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By Jonathan Howe

Annual evaluation is commonplace in work, in school, and in life. A new year presents the opportunity for us to take a moment to evaluate where we are at the beginning of the year, where we want to be at the end of the year, and how we can get from A to B during the year.

The same can be said for churches and church communications. With the speed of technology increasing every year, it’s good practice to evaluate your communications efforts to ensure you’re communicating efficiently and effectively with your members and guests.

With that in mind, here are five questions you can use to evaluate your church communications efforts and plan for growth in 2017.

  1. Is our website current with its information and presentation? Church websites are often neglected because there is so much static content on the site. Service times, class info, weekly schedules, and staff bios are often some of the most neglected content on a church website. Things change in the church and members know it because they see it each week. But the website fails to be updated because people either forget the information is on the site or don’t visit it enough to recognize changes need to be made. Also, check for broken links, missing images, or outdated graphics. Those tend to linger on church websites as well.
  2. Are our social media accounts up to date and active? If your church has a social media account that’s being neglected, ask if it’s needed. Most of the time, the answer is still “yes.” The problem is not having a plan or schedule for the platform. It’s always good to check your account details each year just to make sure everything is still accurate. Plan regular reviews of service times, logos, links, and passwords on your social media accounts, and update these items accordingly.
  3. Would our members and guests be better served by a new form of communication? Maybe you still print monthly newsletters. Would an email newsletter be better for members? It’s likely that some would still like a printed version, but most churches who are printing newsletters could save quite a bit of money and cut their production efforts by 75% while adding a low-cost electronic version. Maybe your church doesn’t have a website—get one. Talk to the folks at Mere Church. They are there to help. Maybe you need to get started on social media—start with Facebook.
  4. Should we upgrade the communications tools we already have? Maybe you have a church website, but it’s old and unattractive. Again, talk to Mere Church or a similar company. Let them help you. Maybe you’re still using an old email client. Check with your church management system provider to see if there are email options that can tie into your existing database. Consider Hootsuite or Buffer to help manage and schedule social media accounts.
  5. What technology are we not using as a church that we really should? While not related specifically to church communications, there are several technologies emerging that need to be considered by many churches. Online giving portals, church management software, project management apps, computerized check-in software, and wireless networks are just a few of these technologies. They are in fact becoming standard technologies in many churches.

How might these questions help you in your church? What other questions would you add?

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

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