In November I was able to spend a week with key leaders in ten countries for some strategy and encouragement. Part of my job is to network with leaders. Another key piece is to resource those leaders. Over the past two years, the vision for how a denomination is connected has been evolving. We’ve changed most communication strategies and wineskins to something new. Part of my job in Europe was to share with the missionaries some of these new tools. I also presented to the European leaders on some innovative ways they can be intentional about being connected. Here are a few of the highlights:
You Must Have a Web Presence
Many of our churches either don’t have a presence on the Web or it was built and not nurtured. I gave them some statistics on how many people are Online in Europe and broke it down into countries. After making the case, I offered them resources to build simple WordPress sites with a strategic partnership I formed with Sharefaith. Depending on what country they are in and what type of community they serve, a Web site can be a powerful tool.
Connect to Social
The second step is to connect the information for your church to social networks. With 800 million people on Facebook and 300 million on Twitter, we can leverage these simple and free tools to bring to bear for the local church. There was some great conversation on how to best use Facebook. The second step beyond having a Web presence and social networks is to use the networks to push to the Web site. Old models assume people will come to a Web site through a Google Search. In church planting or non-profits, it’s word-of-mouth. The most powerful word-of-mouth Online today is Facebook. Social drives traffic. Engage on social. Push to Web.
There is no “one size fits all” approach to connecting with a community. I presented an open-ended strategy for the leadership and encouraged them to ask questions before they implement. If we simply build without asking what people need, we run the risk of being irrelevant. Listening is one of the most important things we can do in building a strategy.
The big picture for the sessions was to incite leaders to develop a strategy for the work in their country and encourage them that it doesn’t take a lot of money to accomplish this. With the right kind of listening, thinking, and simple strategy, any church can increase reach and develop deeper community by some simple steps.