Top Social Media Networks for Your Church

When you think about the multitude of social media platforms available, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. Because of this, my desire is to list some of the best social media platforms that you can utilize in your church.

Since most churches desire to have effective communication, I have based my list mainly on the effectiveness of communication each platform offers.

 

Facebook

Facebook allows the users to follow people and pages they like. It also allows the users to share various types of media, posts, and events. Facebook is unquestionably the largest social network in the world. This makes it an obvious choice for me.

Another great aspect of Facebook is the awesome admins panel and stats they provide. These things help me figure out what works well and what does not. Some churches have a Facebook page that is more current and up-to-date than their website. If your church does not have a Facebook account, they should definitely start one.

 

Twitter

Twitter allows users to follow other users. Users can post short “tweets” that followers can quickly read through. Twitter users can link outside content to tweets to help drive website traffic. It is a great tool for spreading information and sending quick reminders to people.

One of my favorite things about twitter is their ads. They are very affordable and I prefer their targeting plan over Facebook’s. However, our church does not have as many Twitter followers as we do on Facebook, so our ad campaigns are more successful on Facebook.

Church-based networks

One social media platform to consider would be church-based social network. Platforms like The City allow your church to connect with people constantly. Like on Facebook, you can organize events. You can even use this type of platform to set up prayer requests. They allow for a more “Christian” environment than social media does. I would definitely recommend using a church-based social network if you do not already.

Vimeo or Youtube

It is a great idea to have a video social networking platform. It gives your church the opportunity to share any videos your ministry produces. Whether it is the pastor’s sermon from Sunday or an update video, Vimeo or Youtube can be a great way to spread the word.

Instagram or Flickr

Along with video sharing, picture sharing is becoming extremely popular with the advances of cameras on smart phones. Photo sharing networks can be a great way to spread the word about a youth activity or other events.

Pinterest

Pinterest can be a great way for people to connect with one another and share ideas and content from your ministry. This is not as widely used as other social media sites, but Pinterest can give those following your church account a feeling of connection.

Google+

Google is definitely a giant on the tech scene. They boast a large number of users on their Google+ network, however not as many people are actively engaged. If a lot of people in your church are using it, this could become very valuable to your ministry.

Tumbler or WordPress

Blog sites are becoming increasingly more popular. They can be a great tool for pastors and other ministry leaders to  share content with their church. It also can be incorporated into community outreach. A church I previously atteneded uses a blog site to help support our quarterly magazine they send it into their community.

Many social media platforms exist. One thing to keep in mind is that what works for another church might not work for yours. You have to find what network and platforms work for you. These are just some of the ones we use and how they benefit our church.

Bible Degree But No Ministry: Lessons from the Secular Work Force

When I was a student at West Coast Baptist College, I never thought I would graduate college with my ministerial degree and then go work in the secular world. As a Bible college student, ministry is drilled into your head. The thought of working in a church consumes your mind and the idea of not working at a church Monday through Friday seems absurd.

Nonetheless, I will never forget my first day at my new job after my college graduation. I didn’t work in a church or even a Christian school. Frankly, it was hardly even a Christian environment. I received a promotion at the bank I worked for through college. It was a great job and my then fiancé and I decided, after much prayer, that it was the best move for us.

I really wasn’t looking forward to it. I desired to work for a church. I wanted to get into the ministry. I wanted to do the thing that God has called me to do. I felt like was a failure. I felt like maybe I had “fallen out of God’s Will.” I felt discontent because I wasn’t working for a church.

I can remember feeling low and defeated at times. But, as I came to understand, this was exactly where God wanted me. Looking back, I see that God used that time as an opportunity to teach me some important lessons. I know I was not the only one that graduated from Bible College and worked secularly. I feel as if I continue hearing more and more about various Bible college students working secularly. Why that is the case could probably be argued – but that is not my point. As someone who has been there, I want to share some things that God taught me during my time through working in the secular work force.

Working secularly doesn’t mean that God is done with you.

