Digital Move Checklist for Clergy

6/4/2018

As North Georgia Conference clergy prepare for Move Day and ministry in a new faith community, there are some digital transitions to consider along with the many boxes to pack. Clergy, here is a check-list to get you started!
 

Your Digital Doorstep

Website 

It is recommended that every church have a website. With each passing year, more people’s first visit to a church is actually online through their ”digital doorstep.” A nonexistent, or poorly maintained, website can be a big hindrance to church growth. Even if your church doesn’t have a website, it is recommended that you care for the online presence you do have.

Regardless of whether your church is fortunate enough to have a staff person or reliable volunteer to update its website, it is good practice to leave the digital keys (passwords, account information, etc.) with at least one church staff person and one appropriate layperson. When leaving a church, you will want to make sure that these things are available for the new pastor, and that your credit card and name (if you set up any accounts) are updated to the new pastor or a church credit card.

Be sure to get the passwords and account information you need for the church you're moving to, as well.

Find-A-Church and Conference Church Locator 

A transition is a great time to check and update your listing on the denomination’s Find-A-Church site. This portal is an excellent platform to share what you have to offer potential visitors. Check your church listing at www.ngumc.org/churches as well. If you see out-of-date or incorrect information there, update it through Data Services. 

Google Business Listing

While Find-A-Church listings and websites will often show up in internet searches, Google allows businesses to claim their ‘listings’ and add modest details to the information that will display in Google Search and Maps results. It is not uncommon for old addresses and incorrect phone numbers to show up, and there they will remain without your intervention.

If you have done this work in the church you are leaving, transfer this account information off to the church office or incoming pastor. If you arriving at a church, do a Google search for the church’s name to see if your new church shows up, and if the information displayed is accurate. While Google powers the majority of searches, consider doing the same for Yahoo, Bing, Yelp, and Apple Maps as time allows.
 

Your Communication Tools

Email

If you are currently forwarding your ngumc.net account to a church email address, be sure to cancel that forwarding. We find that the best practice in all cases is to check your ngumc.net account directly, rather than forwarding. It's easy. Just log in with your ngumc.net email address at gmail.com. 

Additionally, if your church uses a professional email campaign platform (such as MailChimp or Constant Contact) make sure the digital keys are passed along to the new pastor or that they reside with the appropriate people in the church office or church leadership.

Social Media

The majority of the churches across the North Georgia Conference have at least one social media account. To varying degrees, these platforms can serve as a way to connect both to church members and potential visitors. 

While there is much to say about this topic, two important things to consider are:

First, as with the other digital tools, please take the necessary time to carefully transfer administrative rights of official church accounts/pages as you go through the pastoral transition. Each platform has its own method for doing so, and most are not complicated.

Second, use extraordinary care to maintain appropriate pastoral boundaries as you leave one faith community and move into another. On the one hand, you will need to create room for new relationships with the members of your new church; the constant reminders of the very recent past will not be helpful. On the other hand, your intrusion, however unintentional, in the social media lives of former congregants is not a collegial thing to do. In this hyperconnected age, making space for a new pastor is not as easy as it once was and it requires your care and intentionality.
 

Your Communication Plans

Subscribe, Subscribe, Subscribe

Subscribe to any email communications for your new church, your new district, and your new community. Even signing up for communication from the local school system can help you begin to be "in the loop" in your new appointment. 

Communication Expectations

Find out the communication expectations and opportunities in your new role. Is there a staff blog? Is there a church e-newsletter? Has the pastor "always written" an editorial for the newspaper? What communication tools does your congregation currently most appreciate and use? 

Crisis Communication and Emergencies

What do you do or say when something goes wrong?

Times of crisis happen. A church fire, an arrest of a staff or church member, a break-in at the church are some of the things that can happen and have the potential to negatively impact the reputation of the church if not handled transparently and appropriately. 

Take time to go over the Conference Media Protocols with the church staff and anyone who answers the phone.

Talk about how the church would handle an emergency or a disaster. Your District Superintendent, conference communicator and disaster response coordinator are a resource for you.
 

In Conclusion

As you are leaving one congregation and/or arriving at another, these are just a few things to consider. Is there anything you'd add from experience? Tell us in comments or email communications@ngumc.org.

--Sybil Davidson, Conference Communicator
 


This checklist is adapted from a "Communications Checklist for Pastoral Transitions" with permission from authors Greg Nelson, Director of Communications for the Oregon-Idaho Conference, and Patrick Scriven, Director of Communications and Young People’s Ministries for the Pacific Northwest Conference in 2017. 


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