The Social Media Opportunity


Here’s a universal church problem: time. Think about how many hours there are in a week. Now, consider how many of those hours your congregation spends at your church (or in a small group). Adults spend the majority of their time either at work or asleep, with some social or familial interaction in between. Switch “work” with “school,” throw in extra curricular activities, and you have the life of an American student in a nutshell.

The average American adult, between 35 and 49, will squeeze nearly seven hours a week on social media.That’s right, seven hours – and these are older adults, not millennials. The global average per person is 116 minutes daily, so an hour each day is a conservative number.

What if local churches could meet congregants where they are during those seven hours? What if that became a venue for participating in church life? Digital media presents us with the opportunity to connect people to the life of the church in unprecedented ways.

“The average American adult, between 35 and 49, will squeeze nearly seven hours a week on social media.”

Tech Background

Church history shows that innovation isn’t a foe of the people of God but one of her friends. Scribes used papyri and ink to copy the writings of the apostles, church fathers, and councils. Books were made by hand until the Gutenberg Press, which helped the early reformers set the world on fire. The twentieth century saw an exponential boom in technology, and the Church began using radio, television, fax machines, telephones, and cassette tapes to further her mission.

Communication channels have multiplied eight-fold by some counts since the early nineties. Not only are channels multiplying, but they’re becoming more effective at reaching people. Here’s an example: the telephone was around for 75 years before it reached 50 million users, the radio 38 years, and the television 13 years. It took Instagram 18 months.

Social media platforms are not only expansive but they’re personal. Each individual has their own profile where they add their own information and connect with existing friends and make new ones. They add photos and voice their opinions; there is even the opportunity to “like” brands, books, and activities one enjoys.

“It took Instagram just 18 months to reach 50 million users.”

This is much different than television and radio, where the individual is 100% passive. The shift from unidirectional communication to bi-directional and conversational is known as Web 2.0. Even marketing textbooks are beginning to include a fifth “P” in the marketing mix, adding participation to product, placement, price, and promotion.

The Church and Social Media

This brings us to the point: social media provides an opportunity to mature disciples. Social media can be divided into four types: community, publishing, entertainment, and commerce. The two most applicable to churches are community and publishing. In fact, the most successful churches on social media balance the two like a teeter-totter. Publishing is an arm that draws people in, while community builds the existing relationships.

Community is essential because the Church is a people. Community is embedded into everything we do, and even into the epistles we read; we remember that “you” is always in the plural. So when we approach digital platforms, the goal is to create a home for our community to exist. The best way to build relationships is by asking questions, creating opportunities for vulnerability, and being transparent yourself. This means we prompt conversations and ask how people need to be prayed for, how they responded to the sermon, and what their favorite hymns are.

Publishing is the essence of social media. Everything on them is technically “published,” but successful publishing has both excellent strategy and content. Graphics, photos, videos, gifs, and articles are the most common artifacts published. They become tangible pieces of what we teach, believe, and do for the audience to interact with. The artifacts are either entertaining, encouraging, or educational. Strategies are best shaped by a church’s calendar. The most important thing to be communicated is what is happening, or what is about to happen. In slow seasons, share testimonies of what God is doing in people; let them share their stories.

“The artifacts are either entertaining, encouraging, or educating.”

We can look at ministries with large followings to see more clearly how these things happen. Existing fans and followers find them on social media and share their content when it’s particularly relevant or moving. That share exposes hundreds of people to that page, some of who then like the page and start receiving regular content themselves. Those relationships, new and existing, are strengthened as they learn more about the ministry. The audience becomes more trusting of the ministry because they know more about it. Camaraderie also grows as they dialogue with the ministry itself and other followers as they comment on posts.

Your Church

Seven hours can go far. People will look at funny videos, posts from their favorite business or artist, and articles from various news sources. No church’s goal should be to dominate all time spent online; that is bizarre and unrealistic. Churches should focus on saying what needs to be said for that week, then interacting with people in comments and messages.

