Ministry and Communication Upcoming Trainings

A training update for Unitarian Universalist congregational leaders and friends, plus a Facebook Live session on Friday.

Today it is hard to separate MINISTRY + MEDIA + COMMUNICATION.  I’m constantly talking with leaders and no that the communication demands on congregations are significant.  You don’t have to figure this stuff out alone.

Over the next three months my Leading Congregations Monthly trainings are on related themes.

 

Here’s what’s on the schedule:

This Wednesday, May 8th at 7pm EST – 90 Minute Training
5 Essential Twitter Strategies for Congregations! 

Twitter is my favorite social media platform and is a powerful tool for outreach, sharing our voices and values, and leading on the issues of our time.  Our focus will be on strategies to support outreach and membership development, connecting with your local community, and bringing visibility to your advocacy and witness efforts.

Existing members: Access via our member area
New members:  Learn more and enroll here

Friday, May 10th at 12:30pm EST  – 20 Minute Facebook Live
The Future of Facebook and Meaningful Community

This Friday I’m going live in my UU Planet Leaders group to discuss the implications of Mark Zuckerberg’s recent presentation on the future of Facebook.  I’ll discuss their intensifying focus on Facebook groups and helping people connect with “meaningful communities” online. Preview on my take: We need to be countercultural and use digital spaces to get people into face-to-face communities, like your congregation.  And we need a clear digital path to do so. Here’s the link to Friday’s Facebook Live video stream player.  I’ve already scheduled it. You can go to that link then click the button to be notified when I go live.

Know someone else who would appreciate this conversation? Forward this message to them.

Leading Congregations Monthly Summer Schedule
REMINDER: All sessions are recorded and available on demand in our member area.  When you subscribe you can join the live sessions and watch recordings.  Learn more.

Wednesday, June 12th at7pm EST
Congregational Communication Audits
What are they, why they need to be conducted, strategies, resources

Wednesday, July 10th at at 7pm EST
The Ministry of Communication
Staffing, coordination, and collaboration

Wednesday, August 14th at at7pm EST
Training Greeters (Sunday Greeters)
What they need to do, know, how many to have, other considerations

Have ideas for trainings or Facebook Live discussions I can offer to support you and your congregation?  I’d love to hear from you.  Contact me.

Thanks!
Peter

Small Group Growth Strategies – March Training

Many of my readers are religious leaders interested in growing congregations, transforming lives, and impacting the larger community.

Many congregations that want to grow get stuck small because they don’t have the relational structures in place to allow for growth.

That’s why my March Leading Congregations Monthly live training  is focused on small group growth strategies. If you want to grow your congregation, I hope you’ll join us.

Family-sized congregations (up to around 50 people) are often kept small by their close relationships, with members not wanting to disrupt intimacy. They like knowing everyone, they like being a family.

Pastoral-sized congregations (up to around 150 people) tend to stay small because the minister serves as the hub of everything. If you draw a map of relationships in one of these congregations, it looks like a hairball. I have colleagues who call this the “hairball ministry” model.

You can want to grow, but unless you change the structure, after a certain point, there just isn’t the capacity to grow. That’s where growth oriented small group ministry comes in.

Small group ministry, when designed and implemented correctly, offers the vision, leadership, and relational capacity congregations need to grow.

That’s what we’re discussing in next week’s Leading Congregations Monthly live training: Small Group Growth Strategies.  Learn More.

Some of you might not know that small groups are how I got into working with our congregations nationally.

After successfully using small group ministry with youth, young adults in my home congregation, I launched the UU Small Group Ministry Network in 2001 and in 2004 relaunched it with colleagues as a nonprofit and affiliate organization of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

That effort helped establish the popular approach to small group ministry used in Unitarian Universalist congregations.

While small group ministry is common now, what isn’t as widely known is what you need to do to grow small groups and use small groups as engines for congregational growth.

After helping to popularize small group ministry, I stepped away for a time to help pioneer our use of social media in our congregations. Both are ways to connect people with our congregations, which is my passion.

I have led weekend retreats in which I’ve shared the deeper growth strategies, but I haven’t offered this content through online training.

But that’s changed thanks to Leading Congregations Monthly which is helping more leaders access my training.

This month I’m going to share core strategies you can use to grow your group leaders, grow your groups, and grow your congregation.

This is a 90-minute live training happening Wednesday, March 13th at 7pm EST.

All of our Leading Congregations Monthly trainings are RECORDED with video recordings with CLOSED CAPTIONING and HANDOUTS available in the program MEMBER AREA.

If you’re committed to growing your congregation and don’t have a thriving small group system actively supporting the health and growth of your ministry, this is an important training for you.

Click here to get all the details about Leading Congregations Monthly  including the benefits, how you can include teams, and bonuses if you join. Bonuses will be available in your library immediately after you join Leading Congregations Monthly.

This month’s bonuses are:
• Relational Volunteer Recruitment with Peter Bowden (mini-course)
• Social Media and Membership Growth with Peter Bowden (full course)

Thank you for your leadership and let me know if you have questions.

