Wonderful church communicators,
There are many things that make Instagram the popular and fast-growing social media platform that it is, but it also presents a challenge to some who work in church offices because. . . . .
Some of us don't like to create things on our phones.
That statement will either elicit horror and disbelief on part of my audience reading this and total understanding and agreement from others.
Since I am someone who both loves Instagram and doesn't like to create on my phone (well, texting is fun....but longer, serious stuff and moving pictures and all that, I prefer my desktop), I was incredibly excited when I discovered "Instagram for Desktop" and even more excited when I discovered the concept of "Microblogging" and how you can do it with Instagram.
I will be doing more on this topic, but I had to put together this short video to introduce you to it:
Sometimes it seems like we are living in a nightmare with no way out. I'll be in the midst of working on a project and my mind briefly thinks, "I want to eat somewhere or run to the store." Then I remember, I can't do that.
We are living in a pandemic, I remind myself and I wake up mentally and get back to work. But once again the feeling of a waking nightmare flows over me when I think about what so many are experiencing far beyond the momentary frustration of not being able to run to Trader Joes without thinking. Many people have family members and friends who are hospitalized and perhaps dying.
I've been working on things for church communicators to share during this time, what I hope are encouragements, below are links to some I've done:
Recently I've challenged myself to do more.
I've asked myself and prayed, "what is the most important message we need to communicate at this time, when life is fragile and many are afraid?"
The answer, for those of us who know Jesus, is Jesus and the reality that he is with us and for us, now and forever.
To communicate that reality in all its fullness, I know will take more than one series of images or messages (I'm working on them), but I decided to start with the idea that no matter what happens, we have an eternal home with Jesus. In addition to the Instagram images that go along with this, which to me is summed up in the statement "Welcome Home" I've added a "micro-blog" commentary to go with them. Both follow and are free for you to use.
In addition to the images and text, I realized this is a new way of doing Instagram for me (beyond selfies and quick quotes) and to explain that, I also created a video that explains it and how to do it, including an introduction to microblogging. The best part of the video for me, is that in it, I show you how you can create Instagram content on your desktop. I'll have the video at the end of this post as well as in another on its own to show you how to do this.
Instagram Images of Welcome Home
These images are sized for Instagram and are in jpg format, so you can use them in any way you want, online, web, email, etc.
To download a zip file of the images, click the following link: Welcome Home In life or death
Microblog on the topic of "Welcome Home" from Jesus
This content can be copied and pasted into Instagram comments or anywhere else you use the images, such as part of an email newsletter.
Jesus talked about welcoming his friends to his home with God just before He died on the cross for them. It was confusing to them because they knew He was talking about a home after this life, an eternal home with God. How could He promise to take them there?
Jesus responded that He could not only take them there, but he was the only way to get there.
That Jesus is the only way to God has been one of the most offensive and confusing claims about the Christian life to the Jesus’ friends then and to people now. But it makes perfectly good sense when you realize Jesus was not talking about some spiritual insider club anybody who was good enough or rich enough could belong to if they wanted to, but about His home with God.
God created humanity to live with Him. God and people walked together in a perfect garden until humanity decided they did not want to believe God or do what He said. We call that action the original sin and the consequences were far worse than they imagined.
The relationship was broken; the Creator and Owner of the Garden had every right to ask them to leave. He did.
Wandering on their own, homeless from God, humanity did not do well.
We have no idea why this is what it took to heal the breach between God and humanity, but Jesus had to die on the cross and rise from the grave to reconcile us to God.
If we accept that as true, tell God we are sorry for our sins, and want Jesus to be our Forgiver and Leader, we become a friend of Jesus and we are reconciled to God. We get to live in His presence on earth and in His home when we die.
We do not have to be afraid of anything in this life because of that and at the end of it, we will close our eyes and when we open them, we will hear:
“Welcome Home—to your forever home.”
Video about Instagram on the Desktop and Microblogging
I was so excited when I figured out how to do this. I do love my mobile phone, but I'm literally all thumbs (and not accurate thumb-typing ones) on it.