Onto what needs to be said: the ultimate objective of every social media strategy is to mature disciples, but that doesn’t mean every post will look the same. Some will be focused on reinforcing the convictions of your particular church. Some posts will be explicitly teaching, and still others will have their aim in celebrating what the Lord is currently doing.

Social media can be a venue to recap main topics, give information that didn’t make it into the main lesson, or challenge people to apply what was taught. This is its strength as a tool: the church gathers only a few hours each week, but its leaders can share content that continues to edify and educate in between Sundays. If you’re a teacher in your church, start to think about the time leading to and after a sermon or lesson as teaching moments.

“This is its strength as a tool: the church gathers only a few hours each week, but its leaders can share content that continues to edify and educate in between Sundays.”

Two other sources of content are your church’s calendar and your church’s people. Church events can be a headache, but we do them because we believe in their value. That’s all the more reason to multiply the value by getting awesome photo and video footage during, then sharing it afterward, or promoting it intentionally beforehand. Sharing testimonies from your congregants is one of the greatest ways to communicate life in the church. Story is trendy right now, but there is genuine encouragement in hearing someone’s experience of faith.

If there is something that the leadership of the church is convicted or passionate about, share it. Passion fuels passion, so talk about what’s important to discipleship and to your church. As we discuss and celebrate what we value, more people will be drawn into those rhythms.

The next challenge is to figure out what format each story or conversation needs to happen on. Content is king, but there are still artifacts needed to cut through the digital clutter, get attention, and engage the audience. Artifacts work more effectively on some networks than others.

The main channels churches should be using are Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube. Facebook is a social utility that has compartments for just about everything; photos, graphics, video, and text will all work well here. It also has a large draw with all age groups. Instagram is perfect for photos, graphics, and short video (under one minute) – and for reaching millennials. Youtube is a necessity for hosting all of your videos and has an organization option that allows you to create playlists and categorize everything you’re creating. Youtube also has a large demographic across all ages.

“If there is something that the leadership of the church is convicted or passionate about, share it.”


People are spending a lot of time on social media, almost seven hours a week. The Church has the opportunity to meet them there to make disciples. To do so, we need to use elements of social community and publishing. Each piece of shared content is an artifact of what we teach, believe, and do that helps people get connected and stay involved. The main sources of content will generally come from a church’s teaching, calendar, and people, and the primary networks churches should focus on are Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.

May it be our opportunity to echo Peter’s intentions as we plan social content:“This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, 2 that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles,”

Here’s the whole post boiled down to one takeaway: if you had access to your people for an extra hour a week, what would you tell them?

Share your answers with us below!

The BEST Promotional Events for Schools


Two of the most valuable attributes someone can have are knowledge and experience. Knowledge builds an intellectual framework and accumulates data, but experience forges conviction. Experience solidifies that knowledge and filters it through reality. The greatest teachers give knowledge and provide experiences that move that knowledge beyond theory and into confidence.

Most of content marketing is about knowledge, ideas, and insight, but it isn’t limited to articles and video. The step beyond giving information is to invite your community to an experience. These are not new parents’ meetings or school tours but events hosted for the value they create for families and students. The goal of content marketing is to build relationships by creating value, so the aim of these events is to meet new families and let them see how your school’s values express themselves.

Decide on a Value

Show what is important to your school by choosing one of its core values, then build an event around it. When families come and partake in this event, they are given the opportunity to understand your school all the more. They benefit from your conviction and are clued into what it may be like if their child attended and their family joined your tribe. In some ways, this is a thirty day free trial for education; students receive the use of a partial product to decide if they want to go farther. This is why your events must be intentionally rooted in who you are as a school.

There are typically four core values that schools operate under, even if they’re communicated differently from place to place: academics, faith, family, and athletics. Each of these serve as entire realms for promotional event ideas, so let’s explore a few of them.

