Dre’ Barnes is the technology director at Impact Church in Atlanta. He oversees the web, social media, email marketing, photography, videos, and computer hardware and software. The motto at Impact Church is “Do Church Differently.” They do that by using social media in church and online, by having radical hospitality and awesome customer service, and making their church a place where anyone can feel comfortable worshiping. They church was recently mentioned in an Atlantic article for how they used the TV show Scandal as a conversation starter.
What’s the one thing you wish you had known when you were getting started in church communication?
Dre’ Barnes: I wish I would had known just how much it is about making things the three Cs for people: Convenience, Connection and Conversation. If you don’t make things convenient for people they won’t use it, it does not matter how awesome the design looks. If you are not connecting or meeting people where they are, whether it is spiritual, emotional or mental, it won’t matter. And you have to continue the conversation through Sunday. Church is 365, period.
If a church is just starting to get serious about communication, where should they start?
Dre’: I would suggest taking a look at the three Cs and seeing where things fall under each of them. If a church wants to start a Facebook page or a Twitter account, those communication funnels touch on all three of the Cs but something else may only fall under one. In addition, you will have figure out as a church whether your priority is to reach all the Cs or just a few.
What was your first great success as a church communicator? What made it work so well?
Dre’: I don’t know if I would call it our first great success but when we made it on CNN for how we use social media during worship, it was an awesome feeling. Making sure our community had something to talk about and share with the world online is what made it work so well. Furthermore, seeing our community come back during the week to their Facebook or Twitter feeds and use them as notes to get them through their week or month is an amazing thing.
What was your first great failure? What lessons did you learn?
Dre’: Honestly, I have been blessed to not have any great failures, yet but if the word was changed to disappointment, I would say when we first did live tweets in worship on our Middle Screen (what we call our three screen) that did not go over so well. We have been blessed with a great mixture of generations; however, not every generation really enjoyed the frequency of the tweets and looked at them as a distraction to the experience as a whole. Therefore, the next time we did live tweets in worship we toned down the frequency and the location the tweets would appear and we got much less push back.
How can you make progress when you have little or no budget?
Dre’: There are a lot of great online blogs (like this one) and resources, and some of their information is free. I would start there and utilize it to the best of my ability. Also, find the right volunteers. You don’t need 20 or 50 volunteers on your team. You need passionate volunteers who are willing to commit to the vision of the church.
How can low tech churches still make strides in communication? I’m thinking about churches that don’t have any techies on staff and are forced to rely on volunteers that don’t always come through.
Dre’: You have to take things one step at a time. When I present, I normally present on social media and how to use online software effectively. I would encourage these churches to look at online software and see which ones are “no-brainers.” This means the ones that will get little push back and are the easiest to implement at their church.
More on Getting Started
If you’re looking for more help on getting started, check out the rest of our Getting Started interview series. Another resource that might be a big help is our new book, Dangerous: A Go-to Guide for Church Communication. It covers a lot of the basics, from big picture strategy to practical stuff like video and sound.