Leveraging Communication Tools

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How are you communicating with your small group leaders and hosts?  How hard (or easy) is it for you to get the word out about upcoming events, recommended curriculum, and leader development?  How do you do it?  Still using a print newsletter?  Sending an email out to a list?  Smiling and dialing?  In this post I want to point you to four easy-to-use tools that will make communicating with your team easier and more effective.

First, give your leaders a way to get information 24/7. You may have a great website and a really cooperative webmaster…but most of us don’t.  The truth about most church websites is that finding what you’re looking for is a challenge and adding or changing content is even tougher.  What’s the answer?  Use a blog linked to your website that you and your team can update!  It’s easy to use and inexpensive to provide (less than $60 a year).  There are several web-based programs that make it so easy that even a caveman can do it.

You can see the blog I’m creating for life group leaders at Canyon Ridge right here. If I have a training event that I want to promote or curriculum that I want to recommend it is easy to add and I can do it without waiting on our webmaster. Even better…I can set it up so that when I add the content my leaders are notified!

Second, provide training and encouragement without scheduling an on-campus meeting. You can do this several ways.  For example, a short teleconference is a great technique that your leaders will really appreciate.  Using a service like FreeConferenceCall.com allows your leaders to take part in a training session without driving over to the church. That is a huge idea!  For many of your leaders it will save them 30 minutes both ways by the time they get in their car and drive over.

Another idea that is being used more and more is providing a quick videoconference. With a service like Zoom you can do training or coaching huddles using a webcam and a computer. Zoom allows your leaders to click a link from wherever they are and join a video call in progress. If they don’t have a webcam they’ll still be able to see everyone who does. If only the leader of the call has a webcam it can still provide a way for you to communicate visually with your team. And the basic level is free! Also, for as less than $15 per month, the calls can be recorded and the captured video can be uploaded to your website (or the blog I mentioned above) for just-in-time access later.

Third, take advantage of an online small group finder to allow unconnected people to find a group 24/7. Most church management softwares (CMS) have good enough built-in applications that can make a web-based small group finder available. Some CMS even include the ability for your leaders to do updates themselves (or you can do it for them), It is a real advantage to be able to provide current information about available groups 24/7. Additionally, with a web-based approach any church-wide email can provide a link to your small group finder.  This can be used in combination with verbal and print announcements to encourage maximum response to a church-wide emphasis.

If your CMS doesn’t offer an easy to set up small group finder, you might take a look at ChurchTeams.

Finally, take advantage of social media to stay connected with your leaders. Your leaders are already on Facebook.  If you haven’t set up your page yet, there’s no time like the present. Twitter is another social media service that could be on your to-do list.

Need a new approach? You don’t need to move from A to Z in one move. Move to B. Add a simple blog that you can update yourself.  Implement the small group finder application in your CMS. The key on all of these new ideas is to take a first step!

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  1. A. Pace on January 15, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Great post! These tools are exactly what we need to be using with our leaders and they in turn need to be using them with their groups.
    I’m finding the need to train and coach my leaders on how to use social media and all things technical. Sometimes we are way out in front of our people. I had a guy ask me yesterday if his cell phone could send a text message and if so, would I show him how. That’s a far cry from using Tokbox.
    Keep pushing the envelope!

  2. Mark Howell on January 15, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Thanks Alan! We probably need to have a cell phone class as a first step!

  3. Doug Cowburn on January 15, 2009 at 9:23 pm

    I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about using social networking better. We have a few ideas that are in the works, but I was hoping you could suggest a few churches that are using twitter effectively.
    I’ve found that Granger and Mars Hill are using twitter…do you know of others, specifically to leaders/groups?

  4. Mark Howell on January 16, 2009 at 6:34 am

    There are a number of churches that are using twitter…but I haven’t seen any that are using it for leaders or groups to any extent. Canyon Ridge could be the first!