Top Ten Easter Videos

After sharing my top ten Christmas videos last year and the year before, I thought it was about time I put together a list of the top Easter videos. After watching many many videos, I’ve hopefully found ten films that are not only great for sharing on social media but could be played in church too.

1. Good Friday Live
This video from Christians in Sport, is a clever telling of the Easter story through BCC news style footage, making it able to relate to how we consume news nowadays

2. The Gospel
An incredibly powerful, visually stunning film, showing the reason behind Jesus’ crucifixion, dying for our sins. This video might also be useful at Pentecost.

3. Easter Sunday Opener, Luke 24:1-6
A short simple video perfect for starting your Easter Sunday service.

4. This is Easter
Using text and computer generated graphics, this is another short and simple video which breaks the story down to the important message behind it.

5. Good Friday (Easter Tilt Shift)
Tilt Shift is a video effect which makes everything look like a moving model village. In this video, Church groups from Dursley in Gloucestershire carry a large cross to the top of Cam Peak, a steep hill on the outskirts of the town, to commemorate Good Friday, all to the tune of Jerusalem.

6. Easter
This video uses lightbulbs to explain the story of the cross, and does it effectively. The high quality video, mixed with a great spoken word piece over the top is very creative and very watchable.

7. Egg: An Easter Meditation
A nice piece of simple poetry, telling the Easter story, combining it with the symbolism of the eggs we all eat on Easter Sunday.

8. Cannonball
Written by Glen Scrivener with his expected cleverness with words, and performed by rapper Guvna B. This animation stands out from the crowd and makes you want to watch it again and again.

9. Easter Address – The Gospel
Short but powerful. This film was created to begin an Easter service which means it’s the a great opener to a bigger conversation.

10. Light of Life
Another powerful film, mixing old footage with a simple spoken word piece which combined creates a unique telling of the Easter story.

Why not make your own Easter video? Have a read of my easy video ideas to be inspired.

Let me know what you think of the videos in the comments below.
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Creating your website structure

Having an easy to understand website structure is incredibly important. For people visiting your site for the first time, you want them to be able to find everything quickly. If it’s too confusing or content isn’t in logical places, they’ll probably just give up and leave. It’s like going to the supermarket for some oranges and not being able to find them because they’ve been put with the shampoo and conditioner.

There’s no one answer as to how you should structure your website content. It will depend on many things, such as where you are in the country, whether you have a high student or family population, what activities or programmes you run, how your church building is used during the week etc. Below are a few tips on how to get your site ordered logically and make everything easier to find. Remember, just because you know where the content sits, doesn’t mean it’s in a sensible or helpful place.

Plan it on post-its
If you’re starting from scratch or re-hauling the current structure, it’ll be so much easier to visualise how it will look and make changes by writing the name of each page on a post-it.  You can easily arrange them in any order you want and make changes quickly without having to start all over from the beginning.

If you’re planning on restructuring your current website, why not start by printing out all the pages and lay them out on the floor to match your web structure. Again, seeing the amount of pages and how they are ordered visually will help work things out.

Keep it simple
The less links and options on your site the better as it’ll keep people’s focus on the important things. The best church websites I’ve seen are incredibly simple and well thought out. You don’t want to confuse or distract people with useless information or more information than they actually need.. You might think you need to include every single piece of information about your church online but you need to leave a little something for people to discover when they visit you!

Ensure you only have one main menu (either across the top or down the left hand side) with further options underneath the main menu headings. It’s possible to fit all the content into ten headings or less (See my example below as proof) Keeping page numbers to a minimum will also mean people are never too many clicks away from the page they need.

Be Ruthless
Are you absolutely sure you need five pages on the history and architecture of the building? Think about how many people might be coming to your site for this information, and if it’s only a small amount, think about creating PDF information sheets which those people with particular interests can download. You can also combine pages that deal with similar topics whenever possible.

Work out your Priorities
What are the most important things people coming to your website for the first time need to know? Put yourself into the shoes of a new person to help figure out what information they will want first. Information for your congregation should be much further down the list of priorities (or kept off the site completely by sending out a regular email with the information included.)

Important topics to cover for new people:

  • Who are you and why should I come to your church?
  • What time are your services?
  • How can I be baptised/married in your church
  • How can I contact you?
  • What events or social activities are you running?


