By Jonathan Howe
In a previous article, I listed emerging technologies in churches. Today, I focus on communications and practices that are declining to the point of non-existence. Your church might still use some of these, but if the trends continue, you won’t be using them for long.
Technological advancements and cultural changes have ushered in new practices in church communications. As a result, these seven practices are not only being replaced, they are dying.
- Clip Art. Thanks to the rise of easy-to-use and affordable graphic design, many churches have all but done away with clip art. What was once a staple of church bulletins has been replaced in many instances by designs that look professional and stylish.
- Bad Fonts. We all know the names—Papyrus, Comic Sans, Copperplate Gothic, and Algerian. If you do any kind of design work, you’re cringing right now. I know the Golden State Warriors have almost singlehandedly made Copperplate Gothic cool again, but there’s no reason to use any of these. With free Google Fonts and scores of free or cheap font websites at your disposal, there’s no need for your church to use trite, overused fonts in anything that you design or print.
- Printed and Mailed Newsletters. Speaking of which, if you’re still printing and mailing church newsletters, you’re in the minority. Email newsletters have all but replaced the printed and mailed church newsletter. They are quicker to deliver, cheaper to produce, and are often more effective in communicating information to your congregation.
- Verbal Announcements. Of the items on this list, verbal announcements are dying the slowest death. But many churches are opting for video announcements or slides in lieu of taking time out of a worship service for someone to give the announcements.
- Phone Trees. Social media, email newsletters, and texting have all but eliminated phone trees. What would possibly take hours in the past can now be accomplished in an instant through one mass text or email.
- Church Facebook Groups. When Facebook first began offering pages and groups, many churches set up groups in lieu of pages. That’s been corrected over the past few years. Facebook groups are still used, but typically it’s not the main, outward-facing presence a church has on Facebook.
- Signup Forms. Online registration and payment systems have contributed to the death of signup forms. I can remember tables of signup forms from when I was a kid. Now, my church has several online forms where I can register my kids for events, sign up for Wednesday night dinner reservations, or pay for a book to use in my small group.
These seven practices served us well over the years—with the possible exceptions of clip art and bad fonts—but are now dying. Many church members may lament the loss of these practices. However, I’m confident that church communications are better off because we’ve improved these practices and—in many instances—left them for dead.
Does your church still use any of these? Are there other church communications practices not listed here which are also dying?