this list. But if your site looks old and feels old based on the graphics and content, move forward on a redesign.

The first question I get when I write on website redesigns is who I recommend to do this work. There are several options available to you, but choose someone who knows churches and works with them. Our friends at MereChurch (affiliate link) do a great job helping churches and can help you, too.

Does your church need a website redesign? Have you redesigned your site recently? If so, what drove that decision?

> Read more from Jonathan.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Howe

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Engage First Time Guests with One Simple Action

Email is one of the easiest ways to initiate a connection with first-time guests to your church. However, many churches either fail to use it or fail to maximize its capabilities if they do.

Here are seven tips to maximize your church’s use of email to follow up with first-time guests.

  1. Send a welcome email within 24 hours. Timing is important. I’m not advocating that the first time guest should still be in the parking lot when the email hits their inbox. But if they visit on the weekend, an email before lunch on Monday would be best. This shows the guest that they are a priority to the church.
  2. Send all your welcome emails from a generic church address that uses the name of the church. I recently received a welcome email from a church I visited—but I missed it because it came from a staff member I didn’t know. His name showed up, but since I didn’t recognize the name of the sender, I thought it was spam at first. Had the sender name been the name of the church, I would have recognized it immediately.
  3. Use an engaging subject line. Try to stay away from generic subject lines like “Thanks” or “Thanks for visiting” if possible. Use something more engaging or personal like “We are so glad you visited _____ Church yesterday” or “It was good to see you at _____ Church this weekend.” Just be careful about the length. Anything over 65 characters might get truncated in smart phone notifications and apps. Make your email stand out so that the guest feels compelled to open it.
  4. A template is ok, but be sure to include relevant information. You can send the same email to everyone who visited if you’d like. However, include only relevant information to guests. They don’t need a full event schedule or small group directory in the body of the email—include links to those instead. And for those of you who opt to use a mass email for all guests: use either an email program like MailChimp or ConvertKit or use the Bcc: function. Do not include everyone who visited in the To: or CC: fields. One final note, if you can personalize the email to the individual guest based on their family’s make-up, that’s always best. I realize you may not have enough information for that, but if you do, take the time and make the effort. It will likely pay off.
  5. Prompt the guest for a follow-up action. In the body of the email, offer action steps for the guest to take. Prompt them to find out more about specific ministries or next steps classes. By providing information and opportunities for engagement on the front end, you’re more likely to retain those guests.
  6. Use email sequences if the guest take action. This is where using a service like MailChimp or ConvertKit can really pay off. You can set up email sequences with information about certain ministries, which trigger when the guest clicks on a link in the initial email. These sequences shouldn’t be overwhelming or pressure-packed. But they can be highly informative and engaging for the guest when done correctly.
  7. If possible, check your future records for a second visit. Want to know if things are working? Create a way to measure your return rate and retention rate of guests. If a guest has kids who are checked into childcare, this is an easy metric to track. If they are adults attending worship service only, it’s a bit more difficult. For those, you’d need to track membership class or small group attendance records.

Should email be the only way to follow up with guests? Probably not. Personal contacts always are better than electronic ones, but email can be a starting point for your church to use to get first-time guests engaged to a point where the pastor, staff, or lay leaders can meet with them personally.

Does your church use email to contact first-time guests? If so, do you have an email service you use?

> Read more from Jonathan.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Howe

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Six Ways to Beat the Summer Slump

Summer often means vacation time and travel for many church members. It also means lower attendance and participation numbers in many churches.

While you’ll likely experience some summer lull, you can help minimize this by utilizing one or more of these tips for engaging your church members this summer.

