Archive for Communications Corner

Church Websites: Where do we begin?

Church Websites: Where do we begin?

Tuesday, January 31
9 – 11 AM
Chapel, Disciples Center at Tawakoni,
Between Andover and Augusta

7 -9 PM
Grace Room, Pine Valley Christian Church
5620 E 21 St. North

When it comes to church communication in the digital age, church websites are the first step in the digital progression. In this workshop, learn how create an engaging and effective website on any budget.  Workshop leader Jessica Marston, Christian Church in Kansas Webmaster, will walk you through starting your own church website.  After completing this workshop, participants are encouraged to attend “Websites: Where do we go from here?” on Tuesday, February 7.

Cost:

  • $15 per Workshop
  • $75 for all 6 workshops

Registration including payment is due Tuesday, January 24.  A minimum of 6 paid registrants are required for each session. Registration without full fee is incomplete. This workshop is the first of six workshops in the Church Communication in the 21st Century Workshop Series. Those workshops are:

 

  • February 7 – Websites: Where do we go from here?
  • February 14 – Social Media in the church: Connecting to Millennials
  • February 21 – Church Publications: Communicating effectively in print, online
  • February 28 – Church Branding and what it says about you
  • March 7 – PowerPoint, Screencasting & Video: Your church on the big screen

Save $15 by registering for all six workshops!  Register and pay online below or download and mail the registration form with payment to the Regional office in Topeka, 2914 SW MacVicar.  Registration including payment is due Tuesday, January 24, to receive discount. 

 

Church Communication Workshops

Church Communication in the 21st Century 
Workshop Series

In order to keep up with ever-changing modes of communication, churches must adjust their means of communication with members and visitors. 

A six-week series of workshops will explore effective digital and printed communication strategies for churches. Workshops will be on Tuesdays, January 31 – March 7. Two identical sessions are offered, 9 a.m. in the chapel at Disciples Center at Tawakoni and 7 p.m. at Pine Valley Christian Church, Wichita.


The presenter is Jessica Marston, a graduate of Fort Hays State University with a degree in communications. Working out of the South Central satellite office of the Christian Church in Kansas, she is copy editor for the Kansas Messenger and Kansas Mini-Messenger, webmaster for kansasdisciples.org, and all-around creative and tech guru.

Workshop topics are:

  • Websites: Where do we begin?   Church websites are the first step in the digital communication progression. In this workshop, learn how to create an engaging and effective website on any budget.
  • Websites: Where do we go from here?    An out-of-date website is no website. It is vital to keep yours current, and relevant to your target audience. Learn how to attract church visitors by maintaining it well.
  • Social Media in the Church: Connecting to Millennials     Social Media is another way to engage people with the gospel in our increasingly digital world. Learn about the different social media platforms, how to connect to the millennial generation, and use social media in a safe and secure way.     
  • Church Publications: Communicating effectively in print, online Learn about both print and electronic forms of newsletters, brochures, postcards and other modes of communication for members and visitors.
  • Church Branding and what it says about you     Branding is the visual representation of your church’s identity. Explore the three elements of branding and developing your church’s unique identity.
  • PowerPoint, Screencasting & Video: Your church on the big screen   Adding projection systems to sanctuaries has changed the look and feel of worship today. In this session, learn about the resources available and how to use them effectively.

Beginners and digital experts will benefit. Attend all sessions, or any session.  Each session is $15 per person; pay just $75 for all 6 by registering before January 24. Register and pay online below or download registration form and mail with payment to the Topeka Regional office. Classes may be cancelled for insufficient preregistration. If winter weather forces cancellation of a session, it will be made up on March 14.

 

Church Office Handbook Part 4

Communication Corner
Office Handbook Part 4: Church Safety and Security

In the chaos of an emergency situation, having a set of step-by-step procedures helps keep everyone safe and things organized.  When it comes to the safety and security of the church facilities, here are a few things you should consider adding to your Church Office Handbook.  Your church may have many of these things already in place, but it is a good idea to have a copy written down in a central location.

