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Author Archive | Angela Bainter

The Grace of Adele’s Grammy Performance

If you’ve served in any technical ministry at a church very long at all, you’ve experienced it. A projector bulb goes out in the middle of service. A wireless mic or headset that worked perfectly before service begins emitting static that overwhelms the pastor’s voice. You accidentally display the words to the second verse rather than repeating the chorus. And with each misstep, heads turn around to face you in the sound booth, making you want to crawl under the table and hide. 

With volunteers operating the audio visual component of worship services at the average church, things are bound to bumpy from time to time. In these moments, it’s easy to judge those running A/V, wondering why they weren’t better prepared (trust me, I’ve done it many times). It’s also easy if you’re the one running A/V to be uber-critical of yourself and/or your team when things go awry (trust me, I’ve done that many times too).

But as we saw at the Grammys on Sunday evening, technical problems happen to even the most experienced professionals. Adele’s much anticipated performance at the awards show was filled with sound issues including a microphone that cut out and and an off-tune strumming sound in the background. Afterward, Adele tweeted that the source of the sound issues were  piano mics that fell on the piano strings, creating a less than desirable performance. 

The lesson here isn’t that things can go wrong with you’re working with sound and visuals. The lesson is in the reaction of those involved. First, Adele’s pianist continued to play through the song, even though the music he was producing wasn’t what he had practiced. Second, the sound engineers worked to resolve the sound issue throughout the performance. And lastly, Adele powered through the vocals doing her best to salvage the performance. At the end of the night, she made the best of the situation, tweeting “I’m treating myself to an in n out. So maybe it was worth it.” What a positive response to a situation that was, of course, embarrassing! The missteps of the performance wasn’t the end of the world for Adele. She maintained a positive outlook and had the grace to admit that it was just one performance that was less than perfect. But Adele also knows that she has many more perfect performances to look forward to, so why focus on the one that went wrong? 

The next time you have a Sunday service when everything seems to go wrong, be encouraged and give yourself grace. Remember, first and foremost, you are there to worship God. Also remember there are always more Sundays for things to go right. In fact, they probably outnumber the Sundays where something goes wrong. Enjoy what you do and move forward, no matter the results. 

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Top Mistakes You’re Making in Marketing Your Church Events

mistakesimageHave you ever planned and planned an event at your church only to have 12 people show up? What a disappointment! Your initial instinct may be to not hold the same event in the future, thinking there is a lack of interest within your church body. But, have you ever considered that your methods of church marketing might have been the problem instead? Here are a few mistakes you may have made that, if improved upon, could make your next event a highly-attended success. 

1. “Selling” the Event

This may sound counterintuitive, but hear me out. When promoting your next event, don’t make your advertising only about the event. Make it about the benefit for the attendees. I’ve learned that people only participate when they know there is something in it for themselves. Here is an example. When creating your flyer, email, or website banner for this summer’s VBS, don’t use the headline “Vacation Bible School.” Instead, make your message “A Fun Way for Your Kids to Connect with Jesus this Summer!” Then throw in that you’re holding VBS and all the details. In this example, the first headline is trying to “sell” the event and only explains what it is. But the second headline does the job of telling why someone should want participate. And that’s what really connects and draws the desire to to be a part of your event.

2. Being Inconsistent

A key principle in any advertising is being consistent in every campaign. Often times we don’t put in the necessary time to plan out advertising for church events and we end up with haphazard communications that are confusing. When planning the communications you’ll do around your event, look at it as an advertising campaign and draft a plan that will help you clearly explain the details of the event. In your plan, brainstorm a theme and stick with it. Choose a headline or tagline for your event, select an image, and select a font and colors. Carry these design and text features throughout every avenue you use to advertise the event. Also, create a timeline. When will you send email, promote on your website, post on social media, etc? As a bonus, once you have your timeline in place, you can repeat it for future events as well.

3. Missing Your Audience

In our parents’ and grandparents’ churches, there were bulletins and announcements from the pulpit – two basic ways to communicate the church’s happenings. And, these two were only worked if people were sitting in the pews. Today, we have tons of other options to reach our church goers that are available every hour of every day. Email, websites, social media, apps, and texting have all increased our opportunities to connect. Try using each of these sources of advertising and see which ones work the best with your church. You may want to choose several forms of communication so you can reach a larger number of people, but make sure you stay consistent!

What are some other mistakes you see churches making in marketing their events?

 

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Are You Ready for Mobileggedon?

phone

Google has been making big news recently in the web and digital marketing world due to its recent announcement about an update to its search engine set for April 21st. The search engine giant’s announcement indicates that mobile friendliness will become a new ranking signal in its search algorithm. In layman’s terms, following this update, websites that are mobile-friendly will have better rankings in search results than those that are not so friendly.

In your day-to-day work in ministry, this may not seem like a significant piece of news. But, it is important to your church for one reason:

Your church website is an essential outreach tool!

