Guest Post by Cynthia Ware: 5 Trends Affecting Church Communicators

The following is a guest blog by Cynthia Ware, Executive Director of the Center for Church Communications

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. – Albert Einstein

This past week concludes one of the busiest weeks of the year for many of us who are church staff members.  It takes work to pull it off all the things associated with Good Friday and Easter.  When you put a lot of effort into something, it helps to define how you’ll measure your success right? It’s foolish, for example, to go to all the trouble of going on a diet but never weigh in and see what your progress has been!  I read that in a book.  So, does your church put effort into whatever they communicate during Easter?

Great communicators want results.  So, great communicators measure. They are constantly re-calibrating their message so they can connect with their intended audience and produce a result. This doesn’t mean the message changes; this means the message is specifically tailored for a particular audience. And then, the astute communicator will consider whether the message accomplished its intended purpose. Think of all the letters the Apostle Paul wrote to different audiences based on unique circumstances and particular needs.

As a person who helps churches communicate as effectively as possible, I’ve got a vested interest in understanding what tools help us communicate effectively.  And these days churches are beginning to embrace a somewhat holistic approach to communication involving many channels and many tools.  By evaluating both their online and offline communication resources, churches are ensuring a consistency of message and the possible complementary use of multiple communication platforms to accomplish the task of addressing those who have ears to hear.

We know that offline communication resources have been used by churches for years. These channels include word-of-mouth, traditional print (newspaper articles & ads, Yellow Pages ads) media, billboards, flyers, posters, banners, postcards, bumper stickers, radio, tv, etc.  Newly popular online communication channels would include e-mail campaigns, websites (with SEO positioning), webinars, blogs, micro-blogging, RSS feeds, podcasts, livestreaming and Internet Campuses.

When a church is using (and measuring) both off and online communication, it’s known as an integrated communication program.  The goal of selecting certain elements of a proposed integrated communications program is to communicate effectively and consistently across media platforms.

There are several macro-trends your church leadership could be aware of in order to communicate more effectively via an integrated communication program.  Note these shifts:

  • From “traditional media” to multiple forms of communication (everything from webinars & podcasts to micro-blogging & vidcasting).
  • From limited internet access to 24/7 internet availability and access to messages and services across any mobile platform.
  • From a big business dominated culture to a user-generated content & consumer-influenced culture.
  • From a “we take care of our own” mentality to a refocusing on benefits for the common good (community).
  • From broadcast-style media to more specialized narrow-casting or niche media, often centered around specific target or need-defined groups.

Following last weekend’s Easter services, I recommend debriefing with all those who helped your church communicate over Easter.  Did you use an integrated communication program?  Whose attention were you trying to attract?  Was your communication directed towards those who attend your church services or towards those who don’t?  Was your message tailored to fit a particular group or was it generic?  Did you see results from what you communicated and how?  Did you measure your success? Will you do the same thing for the next church event or will you make changes?

And most importantly, if your church excels in communicating with excellence, please speak up.  The Center for Church Communication is searching for great church communicators to showcase.

I'm a CFCC 2010 Regional Network Coordinator

Recently, I spoke with my friend (and Center for Church Communications Executive Director) Cynthia Ware. She asked me to be a Regional Network Coordinator for the Center for Church Communications and I agreed. Last week she announced this on the CFCC website. Below is what she said:

Building a Team
In my own personal ministry experience I have found that I’m happiest when building and launching a team. It’s always fulfilling for me to gather a group of like-minds and harness their collective resource. The greatest thrill comes from discovering the distinctive talents of each individual—while all working together towards one common goal.

That’s why I’ve decided to establish a collective of Regional Network Coordinators for CFCC. These are simply friends and colleagues who we feel have something to offer as we identify, celebrate, inspire and resource a growing contingency of church communicators. They are diverse, some are well-known voices, others offer a unique perspective, etc.

What They Do
Our network of coordinators will simply function as eyes and ears on the ground in their respective areas of the country. They will help CFCC with behind the scenes projects and will point us to their favorite/most inspiring communicators and campaigns.

We have carefully selected these 18 individuals to act as local resources so that if anyone in their area needs communication resources they can point to CFCC. Likewise, we can learn from them what’s happening in their area and share those lessons, resources and ideas with the broader community. The goal is to offer some back and forth and ensure that CFCC is better plugged into the church communications community. This isn’t an exclusive club—we hope it will grow (especially in areas where we lack representation) and benefit the entire community.

As we all continue to improve our communication skills, we hope these coordinators will inspire us by pointing us to that which is good, true and beautiful in church communication.

Here is the list of Regional Network Coordinators:

CFCC 2010 Regional Network Coordinators

We hope you know some of these people and can be a support to us by directing them to examples you may know of that reflect excellence in church communications. If you’re part of our community, please visit their sites, familiarize yourself with their work and welcome them with comments.

*** So, like they asked, if you would: please feel free to direct me to examples you may know of that reflect excellence in church communications. Thanks!