  • Academics – Host regular group tutoring sessions, classes on study skills, college representatives/fairs, supplemental lectures or trips based on a specific area of common curricula
  • Faith – Spiritual life or apologetics camp, Bible study classes, hands-on faith experiences
  • Family – Family values conferences, date nights, marriage and parenting seminars, multigenerational games and activities
  • Athletics – Nutrition classes, sports camps, summer training programs

Each of these have the ability to draw new families to your school and to shape their perception of it. Instead of seeing your school as distant and irrelevant, these parents and students now have a relationship with it and the people there.

Involve Your Team

Almost as important as having your values on display is to have your people there to meet visiting families. There are a few reasons why values are more important than individuals: they’re transcendent and they are the culture. Faculty members move or find new jobs, but well-developed and ingrained values can survive the length of an organization.

I’ve heard it said that people don’t leave ministries, the leave leaders, and there is some truth to that, but only when the culture of the organization hasn’t been fully developed. If the faculty and board have been shaped by specific values, are committed to what they stand for, and have been trained to operate well within it, a headmaster could step out without the school missing a beat. Ultimately, this is actually the job of the headmaster, so there’s that. People are essential to the equation, not just as cultural vehicles but as individuals.

One of my favorite parts of serving at a classical school was the camaraderie of like-minded, intelligent, and loving teachers. They are still some of the best people I’ve ever met, and they’ve left a lasting impression on me. The same could be true of potential families. Albeit, they won’t get to know them the same way a fellow teacher does, but they can know the warmth and care that those teachers have toward their educational community.

People are essential to the equation, not just as cultural vehicles but as individuals. 

Trusting your team to be there on the front lines, greeting, teaching, moderating, whatever needs to be done, exposes the parents to world class teachers and provides the opportunity for even your teachers to more deeply identify with the school’s culture. Involve your team.

Some Broader Perspective

Leveraging them for the benefit of the audience and to build relationships may be a more novel aim, but promotional events are nothing new. The novelty might be that they are intrinsically face-to-face; they make your school physical and tangible, not just another name and post on a social feed somewhere. An event is actual human interaction – that’s novel! So unique that in 2017, 95% of marketers said events gave them an all-together unique opportunity just because the digital aspects of marketing have become so prominent.1

And because of its prominence, social media marketing can’t be ignored. Physical events balance an overwhelmingly digital field, but no one would show up if it wasn’t for having found out about it through digital means. (I’m at WorkHub Tyler at this moment because of a Facebook ad for their open house. I’m a digital success story because I now have a paid membership!) Almost all of the promotion leading up to an event can be done on Facebook and Instagram. Seven in ten Americans use Facebook, and 90% of Instagram users are under the age of 35.2 Targeting specific age brackets within x number of miles from your school can garner quite a bit of attention.

Social does more than just prepare for an event but serves as a de facto marketing tool during it because 34% of people will make a post about the event they’re attending. This number could actually be much higher given the parents of your youngest students will be digital natives, i.e. Millennials. Inviting them to post with a given hashtags increases that likelihood and provides a substantial amount of social proof for your event. If your school shares pictures from the event, that’s expected, but user-generated content from families will get more attention. Receiving more general attention is one thing, but it goes a step farther than that, because they’re not just sharing that picture to the people that have liked your page – they’re sharing it to their own friends and followers. The average Facebook user has 338, so that could mean thousands more people see your event than are actually there.3

Private schools are weird. Or, they can at least be seen that way by most people. Only 10% of all US students attend a private school, and only 78% of those attend a religiously-based school.4 Some schools have a reputation to overcome, whether that stodgy, elitist, or irrelevant, and events can help alter those perceptions (or reinforce them, so don’t be weird). In fact, 84% of people say they have a more positive view of organizations after attending an event.5 These could go very well for your school, especially if there is suspicion aimed at your school.

Host One!

Events need to revolve around your core values as an institution. Building them from a deeply held ideal and making them immensely beneficial to the audience is the best way to make a connection with the people in your community. These will often revolve around academics, faith, family, and athletics, and the benefits are magnified when faculty, staff, and digital media are involved in meaningful ways.



