Since being appointed to serve within the Topeka District of the Great Plains Annual Conference, I have had the opportunity to serve as the lead for the Topeka District Strategy Team. I have been learning as I go, seeking to get to know congregations and leaders of the area. Here are some of my current thoughts on how this team can be most effective to create a strategy for the district.
During some years in the past, the Great Plains Annual Conference (and three conferences) has operated with a structure that encouraged local churches to send both people and resources to be part of initiatives and ministry efforts that originated and were executed at the annual conference level. This lead to a measure of success. However, this model is not working as effectively as it once was.
In recent years, there has been efforts made to push the resourcing and leadership “down” from the annual conference toward the mission field of local churches. Some of this is being accomplished with the creation of Networks which connect local churches to more effectively reach their collective mission field. It also is being accomplished through the work of district strategy teams which work alongside the District Superintendent to develop a strategy to reach the mission field within the district.
What does not need to happen is for a district strategy team to come up with a layer of strategy, events and planning which local churches are encouraged to add to their existing ministries and goals. Instead, I believe that a more effective approach will be to look for common goals that exist among many congregations in the district and consider what resources or strategies that district can bring to bear which support those goals.
As part of the charge conference process, goals are developed and turned in annually from every charge in the district. This fall, we are running an experiment by offering local churches goals to consider for 2019 (Experiment_ Topeka District Local Church Goals (PDF)). If churches have an existing process for developing and iterating on goals, great – keep doing it. However, if they do not, they might consider one or more of these goals for the year ahead. The purpose here is to help local churches make progress on goal setting and create the opportunity for local churches to coalesce around similar goals. We’ll see how this goes…
Regardless of whether or not local churches choose from the experimental goals which were offered to them, our next step will be to review the goals from all the churches in the district to see what, if any, similarities there are. Then, create strategies to help support local churches in the goals that they have already set for themselves.
I am hopeful that this approach will support local churches and more effectively coordinate our efforts together as a district.
This is a collection of next steps for Resurrection Online from my time at SXSW Interactive in categories. Will you please share your thoughts, feelings or opinions about these possible next steps?
The Journey of becoming a Deeply Committed Christian
- Create opportunities for positive competitive environments – best guidance, most faithful next steps, insightful response to scripture or worship, etc.
- Create feedback loops for membership expectations.
- Explore the possibility of allowing users to tag, rate, connect and organize Resurrection’s sermon archive.
- Encourage offline actions (love your neighbor) through what happens online.
User Design Experience
- What if we allowed Resurrection Online to be embeddable on other sites?
- Create the opportunity for people to engage from the very first time they worship online
- Create a vision onesheet for Resurrection Online
- Intentionally design a user experience strategy for Resurrection Online
- Design a user experience that will sustain connection over a long period of time
- Pay attention to the motivating human behavior for worship online
- Develop a shaping strategy and view for mainline church online
- Determine whether Resurrection Online will become a shaping platform for mainline church online
- Audit the Resurrection Online website
- Develop a way to share and receive stories of people who worship with Resurrection Online.
- Create opportunities to live out attributes of a community for Resurrection Online
- Facilitate connections among regular worshipers that are in similar situations
- Practice random acts of connection among regulars – email, phone, letter.
- Create predictable programs to invite people to engage – once a week, first Monday, etc.
- Expand the Resurrection Stories shared via the GPS beyond Lent.
- Engage with people who I may not recognize as being an influencer
- Introduce members of the Resurrection Online community to one another.
- What would a game layer would look like for the journey of knowing, loving and serving God?
- What would a game layer would look like for worship at Resurrection Online?
- Design game mechanics for Resurrection Online including: Come and Try It – intial engagement; Bring Friends and Play Together – social; Come Back – creating repeat engagement
Open / Crowdsourced Project
- Explore open projects for the people of Resurrection Online
- Set up a crowdsourced project for the people of Resurrection Online about how they became connected with Resurrection Online called Why Resurrection Online?
- Create opportunities for Resurrection Online regulars to influence future development.
- Focus on a single platform and use it very well before expanding.
- Pay attention to whether those that share feedback are regulars at Resurrection Online
- Ask for ideas to improve Resurrection Online from regulars.
- Provide guidance for people to prepare offline for worship online. Some internal preparation may be helpful before you turn on the screen.
- Do not force people to log in or share contact information to worship
- Clearly communicate what will be done with information that is received in the attendance form
- Be aware that Resurrection Online is amazing technology to which some people feel entitled.
- Be aware that Resurrection Online encourages bilocationality – people trying to be two places at once.
- Pay attention to guidelines for building an online community as development continues with Resurrection Online
- Visit the communities where I hope to build Resurrection Online frequently
- Pay careful attention to the updates that we encourage people to make about Resurrection Online
I am excited about the Leadership Institute 2010, October 7 and 8 in Leawood, KS. I am going to be presenting a workshop on social media strategy and partnering with Clif Guy, Director of IT to lead a pre-institute about online ministry. Here are the descriptions of the workshops that I will be leading. Will you join me in these sessions? More online at http://www.cor.org/li2010.
Workshop, Session 2 – Social Media Strategy 101
Should the pastor of a church have a blog? Why would my church want to use Twitter or Facebook? In this session, we will consider the purpose of social media and how it might be leveraged to build community and make ministry happen in your local church.
Pre-Institute, Afternoon Session – From the Church Website to Online Ministry
The Internet now enables more ways of reaching, engaging, and connecting people than ever before. Led by the pastor of Resurrection Online and Resurrection’s IT Director, this pre-Institute workshop will cover the basics of church websites; then it will move on to strategies for using streaming video and social media to advance all aspects of your church’s ministry.
In North America, the church is failing to live up to its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Since 1990 over 150 United Methodist churches have closed every year.
During this same period of time, internet usage has exploded. Since 1990 the internet grew by 100 percent every year.
I propose a solution that addresses the failure of the church in its mission by harnessing the power of the internet.
Within three years, networks of micro churches will develop that use web technology to facilitate worship and leadership development.
- creates new places for new people
- develops leaders
- leverages existing resources
to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
I invite you to be a part of this movement to help the church fulfill its mission.
I would like to set up a meeting to talk with you about the possibility of a micro church launching in your area.
Please email me at andrew dot conard at cor dot org