A few members of the Church Fuel team attended the That Church Conference this week, which is a communications and marketing conference specifically for churches. It’s hosted in the Atlanta area and brings in speakers from all over the country (and attendees from all over the world—like Singapore and Poland this year) who are passionate about helping churches navigate the creatively challenging and ever-changing communication and digital media best practices.

Our Founder and CEO, Michael Lukaszewski, spoke at the conference this year and so did a number of other speakers with a ton of helpful advice for church communicators. Here are our top takeaways from this year’s That Church Conference.

1. Your culture and influence reaches beyond the walls of your church.

Creating a culture that people want to be a part of is one driving factor of church growth. As a leader, your influence helps create a culture in your church—good or bad—whether you realize it or not. As one speaker, Jenni Catron, put it: “Culture exists whether you’ve defined it or not.”

The environment you create either attracts or repels people. The influence that those in the church have on those in their circle of influence, with volunteers, and online has the power to affect people in profound ways.

Nona Jones, Faith-Based Partnerships Leader for Facebook, spoke about “social ministry” which gives a discipleship angle to everything your church does. “Move beyond sharing content about your ministry to making disciples through your ministry,” she said.

How can your church use communication strategy and online opportunities to change lives?

2. The path to becoming a first-time guest often begins online.

The digital presence of churches should give a glimpse of what it’s like to be a part of the church. Kenny Jahng called it “paparazzi previews.” He also shared a mind-blowing statistic: 17 million people who are not regular church-goers visit church websites every year. What an incredible opportunity to show how your church serves God and serves people, and illustrate why they should come be a part.

Katie Vogel, Social Media Director for Church of the Highlands, emphasized the digitization of word-of-mouth. People often visit a church because they heard about it from a friend or were invited by someone; social media is an opportunity to do this digitally and even continue conversations online. Phil Bowdle, Creative Arts Pastor at West Ridge Church, made the point that “the communications team gets to preach to more people than the pastor.”

3. You have the resources you need to reach people.

If you’ve ever thought your production value, resources, or staff size weren’t enough to create great online content for your church, you’re not alone. It’s common to want to do “the next best thing” or “the big, creative thing” and we often put the time, effort, and resources into the wrong thing.

Michael Lukaszewski, founder and CEO of Church Fuel, said “boring is better.” Churches often underinvest in the ministries that are going well and driving growth and instead invest all resources and creativity into one-time events or ministries that aren’t thriving. Use the best resources, creativity, and brain power you have to improve the most overlooked, ordinary places in your church. “If you improve anything in your church by 5%, in 9 months it’ll be twice as good.”

Brady Shearer, CEO of Pro Church Tools and Storytape, encouraged conference attenders in saying, “Content value matters more than production value.” Catching people’s attention online matters more than having a beautiful logo, high-quality video, or a consistent visual brand. And social media content—in which only 1 in 5 posts should be promotional, he says—is an opportunity to “ditch the polish” and tear down the “pastor persona” to show that the pastor is just an ordinary person and the church is made up of ordinary people, just like those scrolling through online and thinking about visiting your church.

Find these takeaways helpful? Check out That Church Conference and consider sending your Communications staff or volunteers to the next one. Registration for next year is already open.

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