Emergency Action Plan:

What do you do in the event of a fire, tornado, flood, or other natural disaster? How do you plan to keep everyone safe?  An emergency action plan is a way to facilitate and organize individual movements during emergencies.  Things to include:

  • Means of reporting fires and other emergencies
  • Evacuation procedures and emergency escape route assignments
  • Procedures to account for everyone after an emergency evacuation has been completed

Other things to consider:

  • A description of the system used to notify those in the building to evacuate or take shelter.
  • The off-site gathering location to be used in the event of a fire or explosion.
  • A secure location to store originals or duplicate copies of accounting records, legal documents, employee files, and other essential records.
  • Church leadership’s individual roles and responsibilities
  • Location and use of common emergency equipment and emergency shutdown procedures

For more information and a template on how to create an Emergency Evacuation plan go to: www.osha.gov

Church Keys

Include a list of church keys, location of the master set, and who has a copy of which keys.  Have church leadership turn in their keys when their term has ended.  Set up a schedule of rekeying the all the locks every few years.  This is so that in case of a break in you know who has keys to the building and that only those who have official church business can get in when no one else is around.

Church Accounts and Passwords

This needs to be a list of church online accounts, usernames, and passwords.  While you don’t want just anyone knowing this information, more than one person needs to have it.  This prevents malicious and unwanted use of the accounts and provides a safety net in case something should happen to the administrator of the account.

Church Tech Inventory

Like the list of keys, it is also important to list all your electronic equipment, when they were bought and/or sold, and any serial and model numbers.  In case there is a theft, then you have all the pertinent information to file with the police.  This list should be updated minimally on a yearly bases.

Read more about Church Office Handbooks here:

Office Handbook Part 3: Volunteers and General Ministry

Communication Corner

Office Handbook Part 3: Volunteers and General Ministry

Throughout the life of the church, volunteers fill in where paid staff can’t. These are the leaders whose presence and contributions are key to your church’s ministry. Because your volunteer staff can differ greatly from year to year, season to season, job descriptions and procedures can help with continuity without squelching innovation. Here are some things to consider:

Worship:

  • Communion
    • Who prepares communion? Where are supplies kept?
    • Who orders or buys communion supplies?
  • Special events
    • List special events and holidays that your church observes
    • List the responsibilities of the people involved in each one: pastor, worship leader, choir director, worship committee, property committee, Christian Education committee, etc.

Property:

  • Bad weather:
    • Who decides about weather cancellations, and how is that decision communicated?
    • What criteria must be met? Who clears the snow and ice?
  • Rentals:
    • If your building is available for outside groups and private events, who approves this? Create or update the policy with regard to types of events, types of groups, set up and breakdown for groups and events, cleaning, fee structure, access to keys, more.

Youth & Children’s programs:

  • What classes are available? Are they divided by age, grade, or interest? When and where do they meet?
  • Develop a child protection policy and photo publication policy. More on this topic when we discuss church safety and security.
  • Specify who chooses curriculum and other materials, who orders, and how purchases are made.

Public Relations:

  • Identify the spokesperson for the church, especially in case of disaster. This person is the liaison between the church and the local news and radio stations.

Local Outreach:

  • How does your church handle requests for food, gas and rent help? An entire section of your handbook could be given to this topic. Are there dollar limits? Do you give cash, or vouchers to a local business? How much food do you give each family, and how frequently? What records are kept? Is this handled differently for members?

Next time, we’ll cover matters that relate to church safety and security.

Read more: What is the Church Office Handbook (Part 1)
                       The Church Office Handbook – Job Descriptions & Responsibilities (Part 2)

The Church Office Handbook Part 2

Communication Corner

Office Handbook Part 2: Job Descriptions and Responsibilities

Last time we started talking about the Church Office Handbook, why you should have one, and the difference between a paper copy and an electronic copy.

Read more: The Church Office Handbook Part 1

So you’re ready to start putting together your Church Office Handbook, but where do you start? What should you include?

First, it is helpful to know what everyone is responsible for, when and how certain projects are done.  Start with the job descriptions for all your paid staff: secretary, custodian, youth director, minister, choir director, musicians, etc. Include lines of supervision and accountability, in addition to job responsibilities. Remember seasonal responsibilities, with dates. As needed, include complete directions on how to accomplish various tasks. The purpose of such a manual is to allow another person to step in seamlessly, if that is ever needed.

