It was 1987, and church communication was pretty simple.
Sunday morning was predictable in that little northern Michigan town.
A ten-year-old boy would dig his clip-on tie out of the closet, find his Bible, and head down the sidewalk to the 100-year old building that He knew as “the church”…
Familiar corridors of ancient dark paneling and red shag carpet.
Chattering groups of adults sipping Folgers coffee from white styrofoam cups.
The smell of burnt toner as the “beige beast” Xerox copy machine churned out warm copies of the Sunday bulletin.
Nobody was posting to Instagram. Nobody was taking selfies or sending Snaps. There was no live stream, no projector, and no camera.
No cell phones were going off during the service.
There was no countdown timer, no sermon bumper video, and no powerpoint.
The church had a street address, but not a website address. It had a phone book page, but no Facebook page.
Communication was pretty straightforward. If you weren’t there to hear an announcement, you missed it. If it wasn’t printed in the bulletin, it probably wasn’t happening.
People of all ages assimilated information the same way. It was either by word of mouth or the printed page. That was pretty much it!
Fast forward to 2017.
A few things have changed in 30 years, haven’t they?
Before you even arrive at church on a Sunday morning, you may have received push notifications, posted to multiple social media platforms, made online lunch reservations with a mobile app, and joined a Facebook Live broadcast.
In 1987, those terms did not even exist.
Today, they are a staple of our generational churches. While grandpa and grandma may still love that warm bulletin on a Sunday morning, their grandkids feel much more comfortable wielding an iPhone.
If you send Aunt Mildred a text message, she probably won’t get it, but if you send that millennial single a postcard, he may not see that either.
Churches often struggle to bridge the generational communication gaps. Here are some common reactions:
- Don’t change anything.
- Change everything.
- Change inconsistently.
The result of these reactions ranges from disappointing to devastating.
So what do we do?
I would like to propose a “Think 360” approach to church communication.
We cannot force our generational churches into one or two communication channels. It simply will not work. We will lose people.
We’ve got to play smart, consistent, and with our eyes open to what’s going on around us.
Over the next several weeks, I’d like to introduce the “Think 360” approach to your church website, email, bulletin, and social media.
As simple as 1987 was, it’s probably not coming back. If the last five years are any indication of what the technology pace will be over the next five years, the church cannot afford to be indecisive.
We’ve got to think smart and act consistently. We’ve got to Think 360!