Give them easy to understand names
Whilst occasional offices might mean something to you, it’s not going to mean anything to a potential newcomer. Make sure each page has a simple, easy to understand name. At the same time, don’t make the page titles too vague!

Suggested Structure
Below is just one way you could structure your content. Use it as is, or just as inspiration:

1. Our Services

  • Timings and what people can expect from them (Style of worship)
  • Service FAQs (parking, disabled access, toilets etc)
  • Children and Youth (what activities are on offer for those under 18)
  • Sermons (Embedded audio or video of sermons)

2. About Us

  • Team/Who’s Who (Clergy, Churchwardens, administrators etc)
  • Vision (goals, beliefs etc)
  • Community and church links (scouts and guides, local school and community links)
  • Outreach and Mission (Charities you support and mission activities you are involved in)
  • Church and Hall (basic church history and hall booking information)
  • Magazine (parish magazine information)

3. Life Events

  • Baptism
  • Confirmation
  • Weddings
  • Funerals

4. News

5. Events

6. Church Life

  •     Regular activities and social groups such as Mother’s Union and coffee mornings

7. Contact Us

  •     Includes phone, email and map

Got any questions? Let me know in the comments below.
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Videos to Inspire

In the past I’ve posted some great Christmas videos for churches to use and share on social media, and I’ll be sharing some for Easter very soon. But I also want to inspire you to start making your own videos. Nowadays, videoing and editing equipment doesn’t cost the earth and can be easy to learn, so it’s not out of the reach of churches at all. Videos are a fantastic way of telling stories and will engage people in ways that words can’t, so the more videos churches create the better!

The ones I’ve chosen below aren’t incredibly complicated or expensive, but they do tell stories in unique ways. Look at the many stories your church is telling (either in the bible or as a church family) and I hope some of these videos inspire you to start creating.

The Scared is Scared
The idea is simple – get a young child to create a story and turn that into a video. It’s clever, funny, cute and simply made. How about you get some of the younger church members to tell a bible story and the adults have to recreate it?

Gulp
The world’s largest stop motion animation turned a beach into a canvas. How can you make use of your church building to create a smart stop motion story?

George’s Boots
The story here is told in voiceover which means you can be creative over the visuals. In this video, the visuals aren’t flashy and don’t distract from the story, instead they help tell the story. What visuals would you put with someone telling their testimony?

Go All Day
What’s great about this is how the story unfolds in one continuous shot. The logistics of this style of filmmaking can be hard to co-ordinate as everything has to be choreographed, but it will stand out from the crowd. How could you tell a story in one take but still keep it captivating?

There and Back – Columbia
What makes this video clever is the unusual perspective throughout the film. You get to see what they see and experience, making you  feel like you could almost be there yourself. How could you experiment with unusual angles and perspectives?

Speed of Light
By using what you already have, but in a different way, you can can create something that’ll make people not only stop and watch, but want to share it too. 

I picked these videos from Vimeo as there is an absolute abundance of stunning films being uploaded onto the website, from beginners to experienced directors. Do explore the many different styles of animation and filmmaking the site has to offer and be inspired further.

Want to have a go yourself? Have a read of my easy video ideas to get started.

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Guest Post: The New Age of Mission

I rode the bus the other day for the first time in years. I noticed that most people don’t stare out of the windows anymore, they stare at their smartphones. I walked into a meeting and fifty percent of people were moving their fingers across a handheld screen. I went out for a meal ­ guess what? When millions and millions of us go home after work we reach for the tablet at some point in the evening. As a church we spend so much time thinking about how we can reach people with the message of Jesus. We think we always have to either go to people or invite them to us. This may still be true, but it is not as true as it used to be because people’s attention today has moved into the digital world.

Don’t sell. Tell
Did you see Casey Neistat snowboarding through the streets of New York being pulled by a Jeep during the January blizzard? It went crazy on the internet and major TV networks all around the world picked it up.  After one year of vlogging Casey is one of the most important people on YouTube. He is not selling anything, he is not pushing a message, and he is not asking for anything, he is simply telling his story. His vlog is about his life. Most of it is of his family, or him riding a Boosted Board, travelling, meeting people, and just thinking outloud. But Casey also runs a new App company called BEME. Because you watch his story you know his very cool office, you know the fun people in his company, and you have watched his cute baby daughter Francine become a toddler. Watching the vlog makes you feel a big part of his life and you want to use BEME because you have joined his vision of how life is meant to be. There is no hard sell with Casey, in fact there is no “sell” at all, he is only ever being himself.

