For the last 15 years I have served as a Communications Ministry Coordinator for a couple of large churches in central Iowa. Part of the difficulty in doing this job well is that the term “communication” is extremely broad. In order to effectively do my job, I had to develop a more narrowly defined job description. I came up with was this: I seek to serve the church’s members and staff humbly and diligently by getting the right message, to the right audience, through the right channel, at the right time.
With this clear job description in hand, I weekly ask a series of questions to know how to best spend my time and to measure how well I am doing:
- What is the content that needs to be communicated this week?
- Who needs to hear it?
- Where is the best place for them to hear it?
- When is the best time for them to hear it?
These questions allow me to structure each new task I am given.
One of the tools I use to accomplish my tasks is bltn (pronounced “bulletin”). bltn is a website that lets me manage all of my communication tasks in one place. bltn’s technology allows me to start from our content calendar, enter the content once, and then distribute it across multiple channels quickly – automating my scheduled tasks for the week.
Our church currently communicates to our congregation in 3 major ways: a print bulletin, a digital bulletin, and through our social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter.
bltn allows me to easily create and send out our content. I’m able to enter an announcement, reminder, sermon, or any other piece of content once and then set the promotion schedule for each our communication channels.
Our print bulletin will continue to be an important (and traditional) part of our communication strategy. Like most churches, every weekend our print bulletin welcomes new visitors, shares information about our church, and communicates the most important announcements. While we currently do not use the print bulletin feature because of our unique design, bltn provides several templates for churches to easily create their print bulletins.
Print bulletins work great on Sunday mornings for the people that attend the service, but there are limitations. If a member cannot attend our weekly gathering, they miss out on the latest news and updates. They are also easily lost along with all the information, dates, and reminders. bltn’s best feature, the digital bulletin, solves this problem. Our members can now easily subscribe to receive our weekly announcements via a text message on Sunday morning. This allows us to stay connected regardless of their weekend attendance.
bltn’s digital bulletin also makes it very easy to link to our website, event registrations, our online giving portal, and to share our current news and videos. Our digital bulletin is also available throughout the week to refer back too; allowing members to worry less about losing that print bulletin and us to save a few trees as well.
Lastly, no church communication strategy would be complete without a social media component. bltn’s smooth integration with Facebook and Twitter made this aspect of my job much more enjoyable. After having entered all of our announcements for the digital bulletin, each announcement and its media is instantly available for me to customize, schedule, and post. For example, I include the full text of an announcement for a Facebook post but it’s usually too long for Twitter. I pull in same content and media and then edit it for Twitter’s requirements. I can usually schedule all of our social media posts for the week in less than a minute.
Our church has a design team that usually creates our media, but bltn has a built-in photo library filled with stock photograph and editor if I ever need to quickly create a graphic to go along with an announcement.
Communication channels are always changing, but btln is constantly improving to make my weekly communication tasks easy, to implement our communication strategy, and give me more time to focus on larger projects and other aspects of ministry.