Creating Sustainable Digital Ownership

abandoned propertiesYou made your church a website, but nobody updates it. You created social media accounts, and they sit dormant. What can you do to get that lagging ministry invested in their digital properties? Build half the property yourself. Then work with ministry leaders to develop the other half. This strategy has many benefits. Help them create a digital property so there is a sense of ownership. Develop a schedule and ask your leadership to help keep everyone on track. Create a strong sense of digital ownership.

Investment

It is a simple concept. You care about what you earn, more than what you are just given. Your ministries will appreciate the properties they help create. Plus, it is a training opportunity. They will learn many new skills, such as:

  • Writing content for the web
  • Creating meaningful calls to action
  • Developing their brand on social media
  • Engaging audiences in digital ministry
  • Interpret basic analytics results

Time

It will take time to help ministry leaders learn. That of course is time you are not performing your usual duties. But once they are trained, you should be free to work in other areas. Be even more efficient to host a workshop for several leaders at once. The time you spend training will pay off with excited and empowered ministries.

Empathy

When you work together, you learn about each other. Digital ownership works both ways. Ministry leaders of course figure out how to create an effective online platform. In turn, you learn about their ministry and the challenges they face. Both sides will gain an appreciation for what the other does. The more understanding, the more effective a team your church will be.

Ideas

You most likely have been doing this whole church communications thing for a while. You might have taken programming classes, or attended technology conferences. But your ministry leaders are experts in their respective fields as well. They know what people ask about. Every day they see what members and visitors struggle with. That is valuable knowledge for creating better digital communities. Social media posts are far more effective when you know your audience’s problems.

Action Item

Start writing a course of action for your next website or social media overhaul. Bake the notion of digital ownership into it from the start. Determine what the communications team will build. Then see where your ministry leaders can pitch in to finish up. Work alongside each other to better understand each other’s obstacles. In the end you will have leaders interested in maintaining their digital ministries. Plus you will have more time to start those new projects. Get going and build half a digital ministry!

This article was inspired by the 99% Invisible podcast “Half a House

This photo courtesy of Meve TA

Digital Solutions to Reduce Social Anxieties

social-anxietyBeing out in public is not enjoyable for everyone. There are a multitude of situations and reasons why. What we need to remember is not to punish anyone because of it. Nor should we deny them the Gospel. Solutions exist to allow for personal connection that is not face-to-face. Here are a few scenarios and some possible solutions for these anxieties.

First, please know that I am not a psychologist. I have no medical training and offer no medical advice. If you have one of these situations, please seek professional help. These solutions are about how to get you connected to a church, not cure a condition.

Fear of Crowds

Some people start to cringe at the thought of being surrounded by a large crowd. They often feel closed in and suffocated. You may have someone suffering through this anxiety in your church right now. Maybe even this week, someone sat through a service, paralyzed with fear. Publishing sermon recordings on YouTube is a great way to connect with these people.

Public Speaking

One of the most well-known fears people have is public speaking. It often outranks the fear of dying. Yet in many of our group ministries we ask people to talk in front of others. Smaller groups may not reduce that fear. Use chat or video conferencing to allow people to connect from the comfort of their own homes.

New Spaces

Sometimes just the thought of going into an unknown situation can keep someone at bay. They may want to test the culture of the church out before they arrive on site. Recorded sermons, worship services, and provide walkthroughs of your church. They need to know what to expect when they walk through the door.

Mental Disorders

There are many mental health and neurological conditions that make people avoid crowds. Something as Tourette’s syndrome can be a huge challenge in a church environment. ADHD can make paying attention to sermon especially difficult. The private setting of streaming sermons makes dealing with these scenarios easier. You remove the stares and awkward glances. Your audience can take a break by pausing a recorded sermon.

Avoiding Specific People

We may not want to think about it, but another group of people may be worried about a more specific threat. The circumstances can be wide and varied. But instead of asking someone to leave your church, find a digital solution. This is not a disorder or medical condition. But anxiety is anxiety regardless of the cause. A parent can rest easier they will not violate a restraining order if they attend a service. These are difficult situations for a church to deal with. I hope a digital solution can have wide-ranging positive effects.

Action Item

As a first step, record your sermons. If possible, add recordings of your worship. Check with copyright laws first depending on your style of music. This allows you to distribute that content to anyone suffering from those conditions. Then add a snippet of video or audio that addresses your remote audience. Give them information about how they can connect face-to-face, in smaller groups. Provide a doorway for anyone with those fears to ease into the culture of your church. Remind your leadership that not everyone is outgoing and worry-free. These resources are a blessing to anyone who needs the Gospel, but is burdened with hardships.

Photo courtesy of Brenton Nicholls

Can Your Content be Weaponized?

weaponizing-contentWords and images can hurt. Those originating by our friends and family can hurt more. And those that have the supposed backing of religion can be devastating. Curate your digital ministry’s content to prevent these kinds of scars. This article goes into various ways your well-meaning content can lead to pain.

