#TBT Our Single Purpose and God's Faithfulness.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. ~Galatians 5:22-23

Psalms 36:5 says “Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.”

Faithfulness is both an attitude and an action shown toward God and toward others. God’s principles do not change and will never fade—they are eternal. This is true of His character as well, which means He is consistent, trustworthy, and committed to providing the very best for His children regardless of how our circumstances may look. He is faithful. Everything around us may seem as if it is falling apart; yet, God is still moving and working—and His purposes will be accomplished. He is faithful.

Time has no effect on God or on how He makes His plans and decisions. Nothing that happens to us in our lives or in this world will ever surprise Him or interrupt what He is achieving for us. This is why we can always count on Him being true to all of the promises He’s made to us. I want to share a few verses of God’s promises of faithfulness.

Lamentations 3:22–23 “The LORD’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.”

Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.”

Psalm 16:11 “You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.”

1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

There is no doubt that God can and will keep His promises to us because He is absolutely faithful. The only question is whether we will commit to seeking Him, listening to His commands, watching for His help, and embracing His Word. God wants the very best for us and will never lead us astray. And if we stay in the center of His will, we will experience the very best He has to offer. I read in an article about faithfulness that it is both a passive and active word. The passive aspects include things like commitment, loyalty, steadfastness, endurance, and patience. The active aspects include service, charity, obedience, and walking the talk. I know that sometimes it can be overwhelming to think about it, but remember the law of stewardship. We become faithful in big things by being faithful in little things. Think of some small ways you can be faithful, do those, and as you make a habit of it, you will become faithful.

*This post was originally on Our Single Purpose. My best friend and I felt led to start a blog where single ladies can come and know that they are not alone in their singleness! We wanted it to be a place where we can laugh, learn, and be encouraged along the way through Scripture and from our friends who have wisdom and experience. So in 2011, we gathered together, prayed, grabbed a calendar and planned out topics to write about. To read more of my posts click the link below:

https://oursinglepurpose.wordpress.com/author/creativecontemplation/

 

Church Communications Trap.

There’s a trap that those of us who work in church communications ministry fall into sometimes. No, not talking about that Chinese finger trap you keep in your desk drawer. We’re talking about the title trap. This means we tend to view our positions as “administrative or directorial” rather than ministerial. Shocking as this might sound this couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is it is way beyond an administrative role.

Example: Working on at multiple churches in a communications role, I fought this title trap all the time. As a Communications and Media Associate, I was juggling both communications and media and it was hard to believe that my role was ministerial. As a Communications Director, although I had more influence I still struggled. It was easy to get caught up with my tasks and to-dos. I had to remind myself that what I do is Kingdom work. Helping communicate the gospel and the heart of my church is definitely Kingdom work. As believers, we are called to go and tell {Matthew 28:19-20}. As communications leaders, our job is to compel people to come {Luke 14:16-23}.

I want to encourage you that you play such a huge role in communicating the heart, unique DNA and message of your church to the congregation and community. If we don’t take our roles seriously, then we are doing a poor job of communicating the gospel as well as the heart of the church. If that happens, then we aren’t leading new people to our churches and we aren’t keeping current members engaged with the mission of the church. We’ll end up leading them in the dark and we all know that leads to our efforts being ineffective.

We are fulfilling a calling. Don't look at what you do as just a career. We are doing the work of the Gospel. - Tim Schraeder 

  • Note to Pastors and Ministry Leaders: We want you to recognize the work we do is eternal and not simply “brand marketing”. For communications ministry to be effective, we need everyone to treat the Communications Staff as the experts in the field.
  • Note to Communications Directors: Make the effort to include other staff members, volunteers and church members to help you shape your church’s communications ministry. Remember you are fulfilling a calling. Don’t look at what you do as a career. We do the work of the Gospel. It’s ministry.

Be Our Guest!

 

Did you know?

  • Disney Imagineers have gone as far as wearing padding on their knees to crawl in and around the parks at Disney World. Why would they do that? They did that just to see and experience the parks through a child’s perspective.
  • I know a few people that work for Disney and they explained to me that every employee is trained in “guestology”. To Disney, the guest experience is an art form. They learn who the guests are and what they expect when they visit. It’s a standard part of each cast member's job description.
  • The guest services team set up incognito “listening posts” all around the parks to capture candid feedback about guest impressions.