  1. Create a weekly prayer emphasis. Summer is a busy time for most student ministries and children’s ministries. You likely have camps, mission trips, and Vacation Bible School going throughout the summer. Highlight these events with a weekly prayer emphasis spotlight in the service and in your church newsletter.
  2. Report on the results of your summer activities. After your church has prayed for an event, be sure to celebrate how God answered those prayers. These reports can help carry ministry momentum through the summer into the fall when you kick things off again.
  3. Consider hosting special events each month and emphasize inviting others. Maybe you have a potluck at church or an ice cream social at a local park. Outside, summer-themed events can easily be used to invite friends and neighbors to church-related events.
  4. Participate in summer community events. Nearly every town in America does something for July 4 (or July 1 for our Canadian readers). It’s great that some churches have the resources to host a community celebration, but 99% can’t. If you’re in the 99%, make an attempt to be involved in the local community gathering this summer.
  5. Try something new. Use the summer as a test kitchen for something you’d like to implement on an ongoing basis. Maybe it’s a a more casual dress code or style change. Maybe it’s some new songs or stage setup. By telling your congregation that it’s only for the summer, you’ll have more acceptance of something new. I wouldn’t necessarily use the summer to change something core to the identity of the church. Start with fringe ideas and work toward bigger change down the road.
  6. Focus on social media. Because the summer is typically busier, use social media to keep the congregation updated. Next week, I’ll focus more on this item, but brainstorm a few creative uses for Instagram, Facebook Live, Twitter, and blogs for your church to try out.

Summer doesn’t have to be a dry spell in a church. In many instances, it’s the busiest part of the year. Use that to your advantage and keep the momentum going.

What else would you add to this list?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Howe

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Beyond the Front Door: Engaging Church Members Online

As we’ve stated countless times at ThomRainer.com, your church’s website is the front door to your church. I’ve written about why your website needs to be guest friendly, but I haven’t written much about how it should interface with your members.

Needless to say, your church’s website should serve your members as well.

The problem is that too many church websites don’t. Some churches put so much effort into guest information, that they overlook information and features that would appeal to members and have them use the site more. These are the seven most common reasons church members don’t use your church’s website:

  1. You don’t have a church calendar. Almost every church management software includes a church calendar in its functionality. You can embed it on your website or use another calendar tool to keep event information in front of your members. Google Calendar or a calendar plugin on your website are the most common alternate methods churches use to place event information and schedules online.
  2. You’re not using social media well. Your members are the ones who are most likely to engage with your church on social media. If you’re not using social media well, you’re not going to engage your members well. When you provide sharable content on social media, you will draw members and guests alike to your church’s website.
  3. You don’t provide media to consume. Church members miss services from time to time. Many want to catch up on what they missed. Therefore, if you don’t have sermon videos or sermon podcasts on your church’s site, they can’t watch or listen to what they miss. A full media offering will draw more members to your website, and is a great resource for guests wanting to get to know more about your church.
  4. You don’t have online giving or online registration. Both of these tools allow members to make easy payments on your site. Obviously, online giving is much more than a payment, but if you don’t offer it, that is just one fewer reason for members to visit your site. Online registration for upcoming events and the ability to pay for any associated costs is also simple to install and helpful to members.
  5. You don’t publicize your church website. When you have information, event registration, and church-related media on your website, it will lead you to talk more about it. If every event you host requires (or strongly encourages) online registration, your church members will use your website more than if the event registration is a clipboard in the fellowship hall.
  6. You don’t have a church website. There is really no excuse here. A Facebook page is not a substitute for a website.
  7. You don’t have analytics or stats to know if church members are using the site or not. If you don’t have data about what pages are being accessed on your site, you’ll never know who’s using it or what they’re using it for. You’ve got to have data to make informed decisions about what to emphasize.

Do your church members use your church’s website more or less than you would want? What would you add to this list?


Learn more about the effective use of your church website: Connect with an Auxano Navigator today.


Read more from Jonathan.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Howe

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski) — 06/09/17 8:38 am

I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Risk and Rewards of Pastoral Facebook Pages

While advocating for social media and online engagement by pastors and church staff, I’m continually asked about parameters for engagement. The problem is that every situation is unique. There’s not a one-size-fits-all recommendation for social media and online engagement by pastors and church staff.

Facebook is different than Twitter, and both of those are different than the world of blogging. Since Facebook is the most popular platform, it is often the most used and most abused by church members. A pastor or church staff member on Facebook can be a valuable resource to church members as well as a big target.

The Pros

There are many positives for pastors and church staff who are active on Facebook.

  1. Your members are there. Because it’s the most used platform, your church members are likely to be there, too. It makes communication easier for you and the church.
  2. Your members can see that you have a life outside of church. Because of the ease of sharing pictures and events from your everyday life, members can get to know more about you as a person. They get to see that you have a life outside of your job at the church.
  3. You are easy to connect with and contact. Because of the ease of connection on Facebook, church members and community members can connect with you and, by extension, the church. Facebook can become a great outreach tool if you connect well with those in the church and community through its platform.

