The Ministry of Communication

Friends, my session on “The Ministry of Communication” has been posted to our Leading Congregation’s Monthly member area.   Details below.  ~ Peter

Topic: The Ministry of Communication
Presenter:  Peter Bowden
When:   COMPLETED
Duration:  60 Minutes

Program Members:  Go to this module
New Members: Learn more and enroll

The goal of this session is to help you take your congregation’s communications to a new level!

Specifically, I’m talking about placing your media and communication efforts at the heart of your ministry — love it or hate it, that’s where it needs to be given our increasingly digitally oriented society.

After my opening challenge and cheerleading, we’ll cover the practical considerations listed below.

• Welcome and Introductions
• Upgrading your ministry-communication mindset!
• Collaboration between clergy, staff, and volunteer communicators
• Building your media capacity
• Coordinating your team’s work
• Thoughts on Communication Staff
•  Closing Q&A
•  Program Announcements

MinistryofComm-July2019.png

 

Congregational Communication Audits

Friends,  with a new month comes a new training!

The COMMUNICATION AUDIT training module has been posted in our Leading Congregations Monthly member area complete with:

• A NEW Congregational Self-Audit Spreadsheet Template
• Session Notes
• Our live training edited into 20 discrete video segments so you can jump around with ease!
• Q&A responses from our live training
• Closed Captioning

Program members, see the handouts section of this module to download this template.

If you are thinking a full communication audit is too much to consider, if you are feel stressed at just the thought of looking at what this might entail, I have good news for you!

1) This session emphasized SELF-AUDITS your congregation can conduct in-house.
2)  I shared how you can start with a SIMPLE INVENTORY of your communication channels and then…
3) As inspired, do FOCUSED AUDITS on specific aspects of your ministry and communications.

Example: Look at your communication channels from the perspective of a specific audience you are seeking to reach.   Suppose you want to reach more young families.   What information, images, and invitations would help them determine your congregation is a match for them?  Develop a list of key items with your team, then review your channels and see if that content is represented.  You might find that a key channel rarely mentions children, families, or shows images with families.  From there you can start strategizing how to weave that content in, work more collaboratively on social media across ministry areas, or other actions.

Here’s how to access this module:

Leading Congregations Monthly Members

Here’s a teaser for NEXT MONTH’s session on the Ministry of Communication!

New Members, Want to Join Us?

Social Media and Congregations Lost In Time

Image of an old pocket watch

Recently I had the honor of collaborating with my friend and colleague, the Rev. Naomi King, on the 2013 Minns Lecture “Ministry in the Age of Collaboration.”    We were asked to speak on social media and Unitarian Universalism in the 2st Century.

We are both  sharing core messages from our talks via our blogs, and videos of the lectures will be available later this month.

For this first post of mine, before I start in on social media,  I think it is helpful to speak to the issue of our congregations being out of synch with time.  I’ve discussed with United Church of Christ colleagues  the fact that the UCC seems, to me, 10 years ahead of the Unitarian Universalist Association in some regards.  They in turn chuckle and say they feel the UCC is 10 years behind where they should be.  That puts us, if you do the math, 20 years behind!

Our lagging leads to significant problems with our ministry.  Most frequent in my conversations with our leaders:

  • Why don’t our children grow up to be adult Unitarian Universalists?
  • Why aren’t families participating the way they use to?
  • Why aren’t we attracting all those  spiritual and not religious people, the nones?
  • And while we’re at it, why aren’t people drawn to, and participating in the work of good institutions like ours the way they use to?

These are complex issues with no one simple answer or quick fix. But there is a common problem plaguing many of our congregations which is directly contributing to them.

Our congregations?  They’ve gotten lost in time…. I know, it sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it?

Ministry Time Bubbles

bubbles

Many congregations are living in what I call “ministry time bubbles.”  You see, for many congregations — maybe yours —  the world has changed around you.   Not a little.  Not a lot.  We’re talking massive mighty change impacting every aspect of our human society.

How did some congregations get stuck in time?  A content membership, leadership and staff with enough money to care for themselves, coupled with sudden rapid technological innovation in the world at large.

When a congregation has stable membership numbers, enough funds to meet its own needs, it is easy to focus on caring for that immediate community.  That’s the congregation as “safe harbor.”  And believe me, plenty of people are looking for a safe harbor, including being sheltered from change.

