Terrell Sanders is president of MainStreetOpen, a web development company that played a major role in creating UBCentral.org and UB.org. Last week he sent out a “Website Audit Checklist.” He recommends taking a good look at your church website a couple times a year, and there’s no better time than at the beginning of the year.

  • Verify that your contact information is still accurate. We’re talking church name, address, phone numbers, email addresses, etc.
  • Verify that the content is current. Go through all of your pages. Is there info that needs to be deleted or updated?
  • Verify that your staff information is current. Check names, phone extensions, emails, family descriptions, etc. Is it time for new staff photos?
  • Verify that all links work. This means links to pages in your own site (including all navigation links), and links to other sites.
  • Verify that all programming works. Test functions like contact forms, database lookups, and other bells and whistles.
  • Make a site backup. Store it on a CD or a different server than the one which hosts your website.
  • Check for security updates. If you use a content management system, the software may need some security updates.
  • Most important: Verify that your site still makes a good first impression. Many potential visitors will check out your website before coming for a visit.

Steve Dennie, Communications Director

Since the start of the US National Conference a little over a week ago, the United Brethren Facebook page has gained 75 followers–or more technically, “likes.”

The number of “likes,” as of July 15, stands at 573. So we pretty much obliterated the 500 barrier. A 15% increase in one week.

I posted several hundred photos from National Conference last week. Posting photos, I’ve found, always draws new people to your Facebook page. I’ve seen that with the Facebook page for my own church, Anchor Community Church. I frequently post photos that I’ve taken at Anchor events. When you “tag” someone in a photo–that is, when you identify a Facebook member in a photo–then that photo appears on their own Facebook wall. That makes it visible to all of their friends.

In Anchor’s case, the people who “like” Anchor’s page average 300 Facebook friends of their own. Most of those friends have probably never been to the Anchor page. But when they see a photo of their friend or relative, they click on on it, and suddenly there they are, on Anchor’s page. Some of them, then, tag people in photos who may be on their own Facebook friend list, but who may not be on Anchor’s “like” list…yet. Then those photos appear on other people’s walls, visible to a whole new set of friends–a second degree of separation, if you will.

One or two degrees of separation quickly adds up.  If Anchor’s page has 300 friends, and each of those persons have 300 friends (and that’s the actual average–I checked a while back), you’re talking 90,000 people…each of whom have 300 friends. Sure, lots and lots of duplication. But still.

That no doubt explains the surge in “likes” for the UB page. I’ve tagged United Brethren people in many of the photos. So, for instance, when UB persons see a photo of their pastor at the conference, they click on the photo to see what it’s about, and find themselves on the United Brethren page. And they think, “I didn’t realize there was a United Brethren Facebook page.” They click the “like” button…and there you have it, 75 new people added just because I posted some photos.

Ah, the power of Facebook!

Steve Dennie, Communications Director

Facebook has reached critical mass–over 600 million users worldwide. Lots of people in your church probably use Facebook–far more than you realize. Which begs the question: so what?

Email long ago reached critical mass. If someone was connected to the internet, they probably had an email address. So it made sense to create church email lists as a way to contact people.

Now you should consider adding Facebook to the mix. Your people are already using Facebook–young and old alike. It’s just a matter of going where they already go.

My own church, Anchor Community Church, has been using Facebook for nearly four years. We’ve had our own Facebook Page for two years (a growing number of UB churches have their own Page). Anchor has an attendance of about 130, but have 312 people who “like” our page. We don’t actively promote it. We don’t encourage people to create a Facebook account and come “like” our page. It has just blossomed naturally.

But for me, the benefits of Facebook have little to do with the church page itself. Rather, it’s about people interacting outside of church. Facebook helps promote community, even if it’s only in superficial ways (and on Facebook, there is an abundance of superficial). People who may seldom talk to each other at church may connect regularly on Facebook.

As a layperson at Anchor, I learn a great deal about my fellow Anchorites from Facebook. By reading people’s status messages–things they write which tell something about what’s happening in their life or what they’re thinking about at the moment–I catch numerous glimpses into their life. And that gives me opportunity to interact with them on Facebook and at church.