Many churches today are still in “sell” mode. Many have websites, some of them are even nice to look at. The up to date ones inform you of service times, who to contact, and even about how to become a Christian. Loads of Bishops are on Twitter retweeting newspaper articles and sharing facts and their opinions. They are all pushing a message. This is fine up to a point but this is also how you sell cars and cinema tickets. Today’s successful internet users like Casey however, are going old school. Like the proverbial local butcher and grocer, sales are based on trust and relationships more than direct messages and branding. In fact storytellers like Casey are much closer to a New Testament model of mission than most churches are. The Gospels don’t push information and invitations at us. They are a story full of people, places, emotions, and stuff happening. We enter into the story, engage with it emotionally and spiritually, grow into its truth, and we begin to form our own identity around it. It is the raw authenticity of it that draws us.

Make fellow travellers
Willie Morris is a Christian entrepreneur and founder of the company FaithBox in the US. He is telling his story on SnapChat and YouTube. You enter into his day, you know when he is tired or is off to house group. When he takes advice from a seasoned Christian businessman about running a company with Christian integrity, you share in the moment and see how much the advice means to him. Willie is not selling FaithBox, he is inviting you to join him on his personal journey. His use of social media is consistent with the New Testament model of story and his company is growing because of it. Willie has a lot to teach us about mission in the digital age.

Tallie pointed out recently that a significant amount of people in the local community who are not part of your church will watch what your church is doing on Facebook. That tells us a lot. The internet is a safe place to observe what we are doing. Ten years ago a church website was like a shop window. It was a public utility that told people what the church had to offer. Today the internet is so much more, it is the story about who we are and what we are about. Using platforms like YouTube and Instagram to tell our stories builds trust and belonging with the people watching, way before they may actually meet us in the physical world.

Being where the people are
Learning to use all the social media platforms as well as all the hard skills of video production, is ridiculously cheaper and easier than ever. Nevertheless, it remains daunting. It takes time and practice. Willie recently suggested to me that we try them all and then concentrate on the ones that work best to tell our story. This is sensible advice.

The digital world is where people’s attention is, and if Missional Theology has taught us anything in the last thirty years, it is that we need to tell our stories in the most relevant places for the people we are trying to reach. The world around us is changing at a frightening pace and we need to upgrade our skills to keep up. Whether we are local clergy, or Bishops in the House of Lords, today we have powerful tools to tell our stories in meaningful and biblical ways.

The New Age of Mission moves us beyond inviting people on courses, or to hear preachers, or explore innovative spirituality. All these things remain important, but they don’t stand alone, they must be written into our stories like chapters of a book. The decline in church attendance is frightening but there is hope because the tools we have available to us for mission have increased exponentially. We just need to learn how to use them and then relax into being who we really are.

– Dan Stork Banks
Dan is a curate in Shropshire and a vlogger. You can also find him storytelling on SnapChat: danstorkbanks 

How to Use Hashtags

Once you understand how hashtags work, you can start using them yourself in tweets.

There are two main routes to go down when using hashtags:

1) Turning key words in your tweet into hashtags, picking the words that would most likely be searched. (Try not to use more than three hashtags in a tweet)

For example:

“Everyone is invited to Church this Sunday morning where we’ll be talking about Jesus”

Think about which particular words in the sentence might be the ones people will search. Words like is, to and this are definitely out. Possibly everyone, morning or talking but these are fairly vague words and wouldn’t bring up any useful results. Church and Jesus on the other hand are words people might actually be looking for:

“Everyone is invited to #Church this Sunday morning where we’ll be talking about #Jesus”

2) Create a new hashtag which is then used to group specific tweets together. This may be for an event, a campaign or just a regular feature on Twitter such as a podcast or weekly video.

For example:

“Everyone is invited to Church this Sunday morning where we’ll be starting a series of talks about Luke #Luketalks16”

This type of hashtag is generally put before or after a sentence (unless of course you’re talking about the hashtag!)

Creating a Hashtag
When choosing a hashtag, always do a quick search for it before you start using it. It’s okay to use one that has been used before but check to see when the last time someone used your chosen hashtag.  If it’s clear it’s still being used regularly you’ll need to pick something else. If it hasn’t been used in a while you’re good to go.

