The pandemic caused church attendance to hit an unprecedented low for a couple of months last year. My father, who is an LCMS pastor, and I were sitting around one afternoon in March 2020 wondering what we could do to combat the lack of God’s people in the pews, and how to bring comfort to those who needed church the most. We decided to start a podcast to bring the Good News to people in the safety of their own homes.
These days, it seems like social media is better known for its penchant to divide people rather than bring them together. While we’ve likely experienced something along these lines in the past few years, hidden below the divisive rubble is a tool for connection.
“People go on social media because they’re seeking connection,” Seth Hinz, Director of the Marketing and Creative department at Pathfinder Church in Ellisville, Missouri, said in an interview on the Mission Field: USA podcast.
With various service options available (different times and days, in-person and online) and full schedules, building and nurturing connections between church members can be challenging. With so many members on social media, churches have an opportunity to leverage these platforms in ways that move toward the goal of connection.
Meet Kimberly Myers, Communications Director for the Nebraska District of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and a communications volunteer in her congregation. With a focus on serving a broad range of congregations throughout her district and a background in teaching overseas, Kimberly offers insight and encouragement as she shares a picture of her work in church communications.
Communicating as a church throughout the summer has its challenges. With nice weather and time off from school, many families take vacations. In some areas, it’s common to head to the lake for the weekend when work wraps up on Friday and not return home until Sunday evening. Those in “destination” locations may see an uptick in visitors. For these and other reasons, summer church attendance can be sporadic, throwing a wrench in more traditional church communication methods.
Videoconferencing is a great tool for connecting with far-away friends and family. Initially prompted by a desire for connection and social interaction in the midst of a pandemic, many now have established a regular (weekly, monthly) virtual-gathering time with friends who are scattered across the country, or even the world.
For those who work on remote teams, virtual meetings were commonplace prior to the spring of 2020. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, they, and more specifically the platform Zoom, have now become a conduit for connection across nearly every sector of life. As those who serve in congregations, many of us have leveraged this technology in more than one ministry area: Bible study, board and staff meetings, visits with homebound and hospitalized members, even worship for some.
Though not new, the opportunities for people to serve in technology-related roles have greatly expanded in many congregations. Joining the ranks of service mainstays in the church, technology teams are now just about as prevalent in the regular functioning of a congregation as the altar guild, trustees, and board of education.
About a year ago, we were experiencing one of the biggest disruptions to collective life in decades. Although the calendars of some were wiped clean, others’ lives ramped up to an exhausting pace. Church workers and communicators fell into the latter category. Leading in unfamiliar territory quickly became the norm and tools that were once supplemental shifted to our primary conduit for connection.
When I was a sophomore in college, I moved into a dormitory that had previously been used as a fraternity house. There were a lot of things that made it different than a typical dorm, but the thing I was most excited about was the large kitchen.
Over the previous year, I started to become interested in cooking, especially food that was healthy. The prospect of having a full kitchen available made me decide to skip the cafeteria meal plan, plan to go grocery shopping on a regular basis, and cook healthy recipes for most of my meals.
Like many plans, I certainly had good intentions, but I didn't implement it very well. By the end of the school year, I was so busy with homework and finals that the majority of my meals ended up being off-brand mac and cheese bowls heated up in the microwave. It was not really healthy, but it was inexpensive, quick, and easy, and I was at least able to eat.
In 1997, back in the dark ages of the internet, I wrote my first website. I wrote it, but I didn’t publish it because, honestly, I didn’t know how. It wasn’t a great website, but I was proud of it.
I wasn’t even a teenager yet, but I was fascinated by computers and especially the internet. Creating a website seemed like a fun challenge, so I did what is almost unheard of now: I went to the library and borrowed a book about how to write Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), the language of the internet.