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Don’t Forget About the Unplugged

The rise of the Internet, new media and mobile technology has ushered church communications into a new digital era. As a result, churches have worked hard to create a flawless user experience, engaged social networks and search engine-optimized websites. But while churches are working hard to keep up with the changing digital culture and reach emerging generations, I fear we’ve left behind a large group of people. 

Meet the “unplugged.”

Myth: The unplugged are all senior citizens.

Truth:The unplugged are not just those eligible for the AARP. Simply put, the unplugged are those in our churches who are not regularly visiting the Internet or socially engaged online. They think Facebook is a mystery or a joke. They may have an email address, but they rarely access it. They tend to be employed in vocations that don’t require frequent computer use. To label any one age group as the unplugged is a vague generalization that dismisses the idea that everyone needs access to information despite their tech level.

So, how do we keep up our online strategies while still caring for the unplugged? Think hub and spokes.
I look at communications as a bicycle: two wheels move the bicycle forward (online and offline). Just like you use Facebook, Twitter, email and other tools to bring everyone back to key points on your website, use platform announcements, signage, posters, people and other efforts to point the unplugged toward one central hub that hosts all your communication pieces.

Tips for Creating a Central Hub

  • Designate a central area in your church where all your communication pieces can be found (ie., an information kiosk or visitor center). If this doesn’t already exist somewhere in your space, it’s time to create one.
  • Determine whether the space should be staffed or stand alone by considering the pros and cons of each option. 
  • Place the hub centrally in your space and visible from as many areas as possible.

Begin With the End in Mind

Undoubtedly, you’ve spent much time thinking through and strategically addressing your online audience. If you haven’t already, consider creating content that can translate easily from web to print. Each page on your website exists because it presents valuable information to the curious churchgoer.

  • Display the information found on the website on printed cards, recycling web text and adapting the information as needed for an offline audience. Remove the hyperlinks and include any titles of documents to pick up, the name of a person to contact or how to register.
  • For dynamic online content that changes week to week, such as calendars, blog posts, email campaigns and prayer requests, compile a stapled booklet of printed copies and make it available as a weekly or monthly touchpoint.

Maintain a Simple Event Registration Process

Keep the offline registration process simple, universal and immediate. Rather than coming up with a different way to register every time, create a one-size-fits-all system that people become familiar with, and point them to the same system for every event.

Each time you announce an event from the platform, be sure to have a universal event registration card in the seatback that can be completed and placed in the offering plate.

One church leader recently told me about a huge push they were doing for an event. They had promoted it, then set up stations in their lobby for people to sign up immediatately. A seemingly brilliant idea! The only problem was that all of their stations had MacBook Pros. People wanting to sign up kept looking for a mouse, a click button and couldn’t navigate the “two finger scroll.”

“We walked away knowing that we ‘over-teched’ the process for our audience,” he said. 

Use Face Time

Never underestimate the power of a staff member’s personal invite or time spent casting vision for involvement. Communications is every staff member’s job. Full buy-in from your senior leadership is vital for the rest of the staff to jump on board.

  • Convince senior leaders of the need to be involved in the communications process, as well as the need to promote and use it.
  • Be sure they are familiar with any systems of recruitment or registration. Do this well in advance.
  • Craft clear objectives for weekend service conversations between staff and congregation members. Make sure they communicate volunteer needs for upcoming church-wide events, event attendance goals and other pertinent important points.

Some Final Cautions:

  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. The unplugged typically represent a small percentage of your overall audience. Create a simple, sustainable way for them to have access to the same information the “plugged in” do.
  • Avoid conflicting systems at all costs. Someone will always want to post a sign-up sheet for something, even if you’ve created a thoughtful process for collecting registrations. Conflicting systems only confuse people and weaken the system.

Remember, it takes both wheels spinning together to make the bicycle move forward, and it takes an online and offline system to move the people in your church toward the unique calling God has for them.


Jon Rogers works with numerous organizations, specializing in communications, graphic design and social media. He is a Creative Missions missionary. Adapted and used with permission from churchmarketingsucks.com. read more

joycemeyerbig

Guard Your Mouth With God's Word

I do not believe we can live in victory unless we realize there is power in what we say.

As believers, we need to be trained to understand the soul, which is made up of the intellect, will and emotions. Since it is full of "self" and does not want to submit to the Holy Spirit, it must be purified (see 2 Tim. 2:2).

Because we are free moral agents our own minds tell us what we think, but our thoughts are not necessarily God's thoughts. Our wills dictate what we want, despite what He desires for us. And our emotions govern our feelings, but our hearts should instead be subject to Him. read more

Lower Manhattan

Tough Questions Deserve Well Thought Out Answers

Note: The following is an excerpt from Jack W. Hayford’s recent book, Sharpening Your Leading Edge: Moving From Methods to Mindset. It is the first of a two-part series.

Within hours following the 9-11 events in New York and Washington and through the following two weeks, I served, as did others, in a bittersweet task. It was bitter by reason of the need, and sweet by reason of the opportunity to offer healing truth and prayer. Doors opened across our nation to speak into the lives of many—some only seeking comfort, others seeking some meaning in their torment amid the apparently meaningless tragedy.

