One of the perennial challenges I’ve been told of working in a church is working with volunteers and raising up new volunteers. Here’s the thing. I’ve never had any major problems building my communications volunteer team.

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There are contrasting opinions about the effectiveness of churches, denominations and faith’s promoting their message and advertising through billboards.

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Is Your Church Diverse?

Steven Fogg —  May 31, 2011 — 1 Comment

DId you know that 93 percent churches in the US are considered racially segregated?

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen this in Australia. Muslims are advertising on billboards directly aimed at countering the claim of the central message of the Christian faith.

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One of the joys of being connected online through Twitter is discovering different people who serve in churches and denominations around the world. Today is the first interview with┬áChris Hall from the Baptist Union of Great Britain. I’ll also be doing more interviews with different communications and creatives in the non-profit and church area. Continue Reading…

I blogged last week about my first experience on arrival in the United States of America. This week I want to write about another lesson that I learnt at Cultivate11.

This one is a big Cultivate11 lesson. 

Authentic beats professional. 

Well with one catch.

I've noticed for about the last three or so years young adults really want the church to communicate in an "authentic way". In communication land this means they want the communication to feel honest; not overly produced (feeling slick); feel unscripted or unstructured (even if it was scripted); normal looking not nose job, shiny white teeth and stunningly good looking. Bottom line real, not fake.

But here is the catch. There is still an expectation that the communication's production value doesn't feel as though it was done by amateurs. The sound quality needs to be good (not perfect), the vision shouldn't be too shaky (a little bit is OK).

Bottom line is that poorly executed communication is still looked down upon. In fact it will be a barrier for many young adults to move towards the goal of your communication.

One great example of the contrasting communication styles that I experienced was at HillsongOneDay in Melbourne yesterday. Most of the conference had a BIG feeling to it. It was in a stadium after-all. But then in a remarkable contrast to the BIG feel Joel A'Bell preached about 'The Scarlet Thread'. The BIG stage became small through selective use of lighting. Joel's speaking style was informal and he sat on a rather plain chair. The video part of the communication was brilliant and earthy in feel.

What examples of 'authentic' communication have you seen?

It's been a little over a week now since I was at Cultivate11 in Huntington Beach in SoCal.

I met lots of fantastic and friendly people in the four day whirlwind tour. Here is one principle that I've come away with that I wanted to share.

I arrived at LAX after a 13 hour flight from Australia. Tired and looking forward to stretching my legs and the drive to Huntington Beach. After departing from the plane I walked quickly so I could get ahead of most of my flight in the immigration queue. 

Only to be confronted by a very long queue in the 'aliens' queue. The Americans had their own queue that wasn't really that long.

After being in the queue for quite some time those of us in the 'aliens' queue all talked about which immigration officer we would like to process our fingerprint scans, our facial scans and our interrogation about our identity. There was one guy who was especially slow and seemingly very grumpy with everyone he dealt with.

Around one and a half hours later after shuffling about 20 metres in a zig zag pattern I finally got to an immigration officer. 

Guess which one I got?

That's right. The grumpy guy. Here is the very first impression that I got of the United States of America, grumpy, let me do my job, no personal engagement, no eye contact, no smile. Wow.

I was so glad to leave this experience and leave LAX airport. Frankly, this experience sucked.

I was so fortunate that every other experience was positive, full of welcome, polite, smiling, happy, engaging people. If the immigration had of been the only chance the United States of America had to make an impression on me then it would of been as my eight year old son says, an 'epic fail'.

Here's the thing, churches can have the same issue. (I've blogged about the fact that you never get a second chance to make a first impression before)

1. We'll put a non-people person in a people person job.

2. We'll create an environment that stiffles rather than engages a new person.

3. We focus on the process and get the person to fit our process and systems no matter what the cost.

4. We put our best people on the inside rather than on the edges.

When designing your systems and processes at the 'front door' of your church, place the right people around the right process. I'm not saying that the immigration administration process sucked. It was the experience around it that switched me off.

Everything we do communicates something. Ask yourself what is your church communicating currently through the people you have in these places?

 

Get_baptised

Not

I'm really proud to share with you about a new Crossway initiative called getbaptised.com. We've been dreaming about, planning and working on this idea since mid 2010. (Note: I'm having problems with my hyperlinks on my blog please copy www.getbaptised.com into your browser)

We dreamt about developing a simple on-line tool where we could offer baptism preparation to anyone at Crossway. We still run regular baptism preparation classes at church, but the neat idea about taking it online means that you can do your preparation at a time that fits into your life, rather than a time that only suits ours.

Getbaptised.com is also designed so a group leader can journey through the preparation with a group member making the preparation more community focused at a local level, rather than programmatic at a church wide level.

The site is also smart phone friendly so if you commute by train or bus to work you can do your preparation on the go.

The goal of getbaptised.com shifts baptism preparation beyond the traditional ministry philosophy of understanding the why you should be baptised and what the bible says about it. The focus moves beyond this to focusing on preparing you to share your story within God's story with your relational network.

The really neat thing is that we've curated the on-line experience so it isn't only Crossway centric. If you are in leadership at another church that wants to use it, you can. We've written it and shot the videos so it will fit into any environment.

Obviously for all my American friends there is a spelling issue as you say get baptized. We've looked into securing this domain and if we get enough interest we may provide a mirror site with this modification.

As this is a pilot, we'd love your feedback if you are moving through baptism preparation. Drop me a line in the comments section and lets connect.

Thanks to our web development friends Details Communications who crushed a very aggressive deadline to get the project across the line on time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have been under a rock in Australia you may of missed the ACL’s (Australian Christian Lobby) leader Jim Wallace tweet on Anzac day.

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I'm so excited, in just over a week's time I'll be leaving on a jet plane to fly to LA and to Cultivate 11. It is a 16 hour flight but it will be worth it!

If you are in church communications this is THE conference to get to. It has a line up of great speakers but even better there are break outs where church communications peeps can get together and talk about what is going on in their world.

If you are creative, strategic, and responsible for influencing how your organization communicates, there is a chair waiting for you.

Of course the cherry on top of the delicious cake which is Cultivate 11 is that you can get to meet me – I know, an honour ;-) If you want to book some time, I'm very open to talking over a latte. You can find out more about Cultivate11 here.

Now I would like to meet as many people in my four days in the US. Yes, only four HUGE days. I'm flying in and out so quickly because I want to get back for Mothers Day here in Australia to be with my wife.

If you are going drop me a comment below and I'd love to catch up with you while I'm there. I'm also on the look out for some accomodation near the conference and I'm happy to room with someone. Drop me a comment below if you have spare room!