This is probably the greatest thought I struggled with. I often wondered if I should give up on looking for a ministry and just focus on my career. The longer I was employed at my bank, the more successful I became. As I continued on a fast track to upper management, I began to worry whether or not I truly was meant to work in the ministry. The anxiety of not finding the right church only added to my confusion.

My hunger to find the right path for my life caused me to seek a lot of counsel and to study the Bible more deeply. This helped me see what God’s will really is. I realized that just because I worked at a bank Monday through Friday did not mean that God was through using me. God has a plan for my life and He has one for yours. No matter where you work or how old you are, God has a plan for you.

God’s will isn’t always about where you are presently, but where you are willing to go.

People who work full time in the “ministry” are not necessarily better or better-off than you are.

One day during this period in my life, a student from my alma mater contacted me. He was doing some work for the college and had called to get information regarding the church I was attending and serving in. I was able to help him, but through the course of the conversation I told him that I wasn’t working in that ministry. He reacted with belittlement, frustrated that he had “wasted” his time with someone who wasn’t actually working for a church. I felt very discouraged after that conversation, but I thank God that He has given me such an encouraging wife and uplifting friends who helped me and encouraged me.

People in ministry are not immune to marital struggle, tight finances, and broken lives. Stresses and temptations of finances and immorality from the world are not limited to only the secular workforce. No matter where we work, each of us is still a sinner that must depend on God every day.

I believe that God richly blessed me with the job I had. My life was filled with way more than I deserved. My job allowed me the funds to have a great start to my marriage and extra time to spend with my new wife. This great job was exactly what I needed, and God knew that.

It’s easy to think that your life is worthless, but that’s not how God calls us to live. He wants us to be thankful and grateful for the life He has given. I wasn’t always that way while I was going through it, but looking back I am so grateful for everything God let me experience.

There is always time to serve.

One thing I realized while working secularly is how much effort it takes to serve in a church. I also realized how rewarding can be. Something feels different when you serve in a church and no one is forcing you to do it. This kind of serving our Lord is rewarding in so many ways.

I realized that just because the church wasn’t paying me didn’t mean I couldn’t serve. I loved the pastor at my church. He was the exact pastor I needed at that stage in my life. He helped me to really get involved even though I wasn’t on staff. He didn’t look down on me but rather lifted me up. Because of that I had the great opportunity to work with some awesome teens in the youth group. Ministry is not about gathering paychecks from a church. It is about helping people grow spiritually. If you learn to think about ministry that way, you will realize your occupation doesn’t determine if you’re in the ministry.

Hard work and professionalism will carry you where talents cannot.

One thing I learned from my job is how important hard work and professionalism are. Those two things are the pillars to a productive work environment. I believe that if you don’t have these two attributes then you cannot perform effectively in any work environment, whether it is at a church or at a bank.

You may not always have the talents but you can always learn. Hard work can carry you farther in business than talent can. At the end of the day, hard work, endurance, and determination will get the job done and the projects finished. Talent will always impress people, but talent without hard work will always fall short because of an undisciplined individual.

I believe I really learned how to work hard and to work efficiently at my job. Working for a ministry is hard work and requires organization and professionalism. You don’t just wake up and have a youth conference or a plan for a building expansion put together. It takes work.

Things that you learn in your job can (and probably should) be applied to ministry.

A mentor of mine helped me realize this aspect. He helped me understand that since I worked for a bank I would be learning many financial terms and processes that would help me later on in my life and the ministry.

I believe that this can be applied to every secular job. Whether it is being a cook or being a salesman, God has something that he wants you to learn in your job now that you will be able to use to help people later in the ministry.

You can reach people with the Gospel that others cannot.

One awesome thing I realized while working secularly is that there are people I could reach that no one else from my church could. To some of my co-workers, I was one of a few “Christians” they knew.

It can be hard to witness in a work environment because most companies will not allow proselytizing during working hours. Nonetheless, this does not completely eliminate the opportunity to invite people to church or to share the gospel with them. I realized God placed me where I was for a reason. One of those reasons was to attempt to be a light in a dark world.

Establish proper priorities.

The final lesson I learned was to be sure I had established proper priorities. The world is a hectic place. If priorities are not established, then valuable aspects of life will fall by the wayside.

