The project design has been constructed, the seemingly endless amount of data has been mined, and I am beginning to crunch the numbers. And let me say, I have found some great points after looking at over 250 social media accounts and 100 websites for churches. The simple fact of the matter is, there is no set standard, but there are a lot of churches producing great content. Even as I write these words knowing that the series is coming to a close and my latest eBook has been released on ChurchMag Press, I think how much more could be done with all of this. But before I get to that in this article, let me first share what I have discovered.
Churches Know What They Want
I have been under the false assumption that churches are working towards a goal based off of business practices. In fact, much of the online advise I hear being given in forums and on social media chats is simply concepts that would never work in a ministry setting. But what I observed is churches not only being intentional about what they post, but being creative and professional with set standards. It truly is amazing what is out there. Truly, I will need to share some of these great posts I saw during my data mining.
Not Every Ministry Is Great
Beyond the amazing examples of great digital ministry, I saw many churches that simply let things slip away without a social media post for months or years, old blog articles from 2013, and being very sporadic in their posts. Let me say that it pains me to see churches with a digital ministry presence but not be intentional and effective with it. Further, I saw churches who went the shotgun effective and left their digital platform confused at best. Imagine being in that community and seeing the church’s online presence. It’s hard to think someone would think, “I want to go to that church.”
So Much Creativity
I see two-thirds of the year as “normal” marketing and relationship building, but I unintentionally but thankfully picked the month of December to do this research project. What I saw was churches having engaging conversations with their audience and producing inspiring content. Beyond the “post something every day” mentality, I saw so many smiles, hugs, and worshipping hands that I felt the presence of God impacting our digital lives. If you don’t think the Holy Spirit can be communicated digitally, let me show you a thing or two that will make your heart jump for joy.
Narrow In On The Target
Ultimately, I think my biggest critique of the experience for churches is to narrow your intentions. If you have an Instagram account but don’t link to your website and visa versa, what are you doing? If you tweet but don’t show images or videos, are you fully communicating the heart of your ministry? Smiles mean a lot! And websites are meant for an online platform to connect people to people, so forget redesigning your site if you cannot even tell your story well.
I think that I need to begin to share some amazing posts that these churches have been doing to garner some more creativity and hopefully empower other churches to do something amazing as well.
So in the coming weeks, I will be posting screenshots of amazing digital content from churches. My suggestion, see what your church has the bandwidth for and reproduce them. I’ll see if I can work my magic and even get some PhotoShop files, interviews, and other resources out of the whole experience.
Further, I don’t think this is the end of the By The Numbers process. There is more data to come from this, this is just the beginning. I want to turn this into a longitudinal study that sees not only a snapshot in December 2014, but a year long process of how churches are working online. I hope to find ebbs and flows, holiday focuses, and ultimately at least one great strategy to rule them all. This will be a big task, but I look forward to the challenge.
This is only the beginning, what do you want to see come out of future data mining and experiments?