When our twin boys were first beginning to eat solid food, we introduced three simple signs to help them communicate with us: more please, all done, and thank you. While I could probably extrapolate on each of these as it relates to those who serve in our congregations, today we’ll focus on saying “thank you.” Communicating appreciation not only acknowledges the work put into a particular project or effort and the sacrifices made to do so but also is an opportunity to share how an individual or group’s input contributes to the work of the Body of Christ in your particular context.
Do you know how your members prefer to give? In 2021, Vanco conducted the fourth biennial study of 1,000 churchgoers around the country and across Christian denominations to find out. Now, we’re ready to share what we discovered.
Here’s an overview of what Vanco found.
Through certain seasons in the Church Year, church workers often find themselves burning the (Advent) candle at both ends. Coming in early, working through meals, staying late — they’re all too common. And what happens once we find ourselves on the other side? Often there’s a crash, maybe some burnout, and a general lingering weariness.
Churches often fall short of their stewardship goals. In many cases, it’s because churches don’t have an online giving platform, leaving church members unsure of how to give.
If you want to know more about the benefits of online giving for churches, keep reading.
With training and background as a Director of Christian Education (DCE), now ordained and associate pastor at First Trinity Lutheran Church in Tonawanda, New York, Rev. Jason Christ has long been fascinated by and experimented with technology. We recently sat down with him over Zoom and chatted about the blessings and challenges of integrating technology in ministry, giving new things a try, and engaging others in ministry through their technological gifts and skills.
It’s the time of year when we’ve generally settled into the fall rhythm of life and begin anticipating the next big things coming down the line, namely the Advent and Christmas seasons. Some have decided on a theme/focus for midweek services and at-home devotions. For others, this is the first blip on the radar.
Whether you’re already well on your way to Advent planning success, just starting to think about it, or somewhere in between, Rev. Daniel Ross suggests combining your efforts with Lent planning as well. Not only is the gap between Christmas and Ash Wednesday sometimes small, but planning for these seasons simultaneously helps keep the Gospel story and the anticipation of the resurrection tied together in our minds rather than in isolated events.
Start by selecting themes for the Advent and Lent seasons. Selecting them sets the tone for the work ahead, bringing focus and direction to communication efforts and other planning. You can create your own or use a package. Synods and other organizations often create graphics for congregations to use. You’ll also find resources for the seasons in the Church Year through publishing houses that serve the needs of congregations.
Give yourself a gift; plan and work ahead by batching similar tasks. Once you’ve decided on a theme, focusing your work on one topic, type of task, or another grouping that makes sense for you will save time and can also sharpen skills through repeated practice. Pick a time, block it out on your calendar, and stick to it—your future self (and staff/team and family) will thank you! (If you need some external motivation, pick up a drink from your favorite coffee shop or consider working off site.) Seasons like Advent and Lent are great times to try this way of working if it isn’t already in your wheelhouse.
From a preaching and worship planning perspective, think about things like selecting a service order/structure, slotting hymns, and scheduling worship assistants. Doing each of these tasks at once for this focused period allows us to see how the individual parts support the big picture, decide where repetition is a helpful tool, and identify areas or elements that might need a little extra time or attention.
For seasonal social media, batching tasks like caption writing, image selection, graphic design, advertisement planning, and scheduling content goes a long way in avoiding the hamster wheel of last-minute scurrying when you’re in the thick of Advent or Lent. If you’re looking for some new ideas for Lenten (or Advent) social media, Pastor Ross shares a handful here and here.
Finally, breaking down your congregation’s general communication channels and creating a checklist can help identify specific areas where batch working could be helpful for you. Don’t forget about contact points with the community, printed media, resources for members, outdoor signs, and bulletin boards.
Don’t go it alone—work with others! Whether you enlist others in your congregation (staff or laity), set up brainstorming or work sessions with fellow pastors, church musicians or communicators (locally or virtually), or connect in some other way. Embrace the gift of community and allow the opportunity for iron to sharpen iron. This can also be a great way to implement accountability for the batch working plan you set up.
It may seem silly to take the time to plan for something this far in advance when your urgent to-do list is already overwhelming. But taking small steps and trying new approaches can deliver different, perhaps more favorable, results than you’ve had in the past.
We encourage those we serve to slow down, reflect, repent, and focus on Jesus throughout Advent and Lent. By carving out time to prepare for these seasons, we make space for the spiritual practices that point us to Jesus and nurture the faith we have in Him.
It feels so good to get things done and mark items off your to-do list. Sometimes, you’re in a groove, and everything is clicking. Other times, you can barely think, and you can’t seem to find the one book or piece of paper needed to move forward on a project.
I love heading into a new season (or month or week or even day) with a plan, knowing what needs to be tackled and when I'm going to do it. When that doesn’t happen (a fair amount of the time), it can feel defeating and I often find myself floundering, buying the lie that it’s too late to do anything, and constantly playing catch up.
Although school has already begun in most places, and many church activities are back on the calendar, it’s not too late to take time to plan for fall communications in your congregation! Here are a few ideas to get you started.
In many places, churches are returning to what feels normal: in-person services with members coming together in the building. But as churches face the future, there are many things they must confront. These topics include virtual services, changing attendance habits, and shifts in how members want to give.
At this point, I hope you have familiarized yourself with podcasting and are interested in starting your own podcast. If you have not read the previous blog post on creating a podcast for your ministry, I encourage you to do so.
This post will break down the fundamentals of podcasting, including the equipment you will need, how to record your podcast, and how to upload your podcast to a streaming platform.