The Cons

Ironically, the positives that Facebook can bring you online can also be negatives.

  1. Your members are there. Church members can see everything you say or do online. Things can easily be misconstrued, misinterpreted, or misrepresented. I’ve seen something as simple as changing ones profile picture lead to an inquisition about searching for a new job.
  2. Your members can see that you have a life outside of church. Churches are often busy. Church staffs are often even busier. But what about that one event not in your area of ministry that you choose not to attend? The one you skipped for your kid’s play or for a trip with lifelong friends? You can almost expect someone to be upset you chose something else over him or her. It’s not fair. It’s not right. But it will likely happen.
  3. You are easy to connect with and contact. For many pastors or church staff members, their busiest time on Facebook is often Sunday mornings. People often post or message them about being out of town or being sick or needing someone to fill in. Because of the ease of access, Facebook connections are subject to abuse by church members at times.

You might expect me to weigh the pros and cons and determine whether or not you should be on the platform—but that is for you to decide. As for me, even with the cons, the positives of Facebook and the opportunities it presents for ministry far outweigh the temporary frustrations of the negatives.


Learn more about the power of social media for your ministry. Connect with an Auxano Navigator.


> Read more from Jonathan.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Howe

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Big Benefits of Blogging

I’ve been a sporadic blogger for the past few years. However, my weekly post at ThomRainer.com has created a routine for blogging for which I am grateful. As 2017 begins, I want to encourage you to consider starting (or continuing) a blog next year.

There are several reasons many people begin blogging—many of which can be quite selfish. Fame, prestige, money, or job freedom is not necessarily a bad reason to begin blogging. But if one of those reasons is your driving motivation for blogging, your journey into blogging will be likely short-lived and frustrating. Most bloggers never become famous, most never make money from their site, and most can’t stick with the schedule blogging demands.

All that being said, I do have five positive reasons you really should consider blogging in 2017. If done correctly—and with the proper motivation—maybe a modest amount of prestige and a little side income might come your way as a bonus.

  1. Discipline carries over into other aspects of life. Most new bloggers don’t realize the demands a blog can place on time and creativity. However, once the discipline of blogging is developed, it can benefit you in other aspects of life. Maintaining a blog practically forces you to develop routines and content plans. These routines can be mimicked in your dietary planning, workout regimens, personal discipleship, and relationships. A successful blog may not always mean more page views. Personal growth through the discipline of blogging can be success in and of itself.
  2. Blogging forces you to think more about a subject. We live in a hot take society. There are far too many commentators online and on television who speak before they think. Blogging can help you avoid a hot take mindset if you let it. Yes, some bloggers write before they really think about the words. But many of the most well-known bloggers online put a great amount of thought into their words. To them, every word matters. And the more you think about what you write, the more you grow and develop as a blogger and as a person.
  3. A personal website adds credibility in your professional life. Regardless of your profession, having a professional-looking website helps add credibility. When it comes to dining, we eat with our eyes first. A meal that looks appetizing will psychologically taste better than one that doesn’t—even if it’s the same dish. The same goes with a personal website or blog. If you have an eye-catching site, you will be taken more seriously than if you don’t. This is one of the many reasons I’m a fan of the websites Mere Agency builds. If you’re intimidated about the technical or design work it takes to get a blog running or upgraded, they can help you out.
  4. You network with people you might never have met otherwise. Along with your credibility, your network of friends and acquaintances is likely to grow as you blog. In any given month at ThomRainer.com, we have readers from every country in the world and commenters from many of them as well. There is no way we will ever meet all of our readers or visit every country our readers live in. But the number of people we have met through this site is incalculably greater than it would be if ThomRainer.com did not exist. The same will be the case when you start consistently blogging.
  5. Blogging can accentuate discipleship of the readers. This might be the most important aspect of blogging if you are a pastor. Pastors, you have the opportunity to speak into the lives of your congregation on a more regular basis when you blog. I encourage you to capitalize on the opportunity you have through blogging and use it to further the discipleship of your congregation.

