Communications

Easter Weekend Prep: Polish What’s Working. Don’t Start Something New.

Holidays can bring new people to your church and create opportunities for impact. Most pastors can easily name the big days that bring high attendance. But knowing about big days and planning for them are two different things.

Too often, these calendar-given gifts sneak up on pastors, resulting in last minute planning and low impact. One of the biggest days comes early this year. Easter weekend is only a few weeks away!

When big days sneak up on you, the rule of thumb is to polish what’s working instead of trying to create something new. Creating new requires time and planning, and time isn’t on your side.

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By | 2018-03-14T09:06:56+00:00 March 7th, 2018|Communications|0 Comments

4 Questions for Better Sermon Series Planning

If you were to ask someone who attends the church that I’m a part of why they first started attending, you’d more than likely hear something like this: “A friend invited me to that series with U2 music, because I love U2,” or “My first weekend was during that series about the wilderness,” or “I first attended because I saw your ad about the marriage series.”

Notice people don’t often say, “I came because I heard your bible studies are the best,” or “your church seems to have the cleverest phrases on your roadside sign.”

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By | 2018-01-29T14:11:33+00:00 January 30th, 2018|Communications|0 Comments

Now Hiring: Spring 2018 Communications Intern

In case you haven’t heard… The Unstuck Group has an internship program for college students who are passionate about the mission of Jesus and helping the Church get unstuck. We are now accepting applications for our Spring 2018 Marketing & Communications Intern position.

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By | 2017-10-02T10:54:24+00:00 October 2nd, 2017|Communications|0 Comments

Why Creativity Matters in the Church

A lot of people are talking about creativity in the church right now, and it’s raising some tension in me (and maybe in you too?). We’ve been haggled on both ends of the creativity spectrum over the years. On the one hand, we’ve bought into the rationale that says, “God hasn’t called you to be creative. He’s called you to be effective.” Therefore, copy & paste at will. On the other hand, we resonate with the thinking that says, “All ministry is local.” Therefore, creative contextualization is the only way to impact a locality. It’s a tough balance to strike, really. And if you add the complexity that multisite churches bring to the table, this can be a serious monkey on our backs as leaders.

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By | 2017-06-12T22:47:24+00:00 June 13th, 2017|Communications, Strategy|2 Comments

Does Church Marketing Work? 8 Key Things to Consider

I’ve been saying this for years now, but I get tired of church marketing. The advertisements, the clever slogans, the social media strategies. Many churches try to achieve success by using the right tactics, by “appealing” to the right audience. But in some cases marketing is a barrier to the advancement of the Gospel message. It can actually be a hindrance for the church.

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By | 2017-03-07T08:43:16+00:00 March 1st, 2017|Communications|0 Comments

7 Ways To Improve Email Communication

Bob Dylan once wrote “The Times They Are A-Changing.” This certainly is true when it comes to the way we communicate. Right now your phone is more than likely flooded with text messages, social media notifications and direct messages. Leaders have made themselves accessible 24-hours a day.

A quick glance at an Apple watch can connect you to a video conference with someone on the other side of the world. Despite all these changes, email still continues to be one of the most predominant methods of communication. With so many demands for people’s attention, it is essential for church leaders to sharpen their communication skills.

Lately our team has started noticing some reoccurring email mistakes. Here are 7 simple ways to improve your email communication:

1) Include contact information in the footer of your emails.

A couple of weeks ago I received an email that required a follow-up call. Unfortunately, I didn’t have their phone number so I had to write them back and ended up waiting two more days for a reply. No one has time to search everywhere for phone numbers and addresses. Make it easy for people by including your contact info in your email footer.

2) Get to the point.

Sharing life updates may be a nice gesture for close friends but if you work on a fast paced team, just get to the point. Before sending an email determine why you are writing and what you want to say. If people open an email with multiple paragraphs there is a strong chance it will never get read.

3) Use clear action items.

Don’t make it challenging on the person reading your message to know what you are asking them to do. I’ve read emails that included action items meant for other people or tasks that were hidden in the middle of sentences. Instead of assigning tasks in emails, consider using Asana. Our team has found this to be very beneficial.

4) Stop using the “CC” function to include everyone in your organization.

Lately, every time I get an email it has 9 to 11 people included in the “CC” section. What’s the deal with this? This isn’t efficient and I’ve probably wasted countless hours reading unnecessary emails. Honestly, I can’t figure out why this keeps happening. Are people doing this for accountability, to cover themselves or to let everyone else know what they are working on?

5) Reply as quickly as possible.

