Years ago I began to realize the depth of the messages and teachings given to us from our Pastor. Regardless of any one church or Pastor, I also realized the abundance of information and life changing teaching, wisdom and revelation that go out of our churches every week. Unfortunately, I also realized how much of that teaching, wisdom and revelation was and is left in the pews. I’m sure regular church goers have met someone that talked about how great a sermon or teaching was, but couldn’t explain what was taught or did not receive it to where it was put into action. God led me to address this in our media ministry by introducing transcribed notes and a daily text message that would feature content and snippets from the actual Sunday message, distributed over the next 6 days. We also launched a news update style web broadcast with the purpose of shortening the gap of contact between Sundays, to re-emphasize the preached message/theme and look ahead to the following Sunday message to prepare the people’s hearts and keep driving home the preached Word. We had also regularly prepared radio and video content as another means to spread God’s Word. This was the embodiment of what I would come to learn and what we know as content strategy or content marketing.
Media folks hear this a lot that content is king and marketing is his queen. The same applies for the church, albeit in different ways with a different specific goal, but we have a message to get out. As I learn more formally about content strategy today, from good folks like Contently, re-visiting this vision, I venture to say that the church (as a whole) has the foundation for the best organic content strategy. Why? Because our “content” is intrinsic to what we’re already doing on a weekly basis, preaching and teaching the truth and Word of God. There are so many possibilities, forms, packages and presentations of content to create and present from the preached Word and what your church is doing in light of the Kingdom vision. I’m sure that while some have harnessed the reach and power of their “content,” there are many churches that just simply promote their initiatives and events, which is great, and there is a place and purpose for that. I emphasize the preached Word because it is delivered through a chosen messenger of God, for that church (audience), community, region, mission and so on. There is a defined structure there, as opposed to anyone who can launch a web site or produce a video and write content about any number of things. Our content strategy as a local church is defined by what we do and are focusing on. Our content strategy for the church as a whole (the body of Christ) is clear, to spread His Word, save the lost, make disciples. This is the content strategy for your church.
Blogs, video, notes, presentations, audio snippets, podcasts, social media posts, articles, infographics, books, eBooks, and desktop wallpapers are just some of the great types of content that your media team can pull together just from the weekly messages alone as they are. There are many preached messages that have teachings and concepts that can be spun off into brand new content as well, focusing on a specific need or group of people. Depending on your team commitment, experience or staff size, you may only be able to implement a couple or a few of these forms of content, but that’s okay – just start somewhere. Consistency will be key and is the circadian rhythm for your marketing efforts. A simple blog transcribing the preached message, done with some good SEO, is a great and relatively easy form of content to distribute that will go a long way. The @EOWDaily is a successful attempt as part of a larger content strategy that we implemented at the Epicenter of Worship Church with the idea of taking message snippets and scripture references from the preached Word and posting them once a day throughout the week. We initially rolled this out as text alerts, using Twitter’s mobile notifications, where members could sign-up at their leisure through SMS. This was a great outreach for all of our “seasoned saints” 🙂 that were not on social media as well. We advanced this strategy with posting social media content that centered around a given theme related to our Pastor’s messages for that week or entire month, such as faith, relationships, identity, and so on as he gave us direction for our content strategy and what he wanted to be on the hearts of our congregation and the world watching. Social media is a window to the world, always bear that in mind. One of the end goals of this strategy was to get the Word into the people’s hearts by keeping it fresh on their mind throughout the week and carrying a dialog relative to what’s happening in the world. Just as Christ has called us to go into the world, so our content strategy as an organization (church) should dynamically adjust and actively respond to local community and current world events.
Having a discussion with your Pastor about creating a content strategy from the weekly messages is a great start, and has the potential to reach many more than would ever come through your church doors. That is the mission for each of us after all, isn’t it? Not to mention the benefit of enhanced understanding for those the learn in different ways, such as hearing or visual learners and those who can’t make it to church on the regular. A great plus to this kind of content strategy approach for the ministry is that it doesn’t require the Pastor to add additional work to their already full schedule – they can continue to focus on preaching and teaching. Once the message is delivered, then the media team can use the recordings and the Pastor’s notes, along with some of their own, to transcribe the message and creatively package valuable content in a variety of forms. It’s important that you embody your ministry’s vision and your Pastor’s heart so that the integrity of the messages and media sent out are preserved and that you are communicating unity through consistency in your ministry’s brand. This content strategy isn’t re-inventing the wheel, but taking what we already do as churches and plugging into the mainstream of the web and social media. It’s a great way that also allows all of the members of your church to actively participate in a strategy that promotes God’s Word and your church’s presence in your local community. If you want this content to go viral, engaging your members with it will be key.
As believers and ministry leaders – we are media. We are the communications medium that God uses to distribute His Word and saving truth to a lost world. God’s content strategy for the church is simple, take the Word and get it out.