May 23, 2024 by Juliette Acker

This is the second installment in our two-part series on church branding. In the first post, "How Effective Branding Can Transform Your Church," we explored the importance of building a strong brand and how it plays a crucial role in fostering growth, enhancing community engagement, and inspiring gifts to your church's endowment. You can find that post here. Now that we've established the "why" of branding, let's delve into the "how." This post provides seven practical strategies for building your church's brand, helping you create a cohesive, welcoming, and memorable experience for both current and prospective members.

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May 2, 2024 by Juliette Acker

When you think of Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, or Nike, what images, emotions, and even tastes come to mind? Perhaps it's the unmistakable shape of a Coke bottle, the silhouette of the golden arches, or the iconic "Just Do It" slogan from Nike. These companies have mastered the art of branding, transforming their logos and names into memorable symbols of their products and values. But branding isn't just for corporations. It's equally important for institutions with deeper, more personal missions—like churches. Faith communities are vying for attention and relevance in the lives of their congregants and their broader communities, and understanding and honing your church's brand is key. Just as a strong brand can evoke trust and loyalty among consumers, a well-defined and communicated church brand can foster a deeper connection with current members, attract new ones, and extend your reach and impact within your community.

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April 16, 2024 by Haley Bankey

"Drawing from the Pulse campaign's insights, we're reminded to be bold in conveying our identity and rooted in our baptismal covenant and the Way of Love."
--Canon Mike Orr, The Episcopal Church in Colorado and Caffeinated Church

If you’re Episcopalian and on any kind of social media, you probably saw the responses to the “He Gets UsFoot Washing and Who is My Neighbor ads shown during the Super Bowl. Some people praised the ads for putting Christianity on such a wide-reaching platform. Others panned the advertisements as an improper use of money or a ‘bait and switch’ where the content of the ads didn’t necessarily match the beliefs of those who paid for it. One thing is for sure though... the ads got noticed.

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February 22, 2024 by Jacob Sierra

Creating a contact card for your congregation is a simple way to raise awareness among your community. Fr. Dexter Lesieur, Rector at St. Matthias’ Episcopal Church in Devine, TX, shares of his congregation’s engagement with individuals online. His first step? Making a simple contact card with a QR code to take individuals right to St. Matthias’ site!

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November 16, 2023 by Sandy Webb

“Shock and Awe” is not a good strategy for church communications.

Some church traditions have a custom of announcing staff transitions and other timely information during Sunday morning worship. I understand the logic: Everyone is together, and everyone gets the same information at the same time. But, there are more pastoral and effective ways to share breaking news.

Any surprise announcement will evoke a diverse set of responses: Some people will be disappointed by the news while others will be pleased by it. Some people will be anxious about the future while others will be excited about new adventures. Each person needs space to process her own emotions, and each needs an appropriate outlet for her emotions. Sunday morning worship offers neither.

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Topics: Communications
August 10, 2023 by Annette Buchanan

As church leaders we are continuously thinking about communication, whether it’s the clergy pondering their sermon’s effectiveness, the wardens wondering how best to share financial news with the congregation, or the ad-hoc communication team wrestling with the complexities of a hybrid service. We have all said with some variation that The Episcopal Church is a well-kept secret. Many in our wider communities are unclear who and where we are, many life-changing programs offered from the Church Center (815 Second Ave, New York City) and other Episcopal organizations go unheard, and some dioceses are constantly struggling with proving relevance with congregations unaware of the myriad of benefits that the staff provides.

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June 1, 2023 by Anne Richardson

A new energy is springing up in churches looking to inspire new gifts to endowment. We’ve recently talked to several churches who are making plans for an endowment campaign, whether to grow an existing endowment or start a new one. While there are several steps to success, in this blog post we’ll focus on one: engaging parishioners by telling the impact story of your church so far and linking that to a future vision.