I think it’s much more efficient to reply quickly with a couple of short sentences than to let an email sit in my inbox for weeks. Obviously, instantaneous responses can’t be expected for emails but when someone on your team is waiting on a decision or an approval don’t just leave them hanging for days. Their email isn’t going to suddenly go away, give a response and move on.

6) Pay attention to your tone and attitude.

This isn’t rocket science but it’s probably a good idea to handle conflict and difficult situations face to face rather than through email. Mark Batterson loves to say, “The shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory.” This theory applies to email as well. Messages written in a negative and angry tone have a way of resurfacing. Email messages are permanent so always be mindful of what you are saying.

7) Proofread emails before sending.

It is very easy to overlook mistakes in text messages that were made because of autocorrect. I get it, we are all busy and there is no way to do a grammar check on every Instagram comment or Facebook post. At the same time, it only takes a couple of seconds to read over your message before sending and good email etiquette is still very important.

What do you think? Communication methods are changing, is email here to stay?

By | 2017-09-05T15:06:05+00:00 September 26th, 2015|Communications|0 Comments

Mandatory Volunteer Meetings? We Can Do Better Than That

Photo via Pexels cc

I have an issue with “mandatory volunteer meetings.” Do you hear the contradiction? Mandatory and volunteer don’t belong together in the same sentence, but churches and nonprofits juxtapose them all the time. (Need proof? Just Google the phrase!)

I understand — it’s a really, really important meeting. They won’t be able to chaperone that student retreat if they don’t come. They won’t be able to teach that class if they don’t participate. They can’t serve in the kitchen without the training. You have essential information to share. But telling them it’s mandatory–like paying taxes, or getting a physical before gym class? Surely we have better language than that.

Volunteers are, after all, the hands and feet of Christ, and it’s the Church’s job to equip them to do ministry, not to enforce participation at training events. Getting and keeping your church members engaged in volunteering takes excellent and inspiring communication. Here are a few ideas:

– Make It an Invitation – 

Invite before you mandate. Most people volunteer because they are excited to be a part of what God is doing at your church. People also volunteer to get to know other church members. Appeal to those two desires when you communicate.

Let’s say you are sending your students to youth camp and you need to train your leaders before the trip. What about something like this?

“Let’s celebrate the record-number of sign-ups for summer camp together before we head to the beach! Join us for a fun night with your fellow leaders, and we’ll equip you with the essentials you’ll need to help your students grow closer to Jesus next week.”

Does that sound more inspiring and inviting than mandatory leader training? I think so.

– Offer Flexibility –

In-person meetings can be tough and aren’t always necessary. Don’t make someone feel rejected because of scheduling conflicts. Can you live-stream the meeting over the Internet and let people send in questions electronically in real-time? (You could with Periscope, or a number of other free apps.) Can you put together a manual that covers the key points and schedule follow up calls to make sure volunteers understand their roles and expectations so they can serve effectively? As full-time staff, the goal should be to equip as many members of the church to serve as possible, and that will sometimes require flexibility. And when you offer flexibility, communicate the options clearly without stigmatizing any of them.

The Unstuck Group’s Paul Alexander wrote a great article about getting more volunteers by making it easier to start. Every role can’t be simplified in the same ways, but there are definitely some good places to start!

– Make People Feel Irreplaceable, Not Disposable – 

I’m not suggesting you stroke egos or try to make people feel important. As leaders we should always be encouraging biblical humility. However, God values every person and wants them to know it. We frequently say things in the Church like “If you had been the only sinner, Jesus would’ve died for you.” Then we sometimes treat people like God would’ve said “Eh, take ’em or leave ’em.”

The Church should be a place that communicates to people their value in the Kingdom. It’s a good thing to communicate to your volunteers that you appreciate what their uniqueness brings to the culture of your church and to the role in which they are serving.

What other ideas do you have for improving the ways we communicate with volunteers?

 

By | 2017-02-09T13:52:33+00:00 May 12th, 2015|Communications|2 Comments

If You’re Preaching to Women on Mother’s Day…

As a speaker, it can be difficult to relate to an audience of the opposite gender. It’s rather difficult to communicate truths about something you’ve never experienced to someone who has. I once heard a male pastor preach a whole series on womanly godliness. He tried very hard. It didn’t come out right, despite his best intentions.

Sunset Girl via Unsplash

Most likely, more than half of your congregation is made up of women, and on Mother’s Day, it seems like most churches try to preach a sermon tailored to them. It’s not a bad idea if you put in the time and do it right. Since most pastors in our country are men, we wanted to share a few tips for communicating your message well to women on Mother’s Day or any other time you’re addressing them specifically:

1) Plan to include a visual and/or musical moment in the service that tells a powerful story.