In cooperation,
Peter

 

NEW: Leading Congregations Monthly LIVE

Friends, my new LIVE monthly training program has launched!
Join us to participate in monthly live trainings sessions designed to help you lead and grow your congregation. You may also access session recordings and supporting materials in our member area.  It has never been easier to infuse your congregation with new ideas, strategies, and energy.
LeadingCongMonthly-COVER

Join Before Our Next Session

Here are our upcoming Leading Congregations Monthly training topics:

Video Message Bootcamp

January 9th, 7:00 – 8:30pm EST

That’s right! We’re going deep into strategies for using video to communicate, engage, and inspire.

We’re talking simple videos anyone with a smartphone can make.

Facebook Strategy

February 13th, 7:00 – 8:30pm EST

Facebook has made massive changes which have hit congregational pages hard.  From prioritizing groups to new policies on issue advertising.

In this session we’ll cover Facebook strategy best practices, as well as look at emerging challenges — like the balance of using pages versus groups.

 

Learn more about Leading Congregations Monthly

 

 

Facebook Changes: What Your Congregation Needs to Know

Facebook’s recently announced changes are going to have a huge impact on congregational pages. Here’s a briefing on the changes and why you may want to consider incorporating a congregation-wide Facebook group into your strategy. This is food for thought.
 
You should talk how to respond with your ministry communications team. Don’t have a team working on integrating ministry and media? Oh, we should talk… Let me know you need support. That’s what I do.

Welcome Show and Tell: UU Congregation of Phoenix, AZ

The average guest visiting a congregation decides if they are going to come back within minutes of being on site.  How we welcome guests is critical!

This is a problem for our congregations with cringe worthy welcome tables,  cobweb covered welcome nooks hidden in dark corners, and in some cases nothing at all.

To help inspire taking our welcoming environments to the next level, I’ve invited members of the UU Growth Lab to join in a little welcome table show and tell.  Additional submissions welcome, see the end of this post.

Here is our first installment! ~ Peter

The UU Congregation of Phoenix

Our first welcome area show and tell is from Janine Gelsinger and the UU Congregation of Phoenix, AZ. Janine serves as their Membership and Welcoming Ministries Coordinator.

Pay close attention to how you feel as you review the photos below.

The Welcome Desk
This is their beautiful welcome desk with Janine modeling being a friendly presence.  I wish I had an animated GIF of her smiling and waving, but this will have to do.

Don’t you want to walk up, ask her questions, and get involved?

The notebook computers on each side of the welcome desk have sign-up forms including name tag request, pathway to membership enrollment, children’s registration, etc…

Temporary name tags and markers for visitors are available front and center!  Look close and you’ll see that they have a golden cup filled with a rainbow of Sharpies.

I love that they offer a rainbow of Sharpies.  Why?

  • Unitarian Universalists LOVE RAINBOWS
  • People enjoy picking their own color
  • If you are going to use guest nametags, use bold markers with ink!
  • I’ve seen many congregations with dry Crayola markers,  BIC ball point pens, and pencils next to their name tags. These are not only bad for visibility, they tell people you  don’t care.

Brochure Rack
Across from the main welcome desk is the brochure rack featuring a wide range of pamphlets. These are available via the UUA Bookstore.

Television Monitors
There are two televisions in the lobby. The one next to the desk, facing the sanctuary, scrolls through quotes relating to the monthly theme.  The side television displays information including new member photos, upcoming events, and photographs of the staff and board.
Children’s Ministry Welcome Table
Outside of the front doors, there is a Children’s Ministry welcome table. This is where parents are greeted by family greeters, sign in their kids, learn what rooms they go to, and get info about children’s ministry events.
What do you think? 
How do these photos make you feel? 
Does it give you any ideas for your congregation?
 
Comment on this post or wherever it appears online, especially in the UU Growth Lab.  Submissions for this series are welcome, as are other Unitarian Universalist growht, outreach, and media focused guest posts.  Before you submit a post, take a look at my UU PLANET guest post suggestions.
Thanks again to Janine!

Why I hate special church visitor mugs and you probably should too

 

A question I am often asked in the context of my trainings with congregations is “Do special church visitor mugs work?”

My answer? NO!!!

In fact, in most cases I find special visitor mugs do harm. I rarely use the word HATE, but I do hate special visitor mugs.

Why? Because they take visitors with high expectations for how they are going to be welcomed, raise their expectations, and then? Holding the special mug you made them take, they are usually ignored. Their hopes and dreams are crushed! They are disappointed. They get angry.

Want to guarantee a visitor never comes back? Make them take a special mug to flag themselves to be warmly greeted and then ignore them. Works every time.

Does your congregation have a great system for greeting people?  Have a challenge, success story, or other learning to share?  I’d love to hear from you.

Comment below,  or if you’d like to speak with me about your congregation’s membership development efforts, you may contact me here. 

This video is an excerpt from my online course “Church Social Media and Membership Growth” which also covers some of the basics of welcoming people when they arrive onsite. What’s the point of doing great work with social media and outreach if we crush our vistors’ hopes and dreams when they show up, right?