Reaching the Unplugged

Internet-cord-unpluggedThe rise of the Internet 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. We’ve come far, but I fear we’ve left people behind. Meet the “unplugged.”

Despite popular belief, the unplugged are not just senior citizens, they are those in our pews who are not regularly visiting the web or aren’t socially engaged online.

So how do we keep up our online strategies while still caring for the unplugged?

I imagine communication as if it were a hub and spokes on a bicycle. A bike has two wheels (online and offline) and is capable of moving us forward. Just like using Facebook, Twitter, email and other tools to bring everyone back to your website, you can use platform announcements, posters, people, etc., to point back to one central hub with all your communication pieces.

Try to designate an area in your church where all your announcements connect, such as an information or visitor center.

Remember to begin with the end in mind. Consider crafting 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 on printed cards, recycling website text and adapting as needed for an offline audience.

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 touch point.

Also consider maintaining a simple event registration process that can be accessed offline. Every time you announce an event from the platform, there should be a universal event registration card in the seatback that can be completed and placed in the offering (or however it’s collected).

Finally, never underestimate the power of the personal invite or time spent casting vision for involvement by a staff member. Communication is every staff person’s job regardless of their title.

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 that the plugged-in do.

In the end, 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 organization toward the unique calling God has for them. —Jon Rodgers

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