Start 2016 with new tools for your tech and communications ministry

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As your church looks to make last minute, end-of-the-year purchases, consider these five items (in no particular order) as “must haves” for any communication and technical ministry: 

5. Planning Center – http://get.planningcenteronline.com/

Planning Center has become a must-have tool for keeping worship and tech teams organized. I haven’t found anything comparable that can unify a team better. I personally used it as a tech director for five years and have continued to use it here at the State Board of Missions to help plan out our larger events. It features automated emails, scheduling, planning and can be used for multiple services. Additional applications are often added to the program without increased costs. 

4. ProPresenter – http://www.renewedvision.com/

The days of PowerPoint have long passed, and most churches have begun transitioning to presentation software that allows for a more seamless operation. While ProPresenter is not the only option, it’s by far, in my personal opinion, the best product available. 

The biggest difference between ProPresenter and PowerPoint is its ability to allow you to be more creative. Helpful features include: changing backgrounds on the fly, throwing a song into the playlist at the last minute and seamlessly integrating your videos into your weekly service. ProPresenter does it all. It’s built to show multi-layered presentations.

Check out renewed vision, and add this one to your list.

3. A Website

It’s not an “if” or “maybe,” rather it’s an understood that your church should have a website. This can mean a lot of things, so here are a couple of products that can help you get on the Web today, provide a great responsive user interface, and keep a “what you see is what you get” back end for simple operation. 

http://www.squarespace.com/ – This has become my “go to” option for any church needing a website — responsive designs that are very clean and functional and a very easy-to-use interface.

http://www.wix.com/ – Wix is continuing to grow and adapt to an ever-changing Web world. They fell behind for a little bit, but their new offerings are easy to use, functional, responsive and would work for most churches.

https://www.cloversites.com/ – I personally used Clover for several years but then stopped recommending them when they didn’t adapt to the responsive layout revolution. They stayed on Flash which quickly went the way of horse and buggy. The new Clover 3.0 eliminates those issues and brings this option back into the realm of recommended.

2. A Social Media Plan

You can’t ignore the conversations taking place around you. It’s time to develop a social media plan and potentially invest into some scheduling and monitoring software to help.

Facebook is where I suggest to start. It’s the largest, and there are built-in methods to schedule posts. There are also notifications you can set up to alert you to when people post on your pages and even options to shut down certain things if you can’t keep up with it.

Check out Twitter and Instagram, too, for the next steps and look into products like HootSuite, Sprout and Buffer to help you monitor conversations and schedule future posts.

As for the plan, put in writing what you want to do each week, and do it. Don’t be overly ambitious. Start small and grow!

1. Email Marketing Plan

Please stop using your personal account to send out emails about the next big event! While you have permission to email the members of your church, it’s always best practice to use something like MailChimp or Constant Contact as a way to create a buffer that will allow your members to opt out at any time. Some people don’t like to receive a daily devotional but are afraid of losing you as a friend if they ask you to stop emailing them. Importing your lists gives them the power to come and go.

You can also take advantage of scheduling the next email blast about the big event in these same softwares and, by adding a signup option on your website or through your social media, you can add more people to your list.

This is by no means a definitive list but only five items that, when asked, I always mention to churches as things they may want to consider putting in place! Why not start 2016 off with some new tools for technical and communications ministries as your church!

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