It's been 12 days since my MinistryCOM general session (inspired by this post). You can almost re-live it...thanks to notetakers who have blogs. I've had requests for links to the medias I used. Here they are, with a little "context" thrown in there...free of charge. Audio files of all the sessions will be available on WiredChurches.com within the next few weeks.
A year ago, I linked to an article that's still a great, relevant read today. In essence, it defines web sites being about communication served by IT. It's still a great read. Here's how it plays out in our environment.
Less clutter. Less noise. More clarity. That sums up our communication strategy. In this era of information overload – and life at light-speed – we strive to provide an escape hatch. As an extension of our communication strategy, we've designed our site simply to answer two questions:
1. Is this a fit for me?
2. If so, what is my next step?
What you won’t find on the site is the snack menu for the toddler room. Because people just need to know when that room is staffed and ready for their child. And, they don’t need a page on the philosophy of our men's ministry. But, a story of life-change from other men who attend GCC.
What you will find:
• This Week – what’s happening in our 6 main venues (weekend, mid-week, children, middle school, high school and college)
• Events – what’s coming up for everyone (you can sort by men, women, students, families or adults only)
• Volunteer – the places you can roll up your sleeves and get involved.
• Groups – gatherings that create environments to meet others at GCC.
And, once you’re online…we place a high importance on flow; allowing people to get to what they want when they want it with minimal road blocks. That’s why we try to keep things no more than two clicks away and minimize scrolling. People don’t need more information, they need clear paths to the facts so they can make a decision. And, they need a channel to connections with resources or each other without waiting for a middle man. We don’t like to wait, neither do you and neither do our site surfers.
What about when the facts just aren’t enough and you need something more? Well, we’ve thought of that, too. We recognize no amount of cleverly crafted words or still photographs can do an experience justice, but media is as close as you can get without actually being there. The biggest investment we’ve made and continue to make in our web site is our media player. Not only is it a multi-dimensional way to get a slice of an experience, it has become the most effective tool people in our church use to invite their friends and help share stories of life change. We get that.
Speaking of flow… There is no one size fits all approach to a person’s journey…online or off…and, we get that, too. We provide multiple entry points to the same information and let people choose which way they want to get there. Think of how people experience and navigate in a department store...it’s much like that on the Web. We structure our online information using the same approach. I don’t drive down Grape Road looking for signs that say “Size 8 Adidas Workout Pants”. I see the sign for Kohl’s, go in and look for the women’s department, look for the athletic wear, see the Adidas sign and then I go to the rack and look for my size. Then, I might try it on, depending on my previous experiences. The next time I come to that store, I might be looking for size 1 boys tennis shoes and my search path will look different, but the department chunks and isles are the same. I know the direction to head. And, if I stop to ask someone in the housewares’s section about kids’ shoes, they know where to point me even if they don’t know the inventory of that department. That’s how GCC’s web site works.
Internally, individual ministries aren’t trying to figure out how to promote their ministries and they aren’t competing with each other in a carnival communication style trying to out-yell or out-explain. We don’t have to know all the answers and everything that’s going on at the church outside our own ministry, but we all know where to go and look. We are unified by a by bigger steps that transcends of specific or departments. You can find everything you need to find in one of four places (home page, events, volunteer or group). We have more time to focus on creating experiences and relationships in our teams and events, not by creating more content.
Externally, guests experience a place where everyone speaks with the same voice and there is a consistent environment across departments and mediums. They are not bombarded or burdened with the chore of searching through a jungle of competing, screaming messages. And, they’re not surprised by conflicting personalities between pages. There are no dead-ends or ramblings to frustrate a surfer…only slices of experiences and clear paths to next steps where the power of drilling down, self-selection and sorting is left to the unique needs of the individual.
Several months ago I saw a magnet in an Orlando souvenir shop. It read: Comfort the disturbed. Disturb the comfortable.
I loved it. I even believe it's part of my personal mission. [This isn't the first time I've talked about it.] A couple of years ago, I prayed a prayer very close to this magnet mantra and I've been uncomfortable ever since. [It was a dangerous prayer.] But, I think being uncomfortable is a very good place to be.
When I am uncomfortable...
Last week at MinistryCOM, I was in an uncomfortable place. Caught between responsibility and fear... between confidence and insecurity...between humility and pride...between anonymity and recognition. Delivering a general session to a few hundred people is outside of my comfort zone. And, so was the overwhelming encouragement I received from people on my team and people I didn't even know.
This morning, I read a post all about discomfort. Ooooh. It's good. Confession time: I usually blow through the guest posts over at Swerve; barely even qualifying as a browse. Today, Scott Rodgers stopped my speed surfing right in its wake. And, he's talked about discomfort before.
I like uncomfortable people. They help me grow. I don't like comfortable people. They have the tendency to be annoying. Go ahead. You can quote me.
Corey shared an WIRED magazine article about the development of Halo 3 with me. As he read it, he saw several parallels with student ministry. But, he said he thought I'd appreciate the article, too. And, he was right.
I was inspired by the strategy and discipline of the game's development team. In particular, I tuned into how they stepped outside their own bubble to see watch people respond to their game ... uncensored ... unbiased ... real time.
What do church leaders have to learn from game developers?
Who said computer games are a waste of time? The developers of Halo 3 have just modeled the way to change lives. We can learn something from them.
He turned 7 today, had his left ear sliced open, had a graft for a new ear drum "harvested" and had his ear glued back on. Really. He could pull it right off if he wanted to right now. And, all of this was possible for him because of a synthetic protein scientists created to help replace the missing factor his blood needs to clot.
Thank you God for the miracles of modern medicine...for the gifted, talented and hard-working healthcare staff and for our family and friends who helped us through this day. Thank you God that we're celebrating Easton's 7th birthday. And...lastly...Thank you God for the free wireless internet at Memorial Hospital to make our stay more comfortable.
Mark's holding down the fort while Easton and I snuggle up here at the hospital tonight with our respective tools of comfort...Lenny, his little stuffed Guinea Pig and my bag of chocolate.
We fall asleep tonight...grateful.
Getting to the point: Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog
I love this woman's insight. She's one year older than me and that must be why she's so smart... I'm not 40 yet. She is. Anyway...Chris turned me on to her awhile back.
Two of her recent posts you should read... (she's pithy, it won't take long)
What to do about that new generation [excerpt] " Think web services, not websites. Make things that plug into other sites. Connect people. Make everything portable. Do not expect anyone to come to you any more. Go to where people are online..."