Of the Church and Video

A few months ago a friend of mine asked on Facebook, “Where do conversations happen? Where are people thinking and sharing ideas?” I saw the irony immediately. He used Facebook because he knew people would think about his question and share their ideas. I pointed it out to him. We laughed. It was a good time. 

There are groups of people who think the internet is a passing fad, and that social media is just for those generations who never learned to write in cursive, don’t know what a rotary phone is, and never lived in a world without Google. We love them, but disagree wholeheartedly; and the numbers agree that the internet and social media are here to stay. There are 7.4 billion people on this planet, and 3.5 billion use the internet. To make this a bit more relevant, of the 324 million in America, there are 286 million internet users. That’s 88% percent. Let that simmer for a second: 88% of the American population uses the internet. 

This is the biggest communication shift since the Gutenberg Press and the Reformation. The world hasn’t been the same since, and the world won’t be the same after the internet, social media, and the shifts in culture they’re causing.

The World Wide Web is a big place, and people are spending a lot of time exploring it. Sites like Facebook and Youtube are favorites for users and analysts alike; they are sources for entertainment and connection but also for excellent information on how people are using these new technologies. Here are two big numbers that might boggle your mind: Facebook reports that 100 million hours of video are watched daily on Facebook. The second statistic, given by Youtube in the last days of February 2017, is that their users consume 1 billion hours of video a day. 

Other video stats:

It’s clear that lifetimes of video are being watched a day (80 years = 700,800 hours), but statistics like these are just numbers if we can’t learn from them. Here’s the takeaway from this data: people like video. The world wants video. Here’s how churches can capitalize: create video. It’s a pretty simple action item. The difficult part is deciding what to fill the video with – because video is just a vehicle for valuable content. 

What Makes Good Video

There’s a clear difference between good video and bad video, and you’ve seen it. Sometimes the video drags on forever, and the information you were promised isn’t clear. Others are awkward or gimmicky, and not in a funny way. Unfortunately, some, otherwise good scripting and presentation, can be ruined by poor audio or video quality. Maybe the worst kind of video is just irrelevant; it’s information doesn’t answer your questions at all. 

So what makes good video? Good stories do. Life makes good video. I love watching cats being scared by cucumbers – it’s oddly entertaining – but the Church has a better story to tell than sneaky vegetables. The first element of engaging video is to have a clear story to tell. Flash back to middle school when your grammar teacher told you that every paragraph had a topic sentence. Let me channel my inner educator: every video must have a clear direction. The thesis statement drives the story forward and makes sense of how it unfolds, and lets the audience know why you’re telling it. 

Maybe the worst kind of video is just irrelevant; it’s information doesn’t answer your questions at all. 

The second element of captivating video is timeliness. If you need a coat, buy it in the spring. Why? It’s on sale. Retailers are clearing their racks for shorts, swim suits, and kayaks; they don’t need coats taking up space, so they sell them for pennies on the dollar. That’s completely different than how movies are handled. The “teaser” has become infamous in the last few years. It’s a brief clip of a movie, or just a brief scene written just for advertising, shown months before the film is available or in theaters. Teasers build excitement for a movie, but coats on sale tell everyone the season is over, and it’s time to move on. Which should your video embody? Excitement or irrelevance? In the same way a video needs to be planned, it’s delivery should be planned as well. This helps capitalize on the audience’s receptiveness and builds momentum for the new season of ministry, the event, or financial campaign. 

A subset of timeliness is placement, where we publish videos and get it onto the screens of our audience. Social media has become an excellent platform for sharing content, and social media marketing is a $31 billion dollar business. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube are great places for your video, but they’re not the only places, nor are they necessarily ideal in every situation. Here’s the secret for video placement, the number one best position for your content: where people need it. 

