Skip to main content

Communications Strategy for Grace UMC

The other night in Bible study a woman I had never met before came in and sat near the front. After class she introduced herself to me. "My name is Regina. I am Catholic, and I worship at St Patrick's in Denison. I wanted to learn more about the Bible and I saw this class on the website. Is it OK that I attend?" "Absolutely!" I said. And I gave her my copy of the participant book. Regina made my day.

When I first came to Grace a year ago, I heard people say, "Communications is an issue here." After 20+ years in ministry, my first reaction was, "What church doesn't have communications concerns?" I knew the website needed updating. Jan Sutter, who handles our offline communications, like bulletins, newsletters, emails, etc, spends lots of time on paper-based media. I began researching bulletin and website designs from other churches, as well as online church communications forums to learn best practices of growing churches.

Since we were already producing a monthly newsletter and sending out weekly email updates that were basically a re-hashing of the newsletter, we made a temporary change in the bulletin design: it was a 8 1/2 x 11" page, printed two-sided and folded in half. It was a simple design, but didn't have any room for announcements, opportunities for fellowship, and service. Last Sunday we rolled out a new bulletin design, which fits into the overall communications strategy of the church. Like the original bulletin, it's a tri-fold design, but it's smaller. Less paper/less cost. There are six unique sections. Of the six panels, two are devoted to Sunday morning worship: outlines of both services, and an empty section for sermon notes (or doodling or grocery lists-- have fun with it). There is a panel called "Teaching and Courses" for studies and learning opportunities-- if your study is not listed, it's because the office doesn't know what you are studying. Let Jan know! Another section is "Connect" for fellowship, and "Serving Opportunities" (obvious) The back panel is for social media, online links, and more contact information.

The new bulletin design allows for much more information, but not in an overwhelming way. Because of the amount of communication in the bulletin, we will stop producing a monthly newsletter. Like the prayer list, we will print a calendar for anyone to pick up in the office. I have asked Jan, who has formal training in design, to shift some of her focus to the website and away from print media. Our church is not in a financial position to hire a website design person at this time, although the Finance team did designate some funds for it in the 2017 budget.

Our hope is that these changes will lead to more connections, deeper faith, and growth in discipleship for everyone. I know change is not the most fun thing in the world. Some people have already voiced frustration to me personally and amongst others. Others have said they like the new design. These changes will take some getting used to, but I believe if they lead to increased engagement on the part of folk who are already here, and an increase in the number of new people at Grace, they are worthy of the sacrifices some of us will have to make. 

Immediately after I hit "send" on this message, I am meeting with a family who has been worshiping here for several months. We will discuss the couple becoming members of the church, and more importantly, baptizing their three children. This sweet family visited many churches for a couple of years before settling on Grace. Regina came to Grace looking for more knowledge of the Bible, and found a warm and welcoming place. This is the work we are called to do: to share the gospel with more people, and to help people who are searching for Christ to find a spiritual home. I hope you will join me on that journey. 


Popular posts from this blog

Reflecting Upon Newtown

Note: I offered these words during the prayer section of worship Sunday, December 16.

Last Friday was a day full of surprising ministry. After I wrote my usual Friday email devotion to the church, I received a call from Byron Proutt, our missions coordinator. He and others had recently partnered with Park Cities Presbyterian on a project, and their missions director called Byron to say another ministry was unable to pick up several boxes of food for their pantry—could we use it? Of course we could! So Pastor Gregg, Mr Johnny, and I rolled out to the warehouse and hauled back 80 boxes of food. Praise God! After we unloaded it Gregg and I went to Kroger to give them a letter of appreciation for making our Thanksgiving baskets for hungry families a priority. After I dropped Gregg off at home, I turned on my radio for the first time that day and heard the reports of the shootings in Newtown, Conn. I could not believe what I heard, especially as a father of young children.

I came back to m…

The Famous Black Cat Band

This week my former high school band director, Mr Reinke, died. Mr Reinke is a legend in my hometown of Bay City. He was the leader of our Black Cat Band for many years. He was a fiery man, a perfectionist with extremely high standards. He was a gifted musician. He and I both played the trombone; one of us sounded like a goose being strangled. The other sounded like... well I can't think of a metaphor to properly describe Mr Reinke's horn. It was amazing. He would pull that thing out occasionally to show us how to properly play a part of a song and the sound was spellbinding. 
Mr Reinke was very innovative in his music selections. He had us playing the most random music, from popular stuff of the day by Michael Jackson to Also Sprach Zarathustra (popularly known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey) to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. This song in particular was a great choice-- it's amazing, complicated; however, this was the late 1980s. The song was originally released…

a response to gideons international

last sunday prosper united methodist church welcomed representatives of the gideons to share about their ministry. how many times have you stayed in a hotel or visited someone in the hospital and found a gideons Bible there? and while no one can argue that reading the Bible is a bad thing, or that distributing Bibles to others in native languages is inherently harmful, i would like to offer some thoughts on the practices of the gideons, as they were described at church.

1. bravo to the gideons for distributing 73 million Bibles last year. however, most of the Bibles they sent were tiny new testaments with psalms. i am a Christian, and i love the words of the new testament. but those words have their foundation in the old testament, and to remove thousands of years of traditions and stories of God's powerful love and acts of salvation diminishes the power of the whole Bible. we must never forget that the old testament (or "first" testament or "hebrew Bible"…