As a hashtag has no spaces in between words, always make sure the combined words don’t spell out anything else (especially something rude).  This has caused social media campaigns to backfire in the past, so don’t let it happen to you!

Finally, make it as easy as possible to remember and spell. You don’t want people to be misspelling it as you then missing all those tweets because you’re only searching for the correct spelling. You’ll also need to keep it as short as possible, as the length of the hashtag will cut into the 140 characters you have to tweet. The longer your hashtag is, the less characters people will have to tweet with.

Top Tip:  When creating a hashtag for for an event or project at your church, make sure everyone knows what it is by including it in tweets and other social media channels, on your website and even on service sheets.

Tracking Hashtags
Use Tweetdeck or a similar resource to keep track of the people using the hashtag in tweets. There’s no point having one if you’re not able to easily see who else is using it. Keep track of any regular hashtags you use and try not to create too many at a time as it will confuse people and they won’t know what’s what.

Engaging with other hashtags
It’s always a great idea to try and get involved with the current trending hashtags, as it will help you get noticed, especially if your contribution to the trending hashtag is popular (be funny!).  Always make sure you understand where the hashtag has originated from or why people are using the hashtag in the first place. When the hashtag #WhyIStayed started to trend, one pizza company started using it, only for it to backfire as the hashtag was about domestic violence.

Got any questions? Let me know in the comments below.
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10 Things your Church should do this year on Social Media

It’s the start of a new year and with that comes the opportunity to try some new things on social media. Social media and social networking is an ever changing landscape. Websites and apps come and go, ideas and strategies change and evolve. It’s more than just setting up an account and keeping things updated regularly. But don’t let that scare you. It doesn’t mean you have to spend your life keeping up to date with it all – that’s what you have me for (!) Below are some ideas (or challenges if you wish) to keep your social media presence and your knowledge expanding. If you manage all of the ten on the list that’s fantastic, but one or two completed will also have you heading in the right direction.  Let me know if you tick any off the list. 

Number One: Step Outside Your Comfort zone
Take a risk, try something new. Why not try live-tweeting a service, create a new hashtag campaign or use Twitter’s new poll feature for the first time. You could set up an Instagram account for your church or create a community of local church Tweeters. It doesn’t need to be a big step. It’s about discovering what else is out there and not letting fear of getting it wrong stop you from trying in the first place. Do one thing this year that you’ve never done before.

Number Two: Reach out to others
Don’t just wait for people to come talk to you on social media – start conversations yourself. You can do this by joining in on trending hashtags or just strike up conversations with your followers. Follow other churches on social media and form connections between them. By working together you’ll have a louder voice – there’s power in unity! Share events you’re holding with them, help promote their events and pray for each other.

Number Three: Learn something New
There are two things I think every church should learn how to use: iMovie and Canva. Youtube is the second biggest search engine after Google and Facebook’s move into video sharing has been a massive success for them which will only grow over the next 12 months. iMovie, the iPad app is incredibly easy to use with plenty of tools to make simple videos which you can upload straight onto Facebook or Youtube.

Alongside video, visual storytelling using graphics are still a major part of social media marketing. Anything with colour is going to make people stop for a second to see what you’ve posted. The better your design is, the more likely people are stop and read your post. Canva is the perfect tool to create good looking graphics of all shapes and sizes and post them straight to your social media channels.

Number Four: Broadcast something via Periscope
The live broadcasting app from Twitter is incredibly easy to use. All you need is some phone signal or wifi and a smart phone. Why not get involved in the CofE’s ChurchLive project or do some live broadcasting of your own. It could be a service, a fund-raising event or just a tour of your church. Live broadcasting will be big in 2016 so make sure you’re part of it.

Number Five: Teach your congregation how to use it
And by “use it” I mean social media. As your church uses social media more and more, it’s so easy to leave behind those people in the congregation who don’t even know how to turn a computer on, let alone send a tweet. As mentioned in my “quick digital wins” blog, all you need to do is set up some time for the younger ones to show the older ones how to do it. As social media becomes a bigger and bigger part of everyday life, it’s time worth spent making sure a large part of your congregation aren’t alienated by it. And you can give them the tools to stay safe online too.

Number Six: Create a strategy
If you haven’t done this already of course. Starting the year off with a plan of where you’re going and where you want to be is a no brainer. There’s nothing to say you can’t change course or have a few small diversions but if everyone in the church knows what journey you’re on, the easier you’ll find to stick to it. Have a clear idea of what your voice is and how you plan to use it. Pick out key dates in your calendar and how you can make the most of social media on those days. The more you plan ahead the better.

