Episode 7 | Why Churches Need to Create a Communication Calendar and What to Include
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Who doesn’t love a good calendar? In this episode, we discuss an example calendar and how you can best schedule your next year’s calendar.
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Katie Allred: Welcome to the Church Communication Podcast, the podcast that celebrates church communicators that are around the world. Our podcast offers practical advice for your church communication strategy needs. This podcast is brought to you by Katie Allred and Josh Taylor of churchcommunications.com.
Katie Allred: Welcome to the Church Communication Podcast. I’m Katie Allred and with me as always is the Joshua Taylor.
Josh Taylor: Katie, you doing okay today?
Katie Allred: I am just feeling great.
Josh Taylor: Good. That’s good.
Katie Allred: I just wanted to change things up and just feeling refreshed.
Josh Taylor: That’s good. That’s good.
Katie Allred: So how are you doing?
Josh Taylor: I’m doing well. Good day.
Katie Allred: Yeah?
Josh Taylor: Yeah.
Katie Allred: Yeah, no complaints.
Josh Taylor: No. Get to go home in a little bit, play with my four-year-old, take him somewhere to eat and tear the place down.
Katie Allred: I don’t have a four-year-old, so I just get to go home. But it’s nice.
Josh Taylor: Sometimes I’m [crosstalk 00:01:01] going to say that too.
Katie Allred: Get to clean, that’s it, after myself.
Josh Taylor: Well, today we’re talking about calendars and church communication calendars.
Katie Allred: Yeah, communication’s calendars ring.
Josh Taylor: You’re really good at this. You talk about this. You’ve actually got some blogs about this and especially when it comes to social media and stuff.
Katie Allred: It’s important.
Josh Taylor: It really is important.
Katie Allred: It’s important to have a strategy.
Josh Taylor: And not only that, but it sort of makes it easier because you don’t have to sit around and figure out, “Okay, what are we going to talk about this month?”
Katie Allred: What are we doing next? Right. Guys, Easter comes at the same time every year, so maybe we should plan for it.
Josh Taylor: Well, actually, Easter doesn’t, but Christmas does.
Katie Allred: Oh, you’re right. You’re right. Actually comes on the exact same day.
Josh Taylor: Christmas is always December 25th, Easter changes a little bit.
Katie Allred: But we do know that Easter generally comes in March or April.
Josh Taylor: Yeah.
Katie Allred: That was pretty good actually. All right, let’s just jump right into it. What should a calendars look like? What should it include? How can we do it well? Let’s just start off with January, okay? What should you be planning for in January? When I worked at a church, January was all about the annual report and recovering from Christmas. What about you?
Josh Taylor: Yeah. We didn’t make a big deal at Christmas time. Obviously we had Christmas services, but the nature of our church, we didn’t. We don’t do Christmas programs or anything like that. We have Christmas eve service but-
Katie Allred: Lucky.
Josh Taylor: Yeah, it is. It is really getting ready for the new year. For me it was always difficult. December was closing out the books, so December was always a month that I didn’t look forward to because of all the financial stuff and-
Katie Allred: Right. Year-end giving.
Josh Taylor: Year-end giving. Getting all of that done and organized and ready for the next year. I was exhausted in January because of that.
Katie Allred: I think our big thing that we did at the church that I worked at was just the annual report. It took weeks. It usually took a month. It took so much time and effort, right after we had just put so much time and effort into Christmas because Christmas was such a big overhaul at our church. Many churches probably commiserate with me on how overwhelming Christmas can be at times, just preparing for it. The annual report, thought, what I love about it is that it gives you the chance to celebrate what God has done the past year. I think that, as a church, we don’t do a good job of celebrating what God has done.
Katie Allred: I just wish that as a global church, as family, that we did a better job of celebrating what God is doing. I think we do a great job of commiserating the terribleness in the world, but I don’t think we do a good job just celebrating the good things that God has done in our congregations and in our communities. I think the annual report’s just a great time for you to celebrate giving, right; the gifts that you’ve received and what the gifts have done, either financially or through time, through your stewardship of your time. But also just to talk about your mission’s efforts and all those things.
Josh Taylor: Salvations, baptisms.
Katie Allred: Right.
Josh Taylor: You can really see the impact that your church and your congregation is having in the community and around the world.
Katie Allred: And to share stories.
Josh Taylor: Yeah, share stories, be super positive with it. Business meetings and annual reports often have a negative connotation around them, and I think they are an opportunity to celebrate. These should be super positive meetings.