The church should do more of this. Maybe not to the extent of crawling around the auditorium on kneepads but at least care about what guests say about us. We need to become guestology experts!

According to Disney Institute’s book “Be Our Guest”“Guestology is the work of learning who your customers are and understanding what they expect when they come to you. Guestology techniques include surveys, listening post, focus groups utilization studies, and most important, the feedback Guests give to employees.”

Your audience will always keep changing. Why? Because people change. You’ll never be able to learn enough about them and its ok! We want to encourage you to be consumed in finding new ways to adjust your perspective to see through the eyes of not only first time guests but everyone that sets foot in your church. We want to share with you a few practical tips to apply to your study on the art of guestology at your church.

 

Research - Use Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social sites that are out there. Look up your church’s name, pastor’s name and hashtags and see what you find. Researching through these outlets will help you discover what people are saying about you when they are not in the building.

 

Enlist - In the telecommunications industry, this is called “secret shopping”. You basically go into a retail location as a ‘customer’ to gain perspective on how your company and its competitors run the show. How can the church do this? Invite people to you church who don’t usually attend, to visit a service or event. Also, you can even have them look through your bulletin and have them give their opinion. (Note: We all have opinions that we want to show, especially when there are no strings attached.)

 

Surveys - The infamous survey. Surveys are effective and can help you get honest feedback about what works and what doesn’t. There are different ways you can survey – online forms, connection cards, blogs and even polls on social media.

 

Join in –  One of the greatest leadership principles we strive towards is – Walking Slowly Through the Crowd. This is probably the easiest thing you could do to gain perspective into your church’s ever changing audience. It’s about people and when you go where the people are you will definitely gain a greater perspective of the people you are serving. (Note: Watch the shows they are talking about, eat at the places where they eat – this can also help you understand their life and connect with them.)

How have you promoted the Art of Guestology within your ministry? 

Share with us what has worked and what hasn’t worked for your ministry.

My Top 10.

We thought we would start out the week with our top 10 communications online resources. These aren’t the only resources out there but these are the ones we go to over and over again. We hope you will find them helpful to you:

1.  Church Marketing Sucks

Our mission is to frustrate, educate and motivate the church to communicate, with uncompromising clarity, the truth of Jesus Christ. Church Marketing Sucks is a part of the Center for Church Communication, a nonprofit organization where courageous storytellers are welcome.

2.  Center for Church Communication

The Center for Church Communication (CFCC) is a nonprofit organized by communications professionals who have been serving the church and mainstream clients since 1998.

3.  Justin Wise | Content Marketing

Justin is a content marketing practitioner who lives in Des Moines, Iowa. He helps people and organizations tell their stories online. He is CEO of Think Digital and also co-founder of  SOME Co., a social marketing agency.

 

4.  Steve Fogg | Clear & Simple

Steve Fogg is the Communications Director at Crossway Church in Australia. His blog exists to help you communicate clearly and simply. So that you are able to tell your story in a way that connects with your audience whether you are a church, business or non-profit.

5.  Church Juice

Church Juice is passionate about church communications. Everything communicates something, so why not be intentional about what your church is saying to your community and congregation. Church Juice is a educational tool for churches.

6.  Churchm.ag

A great resource that explores how the Church, ministries, and non-profits use technology to effectively fulfill their mission to the world.

7. Richard Reisling | Beyond Relevance

Richard’s blog is at the intersection of his greatest passions: brilliant strategy + health-focused churches (organizations) + life-giving change. He spends most of his time consulting for churches, ministries, and smart companies.

8.  Phil Bowdle | A Practical Conversation on Church Communications

Phil Bowdle is the communications director at West Ridge Church in Atlanta. He’s also one of the presenters and organizers of the Certification Lab, a two-day training intensive coming to Nashville in October for church communications.

9.  Sunday| Mag

Sunday| Mag is a free tool for the creative church. This online magazine is all about the creative process of Sunday mornings – from start to finish.

10.  Social Media Examiner

Social Media Examiner is a great resource tool for small businesses just trying to keep up with the ever-evolving world of social media marketing. Social Media Examiner helps businesses master social media marketing to find leads, increase sales and improve branding using Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and the like!

What additional church communication resources would you add to this list?

Getting Started with Google.

Google has a great number of tools that churches can use to leverage their effectiveness in communicating internally and externally to their communities.  We used Google for pretty much everything. These tools allowed us to collaborate as a church staff during the week in a way that allowed us to maximize our time, energy an resources. We want to share with you some tips on getting started with Google for your church.