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October 10, 2022 by Greg Syler

It’s okay to start backing off the Zoom live-feed and hybrid worship offerings. I remember the refrain, that we’re going to keep live-streaming until Jesus comes home. But now, as we enter a new phase of the pandemic (but still very much with Covid), I believe our opportunity is to reflect critically on our priorities and approach to community-building, especially double-check our use of technology and the goals we’re pursuing as the Body of Christ.

So here are some starter invitations, or questions as we find ourselves at the dawn of a new phase of the pandemic, still walking with Covid (and all those anxieties and opportunities that came along with it):

1. If you’ve got a live-stream team, celebrate them. Your folks who invested in that technology and designed amazing systems have met the future, and they deserve a great celebration. You may wish to ask them about their longer-term plans and thinking. They may have really good ideas about where to go from here. Some may sense it’s time to wrap up the ministry, or their part in helping that ministry. Celebrate them. All of them.

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August 10, 2022 by Donald Romanik

As I write this blog I am in Abilene, Texas with my wife, Margaret, visiting our son David and his family – part of a month-long road trip during my six-week sabbatical. (David is Rector of the Church of the Heavenly Rest in the Diocese of Northwest Texas.) Our first stop from Connecticut was western Maryland, where Margaret’s brother hosted the annual family reunion followed by a visit with old friends from Hartford in Oklahoma. While there will be stops along the way, the next few weeks will include additional visits with family and friends in South Carolina and Virginia. All these summer gatherings continue to be wonderful opportunities for relaxation, refreshment, and reconnection.

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April 20, 2022 by Cathy Hornberger

This month we offer five reflections on hybrid church and digital ministry. Please share this digest with new members of your vestry and extend an invitation to subscribe to ECF Vital Practices to receive Vestry Papers, blogs, and the monthly digest.

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March 31, 2022 by Sandy Webb

“In today’s world, if your church needs to choose between a youth minister and a communications minister, you should probably choose the communications minister.” I wish I could remember who said this at a conference I attended long before the COVID-19 pandemic, because I would like to thank him.

This provocative statement shook me loose from an outdated assumption I had made about church staffing. In a culture with an insatiable appetite for the quick exchange of information, we need to consider church communication to be a ministry in itself, not just the infrastructure that supports other ministries. And, we need to prioritize it.

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March 15, 2022 by Ken Mosesian

Transformation. From a cynical perspective, it’s nothing more than another buzzword that’s been overused by consultants like me.

Yet when I read how various dictionaries defined transformation, my heart softened. When we talk about being transformed, we’re talking about a making a significant change – a radical change – as some sources say, for the better.

As we begin to emerge into a post-pandemic world that will most certainly still include COVID, the church is right to consider what being transformed will look like. How do we transform as a church writ large and as individual parish communities?

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January 25, 2022 by Kyle Oliver

I’ve been thinking primarily about digital and hybrid ministry for the better part of a decade now. I can’t believe how much has changed.

In 2012, I started my vocational journey supporting ministry leaders as we learn to navigate the many ways the digital media landscape is changing the practice of ministry. In 2016, ECF’s Fellowship Partners Program supported this professional curiosity as I brought my ongoing questions to the educational media program at Columbia University.

In 2020, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic helped my longtime collaborator Stacy Williams-Duncan and I rethink how we understood our research about Digital Literacy for Ministry. And in 2021 I joined the company Stacy founded to help organizations and their leaders embrace hybrid ministry with confidence.

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Topics: Communications
April 20, 2021 by Ken Kroohs

Do you want to have meaningful conversations about spirituality, especially with non-members? If so, I encourage you to consider three principles.

First, avoid jargon. I define ‘jargon’ as any word you have not used outside of church activities during the last week. Certainly ‘exegesis’ applies, as do ‘salvation theory’, ‘eschatology’ and ‘incarnation’. But have you considered ‘narthex’ and ‘Eucharist’? My suggestion is if you find the need to use such words, explain them at the same time. In writing we would say ‘narthex’ (lobby).