Katie Allred: Yeah, and they should be fun. Why not do something a little different, out of the ordinary, do something fun and uplifting for your annual report. Looking from January to February, I feel like February, if you’re not already getting ready for Easter, you’re behind. Easter might come in March or April, like we talked about earlier, and you really have to get ready. What is Easter going to look like? What’s the branding? What’s our message? Of course that Jesus was on the cross crucifies and resurrected, but do we have a plan for getting the information from our first time guests that day?
Josh Taylor: Yeah. This is a great opportunity to really start setting up your communication strategy: how are you going to follow up with visitors. This is one of the most attended-
Katie Allred: Texting.
Josh Taylor: … church days of the year. You want to fine tune your online giving software, your followup software, whatever you’re using, databases. And just make sure-
Katie Allred: Maybe create some drip campaigns to inform those people who do come on Easter of your messaging. Maybe create like a five week drip campaign, so every week they get an email telling them more about the church and how they can get involved. I think that would be really helpful. March, you’ve got mother’s day, typically you’ve got a spring break, either then or it’s coming up, you’ve got Easter. Looking forward again in April, maybe it’s also Easter, just a lot of things going on in springtime.
Josh Taylor: Yeah, spring can be really busy. It’s a great opportunity to again, follow up with people. Utilize your software that you have and make sure that it’s working really well. Mother’s day is a big attended day. A lot of folks are coming to church with their mom and celebrating that with them. It’s just a great opportunity to use that. If you’ve got a photo booth or something like that, how can you use… even a photo booth, you can use that to get people into your email list and let them know what’s going on. You can use your logo where those graphics are sent to their phones, and they can have that through social media. It’s just a great opportunity to get the name of your church out there, let people know that you exist, that you’re there, and just have your website and people can check you out.
Katie Allred: Yeah, I think photo booths are so helpful. We did those at our church, and it really increased our Facebook likes.
Josh Taylor: I love photo booths.
Katie Allred: Yeah, I mean-
Josh Taylor: I own a photo booth company.
Katie Allred: Yeah, yeah. That’s true. He does own one. Yeah, I think that they’re just super helpful.
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Katie Allred: Of course I do.
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Katie Allred: So, May, you’ve got the end of the school year, looking forward to summer break, which is June and July and some of August. June and July, summer is all about kids, I feel like, at any church. It’s kind of a lull for adults. I don’t know what we can do to get more adults involved.
Josh Taylor: Yeah, I mean this is where you’ve really got to start thinking about how you’re going to keep people engaged through the summer. They’re going to be traveling, a lot of people get out of routine, so a part of their routine is coming to church. How can you keep people engaged? A lot of churches are switching sermon series during the summer. Even if they do expository, they might take a break from whatever book they’re in to do a mini summer series or a-
Katie Allred: Or to bring in guest pastors.
Josh Taylor: Yeah, guest pastors because their pastors are taking a summer sabbatical, or something like that. You need to consider, how are you going to keep people engaged through texting, through emails-
Katie Allred: Online church.
Josh Taylor: Yeah, online, live-streaming, all these things. How can you remind people: “Hey, we’re here. We’re here for you. We want you to stay invested in the community, to be here.” A lot of folks are maybe not having small groups during the summer, so it’s a challenge to keep people invested in the summer and engaged. You need to really figure out, what is your strategy to do that?
Katie Allred: A great time to focus, though, on outreach, like on getting out to the community, helping people. I think vacation bible school is one of the number one outreach opportunities for many churches. It’s the fact that there’s free child care for a week through a church, and several parents will take advantage of that. What I love is that a lot of times, parents may be far from Christ, and it may be the first time they come to church, or it’s been a long time since they’ve come to church, it’s because of vacation bible school because they want to get their kids involved because they don’t want their kids to not grow up in the church.
Josh Taylor: It’s a great way to remind people on social media what happening in your student ministries because they’re going to be going to camp, whatever it might; using social media to really engage people: “Here’s what our students are doing, here’s what our kids are doing.”
Katie Allred: And sharing some stories of salvation. I think summer’s always a critical time for a lot of decision making for a lot of young people. So I think… yeah.
Josh Taylor: August is the start of the school year. You probably… for me, I always consider, let’s keep August a little bit more low-key because it gets a little bit stressful for parents. One, they’ve probably spent a lot of money in the summertime for camp, vacations and all these different things.
Katie Allred: And then school.
Josh Taylor: And now they’ve got school where there’s uniforms, supplies, all these different things they’re paying for school. So I try to keep August a little bit low-key. But we do want to remember, people are getting back into routine, so we want to make sure if we’ve got a routine. Maybe you canceled a service during the summer because low attendance, you probably want to get that back in place in August, even if it’s lowly attended for the first couple of weeks, whether it’s a night service or two morning services, whatever it might be. Just start remembering, people are getting back into routine, so you want to get back into that routine with them.
