Kirk launches new digital resources to equip churches

A brand new collection of digital guides to equip local churches to ‘think digital’ and tap in to burgeoning communities online has been launched by the Church of Scotland communications team. The resources are intended to help churches improve their websites and social media.

Woman on laptop
The new range of digital resources focus on a range of topics including website management, social media and design

The nine-person department does not have the capacity to provide one-to-one advice and training to more than 1,300 congregations and dozens of Church-led projects across the country.

So as part of its commitment to improving Church-wide digital capability and increasing access to worship resources, the team has launched this collection of best-practice guides, tips and advice for everyone to download and use.

Improving digital capability across local churches

The new range of best practice guides focuses on topics across website management, social media and design, including:

A ‘fresh expression’ of Church

Of the new resources, the Church of Scotland’s Head of Communications, Ruth MacLeod, said:

“The Communications Team works hard to support ministers and local churches and their congregations across the country and further afield to use digital technology.

“Websites and social media are a very effective way to share news about the diverse role the Church of Scotland plays in our communities. But often those at a congregational level tasked with these duties are working in a voluntary capacity.

“We are keen to help them to maximise how they use their websites and social media to raise awareness of their church activities and encourage engagement at a local level.”

Congregation Website and Social Media review

The best-practice guides have been developed in response to a congregational website survey conducted earlier this year.

The research found that more than 1,000 churches have a website, while more than 760 congregations use Facebook, 160 use Twitter, 27 post videos to YouTube and a handful of churches are on Instagram.

While it is encouraging that churches have embraced the idea of a digital presence, the research found that the quality of the content varied immensely. On the positive side 82% of church websites had been updated to some degree during the previous month, 95% had posted the time of their worship services, and 79% had their address and contact information listed.

Ruth added:

“The documents produced by the communications team have been designed to address some of the key issues facing churches today and have been developed after research we’ve carried out on current practice and issues churches are facing around websites and social media use."

“We hope this will encourage people to assess how they are currently using digital tools and to try different approaches to see what works well.

“We will use any feedback we get to further develop how we support those connected to the Church of Scotland to make sure their voices are heard in what is an increasingly noisy digital landscape.”

Easy website and social media wins

The congregational review revealed a number of areas where improvements could be made with relatively little effort.

A church website is one of the most effective ways to advertise your existence to prospective new members and engage with your local communities, for example. However, 89 church websites had neither an address or contact information listed and 54 congregations did not include worship times.

Some local websites did not mention belonging to the Church of Scotland anywhere on their site, meaning a visitor looking for our denomination would not find that church. More than half of local church websites, 61%, did not link to the main Church of Scotland website, 64% did not use a Church of Scotland logo and just 87 churches were using the correct logo.

The research also showed most churches are missing out on fairly easy opportunities to reach out to their supporters and to prospective members on social media. Just one in three congregations posts to Facebook three times a week or more, while only one in five church pages are sharing the ready-made content on offer on the Church of Scotland Facebook page.

In addition churches can follow other Church pages that also may include events and ready-made stories to like and share.

These are just a few of the ways churches could improve their online offerings and reach more people who might then join in worship, attend events or become church members.

Online Ministry and Live Streaming

In the ever-changing digital landscape, there have already been many examples of Church of Scotland churches harnessing the power of online media to increase access and inclusion for church members.

For example, Sanctuary First is a pioneer ministry set up through Falkirk Presbytery. This ‘fresh expression of church’ was designed to develop an authentic caring worshipping congregation online, reaching those who perhaps cannot attend regular church services or are living outside of Scotland. The website features daily prayers and meditations, live stream videos of services held in Falkirk Presbytery, podcast episodes and much more, and is led by its minister Very Rev Albert Bogle.

Additionally, a growing number of churches such as Dunfermline St Margaret’s and Lanark Greyfriar’s are live streaming their Sunday services online.

The Kirk’s communications team hope that these new digital resources will help churches and congregation members alike tap in to the online community and make church services and worship materials more accessible for everyone, inspiring the people of Scotland and beyond with the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Find out more about the new range of Church of Scotland digital resources available.

If you have any questions or comments on the new suite of resources, please get in touch with the communications team.