Who needs to hear your story? Okay, those people, where are they? An invite to your church isn’t best placed in your newsletter. Why? The group receiving it already goes to your church. A video talking about leadership development for your church doesn’t need Facebook advertising. Why? The Buddhist down the street doesn’t need to come learn about how to lead in your congregation. 

If we have a great story, we need to make sure the people who it’s tailored for hear it. A welcome video belongs on your home page. Your youth camp highlights should go on Instagram or Snapchat. Family event promotions go on Facebook. These aren’t hard and fast lines, but each channel needs content that is uniquely formatted. In this case, the medium doesn’t change the message itself but how it’s communicated and formatted. 

The last element of effective video is that it’s skillfully crafted. The art of telling the story and strategy of placing it when and where it will be most effective have been covered; the final piece is to ensure that the audio and video quality are on par with expectations. When the technical parts are done well, no one notices – and that’s the point. The viewer shouldn’t be left wondering what’s going on because the subject wasn’t in the frame, or have their speakers blown out because sound levels were way too high for the video. 

There’s a class from a seminary on iTunes U that I won’t listen to because the audio quality is terrible; I’m sure the content is great, but the scratchy audio is too much to handle, especially for a whole semester’s worth of lectures. When technical aspects aren’t done well, they will hinder the story from going forward. Not only will it stop individuals from watching the video, but it can also put your brand, your church, in a negative light, and they’ll be less likely to watch future content from you. 

When the technical parts of video are done well, no one notices – and that’s the point.

Engaging video content has three elements: it has a compelling story, it’s timely in delivery, and is skillfully crafted. When these three come together, you can create value for your audience and begin conversations that lead to relationships. So, there are billions of video views daily, and we know what makes video effective, but what kind of stories can we tell through video?

Stories Worth Telling

Sixteen Forty Six’s mission is to amplify what is unique to Christ and unique to the local church. We wholeheartedly believe that whatever is celebrated in an organization gets replicated. You’ve probably seen this among church staff, in small group settings, or even in siblings. Being excited about something helps others be excited about it, especially if you have formal leadership influence. So here are two questions to ask that will help you find a story to tell:

  1. What am I excited about? (Or what is the Session/staff excited about?)
  2. Should other people be excited too?

If your church is about to begin a push for small groups, leadership development, or serving, those are great things to get fired up about! How can you capture people’s imaginations and affections for those things? Tell a story. Grab someone who has been through the program or has been serving to tell about their experiences and how they’ve been impacted. 

Some churches go through months of behind-the-scenes conversations about what God is calling them to as a congregation. How can leadership get the congregation on board? Tell a story. Talk about all the great things that the church can be involved in and doing for one another and their community. Cast vision for parents and families learning the catechisms and paint a picture of what covenant life looks like. One of the quotes that impacts me as a communicator and as a leader is this, “If you wish to build a ship, do not divide the men into teams and send them to the forest to cut wood. Instead, teach them to long for the vast and endless sea.”

The emphasis should be on inspiring people to get involved or to ask for more information. One of the worst things you can do is create a video, get someone in front of it, then bore them with information. Information is absolutely necessary, but we should always ask what’s most necessary and what’s most engaging. The perfect video script falls within those parameters. 

“If you wish to build a ship, do not divide the men into teams and send them to the forest to cut wood. Instead, teach them to long for the vast and endless sea.”

Now that we’ve covered some broad reaching internet and video stats, talked about what makes good video, and what stories are worth telling, here’s what you should do: sit down for 15 minutes and write down the awesome things God has done in your congregation. Some are about salvations, other are healed marriages, and still others about maturity and ministry passions ignited. Each of these are great stories and would make great video content that point people to the Savior. 

Here’s a closing list of ideas for video content:

  • Ministry and testimony videos 
  • A welcome video for your website’s homepage
  • A promo video for an event, like a camp or marriage retreat
  • A Q&A series covering popular questions
  • Sermon introductions
  • Weekly video announcements 
  • A video series explaining your church’s mission, vision, and core values

What are other ways you want to use video for your church?

