Our primary motivation as designers, integrators and marketers is to make a sale. In fact, we pray to make a huge sale. I know many people working in the House of Worship (HOW) sector who are afraid to be forthright regarding our motivation. I, too, need to earn a living. Yet, in addition to our personal financial needs, there is a bigger picture that should be observed when seeking the big or small sale.
The big picture means to make a sale and to help HOW leaders achieve their communication goals. I believe that we can make a profit. I have learned, however, that, if we do not include a plan for HOW leaders to use the technology effectively to address their communication needs, then they (and we) will not achieve our respective goals.
Worship leaders are not interested in purchasing technology for the sake of owning technology. They are interested in purchasing technology that will help them share their faith more effectively with people in the community and around the world in more substantive ways than ever before in their history.
Until recently, I think that many HOW leaders did not conceptualize the bigger picture. So, they continued with mechanical means of communication, such as brochures, books and other printed documents. These mediums continue to be effective tools for learning and sharing information (primarily one-way communication) but today, I believe that leaders understand that print is less effective for communication with younger congregants than sender/receiver-oriented digital media. I believe that leaders now understand that digital media is the ocean where most of their congregants swim. In addition, I believe that leaders are finally recognizing that communication, other than face to face, occurs in the ever-growing and pervasive social media ecosystem.
Thus, for us to make the sale (of any size), we need to understand the bigger picture. We also need to help leaders understand a few key points that will enable them to use digital media effectively to address their communication needs: Thus, the bigger picture.
The easy part is to convince leaders to purchase lights, sound and video products the first time. In order to generate ongoing business, we can help leaders understand a few core concepts that will enable them to use media technologies effectively. Here are a few concepts, drawn from personal experience and from colleagues in the field.
- Create a media team. Media use is so prevalent around the world that there is a huge interest among many people, including those who attend HOWs, to learn how to operate video cameras, mix live sound, create exciting graphics and to develop scenic lighting that cumulatively enhances the worship experience. There are obvious benefits to having a media team. Obviously, you need people to operate the technologies. But another part of the “big picture” is that leaders can work with people who may not be a pastor, priest, rabbi or imam, but who can contribute to the ministry by giving their talent faithfully each week to serve the larger community. Participating in the media team gives members an opportunity to be part of an entity that is larger than they are as individuals. This is vital to cultivating community and helping people develop a sense of purpose in their lives.
- Include younger people on the media team. I know you are aware that younger people (teens, high school and early college) seem to be born with a social media gene. To me, it seems like they knew how to use an iPhone or iPad as soon as they exited the belly of their mother. This fabulous age group may not (or they may?) know the best ways to create and execute content, but they do understand the content and the delivery of that content that is relevant to the majority of today’s society.
- Provide ongoing training for the media team. The younger generation needs formal training in order to create content relevant to the entire congregation. Production skills can always be improved and should be improved. In addition, develop strategies for the media team to bond and become a formidable group where friendship and community are shared.
- Identify social media that is relevant to the community. Once these communication streams are identified, develop a send/receive flow system that allows information to be shared, and feedback received from people who want to engage the website or other social media site. This certainly, at the least, includes building a functional and effective website that is not overloaded with too much information. Stick with vital information. I have seen many church websites that feature whiz-bang moving images all over the place, and are loaded with videos and hyperlinks. However, they fail to put the physical address where the church is located!
- Train the media team and pertinent staff to use these media streams effectively. The easy part of this bigger picture is to build a website or create a Facebook page. The challenging part of this communication ecosystem is to train the media team to diligently engage the community and to react to their responses and needs.
This is a short list of ways to use communication technologies to effectively address communication needs in almost every HOW. I believe that, if you share this plan with HOW leaders, they will be more open to adopting and purchasing these technologies. Thus, I also believe that, if we understand this plan, that we can reel in the big deal and also develop successful ministries that lead to future deals and future success for HOW leaders: win/win. That is what I believe. I want to know, what do you believe?