Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Survey #5: Communication

To a large degree our business as a church is communication. Our core communication concerns God's Word. This is what we do in every setting from the littlest toddlers to the oldest seniors. This is what defines us as a church.

But along with the Word, we also communicate lots of other information. . . . upcoming events to attend, places to serve, congregational news and notes, prayer requests, ministry places to grow. . . . and more.

Our primary means of communication for the last 5 years or so, has been our weekly Life@Grace publication. The purpose of this publication has been two fold:

  1. To provide an introduction and "snapshot" of the big picture of our ministry to newcomers.

  2. To provide ongoing weekly communication to our involved regulars.
Life@Grace has done these two things well. It has served its function. . . . . but the reality is it ain't cheap and it ain't "green." To this point, the benefit has justified the cost in the collective opinion of our staff.

But times are changing and we are in a process of rethinking and trying to reduce our expenses. We are wondering if it's time to shift to a more "electronic model" of communication.

One idea we're considering is a "Grace Weekly Email" that would highlight key upcoming events with a reformatted "life@grace" attached, so that it those who wanted to, could self print at home. This means of communication would also be accompanied by a few other tweaks to try and fill in the gap created by eliminating a printed "life@grace."

But some on are staff are arguing that no one is going to read the emails or life@grace if we send it. Our communication effectiveness will sharply decline, and our life together will start to look and feel spotty. Obviously none of us want to see that scenario or spiral. We want to move forward not backward.

We've talked about all sorts of other options as well including:
  • printing life@grace every other week or once a month
  • printing a half sheet insert highlighting 3 or 4 key events
  • distributing life@grace one to a family
  • recollecting life@grace between services and restuffing folders for later services
  • redesigning the front page of our website to serve as a "life@grace"
. . . . and lots of other ideas. . . . none of these ideas are perfect and some have inherent difficulties.

So, I'm pleading with you, my faithful readers, to fill out the new survey on the right and also provide some additional comments here or via email (mailto:pastortim@graceslo.org).

Bottom line. . . .we may end up just trying some things over the next few months. Stay tuned. Your input can help our future direction!

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

What about the older people that may not use the computer or have an email that they check frequently? Would their generation get lost in the electronic update?

Janice Phillips said...

I think it would be awesome to have the Life@Grace available for those who need it (much like the worksheets for younger kids) but e-mail a PDF weekly that people can print out. If I miss a Sunday its nice to be able to access the weekly info online. I'm supportive of whatever makes the most sense but let's save staff time, resources (paper, ink, copier/printer wear and tear), and leave less of a carbon footprint! Stewardship, baby!

Tim said...

Anon,

We're sensitive to our seniors and those not plugged-in and in no way want to leave them behind in our life together. Whatever we do, we plan to still make available something in print, for those who need it.

Thank for your sensitivity to others. . . Tim

Tim Weaver said...

I think that many will not get or read the emails, so some sort of hard copy would fill a big need. It can be a simple weekly flier which has the weekly events and special upcoming events. It doesn't need to be high quality paper or color printing nor does it need to go everyone.

Perhaps have a stack of them at the entry for people to pick up if they like. After the service they can put them back on the stack if they don't need to keep them. If we keep the size and quality at a level that we can produce at Grace, then we can have less printed and then use our printers at Grace to print another 30 or 50 copies if we are running out for the 3rd service.

I have never embraced the environmental movement because they usually come across to me as making the creation more important than mankind, but I think you are right on with your preaching that we as Christians have a Biblical creation to be 'green'.

Mama Mote said...

As staff, I absolutely see the need to cut costs. My daughter suggested not doing it in color and just having some available to pick up rather than in every Worship Folder - and then doing that just once a month...have everything for the month on there and maybe a small section of what will be coming up the following month, "Looking Ahead". But I think trying things out to see how things work is a good idea, too, to see what people are more apt to do. We do want people to know what's happening and hopefully, you'll find the best way to get info into everyone's hands.

andy gibson said...

What are the motivations for doing this, it wasn't clear? Going "green" is overrated and a political movement, so that's not a good one. Cutting costs however is. I won't read the emails, as I don't need another thing coming down my POP3 server, and I enjoy the hard copy. I think Tim Weaver had the best suggestion, in making them available to those who would like to pick them up, and encouraging people to put them back when they are done if they aren't keeping it.

With that said, let me emphasize that an all (or mostly) electric email distributed life together would be a bad decision.

Tim said...

Andy,

What do you mean it wasn't clear? Both the survey and the post mentioned "reducing expenses."

The primary goal is to reduce expenses as we are goal is always to spend under our giving income. That's looking like its going to be a challenge this budget year and perhaps even more of a challenge next budget year.

But on top of that, there is just a lot of waste associated with the current print distribution. Most print copies end up lying around the pews or in the round file.

"Going green" may be a trendy movement at the present time, but that doesn't mean its not valuable. Eliminating waste where we can as part of creation care and good stewardship are always worthy aims.

If we can figure out a way to effectively communicate that is both less costly and less wasteful, why wouldn't we move that direction?

Currently, all proposals include providing print versions for those who don't have electronic access or those who refuse to help us reduce print costs.

Hope that helps. . . Tim

Irish Girl said...

I didn't fill out the survey, b/c there wasn't one answer that really fit me. First of all, I'm in Texas. But, one thing I loved about the Life @ Grace was looking through the pictures every week... so if you do go to email, then please add some pics. Also, if someone is visiting, then they won't know about those events. I think you could definitely make it smaller. Paula is amazing and I know she could design something that would work! :) Miss you all!

Joe Pollon said...

The Life@Grace handout is the best I've seen at any place of worship. The current information, the pictures, the size and the color convey a sense of life and community that the other options just can't match. When visiting other churches, I am struck by how much of an impression, or lack thereof, I get from the handouts. While this should certainly not be the criteria by which to choose a church, I think it can have a large effect on whether a visitor will take a second look or if a regular feels connected (just by knowing what is happening every week even if they don't participate).

My vote would be to keep it to one per family and recycle those left behind.

Tim said...

I didn't want to be the one to say it, but I'm glad Joe did... I agree that Life@Grace is the best weekly church snapshot/handout that I've ever seen. It has served its purpose well . . . Tim

Jeannett Gibson said...

I second Joe's comment. I love the Life @ Grace flier...but only giving one per family and encouraging people to put theirs back if they aren't keeping it is a great idea.

Joanie said...

The handouts are often the first thing people reach for when they're new to a church. It answers the question, "Will this church fit my demographic/needs/desire to minister?" It also lets a new person know when the Bible Studies are, and it gives a first timer a good idea of what the church is about.

The color is great, but perhaps a smaller paper with less graphics and color would work. You could maybe keep the color portion for big events or new ministries. Oftentimes there is a lot of repetitive stuff on there, and you could save the dollars and ink by making those parts smaller or less flashy.

Pops said...

Going electronic for those who would like that would be a good and wise decision in my opinion.

You could always let us choose as we came in - with or without Life@Grace for those who have already read it. If you sent it out on Friday, I think it would get read and those of us that are Green@Grace would get the news a couple days early!

Anonymous said...

Long long ago, there was a monthly news letter called Grace Notes. It was sent in the mail. It was black and white, no color. Sending Grace Notes in the mail ended due to economics and other things. The senior saints will remember it. It contained information and no pictures.
Those who may not get the electronic version of Life at Grace should be given an opportunity to sign-up to receive it by mail. You could call it Grace Notes and it could be black & white, no pictures, just information. ;-)