I learned that the most important relationship in my life was not with my job or to my church, but to my God and to my wife. Christ died so that we could have a real relationship with the Heavenly Father, therefore it would be tragic of us to place other things in a higher priority than that relationship. The Bible calls that idolatry. God doesn’t want us to misplace our priorities when it comes to our spouses and He certainly is displeased when we misplace our priorities when it comes to Him.

Looking back at it all, working a secular job was the best thing I could have done at that time in my life. God always has a plan and He always has something for us to learn.  God is faithful and He will not withhold anything good from those that follow Him.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. – Psalms 84:11

 

 

 

Tips For Better Church Bulletins

This post is co-authored by Kip Williams and was additionally contributed to by Jake White. Kip is Media Director at Faith Baptist Church in Canoga Park, CA and Jake is Creative Director at Alabaster Media. Together I believe we came up with some creative tips for improving and enhancing the typical church bulletin.

From the mega churches to the small country chapels, the church bulletin has become a staple in our Sunday church practices. The church bulletin is an awesome way for visitors to get a first look at what the church is all about. It also serves as a vital tool for connecting with the members and the regular attendees of the church. However, when the design is lacking the visitors will begin to ignore them. And when the content becomes outdated and irrelevant, the church members will start to overlook them. If the church is not careful, the bulletins quickly become unread pieces of paper that litter the floor of the church. This is a sad thought when it only takes a few extra minutes and effort to improve the content and the look of your church bulletins.

Only Include Valuable Content

Bulletins are primarily an information tool. They can be great ways to introduce your church and its ministries to a visitor. The bulletins also need to provide relevant and valuable information to the regular attendees as well. There needs to be a balance between what is vital to a new visitor and what is necessary for the members. There are a number of ways to keep the bulletins a regular part of everyone’s Sunday.

  • Keep updated and detailed information about church activities and upcoming events. Limit the information to only information that adds value to your bulletin. Keep the information fresh and relevant to the congregation.
  • Spotlight specific ministries and how one can get involved. I do not think you have to list every ministry your church has in your bulletin every week, but it is a great idea to highlight certain ministry opportunities from time-to-time such as Reformers Unanimous, mission trips, etc.
  • Promote Sunday school classes, Bible studies and small groups. It is a great idea to have information on Sunday Schools and Small Groups weekly. Doing this makes it easy for a visitor to connect with the church body, and also encourages members to become involved in areas they might not be already.
  • Have a place to take notes during the service. This can be done on an insert or on the bulletin itself. This can be a great section for Bible study services or during special meetings.
  • List pertinent prayer requests from the church family. I would not recommend this for Sunday, but rather for your midweek Bible study or prayer meeting services. Nonetheless, this can definitely be a valuable addition to any church bulletin.

Avoid Graphical Mistakes

Although you may be partial to a particular font or style, try to avoid using the same clipart and graphics your church has been using since President Reagan was in office. A quick search online can yield some great new fonts and icons that can really enhance the appearance of your church’s bulletin. Simple changes like these can make your bulletin go from average to awesome!

  • Stay away from cliché fonts. If you are still using Comic Sans or Papyrus – this point is for you! I like how Jake put it, “Comic sans and papyrus are the 8th and 9th abomination.” Any printed material or website that uses these two fonts (along with many other overused and out-of-date fonts) automatically look archaic and outdated.
  • Limit the number of fonts you use. The general rule is to only use two types of fonts. You can vary the size and proportions for headings, as well as adding bold and italics where appropriate. The goal is to achieve unity throughout the body of your bulletin.
  • Use icons instead of clipart. Vector icons are your best bet in order to achieve crisp, scalable and attractive icons. Clean icons appropriately placed can make announcements or contact information on a bulletin look exciting.
  • Have an attractive cover. People judge a bulletin by its cover. There is no way around that. The front is the first thing that everyone will see so spend some time designing it—making it attractive and memorable. You want the cover to be iconic of your church. You can match it to the church’s current theme or to a seasonal event. A well-designed cover will set your church bulletin up for success.