I learn when people are sick or in the hospital, and how they’re doing as the days pass. I learn about financial hardships, relationship problems, new births, jobs lost and jobs found, myriad concerns, car problems…you name it. I can then respond directly on Facebook, giving encouragement or congratulations or whatever is appropriate.

I learn about hobbies, extended family, favorite sports teams, books they’re reading, TV shows and movies they’re watching, vacation plans, and much more. I can then use this information to strike up a conversation at church, perhaps with someone I don’t know well. Or I can simply comment right on Facebook.

When someone misses church, I send them a note on Facebook saying that I missed them. I compliment people for this and that. Other Anchor people do the same. It’s neat.

When we have special events, I take lots of photos. I post them on the Anchor Facebook page. This draws not only people from the church, but their friends and relatives and distant acquaintances.

And I’m only touching the surface of what you can do with Facebook. Like plugging upcoming events.

It’s not something we officially promote or encourage. It just happens. You don’t see this kind of thing happening with email, Twitter, a church website, or most anything else (young people avoid email, and older people, me included, don’t care to learn all the insider terminology and techniques of Twitter).

With Facebook, you don’t need to goad people into signing up for something new. They’re already signed up. Just go join the conversation.

We continually increase the number of people who receive UB information electronically. Here are the latest numbers.

Facebook: 446 people now “Like” the United Brethren page. We add new persons every week. Last March, the number was 230, so we’ve just about doubled in a year. Go to: facebook.com/unitedbrethren

Feedburner: 204 subscribers. Feedburner is the best way to keep current with UB news, since the news comes to your email every day. People who subscribe to Feedburner love it. Subscribe here.

Connect Email: 1100 subscribers, including people from most of the countries where we minister. Connect is an occasional, as-needed email (the last one was sent out March11, 2011). It would be great if you collected subscriptions from others in your church. We don’t use this list for anything else. Subscribe here.

WAVES: 277 subscribers. This is a fairly new quarterly email from the Women’s Ministry Leadership Team. It’s designed as a resource for women. Two editions have gone out so far. Subscribe here.


Want to receive UBCentral posts by email? Just enter your email address below and hit the “Subscribe” button. Feedburner is a free service from Google.

You’ll receive an email asking you to confirm the subscription. All you need to do is click on a link.

Every day, not long after 11 a.m., you’ll receive an email containing the news items posted during the previous 24 hours on UBCentral.org. The emails look like this.

Steve Dennie, Communications Director
Last Thursday I attended a Communications Roundtable in Indianapolis. It’s a bi-monthly group of people who do communications for large churches. The sponsor is Fishhook, a really wonderful Christian communications/branding firm in Indy.

The topic for this meeting was “Media Relations.” We had several speakers, including a religion reporter for the Indianapolis Star newspaper. Here are some of their comments and suggestions:

  • Newspapers are in a time of change. They are trying to do more (like adding websites) with fewer people.
  • If you want them to cover an event, give two weeks of lead time.
  • Be understanding if they can’t cover your church event. Newspaper people aren’t able to get out as much as in the past.
  • Newspapers are reducing the size of their printed papers, and writing shorter, more tightly-written stories.
  • Understand that editors and reporters get scores of phone calls, emails, and voice messages while working on strict deadlines. It’s easy for things to slip through the cracks.
  • Leave short voice messages, and identify yourself and your church clearly.
  • They like photo features.
  • They are always looking for digital material, such as video and photos, that they can use on the web.
  • They appreciate when you suggest stories and story angles.
  • They prefer stories about people, rather than about institutions.
  • Understand that their main responsibility is to their readers. They are looking for the angle that will make the story most interesting to the bulk of their readers.
  • Develop a relationship with reporters and editors. Don’t just pitch them information to get free publicity. Relationships will serve you much better in the long run.
  • Don’t bombard them with information about every little church event. We get excited about what’s happening in our church and want to throw it all out to the public. But before long, they’ll just begin ignoring your submissions. Be strategic in suggesting stories. Once a quarter is good.
  • A good story angle: how something your church does ties into trends, topics, and issues of interest to the entire community.
  • Help the reporter by providing people who can talk about the issue or event, and suggest visuals (like photos).
  • What reporters see as fair and objective may not seem that way to you. Trust their judgment. They’re not out to get you. They’re just ordinary people who probably attend a church near you.