Example 1: the church newsletter is your secretary’s responsibility. Along with the job description, include directions on how the newsletter is put together.

  • Where is the archive file in the computer? How is it titled?
  • Who is responsible for submitting articles and by when?
  • What needs to be included? What should be omitted?
  • Who proofreads, before printing or publishing to the web?
  • What is the process for mailing, emailing, or publishing to the web?
  • Do you email, mail, or both? Where is the mailing list?

Example 2: Your custodian cleans the building and stocks supplies: soap dispensers and paper goods.

  • Where are the supplies kept? What about the vacuum cleaner, mop and bucket?
  • Who orders more supplies—the custodian, secretary, someone else? From what company?
  • Who is called for plumbing or electrical work? Who may make the call?
  • Where is the breaker box? The natural gas and water shutoff valves?

Example 3: Your pastor visits members who are homebound, ill, and grieving.

  • Who are the homebound, ill, and grieving? Who maintains the list?
  • Is a record of visits kept—with membership records, for instance? Who keeps that record?
  • Does the pastor deliver meals, cards, etc. from the church during these visits?

 

Next time, we’ll cover matters that may belong to paid staff or to volunteers, and ask about situations that vary widely from one church to another.

 

The Church Office Handbook – Part 1

Communication Corner:

The Church Office Handbook – Part 1

In most churches, the church office functions as the central nervous center of the church. It is where the day-to-day magic happens that keeps everything else running smoothly. When everyone and everything in the office is running in sync the entire body is running smoothly, but when something happens – the pastor moves, the secretary falls and is out of the office for several weeks – things become disjointed.

A church office handbook is a good place to start when disaster hits. The handbook includes the information needed for someone to step in and cover essential tasks: where to find the templates for the worship bulletin and newsletter, passwords, the list of people with keys to the communion cabinet and the sound booth, contact information for church leaders, and more—the content will vary according to what your church needs. Include the information that is most essential for your congregation.  

Your church office handbook can be on computer or on paper, simple or complex. Regardless, the handbook is your roadmap to getting things back in sync. Over the next several issues we will explore how you can create your own Church Office Handbook.

Hardcopy vs. Digital

There are positive and negative aspects to a hardcopy, paper version, of your office handbook:

  • Easy to retrieve if computers crash, Internet goes down, and/or electricity goes out.
  • Anyone with access to the office may have access to the handbook, so security of sensitive data may be compromised.
  • Harder to keep up to date.
  • Goes Down with the building-is there a backup?

Likewise, there are positive and negative aspects to keeping your office handbook in digital form:  

  • Easy to retrieve from any location through applications like Dropbox or Google Drive.
  • Easy to keep all copies up to date
  • Password protected so that only those in specific leadership roles can access sensitive information.
  • Harder to access in an emergency when Internet, computers, and/or electricity is down.

The best solution is for most churches is a combination of both. In the next issue we will explore what you should include in your office handbook.

 

Church Branding

Branding is the visual representation of your church’s identity. When branding is focused enough, it becomes a character of its own. McDonalds’ golden arches are a prime example of this. 

If you do not have laser-focused church branding, your church will not have a familiar face like McDonald’s. If your church branding isn’t locked down, you’ll do what most churches do: create an array of different designs and publications that, together, say nothing about you.

Many churches and church leaders get bored with the same messaging and similar graphic design. About the time you feel as though you are getting bored with it is the time you need to recommit to it, because people might be starting to get it. 

Unity in your branding communicates unity in your church. Purpose in your branding communicates purpose in your church. Consistency in your branding communicates consistency in your church.

Branding does not have to complicated, and it does not have to intimidate you.

THE 3 BASIC ELEMENTS OF CHURCH BRANDING

  1. COLOR: The first basic element of church branding is establishing your church’s color scheme. Choose one color that will be your main emphasis. For McDonald’s it is red. For the accent colors, choose colors that are different from your main color. Choose colors that are brighter and bolder — ones that stands out. Use these accent colors when you need to direct people’s eyes to something important, like an event time or an important headline.
  2. LOGOS: Once you have your colors, you can start developing your logos. You should have a couple of variations of your main logo. In McDonalds’ case, sometimes they use the golden arches by themselves, and sometimes they use them in conjunction with the full McDonalds name.
  3. FONTS: The final basic element of church branding consists of fonts. You do not have to go crazy on this and buy an expensive font family. Fonts are a great way to express your personality. If you’re a younger church, you might use some of the trendier fonts. But don’t feel like you have to. Whatever you choose, just remember to stay consistent – that is the key.

