Do not create church digital experiences without consulting others in your church. This sounds simple enough, but it happens all too often. The web team changes the website and the address on printed material is no longer valid. You also need to ensure the opposite does not happen. Your youth ministry leader may start a social media account without anyone else knowing. Here are a few tools for keeping lines of communication open and flowing.
That last sentence has the key to all this; open communication. Unfortunately we are all so busy and these discussions rarely happen organically. A regular schedule of meetings may seem like only extra work. Yet if we focus our conversations, they will feel far more productive. Avoid talking about specific technologies. Keep to the topic of problems across your church with these three tools.
Whenever the web team starts a project, pause for a moment. Call a meeting of all your major ministry leaders. Few of us enjoy meetings, but a validation meeting might save you a lot of future effort. The purpose is to present your proposed project to those leaders. Hopefully they have insight as to how their ministries can benefit. Do not focus on the technology as much as the features and potential benefits. Many leaders do not want to weigh in on tech-related subjects. Keep them occupied with how to solve their ministry's various communication problems. Also, there is a chance they may not like your ideas. Yet if they have valid reasons, perhaps you can save time and money. It is better to vet these ideas now instead of after months of work.
In a similar fashion, you can meet with individuals before you even have that brilliant ideas. Interview key ministry stakeholders to gain their input and insight. Do not just ask them what technology they want to see implemented. Stakeholder interview questions revolve around that person's vision and current issues. Focus on their areas of expertise. Ask for their one, three, and five year vision of their ministry. Where are they struggling. Is there a demographic that is missing? Where are they having the greatest success. You are the technology person. You can digest these findings later and begin thinking of potential solutions. Later they can follow up with a validation meeting to see how close you came to the mark. The great thing is that you may point out a problem that everyone is having. They will surely to see the value in the method. Plus if you have solutions lined up, the communications team will be everyone's new best friends!
Social Media Round-ups
The communications team must play an active role in communicating their plans and ideas. The hope is that others return the favor. If they do not, your only remaining option is to search for yourself. Look on social media platforms for rogue accounts. I imagine often it will be someone in the church trying to do some good online. Yet they are likely not following your branding guidelines. They are probably not using your church's voice and tone. Yet they may have a great pulse on the demographic they are trying to reach. This may be a great opportunity. Ask to take over the account and bring it up to standards. Train your well-meaning friend about writing for the web and social media. But shortly allow that person to begin posting again. They probably had good connections and momentum. So let them continue their efforts. The good thing is now you know about the account. Plus you can advertise it and let others in your church know it exists.
The bottom line here is to facilitate various channels of communication within your church. Make sure your web team has time to chat with your church's leaders. Connect with your ministry leaders to see how you can best solve their problems. Also, perform regular searches on social media to avoid a potential problem. Regardless, you need to channel your church's creativity into better digital experiences. Create those opportunities by removing the silos that exist in so many organizations. Develop a plan to get conversations happening and issues resolved.
Photo courtesy of Lance Hancock.