Church Media 101 Sessions Explore Storytelling, Websites, Social Media, Mobile

John CarleyANAHEIM, Calif. (NRB) – Industry experts shared about storytelling, websites, social media, and mobile during four Church Media 101 sessions March 28 at Proclaim 19, the NRB International Christian Media Convention in Anaheim, California.

Josh Weiss, chief marketing officer of ARK Mediacom and general manager of IBN Television, talked about “Tips and Tricks to Improve the Art of Storytelling in Your Church.”

Weiss said one of the reasons storytelling is important is because ministry leaders cannot assume that other people believe what they believe. He said that assumption leads to a spiral of silence: “If I think you don’t believe what I believe, I’m going to keep quiet.”

Weiss believes facts are not going to compel people to take action.

“People don’t take action because there’s a need,” he said. “They take action because there’s a connection.”

People get that connection through stories, so ministry leaders need to enhance their ability to be storytellers.

“This is why people go to the Bible. They want to see how the Bible interacts with them,” Weiss said. “What does this have to do with me? How do I apply this to my life?

“The power of the Bible is not the person presenting it. It’s not the leather-bound book. It’s the content and message within the pages, and that’s what we’re called to communicate in a lost and dying world.”

Weiss said Bible knowledge is not enough when communicating the Gospel message.

“I don’t care how well you know the Bible. I don’t care how well you understand what Christ did for you on the cross,” he said. “If you can’t tell the story in a compelling way, you’re not going to effect change in our culture that doesn’t believe in that story.”

John Carley, president of Trinet Internet Solutions, led the session “If You Build It, That Doesn’t Mean They Will Come.”

He talked about what churches need to do to get people to visit and engage with their website.

First, churches need an overarching digital strategy that maps out their goals, audience, and stories. The goals need to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timebound).

Carley said the No. 1 way to get people to a church’s website is through good SEO (search engine optimization) since 93 percent of all online experiences begin with search engines. One way to improve search engine rankings is having relevant long-form content.

When it comes to social media, Carley said contests are a good way to increase traffic.

Other social media dos and don’ts:

  • Don’t be afraid to pay for boosts of posts.
  • Don’t just share links; engage and interact with users.
  • Don’t focus on likes; focus on engagement and interaction.

Dave Kalahar, director of media and broadcasting at Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, California, discussed “How to Please Everyone on Your Staff (and Other Impossible Tasks).”

Being a church media communicator can be a bit like juggling cats, he said. Every department or pastor wants their event promoted and communicated to the church, but often don’t understand the importance of lead time, clear communication with the media staff, and the impact of scheduling events on top of other events.

Church media leaders can’t make everyone happy and give every event the same level of promotion, but Kalahar shared five things that will make communicators more effective and efficient.

  1. Prioritize.
  2. Learn to manage down (supervisees, peers, volunteers) and up (supervisor).
  3. Provide systems (service requests, asset management, calendars), a written guide of services, and written expectations for volunteers.
  4. Listen to everyone, but learn how to use the word “no.”
  5. Get help. Finding and training volunteers should be a church media communicator’s top priority.

Chad Williams, CEO of Five Q, spoke about“Everything Your Church Needs for Success Through Mobile.”

He shared some basic steps to getting a church’s mobile platform off the ground and ways to grab the low-hanging fruit available to help that mobile platform succeed in helping the ministry make a bigger impact.

Like a family, Williams said, mobile is all about relationships and consistency.

He said the five marks of a healthy mobile mindset for church media communicators are:

  1. Mobile is ministry.
  2. Mobile is about relationships.
  3. Mobile and the web are personalized.
  4. Mobile and digital are integrated, including messaging.
  5. Mobile and digital are dynamic (constantly changing).

How should churches evaluate new mobile and digital opportunities?

Usability for end users and church staff is key, Williams said. It’s also important to think about whether it works on Apple iOS and Google Android and if it will integrate with the church’s existing systems.

He said that when churches roll out new technologies to their congregation, they need to continue to offer the old way until people get used to the change.

The Church Media 101 sessions were among the four industry 101 sessions that were offered at Proclaim 19. Other 101 sessions included radio, film, and TV. Also featured at Proclaim 19 were four industry summits - the Great Commission Summit (March 25), the TV & Film Summit (March 27), the Radio Summit (March 28), and the Digital Media Summit (March 29) - each with their own speakers and sessions. In total, Proclaim 19 featured more than 100 speakers.

By Michael Smith

Published: April 3, 2019

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