Great Ideas for Marketing Your School

Great Ideas@0.5x

One obstacle is common among authors, and it’s the reason so many are would-be authors. It drains creativity and stops the next chapter, the next page, the next word from being written. It clutches the writer’s creativity, and seizes it with no due process and no speedy trial. Knowledge of grammar and subjunctives, subjects and predicates, are left in tact, but the locomotive is gone – and these cars are left in the station – because they don’t have a great idea.

Our last article highlighted the opportunities that content marketing presents, but you might find yourself with writer’s block. There are several elements to the content process: ideation, scheduling, writing, and publishing. The two most difficult steps in content marketing are ideation and execution, finding ideas and writing regularly. Your ideas are the most valuable part of the process; writing weekly about nothing is pointless; publishing and promoting pointless articles is even more futile; and let’s not talk about how one should feel if they schedule out months of useless content.

Underdeveloped ideas create poor content. Poor content does the opposite of what that even decent content can achieve. Instead of boosting your school’s reputation and creating leads, shoddy content damages the brand and reenforces the notion that your school is not for that family.

Your takeaway so far should be this: focus on creating great ideas.

What is a Great Idea?

A great idea is one that connects with your audience, adds value to their lives, and extends your school’s brand.

Anything that your school publishes needs to have a particular audience in mind. This will not only determine how you write an article, where you will publish it, but also what your topic will be. A piece about the use of the Greek article in the New Testament will not grip and engage a mother of four trying to help two of them with math homework, but a quick guide through teaching 2nd graders long division will. Knowing the needs and wants of your audience – even if they don’t – will make your content more effective and begin to build your community.

Implicit in the point above is that content must contribute value. Value is measured in what the audience has now that it didn’t have before. We primarily focus on people’s progress. Progress means that the audience now has the tools or knowledge to move from A to B; they are able to move the ball forward, having learned a new skill or gained new information. Many photographers and cinematographers have been able to make Youtube film-making a lucrative, full-time project because they are consistently creating worthwhile tutorials for their audiences. Content that is meaningful will consistently bring people to your page and make your school an authority in the community.

Focusing on great ideas means focusing on a specific type of ideas, those that are related to your school and its culture. The school’s core values should serve as parameters for the type and tone of the content that is produced. Literature, health, history, and theology are all viable topics, but personal rants or political hit pieces are probably not aligned with your school’s culture.

Now that we know what a great idea is, where do we find them?

Where to Find Great Ideas

The first farm for great ideas is what you know. Not many sensible people would stand up in front of an audience and deliver a speech on a field they know nothing about. Write in areas of your experience and knowledge. This not only gives you credibility, but it also helps the audience see your passion. It is much easier to build loyalty and trust in an audience when you show that you are dedicated and enthusiastic about the topic.

Your school’s faculty and staff make up the second source of great ideas. Instead of farming ideas out of yourself alone, include the people that directly serve families with whom you want to connect. Their constant interaction with families gives them insight into what needs families are experiencing. Just after parent teacher conferences would be a great time to prompt teachers to record anything significant that might not be isolated to an individual family.

It is much easier to build loyalty and trust in an audience when you show that you are dedicated and enthusiastic about the topic.

A third source is new experiences. Draw from existing experience, yes, but also create a culture where you and your team are constantly on the look out for potential writing prompts. Comedians draw their best material from daily life, and content creators should do the same. This adds a level of authenticity, guarantees an element of story, and helps the audience see more richness in their own day-to-day lives.

The final source is a professional content marketer. The ideal content marketer will act as both a strategist and writer, helping brainstorm ideas and executing the content plan. Bringing in a professional can simplify the process by allowing all staff and faculty to continue focusing on their primary responsibilities and ensures that the articles are produced as scheduled.

Great ideas can come from many places. The task at hand is finding them and finding the people who find them. But what happens when they do?

