When I was a kid, there were two ways in which my family knew what was happening at church.
One, we attended church every Sunday. By being in church, my mother talked with people and heard about everything the church council and the pastor were doing. She wasn’t on the church council, but by being in church every Sunday, she was able to gauge what the important issues they were tackling.
The second was through the mailbox.
St. John’s mailed a lot of stuff. The pastor’s regular monthly news article. The church schedule. They even mailed home those cardboard Lent change calendar folders where you put a quarter in the folder for each day of season and then brought it to the church on Palm Sunday (or at least that is when my mother brought them back).
They didn’t make a lot of phone calls unless someone died. But when someone died most people knew about it because every family seemed to take out an obituary in the local Herald Statesman newspaper.
Through the years, the “how” we communicate in the church has changed. Physical newspapers are dying. Obituaries are found on websites instead of on page 13 of the daily newspaper. With the advent of smartphones and tablets and the entire range of mobile computing, it is easier to send a text or an email than to pick up the phone and call someone. Social networking through iMessage, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Snapchat, Instagram, etc., can get information out very quickly. Even church websites – those that are kept up to date, that is – are ways in which quick messages can be posted and information can get out.
The struggle of the small church today is how to make that transition.
We’ve been struggling here at St. Matthew’s with how we communicate church business with everyone. When you’re in the process of relaunching the church, selling church property, and trying to schedule meetings to discuss the future, our communication has failed.
Our emails are not going out regularly from the church.
Our news page on our website is terrible.
And we don’t spend money on sending monthly meeting notices through the mail anymore.
So what to do?
Part of the future of the new church, I believe we must commit to establishing a new way of communicating that is regular and clear.
- A church app is needed. We can get information out about meetings and what we’re doing and all a member or a friend of the church has to do is tap the app and read it on their mobile device.
- Additionally, a church app will provide a clearinghouse of worship video and audio that will promote Jesus and our weekend messages. Our bible studies can be available at any time someone is moved by the Spirit to study.
- Oh, and an app is expensive.
- Consistency with weekly emails. We need to ensure that church information is sent out every Thursday to help people prepare for weekend worship. There needs to be a clear message that is delivered to email inboxes, messages that can be easily be shared with others not on our list.
- We need to establish texting program in church. Yeah, this is going to cost money, but sending out immediate texts regarding any emergency, important happenings, and worship events is important in 2018.
- We need to improve our social media presence. This is a given.
- With an improved social media presence, we also need people to take pictures in church and share them. Showing people what is going on is a more powerful message than just writing about it.
No church is perfect. No congregation is perfect.
The only thing we can do is pray and move forward to accomplish the goals of better communication. The living hope we have in Jesus should be our great motivator to be touch the lives of our members more vibrantly.