Anything your church creates and promotes can be loosely called content. Sermons, videos, member stories, slideshows, and podcasts are all content that your church is making. If it helps your church members grow in their faith and connect deeper to the heart of the church––it’s content.
This means that your “content calendar” isn't just a plan and schedule for blogging. It's also the home of every piece of information and branding your church puts out there! From the writing and designing to the promotion and future references, your content calendar will take shape as something more than just a classic week-by-week schedule. It will be more like a calendar+reference book+style guide+catalog of content.
This is the secret sauce for bringing your church communications up a notch. You need to rely on your content calendar to keep all of your messaging consistent. So let’s dive into some of the ways you can take your content calendar from standard to stellar:
One of the simplest ways to make your content calendar more dynamic and helpful is to lay it out visually. You’ll have many different types of content (as we listed above). But how often do each of those types come up? Do you publish four blog posts a week, but only promote a new sermon series once every six or eight weeks? Take better stock of the actual pattern of your communications by color-coding each item on the calendar. That’s right! Simple color-coding: green for blogs, blue for event promotion, yellow for emails, etc. This pop of color will help you better segment your church’s messages and see the relationships between all of them.
Now you know how all of your communications weave into each other and work well together. This is where you start to see the real purpose of your content take shape. Your pastor doesn’t just write a blog post to see his words online. He does it to inspire and motivate your members to take action. So ask what the “next step” of each piece of content is. What does that podcast or social media post do to get them spiritually involved in the church? What does it do to get the audience to grow in their relationship with Jesus?
Identify the “paths” of your content. Now the next logical step is to see how you can use that path to get someone involved in the church––which is where cross-promotion with events comes into play. For example:
You publish a blog post on your church’s new mission trip.
The post helps readers see a new perspective, maybe even inspiring them to get involved.
Your post encourages the reader to join the mission, donate to the cause, or attend the fundraising event.
Blogging schedule + event = cross-promotion. What was originally just a blog title on your content calendar has become a valuable way to get your readers involved in the church community!
In the Bible, we encounter concepts like faith, hope, love, sacrifice, and redemption over and over. Because of the timelessness of these beliefs, many of the messages your pastors and leaders create around these ideas should still be relevant in the future! Do you see where I’m going with this one?
Repurposing your content is a great way to extend and retell the story of the church. You reach the heart of things when you refer back to messaging over and over again––really encouraging your church to remember the place you came from and why you do what you do. In the church, this won’t be a typical marketing piece like an eBook. Your lasting messages will be the unchanging truth of a sermon series or a great article that still applies today. You can say, “Remember when we went through this learning or growth period as a church? This is why we still need this mindset and message today. This is why this still matters.”
A simple catalog (or content audit, as it’s sometimes called) is a perfect way to keep track of the communications you’ve created. It serves as a database of what you have and what you can use again in the future. For instance, you might create a fundraising campaign for restoration or new construction in your church, or a mission trip. You create blog posts and promotions around this to increase your members’ engagement in support of the campaign. While you might not use this exact campaign in the future, you can remember how you worded your messages, how it performed, and change (or reuse) the assets for a future campaign.
If you’ve been looking for the church communications secret, this is it. Your content calendar isn’t just a sheet of squares with blog titles on it. It’s the home of all of your church’s messages––the place where you see how all of your work comes together. To make it even better, these methods can help you see how you can connect the dots of your messages. You can color-code and cross-promote your events to really make a difference in the lives of your church members. Your church communications matter, therefore so does your calendar!
To learn more about creating and maintaining great church content, download our eBook, 7 Content Games Churches Must Avoid.