I know! We went to school for a long time and want to make sure people know that. When I lead spiritual gifts identification workshops I say the real gift of tongues is shown by an accountant who can explain a balance sheet! Maybe there is a similar statement for clergy.

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Topics: Communications
April 15, 2021 by Lisa G. Fischbeck

In my book, Behold What You Are: Becoming the Body of Christ, I suggest defining liturgy as “the work of the people and a public work, expressing and forming of the Body of Christ, given for the world.” As such, whenever we find ourselves planning or preparing for a liturgy, we might ask:

How is this liturgy engaging the people? How is this liturgy public? How will this liturgy express who we are as the Body of Christ? How will it form us as the Body of Christ, given for the world?

We can apply these questions to everything from how we welcome to how we sing, from how we collect the offerings to how we send people forth.

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July 21, 2020 by Patrick Kangrga

In a world before the pandemic, many of us may have felt that our glass was half full or that our cup runneth over. But for many of us engaged in the ministry of faith formation, it now feels like we are trying to drink from an empty cup while trying to fill up the cups of others. And once we are aware of our cup's emptiness, we can take steps to fill it.

This is the conclusion of a two-part article. The first part described a survey created and sent to faith formation professionals and volunteers asking them to rate their level of functioning. You can read more about how the survey was conducted and the results here.

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July 17, 2020 by Sarah Cowan

We’re all longing for meaningful connection in this strange, new land of Coronavirus, and especially as we try to be church online.

But, in fact, we’ve seen virtual connection that is beautiful and holy – in the face of Mister Rogers, that Presbyterian pastor-turned-TV personality. Mister Rogers knew how to connect with his viewers. So much so that many of us who watched would answer his deeply personal questions, right there, out loud, in our living rooms.

How can we ensure Mister Rogers moments – and more – in our worship, meetings, formation, and fellowship? In serving an Episcopal parish in my hometown of Memphis, TN this summer, I am wondering what might guide our vision going forward. What questions should we ask ourselves about being church in 2020? How can the online experiences, birthed so quickly in the past 15 weeks, be retained, enriched, and expanded?

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July 6, 2020 by Ken Mosesian

Sunday worship on Facebook. Coffee hour on Zoom. Staff meetings on Teams. At first, it was great to know that we could connect without being physically present. It felt like a bridge from our current situation until that time when we could be together again.

Then I started feeling exhausted. I couldn’t figure out why. I talked with friends, and they shared the following comments:

“I love being able to participate in the Holy Eucharist via Facebook, but there aren’t a lot of us that watch live, and I feel like I need to be commenting throughout the service, or I’ll look like I’m not really engaged.”

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June 23, 2020 by Lisa G. Fischbeck

Last month, in a conversation about the theological nuances of whether or not the Eucharist could be celebrated online, a member of my congregation asked, “Is Jesus a Zoom bomber?”

Now Zoom bombers generally have a negative connotation. They join in on a public Zoom with malicious intent displaying racially charged images or words, for example. Bad stuff. Because of them, most churches using Zoom for their worship in this “stay-at-home” season, have stopped advertising their login links online, thus making Zoom worship less accessible to newcomers. So businesses and churches and Zoom technologists have been working hard to inhibit these imposers. Under these connotations, Jesus is certainly not a Zoom bomber!

But what if we go back to the earlier medium of photographs and photo bombers. Photo bombers are people who show up unexpectedly in a photo of a newlywed couple, for example, or behind a family posing at the beach. They were often simply inadvertent. But even when intentional, they were funny or sweet. Not malicious.

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June 15, 2020 by Ken Mosesian

“What’s your brand?” A collective silence fell over the room of vestry members, clergy, and staff.

Finally, someone asked the question that was on everyone’s mind: “Brand of what?”

“Your church.”

“Ahh...” The silence continued.

We don’t often, if ever, think of the Church as a brand, whether globally, nationally, or on the congregational level, but it’s a question well worth exploring. From my perspective, brand is nothing more and nothing less than your promise to the consumer – in this case to your parishioners and those considering becoming parishioners.

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Topics: Communications