Posted on March 24, 2011 by servant | Resources| Tags: blogging, social media, social networking
With the rise of Social Networking (Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare), Churches naturally want to establish a presence. But how do you avoid running into ethical and legal issues when you use social media? You can (and probably should) write a Social Media Policy, but you should also train your staff on how to avoid these issues. Here are some tips to consider:
- Always use good etiquette online, which will avoid a lot of issues
- Do not use the Church´s logo on your personal website, unless you get permission
- When you write your own opinion, but you´re a member of the staff, include a disclaimer
- Avoid legal entanglements – i.e. libel – by always speaking the truth
A disclaimer can be a simple postscript like “the views expressed are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Church.” This validates your free speech, while noting the fact that you are not speaking for the Church in this context. Free speech issues in social networking settings are starting to appear before the courts.
Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.
Posted on March 21, 2011 by servant | Reflections| Tags: Blasts, communication, eMail
Electronic mail has many advantages for a Church. You can publish a monthly newsletter via eMail without spending a lot on postage. You can also target emails to specific groups – e.g. just the people interested in missions. And you can get the information out quickly – within an hour. These advantages make eMail communication a great communications tool when you want to get the Word out to people.
So why not blast away with every eMail message you can think of? In short, because of SPAM. SPAM is unsolicited bulk messaging sent to people indiscriminately. Everyone with an eMail account has had to deal with this deluge of useless information. This year, projections show that there will be at least 7 trillion SPAM messages generated. Unfortunately, that means 80% of the eMails that land in your inbox are likely to be SPAM. How does the Church’s important message about the change in the meeting time get through all of that chaff? And to make matters worse, people use eMail filters that can mislabel an eMail message as SPAM and throw it away. Here are some tips for getting your eMail Blasts past the filters:
- Ensure that your eMails have original, useful content
- Avoid trigger words in your subject line, e.g. free, trial, money, quote
- Avoid using ALL CAPS – i.e. SHOUTING FOR ATTENTION
- Do use a subject line that matches the eMail – e.g. March Monthly Newsletter
- Avoid the excessive use of punctuation – i.e. “! ! !”
SPAM is a tough problem to deal with. And some people have given up and don’t use eMail as a result. Or they may use Social Network Messaging instead. You should encourage people to let you know if they aren’t getting your eMails. Perhaps you should still print a few paper newsletters and send them through snail mail (USPS). That way, you cover the spectrum and ensure that the Word gets through.
Posted on March 1, 2011 by servant | Reflections| Tags: ministry through technology, web ministry, website
How do you do ministry through your website? Is that even possible? Yes, your Church’s website can and should be doing ministry. There are many approaches to this, but the first step should be an assessment:
- What is the purpose of your website?
- Who are you trying to minister to?
- What are the resources that you need?
- What resources do you have available?
When you first put together a web site, you may have just been getting on the bandwagon. After all, other Churches in your area were developing websites, so why shouldn’t yours do the same. That may have been enough of a purpose to convince the board to fund the site. (Sometimes the costs can be quite a hurdle.) But you should ask yourself now, what is our purpose going forward? Is it to invite newcomers to Church? Is it to keep the congregation informed? Or is it to provide a way for shut-ins to stay connected with their Church? Or maybe you really want to share the great teachings of your staff with as many Christians as you can reach. The web opens the door to a community of faith that exceeds your local boundaries. People that would never be able to visit your Church can find inspiration and growth through your website. The Gospel can and does reach the whole world – via cyberspace. Who are you trying to minister to?
Resources include not just the finances but all of the information sources that you depend upon for content. This will certainly include staff members, who may be intent on promoting an upcoming event or small group. It will include Church members who lead committees and want to share information about what the committee is doing or when the next meeting is. It may even include community leaders – e.g. scouting, civic groups, etc – who need a way to promote events. But it can also include denominational leaders – e.g. a Bishop’s message about a state wide event. Your web ministry will certainly include sermons and teachings by your preaching staff. Do you provide the sermon as a video, audio, and/or text file? How about a followup discussion in an online forum about this week’s sermon. And you probably have a Church calendar of events and meetings, so people can look up the time and place. But how about announcements of inclement weather and/or natural disaster responses. The possibilities are incredible. Just be sure to tap into as many information resources as you can, and organize the website so that people can find it easily.
For more information, check out these online resources:
Top 10 Best Practices for Web Ministry