When we talk to clergy, many talk about the special privilege they have to work with community members of all ages. This creates some unique challenges, however, when it comes to communications. Faith communities sometimes prioritize one audience over another in order to make the best use of limited staff, resources, and time.
According to Pew Research, “72% of the public uses some type of social media,” making it a sensible choice when you want to reach many generations efficiently. Among social media platforms, YouTube and Facebook have the broadest reach.
However, social media usage varies with age. According to the same report, only 50% of adults over 65 use Facebook on a regular basis.
Meanwhile, younger audiences maintain a presence on more platforms than their elders, and some research shows that they prefer group texts and chats when communicating with coworkers, fellow students, and friends.
For faith communities that have small staffs, these differences in preferences can create a real headache. So what can you do?
Adapting Content for Everyone
The most time-efficient way to reach many audiences is to focus your effort on creating a core message, and then adapt that message across the platforms that make the most sense for your faith community.
For example, let’s say you have youth programming coming up and are trying to raise awareness and drive registrations for those programs.
The first place that you might think to post that information is on your website. A typical event listing might consist of a few paragraphs. If you take a single paragraph from that longer piece of writing, you’ll have something that is the right length for an email newsletter teaser or a bulletin announcement. If you take a single sentence from that paragraph, you’ll have enough to put on a slide that you project during the service, to make a brief oral announcement, to share with an elder on your phone tree, to send to your youth via group chat or text, and to post on a variety of social media platforms.
While not every message will apply to every person, this might spark some ideas about how to stretch your message—and your time—a little further.
Users of the popular anyone-can-make-a-graphic design platform Canva can also use their “magic resize” feature to easily resize a graphic for a slide in a PowerPoint into a flier or social media graphic in just a few clicks.
There's No Time Like the Present to Reach Out
When you’re looking around during a service, do you notice any empty chairs or pews? After two years of pandemic-era worship in which congregations gathered in front of computer screens or socially distanced in parking lots, some congregants may not have returned.
During the pandemic, people’s habits changed out of necessity when it came to participating in their faith communities. Some have grown to find video-based meditation, and Bible- or Torah- study groups to be more convenient than their in-person counterparts.
Some congregants couldn’t wait to get back to in-person services. Others may have gotten a little lazy, using the lack of in-person services to get some extra Friday-night R&R or Saturday or Sunday morning shut-eye. (Hey, we’ve all been there.)
When you’re facing the task of sharing your message in a few more places, it can be helpful to think about the payoffs. What would getting greater attendance mean for your community? More youth attending educational programs and classes? More voices in the choir? More people participating in a neighborhood food drive?
Thinking about the impact of increased attendance could make the effort of reaching out in new ways a little easier to bear.
Whether outreach takes the form of a text message, an email, or hosting a food drive or summer carnival, now is the time to take advantage of opportunities to reach new audiences where they’re at.
As you assess, a few key questions to ask yourself include:
Ready to Dive in?
Our team provides faith communities with the tools that they need to empower and share their message with a wider audience. From coaching and training to content creation, we want to help faith communities grow. To aid in that process, we are proud to provide a free, 30-minute office hour dedicated to helping with your goals. Learn more.