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Blog » Case Study: Granger Community Church Part 1
Case Study: Granger Community Church Part 1
Granger Community Church (GCC) is a leading congregation in Northern Indiana that launched the Table in the fall of 2011. Granger often draws national attention and helps other churches through their Wired Churches network of training and resources. With an average attendance close to 5,000, Granger put a lot of planning and effort into their launch, which was led by Communications Director Kem Meyer, author of Less Clutter. Less Noise.
We talked to Kem about their efforts, and her answers were so helpful and detailed that we're going to share them in a three part series. Here's part one:
Why did you feel that Granger needed its own private social network?
Kem Meyer: Actually, we didn't. As a matter of fact, we've always had a hard time justifying why we would want a "church version" of Facebook or Twitter. Why wouldn't we just use the networks where the "social" conversation is already flowing rather than try to create a separate track?
However, the growing gap between two extremes—all or nothing—couldn't be ignored. For quite some time, the people of GCC had been asking for a central tool to help them search for, share with and pray for people in their family of faith without going through a middleman. There was a growing connection gap between ALL life and CHURCH life and communication gap between CORPORATE-driven activity and MEMBER-driven activity.
That's the question we were looking for an answer to, the problem we were looking for help solving.
What made you pick the Table for Granger?
Kem: We created a working framework as a filter and evaluated several strong tools on the market (e.g., The Table, SoChurch, The Common, The City, Cobblestone, etc.) against that framework. At the end of the day (actually, we took six months investigating various options), The Table was the absolute best fit for our needs. Here's an overview of that framework:
Fill a void.
We need a 24/7, mobile space that isn't so much our front porch (that's what GCCwired.com is for) but more like our church living room where people live church together. Our primary goal is to create opportunities to enhance community—not to create another broadcast tool for "corporate" communication. And, to meet an un-met need—not to create our own version of something that already exists. We need an online hub that doesn't re-create the wheel, but provides a secure space for people to live out the important aspects of faith that aren't available with our current online environments (e.g., safe place to post things on the calendar, to pray and be prayed for, share resources, etc.)
It's a growing family.
It's hard enough to stay connected beyond a brief hello after a service. It gets even more problematic with six services across two campuses. Something that allows us to search and find each other by name, life stage, interests, etc., can help us stay connected as one church family even if we never go to the same service or campus. People who have been part of GCC for years, as well as people who are new to the congregation, should be able to access the same hub to connect and share opportunities with each other on their own—no bottleneck.
Freedom within a framework.
Anytime you give people the ability to add, edit and respond to content there will be some necessary coaching and course correction along the way. The win isn't a perfectly controlled environment where the staff team chooses what "users" can and can't see, but a real organic environment the staff team can nurture. We'll need guardrails to help free people to be themselves, personalize their own flow and connect with others authentically. At the same time, we'll need simple controls to minimize the potential for destructive rogue usage.
As people start using this new tool, they'll use it in ways we hadn't imagined. Our implementation approach will be flexible so we can adapt as we gain insight from our people—not only about the features and functionality, but also about the language people are using around their experience. It will help shape our on-going communication and care plans.
Just because we can doesn't mean we should. A strong temptation with technology is to use everything too fast all at once. We'll be strategic about what this is and isn't—who it's for and who it's not for—what it does and doesn't do. While this is a new space to interact, we won't make people create a new username, password or profile. The hub needs to integrate and share data with tools our people are already using (Facebook or Twitter and Fellowship One).
How did you go about getting leadership buy-in?
Kem: We have a mission and vision at Granger—it is what shapes our culture and drives our day-to-day. That mission and vision is something we all already buy in to; leadership, staff and volunteer teams alike. As a member of the GCC team, it's my job to help find ways to move our vision forward. As communications director, The Table was part of the answer to specific problems I was charged with solving.
I think people run into difficulty getting buy-in when they try to sell something new versus supporting something that's already in motion.