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Renewed Communication

The way we communicate has changed. No longer are we limited to the phone and mail to disseminate information. Now we can communicate through several mediums, utilizing their individual strengths and weaknesses to communicate effectively. Church is not immune to these changes. Although it can feel confusing and frustrating to change the way we communicate, these new avenues open up a world of possibilities! Here are a few things to keep in mind as you assess how your church communicates.

Say more with less. In this digital age, people have access to a plethora of information literally at their fingertips. This access can easily turn into information overload, so people pay attention to pertinent information communicated concisely. In written communication, be sure to edit not only for grammar and punctuation, but also for conciseness.

Develop a brand. As ministers, we often cringe when we think about communicating the Gospel using marketing terms. However, in order to make sure your voice is recognizable in a world with so much noise, it’s important to develop a consistent look. Choose a logo, 2-3 colors and a text and heading font that all complement one another and stick with it. Keep it simple and consistent. The more you develop your brand, the more clearly your voice will be heard.

Remember your manners. Although in some ways the rules for communication have changed, some things have not. It’s still important to use correct grammar and proofread. With the ease of digital communication, sometimes we are able to communicate too quickly for our own good, so be sure to read what you write before posting or sending. In the world of visual communication, USING THE CAPS LOCK IS THE EQUIVALENT OF YELLING, AND IT’S EVEN MORE SERIOUS WHEN BOLD! Avoid using the caps lock. Instead bold important dates or pieces of information for emphasis.

Consider new avenues. Nearly 85% of visitors will check out a church’s website before actually going to church. It’s important to have an online presence in your community. If you don’t have the time or resources to develop a detailed website, you can put together a church website for free here. Provide information about your staff, service times, location and a brief overview of what you believe. Keep your communication simple, clear and up-to-date. Setting up a Facebook page, Twitter account or moving your bulletins to an email service like Mailchimp can add to your online presence. Remember to keep your branding consistent with your online communication by using similar colors, fonts and language.

Although the way we communicate has changed, our message has not. We have the unique opportunity to utilize so many great resources to connect people with a Father who loves them!

This blog was originally posted at the brand new IMN Communications Blog where you can get information about church communications.



by Tom Jacobs

Sometimes I want to go back in time and simply ask Alexander Graham Bell, “What were you thinking?”  I’m sure he could not imagine digital technology.  Certainly, he could not have foreseen an entire generation constantly connected to a cell phone. I’m sure he didn’t anticipate the communication tether that would wrap us in email, phones, Twitter, e-books, Facebook, Skype and satellite TV.  Whatever Bell’s intentions, faster and more immediate communication can work against personal, spiritual renewal. While I’m certainly not an expert in turning off, tuning out and taking time away, let me suggest a couple of goals that I’m pursuing this fall.

Turn it all off once in a while.

Be sure to turn off all of your devices and electronics and take some time away with your family from time to time.  You may need to schedule this time – even if it’s only in your own mind.  Find a place or two where you simply won’t take your phone (like the dinner table, or on a walk with your spouse).  Maybe you’ll need to designate a day or two per week when you don’t turn on the TV or the car radio.  Some of us may even need to participate in a media fast (if that’s frightening, you might want to simply try shutting off Facebook for a day at a time).

Choose your “renewal media”.

Decide to spend some time engaged with media that will help you reach your goals.  For instance, this fall would be a great time to develop a book list that you will plan to read in the next several months.  You can make a similar plan with podcasts, blogs or audio books.  Even if it is only a book a month or a podcast every couple of weeks, you will be amazed at how much material you will access over the course of a year. (The first person to text “renew” with their name and address to 712.251.5072 will get a copy of Road Trip Leadership by George Wood)

Listen in God’s presence.

Often, when I am inundated with media, my prayer time begins to feel rushed and fast-paced, too.  Be sure to make time to simply be in God’s presence.  It seems that when my heart is quiet, I am most able to hear God’s voice.

In order for our ministry to be most effective, we need times of renewal where we escape the din of constant media, and we need to choose to access the messages that will refresh our spirits and our minds. Healthy, renewed pastors are better able to lead healthy, renewed churches.

Would you like a tour?

You might have noticed things look a little different around the website. (You can read this great post from Pastor Tom to gain some insight into our reasoning for the change.) Since things look a little different, we thought it might be a good idea to give you a quick tour of all the new website has to offer.

