Episode 22: Congregations versus the Algorithm!

congregations podcast Oct 27, 2022

 

Social media platforms are changing how they determine what people see online!

Driven by TikTok's success, they are shifting from a "social graph" to an "interest graph."

What's that mean?

Instead of showing people content based on what they SELECTED they want to see -- like, follow, subscribe -- they are showing them MORE of what they are actively watching and engaging with!

These companies know what your members, friends, and potential newcomers are watching on their apps and websites. They have the data.

To get people to spend more time on their platforms and see more ads, social media algorithms are being re-designed to show people more of what is capturing and holding their attention.

If we aren't careful, this has the potential to SQUEEZE CONGREGATIONS OUT!

Where does that leave your congregation? 

In this episode, I explain the shift, what it means for you, and three communication priorities. 

Watch, listen, and read some key takeaway points below.

 ...

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Episode 21: Time for an Announcement Makeover!

congregations podcast Oct 14, 2022

In this episode, how to write announcements that get results including a worksheet download

The average congregation is an announcement making machine!  However, many are not getting results.  There's a reason for this.  Today, people are bombarded by information online. THEIR need to rapidly identify which content is relevant to THEM changes how WE need to write announcements.  I’ll tell you how!

 Watch Episode 21 //  Subscribe on YouTube


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Episode 20: Three Ways to Start Growing Your Congregation

congregations Oct 06, 2022

Congregations across religious traditions are challenged, stressed, and worried about their future.

In this episode of The Peter Bowden Show I share the KEY to growing congregations today (in my experience) and three easy ways to start growing your congregation.

  • One is focused on connecting newcomers.
  • Second prioritizes congregation-wide community building during periodic services -- I'm talking during PRIME TIME, not an additional program people have to register for.
  • Last, making important changes to your small group program.

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Watch Episode 20 //  Subscribe on YouTube

 

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Think of Small Groups as Life Boats for Today's World

As we approach the Fall, here are some tips for your congregation. We are in what I consider STORM conditions. I think most of you will benefit from a "Get everyone in lifeboats ASAP!!!" approach -- this means small groups, prioritizing and promoting group life, and helping newcomers bypass all barriers between them and face-to-face community experiences (online and onsite).



CHAPTERS
Jump to video YouTube video chapters using time code links below or in YouTube video description.

(0:00) Welcome
(
0:40) Training Preview
(
1:00) Digital is here to stay
(
2:30) Hour long online worship not a viable first step
(
5:00) Prioritize lifeboats = small groups!
(
6:26) Expect group-LESS people to drift away
(
7:20) Designing a viable congregation
(
8:30) Different types of groups
(
10:20) Connecting worship and group life
(
12:25) If you have declining membership
(
13:18) Use video to communicate and connect
(
14:20) Engaging with video now essential skill
(
15:00) Digital is a primary context of...

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Making Innovation a Community Practice

community congregations Apr 05, 2022
With the rate of change in our world accelerating, we need a new approach to changing our approach!   I believe we need to "institutionalize innovation" and make experimentation, exploration, and play a community practice.
 
Many leaders have a process whereby they SET their approach, model, process, methods, etc... and use it until it stops working in a major way. 
 
Then, after frustration and associated debate, there is a focused process launched to assess the problem and "fix" it.  That might include bringing in an expensive outside expert and perhaps a major redesign of communications or staffing.  Then, once the new way is established and everything seems to be in working order, that way gets locked down.  
 
This no longer works.   Things are changing too quickly. 
 
Instead, we need to develop a mindset and process that is more like surfing on the edge of constant change. 
 
Given the rate of...
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5 Shifts Tipping Congregations Toward Decline

congregations Mar 23, 2022

The following is the replay from my March 24, 2022, live strategy session discussing the following question:

 "Changes in US society and culture seem to have made organized religion less relevant to our population. How can churches change how they "do church" to make them more relevant?"

What should congregations do in response to the decline of organized religion?  My short answer: Change HOW you organize!

Today's culture demands new approaches to how you lead, design, and facilitate congregational life.

Here are the 5 shifts I discuss in this video:

Shift 1: Where people spend their time and attention.

Shift 2: How people learn, research, and make decisions.

Shift 3: What online visitors need from congregations.

Shift 4: What people want from their leaders.

Shift 5: How people want their communities to be led.

The good news is that these cultural shifts are all things that congregations can adapt to.  If you have the desire, smartphones, and internet access, you...

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Crafting Engaging "Messages for All Ages"

How do you design messages for online services that are engaging for children, families, and people of all ages? This question comes from a colleague in a congregational setting.

In the video below,  I share how I approach designing messages focused on sharing a specific teaching, insight, or life lesson. 

This draws on my experience working with preschoolers through elders, working as a producer and educator on nationally syndicated children's television shows, and coaching leaders on video & digital strategy.

This is ROUND 1 in response to my colleague's question.  Do you have follow-up questions?

I'm collecting follow-up questions in the video comments and via my online questions box form. After I collect questions, I'll do a follow-up video. 


If video won't play, watch it on YouTube here.  I'm having trouble with Firefox for some reason. Thx! Peter (1/27/22) 

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What is Digital Ministry? Marketing vs. Doing Ministry

For congregations to thrive in today's digitally oriented world, it is important to understand how DIGITAL MINISTRY differs from SOCIAL MEDIA and MARKETING.

The digital ministry shift is a move from using social media solely to promote ministry opportunities to actually doing ministry on social media. 

Yes, we need to promote and market events. That's true.  But to harness the power of social media we need to go further!   

In this episode, I share a concrete example related to educating and orienting newcomers.  That's right...  How to move your welcoming and membership ministry online using social! 

Watch or listen below. 

 

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Episode Notes

Social Media

Think about all the different social media platforms we have. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.  Video posting platforms,...

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On Technology, Staffing & Multi-Platform Ministry

Is your congregation considering new tech staffing?  This is for you!  Please share this with any congregation you know who is in discernment on this issue. 

Here's the question I keep getting, often when the process is far along and jobs are being threatened....

Question:

Peter, should we downsize our existing program staff and invest in a full-time tech person?

Quick Answer:  No! In my professional opinion that's a horrible idea for most congregations.  Better to invest in your existing staff & volunteers, cultivate new volunteers, see how far you can go and grow together, adding tech & media skills and associated tasks to portfolios of your staff and volunteers.  If there are tech tasks that you must have covered, start with temporary contracts to supplement your existing team.

Watch this for my long answer:

 


All congregations need to be working to develop their media and tech capacity. But this shouldn't be implemented as knee-jerk...

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Digital Ministry Accelerator Program - Overview and Feedback Requested

Update: Based on your feedback I'm 100% redesigning my training programs!  Make sure you sign up to get training updates. Details are coming out the week of June 23, 2021.

 

Friends, here's an overview of my new Digital Ministry Accelerator program, DMAX for short.  It is a 12-week program for Unitarian Universalist parish ministers (this round) and their congregations.  Interested ministers, I'd love your feedback! 

Please complete this brief program survey: SURVEY COMPLETED

Your responses will help me finalize the program design and the day and time we'll hold our weekly strategy sessions.    Thank you!

 

 

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