Number Seven: Have More Fun
It’s okay to be silly sometimes. Have a caption competition, use Twitter polls to have quizzes or have a guessing game using photos from around the parish. Get involved in funny hashtags on Twitter, share video of your youth leaders making a fool of themselves to make the kids laugh. Show the church has a fun side (one of many sides – your church is multidimensional!) When people see you having a good time, they’ll want to join in.

Number Eight: Tell Stories
You have a whole Bible’s worth of stories at your fingertips so why not come up with some creative ways of sharing them online? Don’t just share your church online, be your church online. The best way to tell these stories is using video (though anything visually eye-grabbing will work!) like this great Christmas video from All Saints, Peckham or through clever poetry, like that from Miriam Swaffield. Why not share testimonies from the congregation? Share the emotion of baptisms or use stopmotion to create animated tales from the bible. You can find more inspiration in my video ideas blog. There are so many stories to tell, so go and tell them!

Number Nine: Evaluate
Look back at your last year on social media and evaluate how well it went. Look at the analytics that are available to you and see what was popular and what wasn’t popular. Investigate what type of posts do best and what day of the week has the most engagement. Learning what has does well on your account is important in planning your future. Don’t be afraid to ditch a social media platform if it isn’t working for your church. Remember, you’re looking for engagement and communication, not just ‘likes’. If you’re not getting that, it might be time to throw out the current plan and try something new.

Number Ten: Get the Basics Right
Make sure all your bio is filled in properly including things like your web address. Not only does a half filled in bio make your account hard to find, it’s incredibly frustrating to visit your page and not be able to find your website or any information about your church. Have an eye catching header picture, something that’ll make people stop and want to investigate further. It’s these areas which are some people’s first impression of your church so you need to get it right first time. Your bio and your visual identity on your social media accounts are your shop window.

Got any questions? Let me know in the comments below.
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Choosing the right social network for your church

The first step to being on social media is to learn what all the social networks are.  The second step is choosing which network or networks are right for your church.

I have four main pieces of advice:

  1. Don’t be on all social networks just because they exist or because you think you should be on all of them. If only one network is right for you then only be on one.
  2. Start slowly. The more social networks you are on, the more time and work it involves. If your church is completely new to social media, start off on one social network and build on that once you know what you’re doing.
  3. If you’re on more than one social network, make sure the content on each is different and site specific, as otherwise people will only need to follow one or the other. Give people a reason to follow them all.
  4. If you think you might want to use other social media networks in the future, why not plan ahead and secure any usernames you might want to use in the future. A site like www.namechk.com will be able to help you find an available username across all the networks

So how do you choose?
The main two social media networks that churches choose to be a part of are Twitter and Facebook. Below are some pros and cons to both to help you decide where to start.

Twitter
Twitter has a faster pace than Facebook and therefore needs more regular updates. There’s no right answer for how often you should post but if you post too little, people have no reason to follow you, post too often and people will unfollow you for spamming. I suggest around 5-10 times a week as a minimum (though this can include pre-prepared scheduled tweets) though to increase the success around 3-5 times a day would be best. In the end it all depends on your church’s social media strategy – what’s right for you may not work for another church.

Because of the 140 character limit, you have to be clever about how you share information and it’s much better suited to live, ‘of the moment’ messages. This makes it especially good for sharing your church services and events live as they happen, as well as quick snappy videos, photos (especially those taken there and then). It’s also important to create and engage in conversation.  Try not to use Twitter as a one way system just to announce things.

Facebook
Facebook gives you space to say more and has a slightly slower pace to it. Facebook is not really the place for live updates from an event. Instead, it’s a great place to share stories, fantastic photos, event invitations and videos.

Because of its commenting structure, it’s also a great platform to create engagement through asking questions. You could ask people what their favourite hymn is, or post a “fill in the blank” question or even a game where they have to guess where in the parish a photo was taken.

As mentioned previously, the age demographic on Facebook (especially for a Church page) will be in the 40-60 range therefore it’s probably not the right social network if you are using it to engage with young people. One thing you may be surprised by, though, is the number of non church members who follow your church page, especially if your church or church buildings are involved in community events.   This will make it a perfect opportunity to encourage those locals to visit you in person.