How We Got Started:

1. Our Lead Pastor created a Google account for our church that he was the ultimate owner of and would be able to create the key documents.(Creating an account for the church versus an account under just the pastor would make staffing transitions easier when the time came.)

2. Once our account was created, he began creating and sharing documents, spreadsheets, forms and calendars with the appropriate staff and assigned us privileges to view and/or edit as needed.

3. We added content.

 How Can Your Church Start Using This Today?

Google Docs

Google Docs was a great tool for us. They’re free (free is good!), they are stored in the cloud (access anywhere!), and they offer collaboration tools. Plus, you can share (sharing is caring!) documents with others both privately and publicly.

  • Create shared folders for different ministries within your church. Doing this will allow any new documents to be automagically shared with your teams.
  • Share important internal documents like systems, job descriptions, safe church policies, weekly evaluations, sermon outlines and style guides. (We were able to keep these constantly changing documents current without having to print and/or distribute out updated versions.)

Google Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets work pretty much like Excel (Microsoft) or Numbers (Apple), but are stored in the cloud and allow for multiple collaborators.

  • Organize  and sort data from connection cards, first-time guest cards, surveys etc. Since you can have multiple collaborators, this will allow them to view and edit the spreadsheet. (There is a notifications feature that is great and will email you with updates and/or a daily summary).

Google Forms

This can give your church the ability to receive data from a form and it will put into a spreadsheet for you.

  • Event Registration – We used this for any event that was free. (Google doesn’t accept payments so if you have an event that requires payment, Wufoo.com is a great tool for this as well).
  • On-Site Registration – Whenever we had an event where people could register the day of, we used Google Forms at the registration table. This saved us from the headache of trying to figure out whether someone wrote “Ameliya” or “Amethyst” (yes, this did happen at a Fall Festival event once.)
  • Communications Requests – Use this for staff to fill out for any communications/marketing needs.
  • Spending Report – Our Executive Pastor used Google Forms as an Employee Spending Report for sometime. Basically, anytime any of us spent money for our area of ministry – we filled out a short form with our name, how the money was spent (card, check, cash) how much was spent, and the name of the vendor used. This helped him keep a better tab on our budgets during the holiday season.

Google Calendar

This is an incredible tool that can keep your church calendar organized and make it easier to publish to your website and calendars. You can create as many as you want to but be weary not to make it too complicated. Keep it simple.

  • Internal Calendar – Create a private calendar to share with all the staff. We used this for staff and key volunteers to communicate about any internal events. We mainly used this for sermon planning, staff meetings, facilities use, staff calendars/vacations and committee meetings.
  • External Calendar – This can be a calendar shared publicly but should be only edited by the communications department leaders.  You can use this to share worship service times and other church events.
  • Shared Calendars – We used this feature religiously (ha!) for our staff. We subscribed to each others’ calendars and were able to know and see staff schedules.

 

Google has a ton of great services and they are always pushing out new projects. Be warned though that Google also gives and takes away (Reader is now the new Feedly) so enjoy these great Google tools while you can!

How to Drive Away First Time Guests.

I have the honor of reading this book and reviewing it before it releases on Oct. 27th (I encourage you to preorder it! I’ve only just started and it’s incredible!)

Walking into a church for the first time can be scary. Are you making your first-time guests feel welcome? Or are you driving them away—unintentionally—with bad signage, reserved seating, clunky communication and more?


Jonathan Malm examines 50 ways churches make first-time visitors feel unwelcome. The transgressions range from insider lingo to awkward transitions, a cold congregation to the over-eager greeter.

With all of these 50 church faux pas, Jonathan suggests ways to not only fix the problem, but also infuse excellence into the situation so churches can put their best foot forward with first-time guests.

A few simple changes can help your church roll out the welcome mat for your guests.

Have you ever felt unwelcome? I know I have and I have some interesting story to go with it.  So, I was inspired to plan a really fun “church visitor horror story giveaway contest” for the end of next month so be on the lookout for that!

In the meantime, go pre-order Unwelcome: 50 ways Churches Drive Away First-Time Visitors! Trust me, your church is going benefit from this book and your going to love it.

Creating a Content Calendar.

Social media is something we are all familiar with. Statistically, more than half of your church congregation will spend a portion of their week actively engaged on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and blogs.