Incorporate Your Websites

Today’s world is becoming increasingly more interested in the internet. Social media has become the norm and is now fully integrated into all aspects of society. It is extremely helpful to incorporate the internet into your bulletins—directing the congregation to connect with the church throughout the week and not just on Sundays. The more ways you can connect with visitors and regular attendees to your online presence, the better. Here are a couple simple ways you can achieve this through your bulletin.

  • Incorporate the church’s main web address weekly. Make sure the web address for the church is included into the design of the bulletin. Doing this will help engrave into the member’s mind their ability to connect online.
  • Promote Twitter and Facebook addresses. Not so groundbreaking, but still a great way to let people know about the church’s social media accounts.
  • Include QR codes. Use QR codes to link people to more information about the church or for registering of special events coming up.

The point of bulletins is to be inviting to visitors and to be engaging to members. It is sad when visitors are turned off or when members just disregard the bulletins all together. Bulletins should be more than just a formality; they should be invaluable tools used each and every week. Let’s try to begin to try to make our bulletins better!

If you have any additional ideas let me know.

Resources

Fonts:
• Dafont
• Font Squirrel
• Ufonts
Icons:
• Tuts.plus
• Dryicons
QR Codes:
• Google URL Shortener
• Unitag
• QR Stuff
• Create QR Code

Why Web Design & Media Are Important to Churches

CHRIST DESERVES OUR EXCELLENCE and because of that I believe attractive media products are a necessity.

 One of my best friends has a start-up design ministry that is just about ready to launch. The ministry will help small churches give a crisp edge to their design products at an affordable cost. I’m very supportive of this ministry because we serve an excellent God and what we do for Him should be excellent as well.

 Many churches try so hard to reach a community for Christ, but when you look at their tracts or website it looks as if it hasn’t been updated in 20 years. I know there are many small churches that can’t afford a graphic design team but I believe that there is always something a church can do to help enhance their media.  Whether it is a few design lessons, using a vendor, or my friend’s new ministry, there are multiple options out there. If Web design and media are a priority in a church, then they can find a way to improve it.

  I’m not saying that media and web design should be the top priority. That would be absurd. But if people perceived media with the true potential it has, then I believe people would be more apt to enhance their digital and material impact in their community.

 What does your website tell people about your church? Likewise, what does your church’s website tell people about God? Church websites, like church buildings and church signs, are tools to facilitate the work of the Gospel. Similar to our church buildings and signs, our websites tell people a lot about our church and especially our God.  A church flyer, tract, or website is often the first impression a person has of our churches. Because of this, it is so important to make sure that this first impression is a positive one.

 Think about it – If people can’t see your church sign from the road because it’s worn down or covered by overgrown shrubs, then they might not be able to find your church. Also, if your church greeters are not friendly and if your church nursery, bathrooms, and auditorium are dirty, people will not be very inclined to return–and who could blame them! No one wants to put their child in place that resembles a scene from horror movie, and no one likes a bathroom that looks like a truck stop. All of this shows an uncaring attitude and a disservice to the One you serve.

 Nevertheless, we already know this. We know that in order to be attractive to visitors we need trimmed shrubs, clean bathrooms, and bright nurseries. However, what many of us don’t know is the similar importance of having a clean, clear, and bright website.

A website that is out-of-date or hard to navigate will frustrate viewers, and will decrease the likelihood of them visiting your church. An attractive website shows that you care about your content and that it is important.

 I don’t believe that you need a website in order to reach people. However in today’s world, people will look up the church online that they want to visit before they even step in the door of the church. The church website will be the first impression that many people have of your church. Therefore, make your message clear and attractive.

 Jesus says in Luke 14:23, “… Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.” Flyers and tracks invite people to your Church and to your God; likewise an attractive website will do the same thing.

I believe Christ has called the Church to reach the world, and I believe one of the ways that can be accomplished is through web design and media. It is not about competing with the culture’s style or the world’s interests, but rather going and reaching people for Christ. That is why this is important.

Christ died and was tortured for one reason: to save us from our own destruction. He wants everyone to be saved from their sin and to form a relationship with Him. He deserves our best. Whether that is a clean bathroom or an updated website, we ought to give God our excellence.