With a reasonable membership and sufficient budget, a congregation can go about its ministry in this way, with attention on its membership and little attention on the rest of the world for years.

To create a significant ministry time bubble, take this set up and crank up the rate of change in the larger world. Presto!

In this illustration you can see a congregation starting in synch with the world – blue, then while they were busy with their internal ministry, the rate of change outside picked up.  Uh oh…

Ministry Time Bubbles

Accelerating Change

For  a very long time  change in our world came at a rate that was challenging, but not too drastic.  The difference between “congregational time” and “world time” was reasonable.  Leaders were able to slowly soak in the change. Taking  time was okay.  A decade to get the congregation set up on email? No problem!  Five years to debate a new website?  Why not!

Things are different today.  We’ve recently gone through three major technological revolutions:

  1. Development of the internet
  2. Creation and proliferation of social media
  3. All that tech in your pocket thanks to mobile computing

These technologies are fundamentally changing the culture, norms and expectations of human society.  And not just once, they’re impacting human behavior day after day after day.

While many congregations have been going about their business of faithfully changing the world locally (focus on core membership), the very world they’re called to change — it changed. Result?  A congregation out of synch with time, technology and culture.

These ministry time bubble, they may be fine  for a while.  But increasingly the discrepancies are  too great to maintain.   And what was chalked up to technology becomes a matter of clashing cultures.

UU Exit Sign

New Norms for Humanity

These discrepancies between how our congregations are going about ministry and what is increasingly mainstream culture –  big problem.  It is easy to discount technology we don’t care for.   But we can’t minister effectively if we discount a changing human culture.  And that’s the scale of what we’re talking about.

Think about that.  Your congregation, if you aren’t actively staying in touch with present day technology and resulting culture — and this is a moving target — will be increasingly out of touch with the culture of those people you are seeking to minister to and with.

What culture am I talking about?

We’ve been globalized, interconnected and sci-fi like devices have been placed in our pockets giving us mind boggling creative, collaborative, and coordinating powers!   These powers are rapidly changing how we  do everything from work and play, to how we learn and organize ourselves to face the injustices of our time.

 Unfortunately, this growing culture clash isn’t readily apparent to many of our leaders.   Why? Because our culture being out of whack with what is becoming mainstream present day human culture simply results in humanity wanting nothing to do with us.  It is like a silent force gently pushing people away from us, including our young people who want to be active and effective agents for change.

You might say that we raised our very smart children well enough for them to know that our congregations, those stuck in time, are not the best places to invest their time and energy.  Great leaders (and aspiring leaders) don’t suffer through mediocre leadership. They find an institution or revolution ready to help them be of service.

(C) istockphoto

The Good News!

The good news is that our mission, our purpose, that change we  and our congregations are (hopefully) called to make in the world — there are more people than ever interested in that.  We know this because we’re increasingly networked together.

But….   (Drat! You knew there was a but.)

But the people we are trying to minister to and with are different now.   You see, we’re all adapting to this new world.  We are learning to do amazing things with the creative, collaborative, democratizing, gamified, hierarchy crushing, grassroots coordinating, rapid response, instantaneous, “fail often, fail fast, fail forward” tools and culture of this time.

We need your Unitarian Universalist religious leadership more than ever!

We just need you to be a religious leader differently.

We need you to understand the cultural shifts that are reshaping our human society, reshaping the world, and how to harness them to unleash our shared ministry in a world increasingly characterized by connectivity and openness.

An Open World

In my next post I want to talk to you about our world’s increasing culture of openess. You can get ready by watching Don Tapscott’s Ted Talk, Four principles for the open world.

I’ll reference his four principles in my next post. They are:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Transparency
  3. Sharing
  4. Empowerment

The UU Media Collaborative week 1

Friends, this is a glimpse of how Unitarian Universalists can collaborate with amazing results…

Late September 2012 we started a Facebook group called the UU Media Collaborative to bring together UU creatives who want to work together to share our faith and raise the quality of UU Media.  We created the group, then a page to share content, followed by a site for archiving hi resolution images.

The first week (according to Facebook) over 50,000 people saw the images and 3,000+ were “talking about” the content.  Check it out…

Here’s an alternate version.  Sharing this video with the group for feedback, ultimately it was decided there was no reason not to share both 😉