Other social networks
If you have the time and resources for more than one social networking site, here are a few other things to consider:

Instagram may be a perfect option, especially if you have a full time youth leader or a large student community. Use Instagram to share images of the young people having fun, making use of all the filter options.  You can also share behind the scenes photos and market upcoming events or services.

Blogging may be something you consider as an addition to your website, either as a regular post from the vicar or as a series of blogs from different church members. If you choose to have a blog, ensure you plan the blog topics as much as possible and maybe choose a particular day of the week so people know when to look forward to it.

Pinterest is not a typical choice for churches. Because of its very specific ‘pin board style’ it may be more useful as a place to find ideas to replicate, especially with its large collection of gorgeous photos, unusual ideas and inspiring prayers and worship resources on the site.

Got any questions? Let me know in the comments below.
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Quick Digital Wins

While some of the things you need to do to bring your church into the 21st century might take time and planning there are some things which are a little bit easier to tick off the to-do list and will help step up your game. Not only will the short list below help improve your church’s digital presence but it could also help disprove some people’s misconceptions about what church is like and what they expect a church to do and offer:

Offer Free Wi-Fi in the Church
While this is not always easy, depending on how rural your church is, setting up free internet in the church is a great idea. Not only will it benefit the community but will mean your church can do so much more using it. Read this story from a church in Norwich Diocese to see how successful it was for them. Once it’s set up, don’t forget to put signs up to let people know how to access it (and also ensure you’ve amended the filtering settings so any children using it can’t access anything they shouldn’t).

Encourage people to tweet/keep their phones on during the service
It’s a really simple thing. Instead of asking people to turn their phones off before the service, ask them to not only keep their phones on but encourage them to tweet throughout the service. By doing this, your service will reach a few more people and could be the first steps for some people in wanting to know more.

Hold social media classes
The problem with social media is that there’s always a divide between those who know how to use and it and those who don’t. If you’re wanting your church to embrace social media, you might end up leaving those people behind. To counteract that, why not set up a few informal classes and get those who know how to use it to sit down with those who don’t, to teach them a thing or two. (Why not make it into a cafe style event) Hopefully they’ll gain a better understanding of the church’s social media strategy and you might even get a few more Twitter followers in the process.

Make it clear you’re on social media
This might seem obvious but don’t forget to tell people and remind people that your church is on social media. Places such as your website, email signatures and your church notice board are great places to display any logos for social networks your church is on. You can also include details in any e-newsletters or magazines you produce, the service sheet and front of church projection. Don’t forget to tell people in conversations and in any notices you do during the service (having free wi-fi in the church means you can encourage people to follow your social media accounts there and then!)

Offer Skype
Got a baptism or wedding couple with a family member unable to make the service? Why not offer for them to watch the event via Skype? All you need is a laptop which has a webcam set up at the front (and of course that internet again!). It’s a great extra service to offer which is often greatly appreciated.

Keep your ACNY page up to date
When was the last time you updated your www.achurchnearyou.com page? Every Church of England church has one and it can be one of the first places people encounter your church. If the information is incorrect or out of date you’re doing yourself a disservice. Even if you check it every two or three months, it will give the people who want to learn more about your church a better chance to see the real you. Not only should you keep the information up to date but makes sure you’re including as much information as possible to be as helpful as possible.

Got any questions? Let me know in the comments below.
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Doing Christmas on Social Media

Unsurprisingly, Christmas is one of the things churches do best, and there’s also a really great opportunity to do a brilliant job of Christmas on social media.  Social media is a fantastic place to get people thinking about the real meaning of Christmas as there are so many ways to communicate it. I’ve put pen to paper (or more accurately fingers to keyboard) and pulled together a few ideas to inspire you in your Christmas social media strategy.

Telling the Story
Throughout the Christmas season, try and find interesting ways to tell the story.  It could be through photos, graphics, videos or even gifs. Try and be as creative as possible, the more unusual and unique the better. For example: why not turn the church into a giant Advent calendar, revealing the next bit of the story each day? It would be perfect for the community to get involved in but also a great thing to share each day on social media.

One of the easiest things to do is to share relevant Bible verses (don’t forget that they’ll need to fit into 140 characters on Twitter). This is a great reminder for people that Christmas is about more than presents and food. Go one step further and turn the Bible verses into graphics. Not only will you be able to fit longer verses onto a graphic but they should be more engaging. As people scroll, they’ll stop to take a look at images. I’ve shared some resources on other posts which will make it incredibly easy to make quote graphics.

