Saturday, January 24, 2009

How Obama Won the Online Campaign

I typically avoid all things political on DigitalWorship if I can help it, I felt compelled to share this with you.

My buddy, Mark Brown over at Brownblog linked to this paper by Edelman describing how Barack Obama won the online portion of the 2008 presidential campaign.

Mark leads a SecondLife church and has great thoughts on leveraging the internet to connect people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. I highly encourage you to add his feed to your blog reader.

Barack Obama Social Media Toolkit by Edelman

What stands out to you from this paper? What do you think the church could learn from this information?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

11 Characteristics of Successful Churches - 7. Church of Pastors

Be a Church of Pastors

One of the buzz terms in Christendom today is "Incarnational Living," but I'm afraid a lot of people don't really understand what that means. (I've read books and blogs on the subject and I'm not sure if some authors know what it means really!)

If people were really living "incarnationally" I think we would see churches of empowered individuals doing ministry where they are. They would be serving those around them not only in Christian circles, but among the lost and the broken.

We, as ministry leaders, need to show people how to serve others and how to contextualize the gospel.

Ministry leaders should rally the people behind the purpose of glorifying God by sharing the gospel and serving the community instead of simply being the always-on-call counselor.

They should not be merely a chaplain for the masses, but a champion of the mission.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Church Tech Camp: Dallas

Last week I had the phenomenal opportunity to attend the Church Tech Camp: Dallas. It was kind of funny because a lot of the people in the room knew one another from twitter or facebook, but had never met in person! On more than one occassion, I looked at someone trying to figure out how I knew them only to realize that I had already been following them on twitter for months.

Anyway, there were so many ideas flying around the room that I couldn't take it all in, but I was very impressed with the way this group of pastors and minstry leaders are using web 2.0 to connect with people who are part of their ministries and to connect with people around the world.

Lots of great comments stood out, but I was impressed with some of the ways Paul Watson of www.reachingtheonlinegeneration.com described the challenges and addressed the questions of leveraging the web to facilitate the creation of community.

He said that we need to consider using technology in three ways:
1. To develop deeper connections with those we already know in the face-to-face context.
2. To develop relationships with the loss that results in face-to-face interactions
3. To develop relationships with geographically diverse people that may never meet otherwise.

I think these three uses are beneficial when considering connecting with people online, but I would make number 3 up there a little less restrictive. Online technologies can help us connect with people not only separated by geography, but also those separated by social spheres or generational spheres.

One of the best quotes of the day came from someone I would like to give credit to, but I can't remember his name. If you remember, please let me know.

He said, "We've got to stop making the physicality question our focus."

In other words the idea that physicality is somehow connected to being a part of a community may be on its way out. Technological advances will certainly help us achieve stronger relationships online, but as it stands, you can have some pretty darn good relationships with people you've never met in person.

My wife and I both have friends who live in other countries and have never met in person, but consider them good friends nonetheless. I would expect these types of relationships to become more numerous and even mainstream in the years ahead.

I also took part in a good discussion with Brandon Donaldson, Internet Campus Pastor at LifeChurch.tv, about creating online communities and online churches. He offered some great ideas and tools to use for starting online churches and online small groups.

We live in exciting times and it was great to share that excitement with a group of great thinkers at Church Tech Camp: Dallas last week.

Monday, January 5, 2009

11 Characteristics of Successful Churches - 6. Proper Branding

Proper Branding Cannot be Underestimated
Chili's Logo

When you think of Chili's restaurants what do you envision? Initially I think of a relaxed place to have an enjoyable lunch. Secondly, I think of The Office. ("Chili's is the new golf course" according to Small Businessman Magazine.)

Starbucks Logo

Starbucks does the same thing. When you think of Starbucks what comes to mind besides their near saturation of locations nationwide? Warm earthtones, a place to sit and chat, and social awareness.

Both Chili's and Starbucks work hard and spend a lot of money to create an image that reflects their values.

Churches can learn a lot by looking at how businesses communicate with their customers and use that to communicate better with their congregants and visitors.

Branding happens on two levels. A philosophical level and a physical level.

Philosophically, you must determine your church's values and create communication that reflects those values. If a church is primarily traditional in worship style and uses tradition teaching methods such as a Sunday School program, it would be disingenuous to create communication that gives the impression that the church is fast-moving and cutting edge. At the same time a church with services that look like rock concerts should not cast itself as a down home good ol' boy church. (Those are southern terms in case you're not familiar.)

Physically, the production of all communication should be uniform across the organization. When you go into a Chili's the colors green and red stand out. Giant chili peppers are so prominant that they will haunt your dreams for weeks. But the point is when you leave, you will remember Chili's. Some churches do this very well with crisp professional logos and graphic designs.

The 21st century Christian and non-Christian alike are market savvy and will respond to proper branding in communication because it is the language they know and speak. But well-designed branding doesn't happen by accident.

Question Screen BeanGone are the days when printing a flyer using Microsoft Word and some clip art will effectively communicate what's happening at your church and where your church is headed for the next 10 years. I'm not sure those days were ever around really, but now, more than ever, communication needs to look as good as you can afford to make it. I mean look at Mr. Screen Bean on the left there. Look how stupid he looks. If you're in a ministry, let's make a pact to never use Mr. Screen Bean again. And if you're not in ministry, but are attempting to communicate with fellow humans, I beg you to join us.

Remember this: If the person doesn't read it or hear it because of poor design, you did not communicate it properly and communication did not happen.
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