Your School’s Future

Great ideas create motion. These seemingly small and incremental articles and publications are signs of vision becoming reality. They are the little pieces of snow that are added to the snowball as it rolls down the hill. The Disney Parks blog tells this story about Art Linkletter:

I’ll always remember something he said during our 50th when he shared a story about a man at Disneyland Park who asked him, “Isn’t it a shame that Walt Disney couldn’t be here to see this?” and Art said, “He did see this, that’s why it’s here.”

Content marketing is about being relevant, adding value, and extending the brand, but it does much more. It creates and cultivates life. As stories are told and inspiration given, these words become the nails and boards of the future. One day, the house will be built; the school will be more of what it is meant to be. The families will have a greater appreciation for what it is that they’re a part of, and more of the community will be looking in with wonder and curiosity.

Four Digital Communication Basics


A phrase often attributed to Philip Melanchthon, “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity,” became popular during the Reformation. It remains used today and is even the motto for a presbyterian denomination. The idea behind the quote is that Christians can disagree on doctrinal points and still remain in fellowship, but it fails to solve too many problems. The harshest disagreements tend to be on the category of beliefs – what is essential?

The PCA requires ordination candidates to be well-versed and articulate in several areas: the Westminster Standards, practical knowledge of the Bible, the Book of Church Order, church history, and the Biblical languages. These are seen to be essential to pastoral ministry. Regardless of the field of study, there are fundamentals, basics, that must be understood before anything else in the field can be fully grasped.

This leads us to the question of what’s essential to effective communication. To learn communications thoroughly, we need to realize that the messages we communicate are shaped by who we are, our audiences, and the channels where we share them.

The Message (Not A Paraphrase)

The gospel is the unique faith handed down once for all to the saints. It doesn’t change. God’s Church will always buttress the good news that God became man in the man Jesus of Nazareth, he lived a sinless life, died an undeserved death, rose again victoriously, conquering Satan, sin, and death, then ascended to the right hand of the Father and offers forgiveness and reconciliation to all those who repent and believe.

That is the power of God unto salvation, to change lives, and to unite wicked sinners to Christ as new creations!

Christ is the person and the message that we carry in our bones and want the world to know, but there are other messages, information and stories that people in our specific congregations need to know and know about. THE message of the Church is the gospel, but it’s not the only thing we communicate. We also communicate event details, specific prayer requests, information about volunteer opportunities, nursery closures, community needs, and invitations to learn more through Bible studies and Sunday school. There is an ocean of information that churches convey to their people that is unique to their congregation.

Effective church communicators make room for both and see that each is vitally important in the life of a church.


There should be no caveats to the gospel, but each denomination and church understands secondary issues in its own way. It’s not uncommon that theological debates center around discerning which tradition understands church history or Biblical exegesis most faithfully; and we proudly hail from our tribes as dependable “company men,” ready to defend our nuances to the last breath. These are good things when we’re dedicated to submission to the Scriptures. Paul doesn’t discount his identity as a Pharisee but boasts in it. These allegiances become toxic when they become ends to themselves.

Secondary doctrinal authorities are phenomenal for multiple reasons; the first of which are doctrinal clarity and unity, then practicality. They make it easier to lead in local congregations, because they articulate what is important to the larger body they’re tied to. Individual churches don’t need to craft doctrinal statements or core values when they’re laid out at a denominational level. Churches become outposts and channels of the Christendom as expressed by that particular tribe.

These convictions and structures become part of that church’s brand. That may sound profane, but churches do have brand identities simply because people have expectations of those congregations. These expectations are realities to which leaders have applied the term “brand” – removing the word doesn’t change the reality, so it is best to embrace it, understand it, and move on. Brands and expectations are shaped by the above doctrinal convictions each group has; if this wasn’t the case, Pentecostal and Presbyterian churches would look the same as Bible and non-denominational (lying Baptist) churches. Habits and practices come from those beliefs, and we should happily own them.