Promoting the Services
This might seem obvious, but don’t forget to promote your service times. Create a clean, simple and easy to understand Christmas timetable graphic and share it regularly. Don’t forget to post it at different times of day to reach different groups of people. It’s also worth tweeting individual service times and reminding people how welcome they are to come. It’s not always easy to ask someone face to face if they’d like to come to church, but retweeting or sharing a post about the Christmas service times isn’t nearly as daunting and is a great way to to invite friends to church for the first time.

Don’t forget to make the Christmas service times prominent on your website; if people have to search for them, they’ll probably just give up.

Getting Ready
There’s so much you can share on Twitter and Facebook in the run up to Christmas. Churches can look really magical at Christmas time with candles and decorations, so use that to make people want to visit your church: share photos of the christmas decorations going up, the stages of the nativity crib scene being put into place or a video of music being practised. It builds up the anticipation and excitement for the main event. Think about the things your church does to get ready for Christmas that people might not know you do, or look for the humorous side in the preparations. Take a photo of the tower of mince pie boxes you need for a service or how you get such a large tree into the church.

During/On the Day
Not tweeting during your Christmas Day service (or during other Christmas services) might be a missed opportunity. Here are just a few ideas for you to consider:

  • Why not share photos of the church filling up and updates of how you’re celebrating in church – you could live tweet the whole thing!
  • Take a short video clip of the entire church saying Happy Christmas. Short means you can share the video on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Why not try vine also? An app from Twitter which lets you share 6 second videos
  • Share videos from individuals about what they think Christmas is, you could also do it with still photos and have them hold up their message (perfect for Twitter and Instagram!)
  • Take multiple photos throughout the service and create stop-motion style video of the service
  • Live-stream it: use an app like Periscope to live video stream the service around the world. You’ll need to plan ahead and know what’s happening where but it’s worth the effort.

Videos
A video is a perfect way to share the Christmas story. Not only can you tell the story in unique and creative ways, it will also be more engaging on social media than text or image posts (plus perfect to show in Church too!). Have a look at my list of best Christmas videos, including All Saints, Peckham who used the overground train running past their church to tell the Christmas Story. Read my blog on cheap and easy video ideas which prove you don’t need a big budget or a budding director in your church to make a video. If you do create a video and also plan to post it on Facebook, don’t forget to upload the video straight to Facebook rather than using a Youtube link as you will get a lot more people watching the video.

Got ideas of your own? Why not share them in the comments below.

10 of the best Christmas videos 2015

This time last year I shared 10 of the best Christmas videos. After an extensive search,  I’ve found 10 more for you! They’re all new or less well known which will hopefully be entertaining, inspiring and useful in your Christmas social media strategy. 

1. Nativity on the Overground
This video won two awards at the recent Jerusalem awards, which was well deserved. The idea behind the video is really simple but very clever and shows off the church’s locale at the same time.

2. The Christmas Story
This is an animated telling of the Christmas story with children telling the story. It’s simple, short and sweet!

3. Anomaly
This might not work particularly well on social media, as at 40 minutes long it’s more of a short film. However, It’s absolutely beautifully shot and directed, so it’s well worth a watch. Why not show it at an evening service or at a home/youth group and then have a discussion about the film afterwards?

4. The Wise Men
Another simple but well made animation telling the story of the wise men.

5. With Love
It’s not until the end of this video that you understand the story it’s telling, but it’s clever and well put together as well as telling a great message.

6. Gold
Told from the perspective of the Wise Men and shot in the Mojave desert features stunning scenery, dramatic music and a reminder of what Christmas is really about.

7. Christmas Lights
A great use of stop motion which tells the Christmas story with a dash humour in the shape of lego figures 

8. Prince of Peace
Simple, pretty, powerful.

9. Mary – Spoken Word
The very talented Miriam Swaffield delivers a spoken word piece from Mary’s perspective that’ll get you thinking. If you liked it, have a watch of videos she’s done from the shepherds and wise men too.

10. Four Kinds of Christmas
A reliably high quality and clever spoken word video from Glen Scrivener to make people think about what kind of Christmas they are. 

 

Enjoyed these? Why not make your own Christmas video. Have a look at my simple video ideas and be inspired by this selection of videos. Your video could be on this list next Christmas!