The tricky part about social media managing is creating consistent content that is inspiring and compelling to your audience. This content has to be shareable, inspiring and intentional. Developing that content takes a lot of time, energy, effort and resources.

Good news though! Your church is already creating amazing content every week (sermons, baptism testimonies and stories of lives being changed!). It’s just going to take aggregation and curation on your part as a communications leader to share that across social media channels. One way to do this effectively and efficiently is to develop and create a content calendar. Creating a content calendar will help you when your planning and producing your content. Your content can sound redundant and become quickly outdated if you don’t implement one.

We wanted to share with you an great Infographic below from Anthony Coppedge’s blog about Social Media Trends Churches Must Understand. Also, we want to give you a head start on your social media content calendar and give you the simple content calendar we use (since we are on Twitter and Google+ for now, we changed it to Facebook and Twitter to get you started).

 

Download it here.

I'm in an Ebook!

I had the pleasure of contributing for Church Marketing Sucks newest ebook – Getting Started in Church Communications: Copy, Web & Jobs. I want to encourage you to check out the website and download a copy to your mobile device and start reading. If you are just getting started in church communications, or if you have been doing it for a long time, this book will truly be worth your time. If you don’t need to know anymore…get your copy here.

 

This series covers writing, websites and landing a job, three volumes collected in one handy church communications ebook. Take a brief look at what each section of the book covers:

Copy Matters: The written word needs to be written well.

Writing is a foundational communication skill and your church needs to wield words with wonder. You’ll find practical writing tips and techniques, plus specific ideas to improve your copy and fine-tune your writing process. 14 chapters cover a range of writing issues, including writing for email, social media and heathens, as well as style guides and proofreading.

Web Basics: Here’s to church websites that wow. 
If your church needs a website or a better one, this is the place to start. Timeless strategy, practical details and realistic expectations are the order of the day, rather than specific techie details that will be outdated next week. 15 chapters cover a range of web topics, including first impressions, the call to action, designing for mobile and more.

Landing a Job: Your new job is waiting. 
Landing that first job—or a new one—is a significant hurdle and it’s OK to get help. This detailed road map will walk you through the job process, from internships to interviews, portfolios to prayer. Fourteen chapters help you get hired, including practical tips on networking, how to prepare yourself, what churches are looking for and more.

Plus each volume includes expert insights from church communication pros in the trenches.

I encourage you to get this book. As one Amazon reviewer put it: “You’ll find it very refreshing and inspiring to take your communications ministry to the next level!”

Grab a copy on Amazon today!

Strategy.

If you find that you “ain’t got time for that” then I encourage you to make time. This is so important and should actually help guide you in some way, shape or form towards a more developed communications strategy. I want to share with you some steps I have had to learn over and over again when figuring out how to develop and carry out a strategy. These are by no means perfect and I am sure compared to some of the experts, I have left out something. The cool thing about these steps is that I can use them constantly. I have to remember that communications strategy is an ongoing process,

# 1. Your vision – Make it known.

This is the most important step. Without a vision, nothing is communicated. Clarify, cast and integrate your vision.

#2. Your Priorities – What is important?

Separate what is important into levels. (Yes, everything is important but if you don’t set priorities then everything becomes important, which in turn makes nothing important.) Communications levels can be decided by the team in the order of importance. Use verbiage like “Big Days” would always let me know what was a level one. Levels can be decided into examples like this:

  • Level One:  Easter, Christmas Eve/Day, Giving, Vision Casting, etc. Its going to be something that is going to impact at least 80-85% of the church.
  • Level Two:  VBS, Student Camps, D-Now’s, Men/Women’s events, Promotion etc. A major ministry event that is aimed towards a large majority of your people.
  • Level Three:  Women’s Bible study, Men’s breakfast, Celebrate Recovery, etc. This pretty much is everything else. Things that are reoccurring throughout the year.

#3. Your Channels

What communication channels are most important? You should choose between 2-4 channels. (Social media – you should start out with 2-3 channels of this as well – blog, newsletter, email, announcements, etc.) This should be based on your vision and overall audience. (Note: I italicized two very important ones. You’re welcome!)

#4. Your Audience 

Whose is your audience? Make sure to have this written down.

#5. Your End Result

Did this turn out the way you initially wanted? Identify what you want the win to be and then use that to measure your results.

#6. Adjust

This just means to start over and constantly have this process being followed throughout your church or organization.