About a year ago we set up Facebook pages for two churches that we are involved with. Their profiles are totally different, one being in a large village in the Lichfield Diocese, the other a tiny church in the middle of nowhere in the Derbyshire Diocese.
The large village church were not interested about using this tool, as only one or two members of the PCC actually use Facebook themselves, but the small church was enthusiastic. After explaining that web sites have their place but rely on people visiting that site and that with Facebook the information is going out to the people it was agreed to set up the accounts. The church is the original social network - it connects people, encourages them to participate and reaches out to others. In both cases we needed to enhance our identity and community.
On both sites we aim to advertise the services each week, any special event that is taking place, put up photographs of the building and activities taking place, and also prayers are posted. We try to add ‘stuff’ two or three times a week and find the ‘schedule post’ button very helpful. It is also very useful to have more than one administrator on each site. Each can have a special job to do i.e. photographs, event coordinator, services. In this way it takes very little time to maintain.
Facebook is instant (or almost instant) communication and gives opportunity for feedback and with links to other businesses and organisations within the area it reaches out to new groups. We posted photographs of our Christmas Tree Festival and within two hours of posting these the post had reached 487 people! Some of those reached had made comments. Some had been to the festival but others had not. We even had someone in Birmingham asking when and what time our Carol service was this year as they had visited on previous years.
People who use Facebook are normally of the younger age group (under 55 yrs), but we are trying to educate those who do not like Facebook that it can be accessed via the www.facebook.com page without having to have their own account. With a little encouragement we are now having older members reading what is on the site.
The small church has some holiday cottages very close by. People staying there often visit the church and attend services when they stay there. They are all part of our Facebook family and although they may live many miles away they keep in touch, often booking to stay when there is a particular event happening. We had a small family staying there over Christmas who attended the Christmas Day morning service.
We cannot say that Facebook has boosted our regular Sunday congregation numbers yet but it has shown the ‘outside world’ that us Christians are normal, approachable people who take an interest in others and respect their views, appreciating their feedback. Many who do not attend church do in fact comment and like the prayers we post. They know a bit more about what the Church is about and hopefully they will soon feel able to cross the threshold for one of the acts of worship.
Since setting up these pages we have encouraged other churches in our benefice to do the same and two other parishes have now set up Facebook. We do realise that Facebook is not the be-all and end-all but it is an extra tool for outreach and mission.
Reader - licensed in both dioceses.
By Revd Jason Kennedy, Church Growth Officer
As a general rule, of all the people who try a church, only 10% of them actually stay and become fully a part of the worshipping community of that church. And yet, lots of people are still coming along to our churches.
And yet, consider how many visitors come through our doors every week, for festivals, civic occasions, occasional offices and just coming as tourists, friends and relatives. Consider what it could mean if we could raise the figure of those who stayed from 10% to 25%?
By Sarah Brown, Children's Adviser
“Hey, this is so cool! Mum says we can visit the CHURCH tomorrow! I can’t wait!”
How often have you heard these words come from a child’s lips? Never? Well, maybe we could help them to look at our church a bit differently, and, whilst we still might not hear the words above, at least we might come across children who are surprised that their visit was more interesting than they thought it might be!
By Revd Canon Alan Harper
Our churches are a great resource for prayer but so are the areas around them. The rising importance of Celtic spirituality with its emphasis on God as the centre but rooted in creation is just one manifestation of this approach to spirituality. A prayer walk leaflet can take many forms. This is a link to a series of prayers we use for our Annual Rogation walk which could very easily be adapted into a leaflet to have available in your church.
A Guide for beginners by Revd Andy Walker
What is Geocaching?
Geocaching is, basically, a game of hide and seek played across the world.
Hidden around the world, there are just over 2.2 million caches. Some are the size of a large oil drum, others the size of a screw head and everything in between. Posted on the internet are the GPS co-ordinates for each of these caches. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to find these caches.
As part of preparing your church for visitors, you may consider creating a trail around your building and/ or churchyard. A trail doesn't have to be complicated and a simple sheet providing information about interesting features within the church will suffice.
Consider using the numbers 1 -10 and letter- headed paper provided in the signage pack but you can still create a good trail without them. Lead visitors around your church providing information about stained glass windows, memorials and any special features that make your church unique.
Adding historical information or stories attached to areas of your church will make it more interesting. If your church has links to a famous person or a historical figure or point in time include it in your guide. Your trail information can act as a guide even if you are not able to provide people to welcome visitors every day. Think about what you would tell a visitor that was interested in your church and include it in your sheet.
Once you've created a simple trail you may wish to think about one of these ideas.
- A children's trail - encourage youngsters (and adults!) to look around all areas of the church from ceiling to floor. Point out unusual features, count things and ask them to look for details they may have missed.
- A themed trail - focusing on a particular artist or architect with a connection to your church or a particular point in time such as the industrial revolution.
- War Memorials - During the centenary of WW1 there is expected to be increased interest in memorials with visitors looking into local or family history
Once you have created your trail let us know and we can include information on the tourism website www.derbyshirechurches.org