Remembering Sadness

Facebook had a feature called “Year in Review” a while back. It showed you some of your most popular posts as a highlight of the year. The problem was that often those posts received attention because they were heartbreaking. Mothers saw pictures of their unborn children lost to miscarriage. Friends saw posts of pictures of friends they lost to cancer. People saw photos of their previously whole family before divorce tore them apart. There were many cases where the most popular memories were painful ones. Consider how your congregation will feel around specific holidays and post appropriate content. Remember that for every few people celebrating, there is one mourning a loss.

Avoiding Sidewalk Preaching

Most churches frown upon the idea of a sidewalk preacher, yelling about doom and gloom. I imagine you and your church want to promote the message of the Gospel. You promote love and forgiveness above all things. Many passages of scripture can be taken out of context to shout a message of hatred and exclusion. Avoid posting content that could be easily converted to a message of anger. Yes, we know unforgiven sinners face an eternity of suffering in Hell. But until that day occurs, strive to save everyone with demonstrations of Christ’s love. Echo these sentiments on your website and social media presence.

Discouraging Unwarranted Interventions

Often times people will feel too exposed to shout to the masses. Sidewalk preachers seem too radical. Yet the same posture in the comfort of their own home feels safe. Avoid giving people fuel to post and share information about their loved ones. First, I am not social worker. But interventions should occur only when many people observe destructive behavior. Not when one person feels goaded on by an out-of-context piece of scripture found on the Internet. Do not provide the fuel for someone’s anger to shatter a family. Encourage your audience to seek professional help first.

Action Item

You will not get every social media interaction right. But do what you can to not get it wrong. Consider every way your message can be twisted. I am not saying to not stand behind scripture. But please do not choose controversial pieces to start an online debate. Save more confrontational verses for one-on-one conversation where you can explain the cultural context. Do not provide a well meaning member the ammunition to create a big “church hurt”. Because scars left by the church, be it in person, or digital, leave deep wounds. Provide content that promotes love and healing as often as possible.

This article was partly inspired by The Big Web Show #144 Design for Real Life with Eric Meyer

Photo courtesy of Free Bible Images

Online Telephones Vs. Megaphones

telephone_vs_megaphoneDo your website and social media posts sound more like a megaphone or a telephone? Megaphones are devices to communicate with the masses. Yet they lack that personal touch. What can your church do to have more interactions that resemble a telephone? Read on and find out how to make your content connect on a personal level.
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Starting a Social Media Sunday

social-media-sundayAn episode of the Chip Dizard Amazing People podcast, inspired me to examine a recent phenomenon called Social Media Sunday. Carolyn Clement started this great event. It focuses on promoting a church’s social media presence, and familiarizing a congregation with how they can help bolster that presence. Yet the most controversial aspect is the encouragement of congregation members to actively engage and share with social media during parts of the service. Despite your concerns about social media, there are ways you can better integrate it with your regular Sunday services; and this article explores how.
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Digital Tools for Non-Traditional Churches

Computers and Churches have changed since 1946The first electric general-use computer, ENIAC, was announced in 1946. Of course, this room-sized computer looks very different from today’s computing devices. Consequently, what churches looked like in 1946 is vastly different than what we see today, and forced us to re-think what church looks like. In this article I explore three examples of non-traditional churches and the digital tools that can both promote their presence and enhance the experience.
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CWS Podcast – Ep. 37: Let Love Shine On Your Website

cws-podcast-logoIn case you didn’t figure it out the past two weeks, I’m doing a few episodes focused around ideas for church websites that came from church sermons. If you were hoping to get the latest insights into Google’s search algorithms, you’ll have to look elsewhere. But this week I wrap up this Gospel-inspired streak with the subject of how to let love shine on your church website. Although the drivers for my ideas and topics for this blog come from secular sources; you must not forget that your church’s website is a marketing tool that is selling something. Just like every eCommerce site, highlight the key features of your product. One key feature of Christianity is Christ’s love, so show it on your website in as many ways as possible.
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CWS Podcast – Ep. 36: A Safety Net for Suffering

cws-podcast-logoGod does not let people suffer right? Consider the life of Job, the persecution of Paul, and the betrayal and murder of Jesus. Honestly, it is a difficult sales pitch to convince someone to convert to Christianity. Enjoy an eternal life in heaven, at the expense of the distinct possibility of more suffering in this life on earth. This episode explains how can we show our support on our websites for those considering the jump into a new faith.
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Church Social Media: Getting Help to Create, Curate, and Disperse Content

Helping hands in digital ministry disseminationSocial media content often looks like it comes from a fire hose. Watching your feeds scroll by with new posts coming every few seconds or minutes may be very intimidating. You may wonder how can your church produce so much content? Even more daunting, how can you be heard in the crowd? This article will explore how to overcome these obstacles and help your church’s online outreach flourish
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More Than A Website: Internet Church Campus

With the advances in technology, a new concept has taken hold in multi-site churches. This is the Internet church campus. In this article I will discuss the obstacles, how to overcome them, and how your church leadership and members can eventually work toward accepting it as an authentic outreach and ministry tool.
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More Than A Website: Internet Ministry

Various technologies can be used to share the message of the Gospel. What is your church using? Many will argue it is not as authentic as face-to-face conversations. However, the ability to reach a global audience with inexpensive tools cannot be ignored.

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