Greg Atkinson wrote a good blog item called “Digital Real Estate.” He admonishes churches and pastors to be proactive in reserving names for themselves on key social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter.

I’ve written about the need for churches to reserve a domain name for themselves, even if they don’t intend to use it right away. Domain names are very cheap real estate. If you find a name you like, I suggest reserving it for 10 years or longer. At NetworkSolutions.com, you can do that for $180, a 48% discount from the one-year rate. Network Solutions is good about bugging you when it’s time to renew. Unfortunately, every year one or two UB churches forget to renew their domain name, and must start over with web and email addresses.

But some real estate is free. We’ve reserved several Twitter accounts which we don’t currently plan to use (ubyouth, ubwomen). I just wanted to get possession of the names. Likewise for Facebook (as Greg Atkinson points out). If blogging interests you, get a Blogger.com account in your name.

Just focus on the most popular sites. You might want to get a Gmail account in your church’s or your personal name, or Flickr. Keep on the lookout, and make sure you write down the login name and password, especially if you don’t plan to use it right away.


You’ve read multiple books on church growth, discipleship, evangelism, and leadership. I’ll bet you haven’t read one about local church communications…because there aren’t too many. Since this is a communication-intensive world, let me recommend “Less Clutter, Less Noise,” by Kem Meyer.

Kem is Communications Director at Granger Community Church near South Bend, Ind. That’s a fast-growing, highly innovative church focused tightly on reaching lost people. I attended a seminar there, attended a service another time, and I read blogs by Kem and a few other Granger staff. It’s valuable being exposed regularly to people who aren’t merely doing church, but are passionate about reaching the lost.

That emphasis comes through in “Less Clutter, Less Noise.” As Kem deals with communication strategy and technique (and she loves the cutting edge), it all comes from an outreach-oriented heart. That’s the context in which Kem operates. I’ve heard her speak in three different conferences now, and she has consistently conveyed the same attitude–an attitude toward everything we do in communications, and an attitude toward the people we’re trying to reach.

Her main premise is something like this: people are looking for something that’ll make a difference in their lives, but they’re so bombarded with information and choices that they can easily miss the church’s message. We need to break through the clutter–not add to it. She deals with a number of issues, always with short (1-3 page) pieces. “Less Clutter, Less Noise” reads more like a blog than a book (which I’m guessing was intentional).

You’ll find parts that don’t apply to you (as I did). But you’ll discover some important perspectives on  “church growth” that you won’t find elsewhere.

UBonTwitter_150.jpgWe have clambered board the Twitter bandwagon. Our Twitter feed provides little snippets of news, plus automatic notifications when anything is posted to the Bishopblog or to the UB News page. You’ll find it at:


Frankly, I don’t expect a lot of people to use the Twitter feed, mainly because not all that many UBs are using Twitter, period. We’re far from critical mass. I’ve come across less than 30 UBs with Twitter accounts, and many of them aren’t actively using Twitter. It’s not exactly a necessary communications accessory.

But, this was easy to implement and will involve little work on my part. And Twitter is mushrooming in popularity. So, there it is. Use it if you want.

Tony Morgan, the “Chief Strategic Officer” at a booming megachurch in South Carolina, is one of the premier bloggers in the evangelical world. He’s especially popular among the cutting-edge crowd. Really an interesting guy.

He just posted “25 Free Web Apps That Make Life Easier.” Increasingly, things are moving to the web. Instead of using a program you install on your computer, you go to a website and accomplish the same thing, whether it’s managing a calendar, writing Word documents, or managing your finances.

I was aware of, and use some of, the web apps that Tony mentions. But others were new to me. Depending on your level of geekiness, you may be interested in checking out his list.

What web apps would you add to the list? Mention them in the comments.