Obviously, there are many different ways churches can communicate with their members and communities. Years ago, churches all published newsletters. Churches also had bulletins that dumped a lot of content and information on members and visitors each Sunday. With technology, churches have migrated to e-mail newsletters. The invention of Facebook and Twitter has given churches tools to engage and broadcast messages to the church body at no cost. Other tools like Instagram and YouTube allow churches to post photos and videos for everyone to see.

Most churches are behind the curve when it comes to really knowing how to effectively use social media. So, what should churches do in order to make sure they are engaging and communicating effectively with their members?

FOCUS ON THE FOLLOWING:

1) Engage your members where they already are.
If a high percentage of your congregation is on Facebook/Instagram, and most likely they are, start there. As of January 2019, there were over 2.27 billion monthly active users on Facebook. Setting up a Facebook page or Instagram account is simple and doesn’t take much time. Those two forms of social media will help you engage your congregation and community with short messages about what is going on, prayer requests, or daily Bible verses. Make sure you are investing in these two areas.

2) Use social media as an outreach tool.
Many potential visitors will view your social media accounts prior to making a visit to your church. Communicating clearly with effective and engaging messages will say a lot about the vision you are hoping to get across. That leads us to our third point.

3) Keep your content relevant to your church and ministry.
What kind of personality does your church exhibit? Social media reflects your reputation and vision. Make sure the messages you send via social media represent who you are. Do not post anything on social media that could be misconstrued or interpreted in a way you do not intend. Social media is perfect for communicating short messages on a regular basis. Daily Bible verses, prayer requests, information about events or sermon times, etc., are good examples.

4) Who should I choose to lead social media for my church?
First and foremost, make sure that the staff member or volunteer you choose to lead your social media efforts is not a rookie in this area. Is one of your staff members very active and engaged on Twitter while another may use Facebook or Instagram more predominantly? It’s okay to have more than one person for each platform, just make sure they are communicating the same message and vision. In addition, it’s helpful to have one point person to hold multiple social media account owners accountable.

5) It’s ok to NOT be on some social media platforms.
There are multiple social media platforms, and it’s not necessary to have a presence on all of them.

The way we communicate as a church is changing. The way people in your congregation and community consume content is changing. If you haven’t already, adopt new social media tools. They can help you develop new relationships with people outside of your church and enhance existing relationships with the members of your church body.

Author: Matt Morris 

The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not out of regret or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow in you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.
— 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Let’s be honest – Stewardship can be a challenge for many church bodies today. Pastors tend to focus on stewardship once or twice per year, and often times, it can be a topic that they just don’t want to preach about. For a church member, being a good steward is something we are called by God to do, but we don’t often make it a priority like we should. E-giving can help address some stewardship issues. In fact, LifeWay Research says that 23% of churches see a greater percentage of the congregation giving on a regular basis with e-giving.

E-GIVING IS A BROAD TERM THAT ENCOMPASSES A FEW DIFFERENT FORMS OF GIVING:

  1. ONLINE GIVING – GIVING VIA YOUR CHURCH WEBSITE
  2. MOBILE GIVING – GIVING VIA YOUR CHURCH MOBILE APP
  3. TEXT-TO-GIVE – TEXTING A NUMBER WITH THE AMOUNT OF YOUR TITHE
  4. KIOSK GIVING – GIVING VIA A KIOSK AT YOUR CHURCH

So how do we as church leaders address issues with giving head-on in a digital world? Long gone are the days when everyone brought his or her offering in an envelope each Sunday. I still see some people do it, but it’s not as commonplace as it was even five years ago. We are seeing a similar shift with Bibles as well. People are leaving their Bibles at home in favor of Bible apps on their smartphones or tablets. With giving, churches need to meet their members where they are. Two of the excuses I hear the most from church leaders who are against e-giving are “It’s not a worship experience” and “It’s not safe.” First, I believe that engaging in stewardship is an act of worship, no matter the method. Beyond that, I’d like to offer you a few points to help you address this possible contention within your church body.

HOW TO ADDRESS THIS POSSIBLE CONTENTION WITHIN YOUR CHURCH BODY:
1) Make it easy.
The last thing you want for your members is a clunky, wordy, and sloppy experience. Of course, online givers will have to register once. After a giver sets up his or her account, it should be much easier on subsequent interactions, which only ask for a giver’s tithe amount, the budget to which he or she wants to give and the method of payment. Even the giving transaction itself can be automated based on remembering preferences at the user level.

2) Who is in control?
Your members like to have autonomy. They want to know they can control their giving each and every week. Some givers may want to set up recurring payments using their debit cards. Others may want to give various amounts each week to different ministries via automated checks. Regardless of the circumstance, make sure they have the ability to maintain control of their tithes and offerings.

3) Assure members that it is safe.
PCI compliance isn’t a household term. You may know exactly what I’m talking about, but most of your members probably don’t. People want to make sure their credit, debit, or check information is safe. Of all the places for them to trust, a church should be at the top. But they don’t realize the church isn’t the one processing the payment. That’s why PCI compliance is so important. Make sure you work with a processor who is PCI level 1 compliant. In short, that means they have met the highest level of security standards set by the Payment Card Industry, and they process hundreds of thousands of transactions per year.