Have any of you who blog realized these benefits? What other benefits might you add? If you don’t blog, what are some benefits you would hope to realize if you did?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Howe

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

A Simple Strategy for Church Communication: Inspire

This post concludes a four-part series on church communications planning and strategy. I’ve previously written on engaging and informing your members and potential church guests. Today, we turn out attention to inspiring them.

It’s not enough to simply inform an audience. Ultimately you want them to pass on the information as well. These three elements of your church communications will help motivate your church members to share information about your church.

  1. Use high quality graphics. The graphics you choose can be the difference in someone sharing your content and not sharing it. When it comes to social media (especially Facebook), posts with good graphics are shared more than those without. Having a well-designed post and graphic can be the difference in someone sharing your information or not. And that can ultimately mean the difference in someone seeing it and taking action or not.
  2. Use the right tools. We recently dropped a podcast episode on tools of the trade for pastors and church staff. The tools we listed help make ministers more effective and more productive. When it comes to graphics and communications, using the right tools can make a huge difference. Here are some recommended tools:
    • Email: Mailchimp, ConvertKit
    • Graphic Design: Photoshop, Canva
    • Stock Images: Pexels, Lightstock, iStockphoto
    • Social Media: Hootsuite, Buffer, Sprout Social
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask, but use caution. Sometimes we are too hesitant to “make the ask” with church communications. If it’s needed, don’t be afraid to ask for the audience to take action. However, if every post or message is a hard sell, then people will tune your messages out. Use discretion when making the ask, but do it in a way that encourages them to act and doesn’t shame people for not acting.

What tools would you add to this list? Do you have certain language that you use to make the ask?


Need help with your church’s communication strategy? Connect with an Auxano Navigator.


> Read more from Jonathan.

Download PDF

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| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Howe

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

A Simple Strategy for Church Communications: Inform

I’m currently in the middle of a series on church communications strategy. That may not sound like the most exciting topic, but it’s one that is grossly neglected in thousands of churches across the U.S. and Canada.

I previously wrote on the six keys to engaging your audience. So once you have them engaged, you need to keep them informed. These seven keys will help.

  1. Information isn’t just facts. Presenting information alone doesn’t get the job done. When people are inundated with data without context or a purpose, they ignore it. The information you decide to share needs a reason and a purpose.
  2. Consistency is key. Knowing when to expect information and how it will be presented helps in awareness and retention. Many churches have a template for their worship guides or bulletins. That’s because people want to look in the same spot each week to find similar information. If the information changes locations on the page every week, it makes it harder to find and fewer people will retain the information. Templates are a communicator’s best friends.
  3. Timing matters. When you decide to communicate information to your church or potential guests, having enough lead time is important. If you have an upcoming event and you would like to encourage members to invite friends, they need time to identify potential invitees. A week isn’t really enough time. A month might not be either. Inform your audience well enough in advance to act when you are encouraging them to do so.
  4. Calendars are helpful. Not only do calendars allow you to give enough lead time, they also help you to plan how often to communicate with your audience and in which ways to communicate. A variety of channels and messages help people retain and remember information. Use a calendar to eliminate message clutter and information overlap.
  5. Don’t major on the minors. It’s best to have a system to determine the importance of your messaging and decide what gets the most attention. A Christmas Eve service should be communicated much more than a room change for the decorating committee meeting. Knowing what is of most importance will keep you from cluttering your communications.
  6. Tailor your wording to the audience. I mentioned this in the engaging post as well. You need to use the right words for the audience. Acronyms often make little to no sense to church guests. Your message should always be geared to its desired audience.
  7. Use all the tools at your disposal. Don’t limit the methods in which you communicate. Your options are nearly limitless. Newsletters, bulletins, social media, texting, phone trees, mailings, and the church website only scratch the surface of the communications options churches have today. Use as many methods as possible to communicate as much information as possible.

When it comes to informing church members and guests, keep these seven keys in mind. What would you add to this list? What is your church’s greatest struggle in keeping members informed?


Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn how your church can learn more about keeping members informed.


> Read more from Jonathan.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Howe

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

A Simple Strategy for Church Communication: Engage

In a previous post, I outlined three essentials of a church communications plan and promised to develop the three points further. Today, we begin with the keys to engaging your audience. Remember, your audience includes both church members and potential guests alike. So it’s imperative that you craft messages for both and to each segment.

