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Best Practices for Digital Communication

Meredith Mahon Morris February 16, 2012

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Every one of us has unique, God-given strengths – we all know that. Each group, too, has its own dynamic, built on the combination of its members. One of the strengths of the team from our Seattle office, where The City is based, is their keen insight into digital community-building. It’s important because, as the numbers at the right show, internet use is growing – and will continue to grow. It’s not a fad – it’s a trend that churches can’t ignore.

Our colleagues in Seattle have spent a lot of time thinking about how an online community can become more than just a “social” connection, but a place where engagement happens and disciples are built. It’s an essential consideration for today’s ministries.

The City team recently put together a ministry guide on the topic of building disciples through engagementt, and I just had to share some of what they put together. Below, I’ve excerpted 4 of the guide’s Best Practices for Digital Communication.

Good communication is good communication, so don’t be
intimidated by that little word, digital. The things that make
you an effective communicator elsewhere are still in play. There
are, however, some unique challenges and opportunities in the
digital world, so following a few best practices can help you
avoid common pitfalls and enable you to make the most of your
communication efforts.

1. Focus on the mission.

Don’t put the focus on methods, because methods are disposable.
It’s the heart of the thing that matters. Jesus has given your
church an eternally meaningful mission. Be sure to explain why
your church needs a private social network, and keep the focus
on how it will help your church accomplish the mission.

2. Never think your communication is done.

If you’ve been a leader for long, you probably understand this far too well. You can’t say something once and expect it to
stick with everyone. You’ve got to continually remind people
of what’s important. Thankfully, digital tools make effective
communication very inexpensive, and also make it easy to
mobilize other people to distribute your communication for you.
There’s no need to do all the work yourself; usually you just need
to ask people to help get the word out to their friends.

3. Invite people to interact.

Interaction is no longer an option, it’s an expectation. The digital
tools available today give you an amazing opportunity to invite
people to join a conversation. While it might initially seem like
more work, the return is far greater than the investment. Your
interaction and sincere listening will help create an engaged
community, you’ll probably discover gifts and abilities you didn’t
realize people had, and you might just learn from others along
the way, too.

4. Cultivate meaningful relationships.

The speed and simplicity of digital communication can
sometimes lead to over-use and misuse. As a leader, it’s your job
to lead the way and help people understand the compelling why
behind the methods. By asking good questions, listening well,
and steering conversations toward real relationships, you’ll be
leading by example. Ask other leaders to do the same. Together,
you’ll build a community of well-connected and meaningful
relationships.

To see the full list of digital communication best practices, plus information on the real power of social technologies, practical steps your church can use to transform its online communication, advice on creating a communication plan, and real-life examples of a church using online tools to build and mobilize an engaged community, download the free ministry guide Building Disciples Through Engagement.

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