In July, Cove United Methodist Church (Northeast District) discovered how social media, including Facebook and Twitter, could help keep their members informed and connected -- especially in a time of a communication crisis. Rev. Matt Jones, Associate Pastor of Cove UMC, first shared this blog of the congregation's experience in July and now wants to share their story with other North Alabama Conference congregations.
First posted July 31, 2009 on http://www.218Consulting.com:
The words swine flu (H1N1) generally bring one of two reactions; a roll of the eyes or a look of fear. This past week my church has been dealing with a handful of possible cases of H1N1 that originated on a youth trip to Florida. Fortunately, it has turned out to be a quick recovery for those who were sick.
The old saying that “there is no such thing as bad press” does not really apply to the church. The church, as compared to many businesses or organizations, uniquely relies on how people feel. Those feelings translate into invitations to attend and involvement within. For the church to do its’ vital work, people must have a positive view and feeling about the church.
At the same time, the Press has the responsibility to tell people what is happening in the community. When there is a difference of perspective on the events, the church can find it at odds with the Press. Many times this difference is simply the “inside” view versus the “outside” view.
This was the situation that we found ourselves in last week…a difference of perspective. Both the church and the Press have the responsibility to represent the facts as they see them, but that does not guarantee an alignment of information. Our situation was even more complex because the Managing Editor of the local paper is a valuable member of our church (and a really great friend to me personally)! It is very important for the church to be in a position to communicate the “rest of the story” to its members and others who are interested or need to know.
Several months ago, Cove Church set up FaceBook and Twitter accounts to supplement our ongoing web and email communications. We have been using those to update “Fans” and “Followers” of upcoming events and general church information. Our members have been learning to look to those sources for up-to-date church information.
When we found out about our sick members and the possibility of H1N1, the first thing we did was update both FaceBook and Twitter. Soon after that, we sent out supplemental church wide emails with additional information. Each day we continued to update our members, Fans and Followers with accurate information. Because of those efforts, our members were informed and could address anything that came up in conversation with friends and neighbors in relation to the T.V. and print media stories. It has been a successful response to this situation.
Social media has provided the tools that churches need when there is more to the story than the Press can present in a few lines, or that the TV stations can give in a news soundbite. Get your congregation accustomed to hearing from you through those channels now, and you will be able to effectively use them when accurate communication is vital.
Did you know you can find the North Alabama Conference on both Facebook and Twitter?