You can follow Old First now on Twitter. In fact, there’s a button to subscribe right at the top of the this page (on the right side of the skyline header.)
Why add another communications stream? I asked that myself, at my new monthly “getting the word out” tutorial with our very own internet application guru Bula Bhullar.
Bula said to me, “We are in a different world. The church needs to not only be part of, but also work well within people’s digital life.”
I fancy myself the prophet of “to be effective, the church needs engage effectively the contemporary world and work creatively in people’s real, contemporary lives.” Why then was I resisting?
Because the specific assignment he was challenging me to was to learn to Tweet. I stammered, “I don’t have time to add another task. Communications already take up a lot of my time.”
His point was convincing, however:
We live in a very different time and space. Probably more different than we are often aware. His example was that we have so many more choices. And most of them that we take advantage of are right at our fingertips, namely on our smartphones over the internet.
If we are leaving the house to go to work (often unnecessary in a digital age, though offices may have an emotional and practical benefit for certain engagements), we have to decide what we are going to do for lunch. We could order in. We could go out. All those choices– a listing of the restaurants and their menus are a few clicks away. As well as the schedules in which to fit a lunch break. If we want to know the calorie content of a certain dish, we can look it up. Or if we want to see who might join us for lunch. And whether or not we have the money in the bank to do any of this… All these choices are now available to us through our internet connection, often right in our pocket wherever we are.
Bula is simply suggesting that if the church cannot effectively carve itself out a compelling, discernable position among all those other choices, we will just get overrun and often forgotten.
I hear what he is saying. And agree that our challenge is getting a sense of what we offer, the difference we make in people’s lives, in front of people who already have too many things to notice, remember and do. People are just busier these days. Even Sunday mornings are hardly set aside only for church programming.
Much of our success around the Covenant Ministry, it seems to me, as we are working up an evaluation of covenant ministry, is about being able to stay in touch in timely, user-friendly ways. So, I’m learning to tweet. A tweet a day.
Would you sign up for Old First on Twitter (in the upper right hand of this page!)– it’s just another way to try and let what we do and who we are on Sunday become more a part of our whole lives.
Bula introduced me to one more more sophistication in order to successfully share our message — God’s love — further in our contemporary situation. At least since the debuting of the new website, Old First has been working on a notion that our communications — both means and content — have to be tailored for those who are already here and those whom we hope to attract.
The website, for instance, is aimed first at those not yet here, who may be checking us out from a distance. It’s purpose as the hub of the communications network within our gathered community is secondary, and much of what is primarily of “internal interest” for those who are already here happens in the members’ only On-line Social Hall.
Bula suggests that we have to go further in our thinking about who we are aiming to speak with. He has asked me to draw up a schematic of who we want to reach. At the center, of course, is loyal core. That group is not that hard to reach: already committed to the community, they read what the church pushes out to them. They will even come to us, seeking information.
But after that group, who else do we want to be communicating with? Bula has suggested imagining concentric circles, radiating from that core out to those who are most difficult for us to reach.
An example of those consecutive rings might be:
Irregularly attending regulars (members and friends)
People who have just visited a few times.
People who may be searching for a church like Old First.
The Christmas and Easter crowd
Members who are not active
Friends/family of our newer members
Friends/family of longer term members
People in our four target groups we do not know.
We’ve had success by recognizing that people these days don’t “automatically” want to come to church. Instead, the church needs to try a little harder. Carry the message out to where people live. And we’ve started in that direction. But imagine how powerful our message would become if we could make telling our stories and talking meaningfully and appropriately about the difference the church, faith, God make in our life… imagine if this became such a cultural norm at Old First that we were ALL good at it!
Ah, the fantasies of the pastor… You can hear more if you subscribe to our Tweets (just click the button on the top of the page!). Maybe they will help you have more to share!