Resources for church communications in the digital age

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Christian leaders today have to grapple with one of the most profoundly disruptive trends in the world: the digital revolution. Faith & Leadership offers resources to help with communications -- online, in traditional media, in marketing, and within organizations.

Christian leaders -- like leaders in all sectors -- have at their disposal one of the most powerful communications tools ever devised. But taking advantage of communications on the Web requires the same theologically wise approach required when engaging with traditional media -- or indeed, in face-to-face communications.

Interested in exploring further? Read about technology and the church.

Our resources include interviews with noted theologians and church leaders, advice from experts and practitioners, and suggestions on how to deal with some common communications challenges.

 

Theology and digital communications

Verity Jones: Thinking theologically about using social media
The New Media Project wants to help faith leaders become more theologically savvy about social media, which is rapidly changing the landscape of Christian life.

Keith Anderson: Digital ministry and bearing witness to the holy
Social media gives pastors a new ability to point out the presence of God in the day-to-day of people’s lives, says a Lutheran pastor and co-author of a book on digital ministry.

Heidi Campbell: The Internet challenges and empowers religious institutions
The digital culture isn’t changing religion as much as it is reflecting offline shifts in Christian life, says a scholar of religion and media at Texas A&M University.

Tips on digital and media communications

How to enter the digital age
Experts on technology and the church offer advice on how to establish -- or expand -- your organization’s technological presence.

Elizabeth DrescherElizabeth Drescher: Digital ministry, made for the mainline
Networked, relational and incarnational, digital ministry is a good fit for the mainline, a chance to make the privatized practice of faith public and visible in the world again, says the author and scholar.

Nonprofits credit social media for success
MomsRising and charity: water have accomplished much in a short time. Here are some tips on how they did it, with the effective use of social media.

Joshua Benton: Putting the social in social media
Finding the right tool isn’t the answer to communicating online. Social media has to have the tenor of human conversation to be effective, says the director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University.

Telling the good news, in the media
It isn’t easy for a church or other Christian organization to get media coverage (unless something has gone wrong). But it is possible, with these 10 tips from two church communications consultants.

Personal essays by Christian social media users

Cathleen FalsaniCathleen Falsani: Where two or more are gathered ...on Facebook
Much to her surprise, a journalist finds community -- real, authentic, deeply connected, deeply faithful community -- online.

Amey Victoria Adkins: Learning to speak
The heart of Christian community is connecting, confessing and witnessing together the work of God. It doesn’t matter whether you do it live or on Twitter, says a freelance writer and pastor.

John P. Jackman: Facebook and faith
When a middle-aged pastor joined Facebook, he didn’t know what to expect. But he quickly discovered that this new medium offers a powerful way for the church to be present in the world.

Communicating in a crisis

Anne Curley: Do the right thing
In the midst of church scandal or other crisis, leaders need to remember: People expect the truth, says communication expert Anne Curley.

Roger Parrott: BP’s other toxic spill
Whether you’re the fourth-largest company in the world or a ministry leader in a crisis, trust cannot be bought with public relations campaigns, writes a Mississippi college president reacting to the 2010 oil spill.

Marketing and communications

Gavan Fitzsimons: Are consumer brands replacing religion?
The marketing of brands has become so sophisticated that they can replace religious institutions by giving people a sense of community, identity and self-expression, says a consumer psychologist. This is a cautionary tale for Christian leaders seeking to grow the church.

Clayton ChristensenClayton Christensen: Focusing on a job to be done
The Harvard business professor and author of “How Will You Measure Your Life?” says that leaders should focus on their institution’s mission in order to foresee and compete against disruptive innovations.

Melissa Wiginton: Church marketing
Is public speech too corrupt to serve as a valuable medium for the institution of the church?

James Howell: Holy marketing
Church marketing runs the risk of slipping into spin. So how do we market? By striving for two objectives that matter -- clarity and holy excellence.

Internal communications

Maria Dixon Hall: Just because you can preach doesn’t mean you’re a communicator
For an organization in which the word is central, the church does a poor job of communicating, says an SMU professor and consultant. She has some advice on how church leaders can do it better.

Diane M. Millis: Silence and the art of conversation
Some of the most essential practices for genuine conversation include not only the words we speak but also the silence that surrounds them. A leadership coach and facilitator offers tips on the practice of pausing.

Gretchen E. Ziegenhals: The Parable of the Abilene Paradox
Few Christian leaders would say that they enjoy conflict, or even handle it well. But how about our inability to cope with agreement?

How to have difficult conversations

Jared Bleak: Dangerous conversations
An executive director of Duke Corporate Education offers a four-step strategy for leaders facing conversations that are difficult, tense or even dangerous.

Nathan Kirkpatrick: Making crucial conversations a priority
Despite knowing that “crucial conversations” are vital for an institution, leaders often fail to have them. So what might we as institutional leaders do to help ourselves?

Communicating about leadership transitions

Lance Wallace: What to say when you don't know what's next
The former director of communications and marketing for the Atlanta-based Cooperative Baptist Fellowship reflects on the 2012 transition in leadership in his organization.

Lance Wallace: Getting goodbye right
How do we celebrate a departing leader's tenure with integrity?