In Layman's Terms: Register now for low-cost local church communications workshops
Anyone who has ever attended one of my workshops probably can attest to me saying something along the lines of “the days of opening the church doors and new people come flooding in are long gone.”
It’s not all that profound. It’s really kind of a “Captain Obvious” statement worthy of those Hotels.com television advertisements. So, the statement may be obvious, but the answer to the question “What do we do?” is a little more difficult to pinpoint. Some churches do really well at using the tools at their disposal to reach into their communities. Others have asked for some help.
So, in the fall of 2018, our communications team sent a SurveyMonkey poll to each pastor on a district-by-district basis. We asked questions such as how often the church updates its website and Facebook page, whether it uses Instagram, how often it publishes a newsletter, and what is the biggest communications-related concern that particular church faces.
We received more than 260 responses across the 17 districts. And the responses told us that we should focus our training efforts on four areas:
- Website content and practices. This will not deal with how to build a page, for example, in WordPress. We’re working on a future workshop to help with those kinds of technical needs.
- Social media best practices.
- Tips for using multimedia worship tools.
- Low-tech tools — think bulletins, newsletters, signage and bulletin boards.
Thanks to that great feedback, our communications team has spent time since the special session of General Conference putting together a series of workshops meant to help churches with those four subjects. We’ve made note of our personal experiences serving in the local church, we’ve made note of best practices as we’ve traveled to churches across the conference, and we’ve asked via Facebook for help in identifying some best practices.
Along the way we’ve taken some courses offered by professional communications organizations, short-term classes at local colleges, and online offerings from within and outside our United Methodist denomination.
The result is a day of training in six sites across our two states, paying particular attention to proximity for small- to medium-size churches so they can get the help they need. We have six dates picked out:
- Aug. 17 in Ogallala, Nebraska.
- Aug. 24 in Holdrege, Nebraska.
- Sept. 28 in Lawrence, Kansas.
- Oct. 12 in Salina, Kansas.
- Nov. 9 in Columbus, Nebraska
- Nov. 16 in Cimarron, Kansas
Participants can choose between the websites and projection workshops in the morning, break for lunch and then choose between the social media and low-tech tools workshops in the afternoon. The cost is just $10 per person to cover the cost of snacks and lunch. Your church’s mission shares already have paid for the training.
Our hope is that more than one person will attend per participating church so you can have someone in each workshop.
Download the flyer with more information.
Register for the workshops.
In closing, here’s a brief synopsis of the four workshops we are offering.
Website Do’s and Don’ts
— Potential guests want to “test drive” your church before deciding to attend on any given Sunday. So, how do you make sure your site is as good as it can be for the newcomer while also serving as a hub of information for people who already are part of your congregation? We’ll provide some best practices in terms of design and about the content that will give you the best opportunity to reach your community.
Social Media Best Practices
— Just because your church is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram doesn’t mean you actually are reaching your mission field. These platforms can be powerful methods for building connections within your church as well as for reaching people outside the walls of your church building. We’ll share some tactics that will help you use social media as an evangelism tool.
Multimedia worship tools
— This is a condensed version of a Lay Servant Ministries advanced course that will help guide you as you select hardware such as projectors and screens while also providing tips for clean slide designs that will make first-time attendees comfortable in your worship setting.
— We’ll take a look at tools you already have and help you decide how to augment the content so that a first-time attendee can become comfortable enough to return. Along the way, enhancements to bulletins, newsletters, bulletin boards and signage also will help you communicate more effectively with the folks already in the pews.
We look forward to meeting many of you and passing along what we’ve learned via these workshops. Please consider taking advantage of this low-cost opportunity.
Todd Seifert is communications director for the Great Plains Conference of the United Methodist Church. He can be reached via phone at 785-414-4224, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Opinions expressed are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Great Plains Annual Conference or The United Methodist Church. Follow him on Twitter, @ToddSeifert.