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Other Platforms

What will be the next new thing?

Next new thingIt’s nearly impossible to stay on top of all the resources and platforms that exist today – much less what is going to be introduced tomorrow. So as you come across new sites, constantly think to yourself if they could be useful to you, the minister, or to the church. And if you are not the kind of person who “comes across new sites” very often, then make sure you have a few friends who do. Ask them to keep you informed.

In the meantime, I’ve done my best to include some popular and useful sites and a few tips on each. Feel free to add to the list as a comment below!

 


LinkedIn                 

LinkedIn is a professional networking site. And awhile ago, you couldn’t hardly find any minister groups there. I am happy to report that ministers have realized they also are professionals and should take advantage of a professional network.

  • It does take some time to set up your profile, especially if you haven’t worked on your resume in awhile. But as you are doing so, don’t feel that you should not be on LinkedIn because you are not looking for a job. Instead realize that it’s a way to connect 1. with other ministers who have similar experiences as you, 2. with other professionals with whom you might not connect at all.
  • Join some interest and professional groups and think outside the box. Find a group that could help you creatively. Churches should be better at marketing than we are – join a marketing group and get free advice.
  • Some people spend a lot of time on LinkedIn and love the resources they find there. I do not have time for one more site, so I have my profile set up to send me notifications once a week from the various groups I have joined. I rarely go to the site itself, but I still learn a lot through my email notifications.
  • You can find me at http://www.linkedin.com/in/natalieaho.

Instagram

Instagram is the ultimate photo sharing app (and now video too). It’s also very popular with teens and young adults, so if you are looking for a way to connect with this audience, IG may be your best platform. You do have to have a smartphone to have access to IG.

  • You don’t have to share your personal life on IG if you don’t want to. Certainly people use it to show pictures of their vacations, families, etc. But you can also use it as the “image capture” to your life. In other words, are you preaching about forgiveness this Sunday? What images can you take (with your phone camera) and share on IG that make you think of forgiveness. Even better, make a # to go with it (#forgiveness) and see if others will play along.
  • Many groups do photo sharing themes around Advent and Lent – photo challenges to share every day of the season with an intended goal for the day. Here’s a good one from Lent 2014.
  • There are other places to share video, but IG is a good place for short, quick clips. Think creatively about how to reach people with video on IG as well.

 


Pinterest

I always thought Pinterest was not for me because I don’t cook and I’m not crafty – and those were the only things I had heard were being shared on Pinterest. However, I participated in a TweetChat about the church and Pinterest, and it changed my mind. Essentially, the church can find a presence anywhere. Even here.

  • Use Pinterest as a way to share images, art and bookmarks.
  • Create an open church board (now assigned through a profile and invitations) and ask church members to find images (linked to articles/web pages) that represent a particular theme – for example, what does Lent mean to you?
  • Create a board as a place for a Bible study.
  • Create a board to share with other ministers around needed resources – for example, a youth fundraiser board.
  • Ask the church to create a board that best represents your congregation. Pinterest is about beauty and images. What a profound way to realize how your members view your church.
  • It’s a great place for creative, artistic communication – as well as connecting over recipes and crafts!

 


Foursquare, Yelp and other location check-ins

Foursquare and Yelp (among a few) are apps on smartphones that allow the users to “check-in” and leave reviews or tips about a place.

  • These apps are a great way to encourage others to attend your church with you. It’s an easy way to say you were at church on Sunday (or at another time).
  • Remind people to check in – it could be a simple as putting the Foursquare icon on your bulletin. Those who use Foursquare will recognize it, and if they don’t no big deal.
  • It’s an easy way to notice if someone isn’t there, or what they’re doing during events. But don’t nag them about it or they may unfollow you. Instead use it as a conversation starter.
  • It’s a good way for getting people to think about “being” or “living” church.
  • Also, from time to time, check and see if anyone has left a tip or review about your place.
  • Don’t forget to have your Facebook church page marked as a location (fill out your profile completely) and allow people to “checkin” there as well.



QR Codes

QR codes are scannable bar codes in the shape of a square. You can download a smartphone app to read a QR code and once it does, it will take you to a website. However, the codes can be loaded with almost anything (video, pdf, text, etc). I have heard of a few creative ways churches are using QR codes:

  • An easy giving option – set up a QR code in an easy-access location with a sign that says “give today” and make the QR code link to your online giving account
  • A virtual bulletin – keep a card in your pew rack that has a QR code that links to a webpage where you upload, every week, that Sunday’s bulletin. Worshippers can follow along on their smartphones or tablets.
So how do you create and link one? Here’s my favorite QR code generator, but you can’t go wrong with Googling “qr code generator.”

 


Second Life

There are all kinds of “worlds” that exist online. Some of them you will agree with, some you will not. I won’t introduce you to all of them, but I do want to mention the virtual world of Second Life. It is not a game, in that there is no objective to being in Second Life – you don’t have to do anything but walk (or fly) around and talk to people if you want. You can participate in games; you can even buy stuff, with virtual money (which does translate into real money), if you prefer. Some universities and businesses are trying out avatars and Second Life as a way to have virtual meetings. Instead of sitting on a conference call with your co-workers, you log in, and have your avatar walk into the conference meeting himself.

I mostly mention Second Life so that you know it exists. Kimberly Knight, a UCC pastor, was the pastor of Koinonia Church in Second Life for awhile and is writing a book about her experience – Sacred Space in Cyber Space. She spoke with me about how people from all around the world would come to learn about God – especially people who felt threatened and rejected by the church. She had more honest conversations in that virtual world than people would ever have with her in person.

We can be the presence of Christ wherever we are.



Gaming

While gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry and is just as cutting edge as online communication, I’m not going to talk about gaming in this space. I do mention it to say, as with all of these platforms, think creatively about how gaming can be an extension of the relationships you are building in person.

 


Other website helps

Here are a few of my favorite website helps:                 

 

What about yours?

 

 

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