Communicating your mission to a younger audience

A few people asked  for my slides from the Stewardship conference. My slides tend to be a little too minimalist to make sense in isolation, so a blog post is a better format.

The Millennial Mindset

Instead of a page of links, here’s the first part of the presentation in a post over on my other site, Tap Dancing Spiders. It’s a little more coherent than my verbal presentation, and incorporates some of the feedback from you.

Communications Tools

My top three as most effective are:
Your congregation or ministry’s website
A personal invitation – phone or  in-person
Email – make sure it’s personalized.

Then we hit social media.

The Pew Research Center has some good research for a generalized view of who uses each platform. Just remember that they are an academic center so their research has limitations. They can’t survey anyone under 18, so Tumblr is under-represented. They also use phone surveys, which limits and distorts the results. Do you answer calls from unknown numbers? I know I don’t.

As an extra, I love this post on how to manage the platforms.

Learning Resources

We have a diocesan facebook group and invite you to join and/or share the link. It’s a closed group, so you can ask those niggling questions. No one person knows everything about communications and social media, but together we can come close.

Thanks again to everyone who came along and for the comments and feedback after. It was great meeting everyone. If you have any questions, please email me or if you’re more Twitter-inclined my handle is @BiancaJSmith.


Apologies for not getting this out on Saturday evening, as promised. A couple of gremlins decided I shouldn’t have access to the blog. All fixed now, as you can see.

It’s Nice to be Validated

Since I first started here, I have talked to hundreds of people representing numerous churches.  Invariably, one of their questions is “how do we attract new people?”  There is obviously no magic bullet that will make it happen, but I tell them to keep their website current, be real and authentic about who you are, don’t talk in “church-ese” and make a safe place for people to experience worship.

Lo and behold, here is a blog post which pretty much echos what I have been saying.  Thank you Rachel Held Evans for the validation!

Holy Week Debrief – A Rant and a Rave

Holy Week, one of the busiest and most emotionally draining times of the church year has just completed and we have entered into the Easter season.  Before it gets too far out of our thoughts, I would like to offer a critique of how this week was offered online.

If you have been reading any of my blog postings or attended any of my workshops, you will know that I am a firm believer that digital media (websites, social media, email ) is the way that society is moving toward communicating, especially with the under 45 demographic.   Therefore, important events should be easy to find and prominent on your website and/or social media sites.  While a number of churches in the diocese did have their Holy Week schedule on their website, for many of them it was not prominent or easy to find.

People who are looking for service times or information on events expect it to be a simple and easy task.  Having to navigate a menu to find this, or open a document once the information is found may not seem like a big deal to existing members of a church, but these are extra steps that newcomers and visitors find distracting, frustrating and unfriendly.  Since you only have a few seconds once someone comes to your site to get their attention and give them the information they are seeking, it’s imperative to make it as smooth and painless as possible.

There are some churches in the diocese that did a great job of showing their Holy Week information in an easy and inviting way.  Here are some samples that can be used as ideas for next year’s Holy Week.

Good Shepherd, Vancouver has a carousel on their site which makes displaying this information easy to do.


Redeemer, Kenmore used video to help promote their Holy Week services


St. Hugh in Allyn simply put the information on the homepage. Nothing fancy, but it served the purpose of getting the information out there to visitors and seekers


Finally St. Paul in Bellingham put in a separate block underneath their welcome message for their Holy Week offerings.


These are just a few of the ideas that can be used to promote the important events in the life of your faith community.  Remember it doesn’t have to be fancy or artistic, but it makes a huge difference in being a welcoming place for visitors and newcomers.

Can You “Like” God?

For people who are “digital immigrants” ( basically those over 40), the idea of social media is somewhat confusing.  When you add religion into the social media mix,  it can get even more convoluted.  What is spirituality, what is community?  How do you have a religious encounter through technology?  The program New Tech City on WNCY in New York City has a very thoughtful an interesting segment on this topic.  It doesn’t answer all the questions and it certainly isn’t a magic bullet, but it is something that every church needs to address at some level if it wants to be relevant in the next few years.  Thanks to Faith Rowold at Episcopal Relief and Development for passing this on.  There is also a nice little shout-out to Trinity Wall Street in the piece!

What Is Your 15 Second Elevator Speech?

I have found that since I started my position here at the Diocese of Olympia, my focus has changed on talking about church websites.  Initially it was all about tools, how to do it, how to maintain the site, etc., real nuts and bolts stuff.   When I talk with church groups who are working on websites, they invariably want to know what plugins to use, how many navigation tabs, etc., but they never ask me “what is the best way to show my church?”  More and more I believe this is the question that should be asked first. Continue reading “What Is Your 15 Second Elevator Speech?”

Hands Across the Border

A few weeks ago I was asked by my counterpart, Randy Murray of the Anglican Church of Canada’s Diocese of New Westminster to give a TED style talk on church communication.  If you have ever done one of these, or seen any of them, they are very interesting.  There is a set format and guidelines and it is much harder than it looks.  I used the story about my “Communications as Mission” post as a framework for the talk.  The upshot of this is that my presentation is now up on YouTube!  You can see it here.  To make it on to YouTube….. I feel like Navin R. Johnson😉

Communication is Mission

A wonderful update from Melodie Woerman:

Yesterday’s “Brother, Give Us a Word” offered this definition of “mission,” a sometimes ephemeral concept for me:

“Mission is primarily about making the presence of God incarnate, that is, visible and tangible, in a particular place and a particular time, where ever “the Body is lacking”and therefore most needed.”

I have just returned from the Episcopal Communicator’s Conference in Kanuga, NC.  This is an annual conference where many of the communications people from the Episcopal Church come together for workshops, plenary talks, renewal and fellowship.  It is a great opportunity to share ideas and recharge for the work we have to do in the coming year.  One of the themes that came out of this year’s conference is “Communication is Mission”.  I’d like to share an experience that happened for some of us after the conference that helped to bring that message home. Continue reading “Communication is Mission”

Facebook Settings…again

Well it appears that Facebook has changed some of its components once again which leads us to go back an re-evaluate how we want things seen and shared.  I am still trying to wade my way through all of this, but I have found 2 postings that I would like to share on this.  One is by Brian Solis, who wrote the social media book “Engage”.  His post has a telling title “Whoops, I didn’t mean for you to read this“.  The other is from, a really great site for social media.  It is entitled “Facebook Users Beware: Facebook’s New Feature Could Embarrass You“.  Well worth reading and pondering.

Annoyance and a Friendly Warning

Just because I’m the IT guy doesn’t necessarily mean that I am immune from the mayhem of the outside world (aka the Internet).

I went to my blog late yesterday only to find out it had been hacked earlier in the day.  Not only that, but the same hacker did in two of our church websites as well.  Fortunately we had backups so we didn’t lose any data.  However, the attack did trash some of the SQL database, so I had to restore the website, then go in to the database and manually reset things so that I could have WordPress generate a new password.  I honestly do not see what possible enjoyment someone must get in making me spend the better part of my day resurrecting hacked websites.  Sigh….

Then adding insult to injury, yesterday I ended getting caught up in a domain slamming scheme.  Be very careful when you get unsolicited email telling you that your domain name is about to expire.  I will admit it looked legitimate and it had all the correct information.  Now the catch is to see if I can get the money back.

“Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”  You got me once, but not a second time.

So my friendly tips for the day are:

1)  Keep your backups current on your website.

2)  Update your WordPress sites regularly.

3)  Check through Google any unsolicited notifications of domain name expirations.  In particular, avoid Domain Registry of America.