 

 

Adapted from Brady Shearer’s article “The 3 Basic Elements of Church Branding”

 

Support the Annual Fund; Give Online!

The Christian Church in Kansas Annual fund supports the ministries of the regional church including Disciples Men, Disciples Women, summer camping programs, pastor support and care, Kansas Messenger and Kansas Mini-Messenger publication, and the regional website, kansasdisciples.org. 

Unlike Disciples Mission Fund gifts, 100% of annual fund gifts stay in the region and supports regional programs and ministries.

Give a donation in support of these programs. Give Online Here!

Making connections with visitors

Communications Corner: Community Connection Cards

In this season of celebration, churches typically have more guests coming through their doors. It’s a prime opportunity to build connections and to invite guests to return. Leave a lasting impression by greeting them with a warm smile and handshake, introducing them to your friends and family, and sending a personal note of welcome. 

Some churches use community connection cards to collect member and visitor contact information and to help guests and members connect as a community of faith. Connection cards can take on a variety of shapes and styles, but with one purpose in mind – to get connected. 

A few dos and don’ts:

  • Keep it simple: Don’t crowd your card with a lot of information or a lot of blanks to fill out. Aim for a 2-minute time to read and complete the card.

  • First things first: Between herding the kids, finding a seat, greeting others, and everything else going on as worship is starting, your guests may run out of time. Put the most important information first (names and contact information). It’s a sufficient start, even if the rest is blank.

  • Include your info: Print basic information about your church such as mission/vision, office hours, worship times, address, phone, email, website, etc. Later, your guests will know how to learn more.

  • Tell them what you’re going to do with it. When you ask for information, it is basic manners to say why you want it. Tell guests what will happen with their information. Tell them you want to pray for them, to help them determine whether your church is right for them, help them connect with a small group, or whatever you will do. Be clear and direct.

  • Include space for their questions and comments. Your guests may have questions about your church, and some questions may get in the way of increased participation. Encourage them to use the connection card to ask questions, and you have a way to connect them directly with a church leader. That connection may help them take that next step toward greater participation or membership.

  • Add value to their lives in exchange. Thank them with a coupon for the nearby restaurant, a worship recording, or a devotional by your pastor.

  • Promote it as part of the church culture. Connection card return rates increase when everyone fills out the card. Guests may feel conspicuous when they are the only person in their row filling out a card.

Above all, use the connection cards to connect, not simply to take attendance. Respond to all guests with a personal note and invitation to return. Anyone can do this, and such responses are more effective when they come from someone other than church staff, especially the first time.

Check out these samples:

 

        

 

     

    

 

 

Making your church stand out in the crowd

In the Christian Church in Kansas there are about 60 churches named First Christian Church and nationwide, about 2/3 of Disciples churches are First Christian, especially those in county-seat communities. With American people as mobile as they are now, moving to new homes an average of every five years, chances are that among your large membership are people who receive newsletters from more than one First Christian Church.

So how do you make your church stand out from all the rest?

Here are several suggestions for you to consider.

  1. Have a unique email address:  When setting up your church email account instead of simply using fcc@xxx.com, firstchristianchurch@xxx.com or firstcc@xxx.com or some combination of First Christian Church try adding your city (i.e. fccatchison@xxx.com or colbyfcc@xxx.com).  This allows your members to know right away who the message is from.
  2. Identify your church and city in the subject line: If your email inbox is anything like ours, you get hundreds of emails each week. Perhaps this is the same for your members as well. Don’t let your email get berried! Instead try using the subject line, Lawrence FCC newsletter FCC Kinsley newsletter.
  3. Add an automatic signature to your office emails: An automatic signature automatically posts to the end of every email you send.  It should include, contact person’s name (generally the secretary’s name); church; mailing address; phone number; and email address.  With an automatic signature you never have to worry that the receiver does not know who the message is from and they know how to contact you should they have a question.