Engaging Your Community
Members of Bethel CRC in Acton, Ont., strive to be a part of their community. But they realize their communications haven't always reflected that mission.
Bethel CRC is located in the heart of Acton outside the greater Toronto area. “We’re in a good location with a good amount of traffic, but our congregation wants to be not just in the community but an integral part of it,” said Ray Vander Kooij, senior pastor at Bethel.
Members of Bethel’s administrative team subscribe to the Church Juice blog and they wanted to learn more about communicating effectively.
Church Juice is produced by ReFrame Media, the English-language outreach of Back to God Ministries International (BTGMI). The blog offers congregations free resources and training to help with communications both within and outside their church community.
With this in mind, Bethel invited Church Juice producer Bryan Haley to meet with staff to identify what good social media practices would be needed to engage with their community.
“Bryan made the staff more aware of resources available through ReFrame Media,” said Rita Ladjansky, administrative assistant at Bethel.
Bethel has a Facebook page and wants to use social media more effectively to engage their members and local community. So, rather than share only information about the church, they decided to add postings about goings-on in the local community and to suggest ways for the congregation to get involved. From city festivals to food bank volunteer opportunities, the page now serves as a way to bring the church beyond its walls.
“Posting ideas about how church members can be good neighbors helps to encourage outreach in ways people are comfortable with,” Haley explained.
Since he began working with Church Juice in July 2017, Haley has met face to face with staff members from more than a dozen churches across the U.S. and Canada. “Our goal is to help congregations identify how to better communicate with their members and neighbors,” he said.
Haley added, “We are helping to equip congregations to do outreach more effectively and make disciples using our media resources, especially using websites and social media.”
Another church in the U.S. (which preferred not to be identified) struggled to be more outreach oriented. The leadership team asked, “How do we change the culture of the congregation to spur members to be more missional?”
“Don’t try to force a mission mindset on the congregation,” Haley advised, “but highlight natural opportunities and communicate how members are already involved in their communities.”
For example, several members of that church do summer tutoring.
“Take a grassroots approach,” he added. “Find out what the congregation is passionate about, then share and celebrate those stories with the congregation. Let people get involved in community outreach where they feel called.”
If your church or classis is interested in learning more about communicating with your community more effectively, contact Bryan Haley at [email protected].