Engagement is most successful when you start with the goals of your communication in mind and work backwards: consider the desired result, decide the best platform to reach your goal, and word your message accordingly. This can be seen more fully in these six strategic steps:

  1. Keep the audience in mind. One main reason for communications failure is not considering the audience for the message. When you don’t think from the audience’s perspective, you tend to miss details or context clues that are needed in communications. A good example of this is using acronyms. Members may know what you mean, but church acronyms are often lost on guests. Simplify your messaging to reach the widest audience possible as clearly as possible.
  2. Decide on the best channel for communications. Not thinking about the audience often leads to using the wrong channel of communication. Not every message has the same audience, and not every message requires the same channel. Some announcements are better made in print, others are better online, and still others need to be communicated verbally.
  3. Find the best timing. A major church event needs weeks of lead-time when you’re communicating to your members and guests. A Wednesday night supper menu doesn’t. But for weekly events, don’t wait until the last minute or the day before to promote them. Promote them early and often. Finally, when using social media, consider posting at times when you know people will be online and able to respond or share your posts.
  4. Think about the wording. Every word matters. How you label something or the words you use to communicate will have an effect on how people respond or digest the information. A pastor I know once referred to “tithes and offerings” as “church revenue” in a blog post. He received several angry emails and letters as a result. It was an honest mistake, but it goes to show how using the wrong wording can cause the message to be missed.
  5. Use appropriate imagery. Images should compliment the message, not distract from it. There are several free or low cost image sites online for churches to use. If you use imagery wisely, you’ll better communicate with your audience. Please, no clip art. Please.
  6. Proof relentlessly. Some mistakes will slip through. It happens. But you should do everything possible to proof everything that is sent out from your church. Find someone other than the creator to look over something before it’s sent. Familiarity with a document or message will cause you to miss errors. A fresh set of eyes is always best to catch spelling, grammatical, or typographical errors.

Once you’ve moved through this progression, you should have a more fully developed and engaging message to communicate.

How do you engage your audience with your church’s communications? Is there something that is particularly effective for you in your context?


Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about engaging your church through communication.


> Read more from Jonathan.

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Howe

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

A Simple Strategy for Church Communication

Most churches don’t think strategically about their communications efforts. Many times, communications practices are passed on from staffer to staffer without any regard to what is effective. And often, the responsible staff member or volunteer has other duties that take precedent in ministry.

Regardless of your staffing structure or size, church communications can be done effectively and strategically if you consider the perspective of your audience. Church communication isn’t for the benefit of the church; it’s for the benefit of members and guests. So when considering what to say, when to say it, and which channel to use, keep in mind these three essential elements:

  1. Engage the audience. Your church communications should be engaging. Putting out a tweet or Facebook post just so you can check that item off your to-do list is rarely going to engage your church members and potential guests. Content should be sharable, memorable, and relevant. The difference between engaging content and content that is not typically involves thinking through the messaging. Start with the goals of your communication in mind and work backwards: consider the desired result, decide the best platform to reach your goal, and word your message accordingly.
  2. Inform the audience. Once you’ve engaged your audience, keep them informed. Consistency with your communications is important. Try to plan out your church’s communications week by week and stick to the plan as best as possible. Once you have your weekly schedule set, then you can move to monthly, quarterly, and annual planning. By planning out what you want to communicate to members and guests on a consistent basis, you can more effectively integrate major church events into your communications plan.
  3. Inspire the audience. Informing and engaging your audience isn’t enough. They should be inspired to share. Graphics aid in this area more than words. People are more likely to share inspiring graphics than inspiring paragraphs. Both have value, but one appeals visually. The graphics you choose can be the difference in someone sharing your content and not sharing it.

Over the next few week’s, I’ll be digging deeper into these three elements. So if you have any questions about the specifics, share them in the comments section below, and I’ll be sure to touch on those items in future posts.

Does your church plan its communications strategically? Do you engage, inform, and inspire your church members and guests with your content?


Want to learn how to be strategic with your church communication? Contact an Auxano Navigator to start a conversation.


> Read more from Jonathan.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Howe

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.