4) Worship experiences shouldn’t be confined to your church.
Worship should extend to homes as well. Encourage people to worship with their families as they give their tithes and offerings with their spouse and/or children. Encourage members to use this as a time to teach their children why God calls us to give. In fact, place some educational information in your church bulletin about e-giving. Reinforce the fact that God calls us to be good stewards of what He has entrusted us and explain how their tithes will help make disciples.

E-giving can help engage your members and meet them where they are. Giving them options on how to be good stewards can also enrich their worship experience. Without online giving, we miss out on an incredible way of becoming more like Christ, both as individuals and as a community.

Author: Matt Morris 

How much time each day do you think the average American spends on his/her mobile device? Not talking, but actually consuming content? Take a guess. According to a recent report by eMarketer, people spend 4 hours and 40 minutes each day on their mobile devices. 2 hours and 21 minutes of that time is in an app; the rest is online! People are checking email; perusing websites; checking Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; and playing games. You name it; they do it on their mobile devices. The number one reason people use their mobile devices is because of convenience. It’s easy to consume content when it’s right at their fingertips. Your church website is no different. Most of us probably have a decent church Web page, but how many of you know if your page is responsive to mobile users? Have you checked that out lately? Go ahead. Get out your mobile device and go to your website. Are you pinching and zooming to read what is there? Do images and content scale and reorganize themselves? If not, your website isn’t responsive and needs to be updated. It will provide your users a much more positive and less frustrating experience. Now that we have responsive design out of the way, you’re probably asking, “Does my church need a mobile app now?” There are several advantages in having a mobile app for your church. An app allows members to dive deeper and consume content not on your website. It’s a much more interactive environment. People can listen to sermon audio and view video, upload or view photos, ask for prayer, read your pastor’s blog, tithe through the app and much more.


WHEN/IF YOUR CHURCH DECIDES TO MOVE FORWARD WITH DEVELOPING A MOBILE APP, HERE ARE THREE THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND:

  1. Keep content fresh and updated regularly. Having a good content management solution in place will help with this. Find a service or technology tool that allows you to update all of your content channels in a single location, meaning there is no need to update the same information twice. (Hootsuite is a good option for managing all of your social media channels.)
  2. Make sure your app environment is one where people will always want to come back for more. The average lifespan of an app is four months. After that time, people tend to lose interest. Your church app should be different. Keeping your members engaged which will keep them coming back.
  3. Just like your website, make sure you have a clearly defined purpose for your app. It doesn’t need to be purely informational. If it is, you won’t even make the four-month mark. More and more churches are seeing the need for both responsive mobile sites and mobile apps now. However, the majority of churches are late to adopt. Don’t wait until your members start asking if you’re ever going to develop an app. Serve them well by staying ahead of
    the curve.

Author: Matt Morris 

You have between five and 10 seconds to get people focused on who you are and what you are all about. That’s right – between five and 10 seconds. Just to put things into perspective, Krispy Kreme recommends you warm its glazed donuts in the microwave for eight seconds for that “hot donuts now” experience.

Most traffic to your church website is from potential visitors and newcomers. Your site is a virtual welcome center, open 24/7/365. I’ll define a “visitor” as someone who has only been inside your church three or fewer times. Visitors make decisions and form opinions about your church based on the information they see online. Often times, they ask themselves, “Will I/my family fit in?” So, ask yourself, why do people come to our website?


FOCUS ON THE FOLLOWING WITH YOUR WEBSITE:

  1. Who you are and what you are all about should be clear.
    Do you have a lot of young families in your church? Are you an ethnically diverse church? What is your worship style? Contemporary or traditional? What is your theology? You want visitors to know all about your church within seconds of being on your website. Subconsciously, they will form opinions about whether or not they will fit in based solely on your homepage content and images. If you have a contemporary worship style, don’t show a picture of an organ. And don’t show pictures of a bunch of young kids if your church represents an older demographic. Make content a true representation of your church.
  2. Communicate where you are.
    It’s great to tell people in your community all about your church, your mission, vision and values, but if it’s hard for people to find where you’re located, chances are they’re going to stop searching. Make that information easy to find, possibly in a couple of places within your site.
  3. Tell people when to be there.
    If you tell people who you are, what you’re all about, and where you are, but forget to tell them when to be there, how will they know when to come? Make service times a priority just as much as location, even including service times under your address. I’ve seen several churches that have images scrolling on their homepages where one image is dedicated solely to the current sermon series and when to be there. Make people want to come. Tell them when to be there.
  4. Content is key.
    Whatever you decide to include about who you are and what your church is all about is up to you, but keep it simple. Don’t overload people with a ton of useless information. Also, make sure that you are choosing images that correspond to the content on your website. Images solicit emotional responses. Again, people form opinions subconsciously based on what they see
    on your website.

Author: Matt Morris