So many people are searching online for all kinds of needs, including searching for a church. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, it will be harder for potential churchgoers to find your site on Google, and this outreach tool loses its effectiveness.

You may be asking a few questions about what this update is and what you should do as Mobileggedon approaches, so here are some details and ideas for you.

What does “Mobile-Friendly” mean?

Google identifies a mobile-friendly site as one that displays well on phones and tablets. Specifically, they are looking for sites that have text large enough to read on a mobile phone’s screen and links that are large and far enough apart to click with a thumb.

How do I know if my site is Mobile-Friendly?

The best way to start researching your site’s mobile-friendliness is to browse it on your own phone. Do you have to zoom in on any pages to make the text readable? Do you have trouble clicking links? If so, consider making some adjustments to create larger elements.

Another resource is Google’s Mobile-Friendly test. Submit your site’s url at this page and Google will tell you if you’re all set or give you suggestions to improve your site for mobile users.

What do I need to do to make my site Mobile-Friendly?

The good news is many church website providers, like Clover or SiteOrganic, as well as many WordPress themes, currently offer mobile site designs, so you may be ready for Google’s update now.

If you’re on a platform that doesn’t offer a mobile option, or if you have a custom built site, start making a plan today to update your site to be mobile friendly. Or consider changing to one of the previously mentioned mobile site options. This may include creating a separate mobile site (i.e. m.yourchurchname.org) or even a responsive design site (find more details about the options in this great article). But either way, get a plan now so you can rebound in search results quickly.

My church has a mobile app, so do I really need to care about Mobileggedon?

Yes! You may have an amazing app, and I recommend apps as a great tool for your existing churchgoers. But, you want to assure that your website can be found by future churchgoers, and a great way to do that is to be found in Google search results.

So, are you ready for the upcoming Google update?

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How to Prepare Your Site for the Easter Rush

Easter is around the corner, and as you know, most churches see a surge of first-time visitors for the occasion. Your church may, and should, take advantage of a number of ways to advertise your Easter services like social media, Google Adwords, direct mail, and word of mouth. But, one of the most common ways for people to find a new church any day of the year is extremely important for Easter too. It’s your website! Here are some tips to help you get your site in shape and ready for the Easter rush.

Make a great first impression
Your homepage is the first page most people will see on your website, so use it to its fullest potential. A few weeks prior to Easter, place information about your Easter services in a prominent place on the homepage. If you have a spot for an image, create a simple and inviting graphic about your Easter Sunday events and include service times for the day. The goal is to make it fast and easy for your visitors to find the basic details.

Map it out
On a contact us page or a page specifically for new visitors, include your address and directions to your location. Or, better yet, embed a Google map. This will help visitors find your facility quickly. Bonus tip: If you’ve already embedded a map on your site, verify that it is working correctly! You never know when your mapping service has made a change, making your map inaccessible.

We love kids
For kids, visiting a new place can be intimidating, especially when there is a buzz of activity like you’ll see at church on Easter Sunday. Help parents prepare their children by filling them in on your kids programs for the day. Don’t spell out every detail, but on your new visitors page, give basic info on classes and what kids will do during their worship time. Giving this info upfront will help parents and kids ease any nerves before the morning arrives.

Tag Team
With the additional traffic to your site just before Easter, don’t miss out on the opportunity to promote other spring events. Do you have small groups starting soon? Or is there an upcoming sermon series that shouldn’t be missed? Include your announcements for future programs on your homepage now. Hopefully the extra eyes on these announcements will lead to greater engagement in your ministry!

What do you do differently with your site around Easter?

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Thom Rainer on Church Announcements

Thom Rainer has written an insightful post on his blog where he tackles the relevant question many church leaders are asking: should we or should we not include announcements in our worship services? Many churches of various sizes and styles have had to consider how to communicate what is going on in the life of the church without losing sight of the vision of the church or even interrupting the time of worship. But what exactly is the most effective way to do this? Some churches have eliminated verbal announcements altogether, choosing rather to offer announcements projected on a screen prior to the service. Others, however, have felt pressure from congregants on the importance of announcements, even at times when their effectiveness has shown to be of little or no avail. And one must not forget those church leaders who are often passed a note before stepping on stage or even while they are at the podium, beckoning them to mention whatever is scribbled onto the crumpled piece of scrap paper. While Rainer’s observations seem to differ on some accounts per church size, the overarching conclusion is sure:

“More church leaders do not think announcements should be a part of the worship services.”

Even though many churches have not fully eliminated announcements, especially those of smaller size, most churches have found a way to limit the announcements made during the worship service in a way that is most effective for the individual congregation. The challenge, though, for every church is communication, and communication in such a way that priority and focus remain on whom they should without leaving any one individual in the dark without a light to experience community.

Take a few moments to read Rainer’s full post here. And be sure to check out the comments to see what approaches other church leaders have taken up in their own contexts.

What approach does your church take to church announcements? Has your church found announcements to be an effective form of communication?

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