A powerful story goes so much further than the most compelling talking points. Did you see this Mother’s Day commercial last year from Publix? It hit the nail on the head. This is not about the stereotype that “women are emotional.” Women respond to artistic, relational, creative and sensory-engaging messages. You’ll draw them in better if you plan accordingly.

2) Involve a team of women in planning your message.

Get their thoughts on what women need to hear most on this Mother’s Day. Get their insights on what cultural myths women are subconsciously absorbing. Even better, involve a woman in your teaching that morning.

3) Don’t address women as “girls.”

This is nitpicky, but a lot of male pastors do this unintentionally. To many women, it sounds condescending. You probably address the men in the room as men, not boys. Women notice.

4) If you’re going to talk about motherhood, be sensitive to the fact that many women who are not mothers may wish they were, and many have lost children.

Women young and old will have experienced miscarriages, abortions, the loss of a child, or the inability to conceive. Help them understand how to take their grief — or regret — to God.

5) Also, be sensitive to those who have lost a mother or have a strained/estranged relationship with their mom.

This point is relevant for men and women in your audience. It can be incredibly painful, especially the first year after loss or a major rift/challenge.

6) Encourage and inspire women to live out their calling fearlessly.

Moms can be very hard on themselves. Most take this job seriously, whether they are home with their kids or working full-time. Don’t give them 10 things to do to be better; it will overwhelm and reinforce the idea that they just can’t do enough.Instead, inspire them with an encouraging and simple truth that reinforces their identity in Christ.

Photo Credit: Sunset Girl via Unsplash

By | 2017-02-09T13:52:33+00:00 April 26th, 2015|Communications|0 Comments

Have Better Weekend Services: 4 Tips from Amy Anderson

Today, we introduce you to Amy Anderson, another of our fantastic new consultants on the Unstuck Team. Amy has 10 years of leadership experience in the corporate world and 12 years of experience developing artists, building and developing weekend planning systems and helping lead Eagle Brook Church, a large multi-site church in Minneapolis, MN, as a member of its Executive Team.

We asked Amy to share a little about how she found her passion for helping churches get unstuck, as well as some very practical tips for churches who want to improve their weekend services.

TIFFANY: At what point in your experience working in ministry did you realize you wanted to help more churches?

AMY: I often had requests from other church leaders to meet and talk through challenges they were facing. These meetings were my favorite calendar appointments! After spending an hour or so together, creative solutions were emerging, problems were being solved, and their passion to lead was returning.

I remember one lead pastor who, after our time together, took the bold step to invite input into his sermon writing. That was a pivotal shift in his writing process that brought his messages from good to great. You can bet I smiled every time he let me know how his church was growing and reaching people for Christ. He didn’t need a major overhaul; he just needed to adjust the dials a little bit on his process. And, that’s what I love helping churches do.

TIFFANY: What are some of the simplest changes a church can make to improve its weekend service experience?

AMY: These are changes any church, no matter the size, can start doing right away:

  1. Give your Lead Pastor time to write, prepare and develop the weekend message. Find ways to offload tasks and responsibilities that someone else can do so that the Lead Pastor can do what only the Lead Pastor can do. Giving more time to your communicator to read, think, write and prepare will instantly improve your weekend experience.
  2. Invite feedback. Give some trusted people permission to tell you what’s working and what’s not in your weekend service. Let them help identify the blind spots that you don’t see. This is especially important for anyone on your platform! Pastors who teach and worship leaders who lead do not have a full perspective on the effectiveness of their message or worship time.
  3. Assign someone to represent “the average new person.” Give someone the responsibility to take in the weekend service through the eyes of a new person. Better yet, have this person go to church with a new person. I guarantee they will see things they’ve never paid attention to before. All of a sudden it matters how long the announcements are, how good the music is, and how applicable the message is. And then…
  4. Commit to making the tough calls. Not everyone gets to be on the platform. Not every activity gets to be announced. Not every singer gets a solo. Excellence and effectiveness are in the details. Making the right, often tough, calls is what will move your weekend services from good to great.

TIFFANY: Last question. In your opinion, what’s the single most important creative element churches should be investing in to connect with the next generation?

AMY: When you ask what is the the most important creative element, my answer is video. And to be more specific, it’s video for the primary purpose of telling stories. Story is king with the next generation. Real stories of transformation, hope and healing.

By | 2017-02-09T13:52:33+00:00 April 9th, 2015|Communications, Leadership|0 Comments