It seems that the first posting of UUCA News4Leaders was well-received.  We even got a few comments.  We like comments.  We like it even better when a conversation develops among our readers through the comments.  So, feel free to comment on a comment.  We really want to hear from our leaders on all kinds of topics.

How about a little discussion about communications?  As you know, we’ve been experimenting with our publications, trying to give our congregants the information they want while 1) keeping our Communications Specialist’s work time to 40 hours per week, 2) dramatically reducing postal mailing, 3) reducing copying costs when we can and 4) trying to protect members from too much email.  We know we don’t have it right yet.

One of the things we struggle with is the tension between every leader’s desire to get their word out and the tolerance/attention level of our congregants for our messages. Here are some of the things we talk about in staff meetings:

In worship

If a person comes to UUCA to worship as a religious community, do they really want to hear 15 minutes of announcements and skits each week?  Well, OK, maybe not 15.  Five?  Well, who will get the 5 minutes?  How do we choose?  And WHEN will that five minutes happen?  Five minutes BEFORE the official start of the service?  At the end?  Shall we reduce the sermon to 15 minutes to fit in announcements?  We’ve chosen the most conservative option we can which is to RARELY have a special announcement and keep the number of announcements mentioned by the worship leader to a minimum.  Does that feel about right?

In the order of service

All the information about all the upcoming events of the church show up in the Thursday enews.  The enews gets sent to more than 900 people.  Do we really need to print on Sundays the very thing everyone received on Thursday?  (Yes, we need to accommodate the 20 people we know do not receive email.)  Why do leaders WANT inserts in the Order of Service?  Do our congregants actually respond better when they get a separate sheet of paper in their order of service?  Who gets inserts?  Anyone that asks?  How do we prioritize?

In the newsletter

In addition to all the information that appears in the Thursday enews, we include a complete schedule for children’s religious education, “columns” by the lead minister, assistant minister, LRE director and board chair.    Is this redundant?  Why do we duplicate information in the monthly newsletter and the Thursday enews?

At the present time, the newsletter is laid out for printing.  It would be more logical for the newsletter to be laid out for easier reading on a computer.  How might that feel?  And then what would we send to the 20 or so non-email members/friends?  We are thinking about changing the monthly newsletter columns by paid staff and the board chair to a website blog and then creating a website-based “newsletter” of all the upcoming events that would be updated weekly.  How might that feel?

Overall philosophy

Are these the right questions?

1)      What do our congregants want to know and how do we make that information easily accessible for them?

2)      How do we gain our congregants’ attention and move them to act on what we’re offering or asking?