I was invited to nearly a dozen radio and TV venues—local, regional and national. Network reporters and talk-show hosts ask hard questions in such moments. I was glad that, in most cases, they were sensitive enough not to require “sound bite”-size answers. read more

d-MinOut-Missions

Raising Up the Timothys

We need to equip young adults to help change their world

I am the product of spiritual genetic engineering. God has placed a passion inside of me to see global change through young people. 

Never in history have we been faced with these demographics—60 percent of young people live in Asia and 90 percent of the world’s youth live in developing nations. These countries are part of what’s known as the 10/40 Window—a geographical region that is the most densely populated and yet the least evangelized. 

Young adults worldwide are facing horrific issues, which we must confront. The average age of human trafficking victims is between 10-18, and 60 percent of those rescued from brothels in South Asia are infected with HIV. Approximately 1 million youth and children are sold into the sex industry annually. read more

d-MinOutreach-Communication

10 Ways to Reach People on a Budget


The other day I started thinking about the constraints that we have as churches given today's current economic conditions. With that in mind, I began to brainstorm ways we can continue to improve how we communicate with the people we are trying to reach without spending any money.

Can it be done, even with no budget? Regardless of your church's size, location or community context, you can use the following ideas to engage the people around you, both inside and outside church walls. read more

d-MinOut-Missions

Training the Timothys

We need to equip young adults to help change their world


I am the product of spiritual genetic engineering. God has placed a passion inside of me to see global change through young people. 

Never in history have we been faced with these demographics—60 percent of young people live in Asia and 90 percent of the world’s youth live in developing nations. These countries are part of what’s known as the 10/40 Window—a geographical region that is the most densely populated and yet the least evangelized. 

Young adults worldwide are facing horrific issues, which we must confront. The average age of human trafficking victims is between 10-18, and 60 percent of those rescued from brothels in South Asia are infected with HIV. Approximately 1 million youth and children are sold into the sex industry annually.

Those, as young as age 5, are being recruited and forced to serve in combat in nearly 50 wars worldwide. Child labor is another concern in developing countries. Forced labor threatens the physical, emotional and mental well-being, as well as the proper development of a child. The International Labor Organization estimates that 215 million children, as young as age 5, have been forced to work in order to pay off the debts of their parents.  read more

Working With Firms and Freelancers

Tips for hiring creative help

I'm a big believer in tapping into freelancers because hiring them often means matching the best talent to the right project. Full-time creative people are nice to have on the team, but many ministries can't afford the luxury. Here are some things I've learned through the years: read more

Who’s on Your Bus?

Nine keys to building a dynamic team of volunteer communicators

Corporate consultant Jim Collins writes in his book Good to Great about the principle “First Who, Then What” and how it applies to teamwork. When building teams, Collins says, our responsibility as leaders should be to get the right people on the bus—and the right people off the bus—and then determine where the bus is headed.

This is the case when building a church communications team. This group, often powered by volunteers, is central to telling the story of a church community through its weekend services, special events, environmental design, print pieces, community outreach, online sites and more.

Consider these nine principles as foundations that will help you work with and build volunteers for your church’s communication team.

1. Match strengths, not availability. Just because someone is available to help out doesn’t mean it will result in someone helping you out. So what if they know how to use Photoshop. The question is, do they know how to use it in a way that results in outcomes you are expecting? Always look to match the strengths of a volunteer, not the availability of a volunteer.

2. Remember reciprocity. Volunteers are volunteering because they get something in return. It may sound selfish, but it’s just the way we’re wired. Whether it’s in the form of satisfaction, a free meal, kudos, recognition, promotion or just smiles, the concept of reciprocity is alive and well.

Don’t forget this, because when you know what volunteers are looking for, you can better help them obtain it.

3. Realistic expectations. Be realistic about the expectations you have for volunteers. Expect too little and you’ll never cause them to rise to the challenge. Expect too much and they’ll feel like they failed you. Communicate upfront what you’re expecting and give them opportunity to respond.

4. Spend more time on the front end. The more time you spend upfront talking through the project or outcomes, the more the volunteer will feel enfranchised and enabled. The more we sow upfront, the more we reap on the other side.

5. Educate, enfranchise, empower. Educate volunteers on everything you can about your project or expected outcomes. Graft them into the team that, with their help, is part of making this project happen. Give them the tools they need to accomplish your expectations.

6. Seek out the troublemakers. Consider the volunteers who don’t always play by the rules; the ones who test the limits; the ones who color outside the lines; the ones who talk back a little; the ones who require a little extra faith on your part to let go.

7. Hire strength, manage weakness. I employ people for their strengths, knowing I’ll have to manage around their weaknesses. For example, the insane project manager who is not so great with people: I’m hiring her project-management skills, and I know I’ll have to work with and around her deficient people skills. The same goes for volunteers—recruit their strengths and work around their weaknesses.

8. It’s OK to fire them. Isn’t it funny how we often have a harder time firing volunteers than we do paid staff? It’s OK to let volunteers go, to transition them, to move them out.

9. Be thankful (with gifts, cards and more). You never can thank volunteers enough. From throwing them celebration dinners to giving them gifts and cards, go overboard in expressing appreciation for your volunteers.


Brad Abare is the director of communications for the Foursquare denomination, founder of the Center for Church Communication (cfcclabs.org), and president of Personality. read more

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