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What FirstChurch offers the world: A new communications strategy

October 24, 2018
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The key to creating good communication is not one’s ability to wordsmith, although that is important. Success in such endeavors actually lies in the capacity to be a sponge – observing, watching, hearing, taking in all the data about the new environment and then crafting something that’s an authentic reflection of what’s been seen.
So in my first weeks here, I did a lot of listening.
I sat with staff, ministers, layleaders and some congregants and heard what they had to say about this church – its history, its growing pains, its strengths and its challenges. Here’s some of what I learned:

  • This is a place where people take pride in their history and tradition, and yet they want the church to continue to flourish in the future.
  • People are incredibly welcoming, and they want new people to come and be a part of what’s happening here.
  • There’s a lot taking place within the church, yet not everyone feels connected and engaged.
  • People feel good about the direction in which the church is going, but there’s a mild tension related to the uncertainty of what’s coming next for the denomination, and subsequently, this church.

So my job as director of communications has not just been to create a communications strategy, but to craft an approach on how we want to see ourselves, how we want to present ourselves to the outside world, and how we want to position ourselves as a faith community working to love and serve in a society that relies less and less on organized religion.

Therefore, my first order of business was to create an overarching narrative that showcases not just who we are as a church, but what we as a church offer to the world AS A RESULT of who we are. It should speak authentically to who we are today, yet also leave some room for aspiration, offering a glimpse of who and what we’ll be in the coming years. You see a picture of the graphic and language here – the image of the table reflects our United Methodist foundations in the concept of an open table, and the wording showcases how we bring value to people’s lives. We’re here to grow disciples, connect communities, and serve the world. We want to connect people with the rich, meaningful, purposeful life God has for them – there’s always a seat at the table for them. For you. For all of us.

This statement of differentiation in turn guides our communications. If we know who we are and what we’re here to offer, then we know what we should be saying to the world. Every communication should highlight/align/speak to how we’re growing disciples, connecting communities, serving the world and how we’re sharing our table with each other, our neighbors across the street, and the ones across the globe. It’s action-based and purpose-filled, and honestly, it’s what FirstChurch has been all along. Now, it’s just on paper.

This Sunday, you’ll see a large banner with this wording on San Jacinto and Harwood, new street banners, and some new changes to the bulletin. In the coming months, you’ll hear this language more and more, and see more communications aligned with the grow-connect-serve framework. There’s a fairly detailed communications plan attached to this, but make no mistake – this is a living process – we’ll be trying new things, perhaps revisiting some old ones…whatever is needed to ensure that our own folks are growing, engaging, and excited about what God is doing, and that those outside know and are drawn to the dynamic and welcoming place that is FirstChurch.

I’m excited to do this work for you and with you, and I look forward to meeting, talking and working with more of you in the coming months. If you’d like to understand more about our communications strategy and plans, or if you have ideas or suggestions, I’d love to hear them! Email me at apatterson@fumcdallas.org.

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We would love to meet you! From our Rotunda Theatre to the magnificent bell tower, we have lots of corners to show you and a great history to share. We look forward to answering your questions about our ministry, theology and outreach, and invite you to join us for a tour.

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