Church 2.0 Fall Tour

I’ll leave today to go to California with Matt and Lance from Pursuant Group/Unifyer. We’ll be meeting with Brad Abare from ChurchMarketingSucks, Robert Yang from Kindle, visiting the Dream Center, Mosaic LA and other churches, as well as speaking at the ChurchTechCamp at Fuller Seminary in Pasadena on Friday.

Here’s what the Fall looks like:

America's Team

Sunday, I was working on Church 2.0 book stuff with co-writers Tony Steward and Cynthia Ware. Yes, in case you missed the announcement on Facebook yesterday: Tony and Cynthia are co-writing the technology section of the Church 2.0 book!

While we were sitting outside of Starbucks and brainstorming, we saw the Cowboys’ new tight end Martellus Bennett. Here’s the crazy thing: he saw me notice him and walked over to me, stuck out his hand and said, “Hello.” He was as nice as could be and we chatted for a bit. He was funny and warm and way nicer than someone with his fame would normally be.

I asked if I could take a picture with him. He said, “Sure” – so I did. That’s Tony sitting on the left (my right). Martellus represented the Cowboys in a great way. He was down-to-earth, friendly and a super ambassador for the team. We all remarked how well he represented the Cowboys. He even mentioned his faith when Cynthia told him I was a pastor.

I was truly impressed with his humility, humor and accessibility. My hat is off to him and the entire team, which, by the way, I’m picking to go to the Super Bowl. SO… who do YOU have going to the Super Bowl?

How Do You Twitter?

I had an interesting conversation with some friends this week. I found that many follow several, random people and in turn, those people then find out about them and follow them – thus they have a lot of people following them on Twitter.

That, honestly, never occurred to me. I only follow people that interest me, so it’s a relatively small group (78). I could probably have more people following me if I followed more people (makes sense), but I don’t want to get constant updates from people that I don’t particularly want to follow. Does that make sense?

So… How do YOU use Twitter? Do you follow as many as you can? Are you picky? Are you following me? 🙂 You should. I will be releasing updates and exclusive Church 2.0 info on just Twitter.


Check out my friend, Bill Seaver’s blog on Podcasting 101 HERE.

ECHO Premier Is A Success

If you’re not at ECHO, you’re going to wish you were and you need to plan for it next year. It’s always a good thing to come to Dallas! I had a great time for my first day of the ECHO Conference.

I got to catch the pre-lab class on “Design” – which rocked. It was so refreshing to watch a talented artist, Barton Damer, peel back the layers (literally in PhotoShop) and show how he created the conference logo (seen above).

I then hung out with Cynthia Ware and talked with several friends that were in town from around the country. Then Cynthia and I attended a special lunch and got to hear what’s coming down the road for WorshipHouse Media.

The rest of the day was a blur of conversations, meetings, classes, talking with my friends that are exhibitors, BBQ for dinner, more deep discussions and meeting people in person that knew me from online (Facebook, Twitter or my blog).

I was most impressed with how the ECHO team and the host church, Watermark, handled the night main session with my friend, Mark Batterson. Hats off to my local tech buddies Ryan Howell (Watermark) and Jason Cole (Lake Pointe) who were making it happen, along with Les and the rest of their team. My intern, Jonathan, even jumped in on camera. So Bent Tree, Watermark, Lake Pointe and the ECHO team came together as one – it was beautiful. We have a great local group of tech directors. I saw most of them today, including my friend, Brian Davis, from Fellowship Dallas.

The worship last night was great (led by my friend, Will Pavone, from McLean Bible in Washington DC. I moved from serving in the Washington DC area to Dallas). The visuals and lighting were notable. They truly led artistically and tastefully. I was very impressed and want to get the backgrounds that they used for the songs – they were awesome.

They had created a nice countdown, made great use of a left, center and right video screen and had a cool brief conference starter video. Good stuff. Batterson brought it and was encouraging and appreciative to technical artists. It was good to see him and his digital/tech team (Dave Clark, David Russell and Jeremy Sexton).

I ended the night chatting briefly with some local friends, including new Dallas resident: Rhett Smith, and got some brief time with my college friend, Shawn Wood, who will be speaking today. I also talked with Tim Stevens and his associate from Granger. I’ll spend some more time later today with Tim.

I picked up Tony Steward last night from the airport and am looking forward to spending some time with him these next few days. I teach today and tomorrow and am looking forward to meeting more of you.

More later, including my new resource of the month: Unifyer – which is one of the sponsors for the Church 2.0 Local Forum in Atlanta next week and is a new partner with my ministry. I can’t wait to tell you more about what they’re up to!

DAY ONE: Great. Well done ECHO team. Looking forward to the rest of the conference.

The Invitation

This past Sunday I had a good friend of mine (Chris Kim), who is a worship leader in Washington DC, come visit and attend Bent Tree. 2 weeks ago, Cynthia Ware was in town and got to come out and visit Bent Tree. As I’ve mentioned before, I love to show guests around, give them a behind-the-scenes tour and allow them to attend and listen in to our pre-service, in-between services and post-service meetings.

My hope is that if you’re in Dallas, you’ll give me a shout and come by for a visit. The reverse is true as well. If you see on my blog that I am coming to your town, please invite me out to visit your ministry. I’d love to!