Home Page is the first thing you see when you make your way to the website. We have a scrolling banner highlighting upcoming events and important information. Along the side, we have links to our latest videos, the RedCulture portion of the site and a link to Sunstream’s brand new website. Plus, we have a calendar highlighting upcoming events and the latest from our Twitter feed. Along the bottom, you’ll see some links we think you might find helpful. Across the top, you’ll see About Us, Departments, Resources, ISOM, Calendar and Media. These six tabs will help you to navigate the website.

About Us gives a basic overview of our staff, our history, what we believe and our contact information. These pages are intended to help those interested in our network find information quickly and to help those in our network learn more about our staff, history and beliefs.

Departments gives information about the different ministries and supports available to our churches and leaders. This is where you can find information about Children’s Ministries, Girls Ministries, Royal Rangers, Red Culture, Chi Alpha, Women’s Ministries, Men’s Ministries, Discipleship Ministries, US Missions, World Missions, Music and Sunstream. We have resources available for those just starting out in these ministries all the way up to those looking for advanced training with more to come.

Resources gives pastors quick information about credentials and renewals and finance. The downloads tab will be a place to find any downloadable resources we offer on the website.

ISOM gives you opportunity to learn more about the Iowa School of Ministry, download information and (eventually) register online.

Calendar stores all of our information about upcoming events.

Media provides information about or blogs, photos, podcasts and videos. This is a great way to stay connected and interact with what’s happening around IMN.

We are so excited about everything our new website has to offer. If you’re having trouble finding something on the website, please call Ashley at (515)276.5493.

We’d like to thank Disciple Portal for their design and support as we make this transition. For more information about Disciple Portal, click here.

Refreshing the IMN Website

by Tom Jacobs

Lori and I have the wonderful opportunity to visit several of our IMN churches during the course of the year.  During those visits we are constantly discovering pastors and churches touching their communities in creative and effective ways.

Operating as a Network requires us to find ways to share those ideas, innovations and resources with each other.  Distance and expense present a challenge to that kind of kingdom-minded networking.  That is why IMN is launching a new web site.  The new site is designed to help us with social networking and providing resources for pastors and churches who are focused on fulfilling the great commission. The new website should be up and running by the end of the day today.

I encourage you to check out the web site and to take advantage of the communication tools you’ll find there.  You’ll discover opportunities to connect through facebook, twitter, and all sorts of helpful links.  Let’s use this tool to its maximum potential to advance the kingdom in Iowa!

iPad Giveaway: We’re Serious.

Did you know that you could win an iPad just by going to the e2 Conference? Did you know that you could have a better chance of winning by liking us on Facebook and following us on Twitter? Well, it’s true.

Every person who attends e2 will be entered into a drawing to win a brand new iPad 2. Those who like IMN on Facebook will be entered again, and those who follow us on Twitter will be entered yet again. It’s just that easy.

If you have any questions about Twitter or Facebook, you can contact Ashley Knepper at aknepper@imnag.org or (515)276.5493.

You must be present at the e2 Conference to win the iPad. If you have questions, please call the IMN office (515)276.5493


If you’ve ever wondered if Twitter is right for you, this is a great tutorial to help you get started.

If you have any questions about using Twitter and other social networking sites in your ministry, contact Ashley Knepper, IMN Communications Specialist, at (515)276.5493, aknepper@imnag.org, or by filling out the form below. We will also offer a lab on technology and ministry at e2, which you will not want to miss! You can register for e2 by clicking here.

IMN News Fresh Look

You may have noticed that he IMN Newsletter (among a few other things) looks a little bit different this month. We are working to refresh the newsletter in conjunction with several communication upgrades.

Soon, our website will be completely new (we hope by October 1). Our new site will be more interactive and serve to help us to truly network together more effectively.

We also invite you to join the IMN via Facebook and Twitter. If you are unfamiliar with these social networks, our team will offer coaching during the e2 Conference, September 26-27. We will also have people available to assist you in developing your church’s website and social media opportunities.

For those of you who still like to hold a piece of “real” paper in your hands: do not fear! We will continue to offer hard copies (paper) of our IMN News, but we will also offer an e-newsletter version with interactive links and media for those of you who prefer that format.

Our goal with these changes is to communicate more effectively with you and to help our Iowa Ministry Network to connect and function more fully as a network of ministers and churches reaching Iowa. We hope to help you discover and share more resources with each other as we work to expand the Kingdom of God in Iowa!

If you’d prefer to receive e-newsletter or have any questions about social networking and how your church can utilize these great free resources, contact Ashley Knepper by filling out the form below.