Creative storytelling is only as good as the means by which it is received, which means it’s good to watch over not just the stories we tell but the ways people receive them. One key to having a good strategic eye over every message and story in your church is to understand how people send and receive information through your community. The word I use for this is channels.
Coming into my new church, St Andrew Methodist, in 2016 allowed me to think fresh about channels. Below is a list of every channel I spotted in my first four weeks at the church. I’ve listed them here along with notes about changes our team made to some, and a general timeline for each.
- Traditional Bulletin: reboot Q4 2016 – less information, presented not as perpetual bullet points but as ad campaigns, in alignment with worship and programmatic themes. (Here’s an example.)
- Contemporary Bulletin: reboot Q4 2016 – matches traditional bulletin in ad content, but with different layout
- Video Story in Worship: programming beginning Sept 2016 – make storytelling align with worship themes (Here’s an explanation of how this works.)
- Spoken word announcement in worship: reboot Q4 2016 – do fewer, pick them prior to the day of, and make sure they fit with overall themes / ad campaigns. (Coordinating all of this requires creating a master calendar for communication.)
- Flyers: possible stations rebuild in 2017
- Screen Loop: possible stations rebuild in 2017
- 3×3 card stations: add Q1 2017 (Here’s an example of what this looks like.)
- Email: redesign Q4 2016
- Website Home: rebuild 2017
- Website News and Events: rebuild 2017
- Social Media Facebook: minor tweaks 2016
- Social Media Twitter: continue development
- Social Media Instagram: continue development
A FEW QUESTIONS FOR APPLICATION
- What channels do you see in your church? If you were to look at your community with a marketing eye, identifying all possible ways to communicate, how many channels could you identify?
- Then, having identified them, which ones are most important? I asked each director level staff of St Andrew to rank our channels from most to least effective. As you might expect, worship channels were seen as most important, plus Facebook.
- Which channels need changes or improvements? Which ones are under-utilized in comparison to their potential? For example, could Instagram be a better tool?
- With this information, ask yourself – are the resources we spend (labor and materials) in alignment with our channels’ relative value? What changes do we need to make to spend the most resources on the most valuable channels?