EVERYBODY WANTS A SOUND BYTE FROM THE PLATFORM

Everybody wants a sound byte from the platform… now what?

Fri, Oct 1, 2010

The question…

“Our church seems motivated to attend events and activities when things are announced from the platform. How do you get people excited to participate in things when there’s no major push from the pastor?”

My answer…

If people are responsive only to events and activities announced from the platform, it’s probably because it’s too hard to find out about the other events and opportunities that aren’t announced from the platform. Normal people take the path of least resistance and if they have to work too hard to find something, they’ll just take what’s on top (like the platform announcements). The problem with the platform announcements being the only place to find out about individual growth and serving opportunities is that it limits church growth and community impact. YOU CAN’T SAY EVERYTHING AT ONCE. My guess is that you “get this” and it’s why you asked this question in the first place.

Here are a few tips to help raise awareness and energy for the things happening all around the life of the church without being solely dependent on the platform announcement.

  1. Use the platform to reinforce and promote core values and macro steps from the platform, not individual events or teams. It might look like this:
    • Announced from the platform:   Volunteer, Join a Group, Bible Classes, Be Generous
    • Not announced from the platform:   Men’s Hunting Trip, Book Discussion for Singles, Scrapbooking Overnight
  2. Then, reinforce everywhere (from the platform, the bulletin, pre-service slides, postcards, business cards, etc.) the one place where people can find everything. For us, it’s our web site. It’s the one place where all information for every team is up to date and everyone—staff, volunteer, attendees, secret shoppers, the information counter—has access to it 24/7. For you, the one place might not be the web. It might be the information counter, or the weekly newsletter, or an events blog. Whatever you choose, stick with that one place and drive everyone back to it. When you talk about big, all-church steps like volunteering, joining a group, etc., that one place is where people can find the specific opportunities that appeal to them with dates, times, directions, registration, etc. (I’ve written about our web communications strategy before.)
  3. Of course, there are always special events that warrant specific priority attention from the platform. Usually this makes sense for big deal events that affect the entire church like Baptism, Membership Classes, unique opportunities that directly apply to the topic you’re discussing in the sermon (i.e., Financial Freedom class when the message is about money.) But, even when you talk about specific events, remember to keep driving people back to that one place to find out the rest of the story.

It’s about the basics. People have good news and they want to spread the word. So, tell the people go spread it! (Luke 8:38) There are SO many wins to this approach.

  • People (on both sides of the message) are satisfied with a rewarding experience. They know where to easily find information when they want it.
  • People take ownership of the invite and spread the word about different opportunities naturally when you empower them with direct, self-service access to information. You eliminate the middle man and give them the tools to share it on their own.
  • You eliminate redundancy and extra work when you put everything in one place.
  • And, the most important benefit of all is you are able to diffuse the spirit of competition with ministry leaders jockeying for pole position on the platform. You reinforce the message we are “one church” where ministry happens not a bunch of individual ministries housed in the church.

This comes from Kem Meyer, LESS CLUTTER/LESS NOISE.  See the blogroll on the home page for a link to  more of her great counsel.

SOCIAL MEDIA AND SPIRITUAL RESPONSIBILITY

Sharon Hodde Miller shared these thoughts on Ed Stetzer’s blog that I thought were worth our reflecting upon. She has a blog also worth checking out called SHE WORSHIPS:

Christians, Social Media and the Loss of Privacy

Before I really get started I want to be clear about two things. First, I willingly admit that I am a proponent of social media. I use Facebook to stay in touch with long-distance friends, and I’m an avid blogger. I am not here to promote social media asceticism.

Second, this post is not about Ed Stetzer. 😉 Yes, Ed is the first person I ever met who “tweeted.” And yes, he tweets in a manner that can only be described as “prolific.” But my primary purpose is to consider how we use social media, not whether or not we should.

Bearing those two points in mind, I want to examine a particular “abuse” of tweeting/posting status updates. It is the practice of posting at (what I would consider to be) inappropriate times. No, I’m not trying to be the Emily Post of social media etiquette here to lecture you on the rudeness of tweeting during a meeting or meal. The kind of “inappropriate” I’m referring to is one that not only impacts the quality of Christian discipleship but the authenticity of our church leaders.

I began to notice this misuse of social networking when friends updated their statuses while on dates with their spouses, or even on their wedding nights. Such an anti-social by-product of social media is ironic, to say the least. Yet out of those habits emerged a more troubling one: Tweeting about deeply personal, intimate moments. Although I understand the desire to share one’s life with community, Twitter has gradually become a window into private moments and experiences that, in the past, would have been reserved for God and family.

The consequences of this trend are two-fold. First is the increase of superficial engagements with flesh-and-blood people. When the world audience is always at your fingertips, you’re never going to be totally with people. But the main consequence I want to focus on here, the one that has far-reaching ripple effects but is rarely discussed, is the loss of privacy and spiritual solitude.

This may seem like a strange critique given the rising emphasis on community over individualism, but we cannot forget the value of withdrawing from the public eye. In Scripture we learn that solitude can be a subversive act against the cultural and social pressures that come from constantly subjecting oneself to the opinions and judgments of others. Jesus and numerous prophets exemplify this for us. When they sought to have quiet, uninterrupted fellowship with God, they withdrew from the masses, even dwelling in the wilderness for extended periods of time.

From their example we are reminded that isolation and privacy are an important form of resistance against a culture that bombards us with ungodly ideals. Without a conscious break from the onslaught of worldly pressures–including the sinful enticements of serving an imperfect Christian community–there is no space to step back and question what is influencing us and how are we being shaped.

So while Twitter and Facebook are great communicative tools, we are naïve to ignore the temptations they present. Social media provides us with the option to live life on constant display, which has potential for both good and bad. While we do have the opportunity to be a kind of “city on a hill” in a new and different way, we must also be cognizant of the temptations that such visibility brings.

We need to consider the wisdom of tweeting private conversations or intimate moments with loved ones. While the motivation is often pure–namely to praise God or to honor the person we’re with–this practice can result in a long-term lack of authenticity. There will develop in the back of your mind a constant audience, resulting in a constant need to perform, to always be “on.” Church leaders, who are already visible and already struggle with this temptation, are in greatest risk of this temptation. When you are driven first and foremost by the audience awaiting your updates, you can lose touch with the God you’re always tweeting about.

Is this a blanket statement against all forms of social media? Certainly not! Technology is a gift from God that can surely be used to edify believers. The question is whether we are controlling our use of social media, or is social media controlling us? Are we allowing Man-oriented expectations to invade our private moments, the moments when we used to be most ourselves? Are we placing ourselves in the public eye so often that we no longer discern the difference between genuine discipleship and performing for a watching world? If we are to maintain our spiritual authenticity, our intimacy with God, and a clear vision for leadership, these are questions to which we must give sober consideration.

CHALLENGING TIMES – MAGNIFICENT OPPORTUNITIES

Too many churches view the challenges of our times as a reflection of something lost.  But are nor challenging times actually magnificent opportunities?

Life in 21st century is marked by constant change.  Literally there are revolutions occurring around the planet of a daily basis. (That actually may be an understatement.) The most obvious revolution in this moment has to do with social media.  The world is literally reinventing the way it relates. This video clip helps make this clear.

The day of newspaper ads is generally over. Few people, especially those under 40 get their news via a printed paper.  The front page of their internet explorer is where they read their news.  Emails have been replaced in many quarters by Facebook, Twitter and text messaging.

How does the church connect with social media revolution, making sure they are part of the culture’s dialogue of relationships. Post your thoughts. My next post will continue this discussion.