Katie Allred: Yeah. Getting back into routing, I think in September is a good time for you to launch something.
Josh Taylor: Yeah. I always think September, it’s such a transition point for people. They’re back into school, a lot of people have moved. I think-
Katie Allred: They’re getting into habits.
Josh Taylor: Yeah, they’re getting into habits. If you’re going to launch a service, if you’re going to launch a ministry or a church or a campus, I think September is one of the great times to do that because it’s such a natural transition-
Katie Allred: Time.
Josh Taylor: … for a lot of people. A lot of people have just moved into the area because their kids are going to be starting school. So you’ve given them time to get planted, you’ve given them time to hear about who you are and now, September, invite them to a launch service or something like that.
Katie Allred: All right. Then, coming again in October, you’re getting ready for Christmas. You should be thinking about Christmas. You should probably already be thinking about Christmas right now, but… and then coming into November, we’ve got giving Tuesday, that’s a big thing. #GivingTuesday.
Josh Taylor: That’s something that we wake up on Giving Tuesday and with like, “Oh, today’s Giving Tuesday.”
Katie Allred: Right. We suddenly forgot.
Josh Taylor: So we throw something out there real quick.
Katie Allred: Right, “Here’s our Amazon link.”
Josh Taylor: So put it on your calendars.
Katie Allred: Right, let’s celebrate Giving Tuesday. Tons of non-profits celebrate Giving Tuesday, why not the church? Let’s get into it. We should celebrate that as well. There’s thanksgiving, a time to be grateful. I think Giving Tuesday’s the Tuesday before thanksgiving traditionally?
Josh Taylor: Yeah, I think it is. Yeah, I think it is.
Katie Allred: Yeah, so let’s… See? We should put this on the calendars.
Josh Taylor: So we remember.
Katie Allred: That’s sort of makes sense. And, too, you’ve got to get prepared for end-of-year giving, right? Making a plan for that for next years vision, just celebrate what God has done in your church.
Josh Taylor: Then December, you’ve got the end-of-year-giving statements getting ready to go out. You need a communication plan of reminding people, making some last minutes gifts. The reality is is there’s a lot of people that do most… there’s some people that do all of their giving in December. They wait the whole year, they put it up in a savings account or something like that, then they just give it all in December. People are thinking about, okay, what do we need to give for tax credit? And that’s totally fine. I’m totally fine with people giving because they want to take a tax credit because charities and non-profits are still benefiting from that.
Josh Taylor: You want to have a communication plan. Make sure that you have a plan in place where people can do that conveniently, so you’ve got online giving set up because your staff-
Katie Allred: Make it as easy as possible.
Josh Taylor: Because most staff churches, they’re probably bare-bones for the last two weeks.
Katie Allred: Right. And they’re already too busy with Christmas and New Year’s.
Josh Taylor: Yeah, you don’t want to have to be available to people to drop off a check, or something like that, and then have to process that check. Just make it easy for people to give online. You can shoot links out on New Year’s Eve to do that, and getting ready to send those statements out because they’ve got to be out January 30th.
Katie Allred: Right.
Josh Taylor: That’s a great calendars. Do back through and listen to that and make some notes. We just encourage you to write dates down and plan ahead.
Katie Allred: Yeah, and just go through it and be like, “These are the major events that are coming up. How can I get six weeks, six months ahead of these dates.” I think, a lot of times, we forget about it, so we don’t strategize. I think that’s really important.
Josh Taylor: Yeah, if you can get ahead of it, you can put more thought and more creativity into it, and you can really do a great job in creating your strategies for those times.
Katie Allred: Well, thanks for joining us today. Thanks for hanging out. You can learn more about us if you go to churchcommunications.com. You can also find us wherever you find your podcasts. You can find us, our Facebook, a group. We’d love to discuss. Leave us a comment below just about what your communication’s calendar… actually, if you have a link to your communication’s calendar, it might be a Google sheet, or something like that, love to see it. Shoot us a link down at the comments. We appreciate it. Thanks for hanging out.
Josh Taylor: Bye.
Katie Allred: Our friends at Kindrid are being crazy generous. If you tweet @_kindrid again that is at underscore K-I-N-D-R-I-D, _kindrid, and tell them why you need a church app, they’ll make sure you get one of those too, for free. Did you hear that? Online giving and a church app for free. Just tweet @_kindrid and tell them why you need the church app. Go and do it now. What are you waiting for?
Josh Taylor: Hey, thanks for listening to the Church Communications Podcast with Katie Allred and myself, Josh Taylor. If you like our show and want to know more about us, check out our website, churchcommunications.com. You can also join us on our Facebook group, just search for Church Communications on Facebook. We would love for you to leave a five star review on iTunes.