Our affiliations and convictions set a filter over the Biblical truths we proclaim. The goal is generally to see and understand the Scriptures as they see and understand themselves, but “everyone” does that and comes to different conclusions. Denominational adjectives on our church signs actively communicate which stream we find ourselves in.


Peter and Paul both contextualized their preaching to the audience. Paul is known for pulling knowledge from Greco-Roman poets at the Aeropagus; and the sermons in Acts 2 and 10 are wildly different. Peter leveraged Old Testament prophets and motifs when speaking to the Jews but relied solely on the story of Jesus’ person and work with Cornelius’ family. The gospel was still going forth and people were coming to faith, but the apostles were aware of their audiences.

Level of involvement is a simple way to delineate what information a person needs. Most have no relationship to the church, some are marginally connected to the church, others are active members, some serve on ministry teams, and a select few serve as overseers. In any given week, these people need to hear a different message, or the same message at a varied level. Those on the fringes need to hear gospel truth or be invited to an opportunity to learn more about the faith. Membership and involvement opportunities should be extended to fringe attenders. Active members benefit from reminders of what the church believes, what it stands for, and what it does. Encouragement and pastoral tasks can help leaders stay motivated and connected to the people.

People have different needs, and it’s easiest to identify groups of people as audiences based on those needs. Connecting with them over felt needs gives leaders the opportunity to build trust and relationships within the congregation. We just need to take the time to know what they need.


Technology has changed and is changing. The last time humanity saw a change on this scale was during the Reformation, with the Gutenberg Press. The teachings of Martin Luther exploded across Europe and started a revolution against the Roman Catholic Church. Digital communication is not only reaching more people more quickly but also more directly; now, anyone can be a publisher, and your computer is your Gutenberg.

There are several dozen communications platforms that anyone can utilize, but there are just a handful that the Church should focus on. These few are print, e-mail, Facebook, and websites. These platforms do communicate, but there’s more they can do; we must to use them as means of building relationships with people in and outside of our local churches. Print because it is tangible, and everyone who steps in your door on a Sunday would benefit from a summary of the upcoming events and opportunities. E-mail is necessary because almost half of the world’s population has and uses an e-mail account. Similar statistics ring true for Facebook; nearly a third of all people have a Facebook account. Websites are critical for churches because they serve as a digital brochure and open house for first time guests.

All of these channels have their value in how many people use them or in being what people need at a given time. Email and Facebook have too many active users to be ignored and left out; but print newsletters and websites meet felt needs. Newsletters/bulletins give a tangible reminder, and websites let the curious know more about your church before they set foot on campus.

A danger when it comes to using digital channels is planning to be on all of them, just because they exist. That would be like buying land and building a campus there because it was for sale; let’s not fall into that trap. The other trap is using a platform just because you personally like it. Twitter may be personally gratifying, but very few Americans actually use the platform.

Channels also shape the message itself. Graphics, photo, video, and articles are the best types of media for digital content, and certain channels favor specific types of content. The medium does not “become” the message, but messages will go farther on specific platforms when presented the proper way. For example, no one wants to read a 1,000 word essay on Twitter. Nor does anyone want to see a 15-minute long vlog in ten-second increments on Snapchat.

Keep the content relevant to the platform, and your message will be more effective. Here are a few reminders:

  • Do keep quick reminders in e-mails. Do NOT write a blog and paste it into an e-mail to the congregation.
  • Do post photo and video to Facebook. Do NOT post every thought to Facebook every five minutes.
  • Do simplify your website. Do NOT expect a visitor to read every page of your site.


Our message and messages as a church are important, so we must understand the filters they’re passed through, what people need from us, and where they’ll hear it best. Our churches filter the gospel through lenses of tradition and theological conviction, and we should understand that those realities either create a barrier or a bridge depending on the audience. We also have the privilege and reaching out to people and serving them as they need it.

Churches also have the opportunity to extend hospitality to digital guests, as if they were visiting our physical campuses. We do this through amplifying the identity, message, and convictions of our church onto these digital platforms, like Facebook and our websites.