Three Pillars of Digital Communication That Leaders Cannot Ignore
Philip Yan is the founder of GenesisXD in Toronto, a mobile app design consultancy. He connects the dots with his design thinking, ministry experience and mobile technology to build full service digital ministry.
It’s time for a perspective shift
Traditional church communications are framed in a structure that generalizes the needs of life stages when, in reality, there is a diversity of needs in the same age group. In this rapidly changing culture and digital age, there’s a critical need for church communications to be organic and relevant to various attendant clusters so that they all feel a sense of belonging in the same community. Many young people, in particular, are disengaging from organized churches as they question the relevancy of church. It is crucial to know that what worked a decade ago may not work to the same effect today for certain groups in local churches.
Leveraging digital engagement to create an impactful community
There are three pillars of digital communication essential to creating a vibrant local church experience:
1. Meaningful Connection – Every person feels differently about messages from their churches. People choose to respond or to ignore according to their interests or needs. A broad-based announcement is still necessary, but each message’s purpose is to enhance a sense of community. Two successful factors in stimulating meaningful connection are:
Relevancy. Church connection needs to be intelligently considered, based on a user profile, engagement pattern, need, location and interest.
Micro-engagements. Create online-water-cooler moments to facilitate friendly and edifying interactions.
2. Efficient Engagement – In general, engagement leads to common touchpoints, such as, website, email, phone call, text message, and meeting. These calls-to-action require the audience to jump off the source of communications, such as a printed flyer or bulletin, display board, or a video. Three ways to make digital engagements a pleasant experience:
Experience first. Ensure a good (smooth) experience in every decision journey. For example, signing up for baptism, joining a small group, participation in a survey, registration for events, requesting a meeting with a pastor… etc. How the experience goes matters to one’s desire for further engagement.
Optimize information. Simplify decision-making process with all necessary and easy-to-understand information. For example, provide all relevant details for joining a small group and a quick response to the inquirer.
Minimize steps. Automate steps for interactions. A satisfying user-friendly experience will generate more sharing of it.
3. Building Community – When physical gatherings are restricted, and church services must go virtual, proximity has been redefined by new rhythms in life and more options discovered. The concept of committing to a local church is challenged as people are free to go anywhere online. Sustaining a vibrant community requires strong bonding and continuous engagement. The more interactions among the congregation and the more accessible the leaders are, the stronger their sense of belonging. Three actions to consider:
Clarify the broad picture of your community clusters and their characteristics
Identify the necessary resource to facilitate organic interactions
Ensure a good experience for all parties involved – a positive experience would encourage more engagement
Digital engagements are to augment the faith community to further and deepen kingdom impact. The goal is to bridge personal connections in a digitally connected world by stripping out all the cumbersome logistics to provide meaningful engagement anytime, anywhere. Leaders can be more creative in helping people come to God in ways beyond the church walls.
What We Are Reading
Listening to their voices: An exploration of faith journeys of Canadian Born Chinese Christians
Enoch Wong, et.al.
In Listening to their voices: An exploration of faith journeys of Canadian Born Chinese Christians Enoch Wong, et.al., has provided significant data through a survey of 554 participants and 37 interviews of Canadian-born Chinese Christians between the ages of 18 and 35. The empirical study looks at why Canadian-born Chinese Christians leave or stay in the Christian faith. Wong frames these people into four categories: Highly Engaged, less Affiliated, Nones and Dones, and Agnostics and Atheists. Ten themes emerge that the study looks at more closely: mentoring experiences, vibrant and authentic community, dysfunctional leadership, unhealthy culture, life transitions, conundrum of romance, rising intellectual complexity, sexuality and sexual orientation, experiencing God special events, and parental influences. These ten themes or influences shape faith commitment or disengagement of the Highly Engaged, less Affiliated, Nones and Dones, and Agnostics and Atheists. Each of these influences are discussed based on the data and literature and the study concludes with directional action recommendations. A helpful appendix is provided for further reflection and discussion.
Read the Study
Dr. Arch Wong is Professor of Practical Theology and Associate Director of the Flourishing Congregations Institute
Resources for Church Leaders
Researching the Impacts of Covid-19 on Congregations
Several research studies are emerging on the impacts of Covid-19 on congregations. Click Here to learn from these data-driven insights.
Limited time offer of a free download of an article by Arch Wong, Bill McAlpine, Joel Thiessen, and Keith Walker on preparing leaders for ministry from the perspective of pastoral leaders and theological educators, clicking here.