I sit at my computer many hours a day creating content for you and to create content for Instagram in this way is great fun for me.
Here's how I do it:
From our archives and still extremely important:
The headline is the most important part of any communication, either in print or digital format, because if it does not catch the attention of readers, if they don't see how the headline will benefit or be of use to them, they won't read anything else. Because of this, it is vitally important that you take time to write clear and honest headlines.
I read some time ago was a very sad illustration of why clarity and honesty is important in two headlines about the same event. I often skim a number of online news sources and while doing that this morning read this headline:
Bihar govt suspects conspiracy behind mid-day meal tragedy
from DNA, an Indian newspaper
It didn't make much sense to me, I had no context for it, and I had little interest to read the article.
Then I skimmed through another list of headlines and read this:
Contaminated school meal kills 25 Indian children
I was gripped by the tragedy and read the article. I realized that in the church we deal with issues of eternal destiny, life, and death in all of the programs and events we provide--but it's easy to forget that and to become vague and lazy with our words. Below are some tips on what we can learn from this sad tragedy of children dying to help us be more effective as we write headlines for our church communications.
Clarity and honesty made all the difference
In the first example, the key problem is the phrase "mid-day meal tragedy."
What does that mean? "Tragedy" is a vague word today, because it has been over-used. Tragedy, in the context of a meal, can mean anything from a tummy ache to someone choking on food items, to poison, to a food-born bacterial sickness. Combined with the word "conspiracy" another over-used word that has become trivialized from over and mis-use, the reader has little reason to read the article.
The second headline in contrast is extremely clear because it defines the "tragedy."
"Meal kills 25 children" that is a tragedy--and I wanted to know how that happened.
Don't assume people know the background or context of what you write about
One might argue that the second headline assumed people already knew what happened, but that assumption itself is always a mistake in any writing. You can NEVER assume people have read what was previously written or that they will read articles in the order you write them. Because of the way search engines present material in the digital world, readers can jump to any article written, at any time, about any topic, and unless you are clear what you are referring to, they may have no context for what they are reading.
Printed material presents the same challenge. People may not have gotten the bulletin, newsletter, flyer or postcard you created that gave the necessary background to understand your current topic. Or they didn't read all of it to get to the part where you set up what is coming next. Or they put it into the "to be read later" pile and it got buried.
In all instances either print or online, you need a brief intro and bottom links or references to what went before. However, even if you give these, you cannot allow your headline to assume prior reading about the events.
Practical application for when your write church communication headlines
NEVER use vague, rah-rah statements such as:
Save this date!
Most fun you'll have this summer--don't miss out!
Be clear and always clarify what the event is about and who it is for.
On August 2nd the Men's Ministry will take part in our FREE Parking Lot Auto Repair Day
Youth trip to Magic Mountain--admission free if you bring two friends
Be honest about either what happened or why something is important
Don't substitute rah,rah, general invitations for people to come to events in your announcements about activities. Don't leave out or downplay either benefits or consequences of your activities like the following examples:
Marriage enrichment seminar will tackle challenging topics
Small groups are starting up--don't miss out!
Instead, honestly tell people what topics you will cover and what they can expect. Of course your events will have more, but don't think you are being comprehensive by being vague. Pick one comprehensive topic you know is true about the event or ministry and the article itself can elaborate, as these examples illustrate:
Why pornography can destroy a marriage and how to conquer it
Does the Bible really apply to everyday life? Join a small group and talk about it.
How to know if your headlines are successful
Writing effective headlines is extremely difficult, but it's easy to know if they worked or not.
Online, how many people read your article, blog or announcement? (all website software can give you a count)
In print, how many people show up to the event? (you do have to repeat advertisements, just one mention won't get many people to anything)
If the answers to either of these questions are less than what you want--keep working on your headlines--you've got activities and ministries that can change the eternal destiny of people--it's worth the effort.