Freebie: Clocks Go Forward Reminder

Help your church remember to set their clocks forward with these free graphics – feel free to use on your own social media page or website! Just click on the image to download, and share away!

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Thanks for checking out these free images.

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21 Creative Ideas for Easter

Easter is a great time for making a renewed effort to reach out into your local community and try new things as a congregation. Here’s a list of 21 ideas for how you can promote your Easter activities, try new outreach opportunities, or bring something a little different to your easter services.

1. Use Mother’s Day as an opportunity to invite people to Easter.

Giving out daffodils? Add an invitation to your Easter service.

2. Keep your invitations simple.

Rather than inviting people to 3/4 different services, focus on make one event the thing you invite people to.

3. Use social media to build awareness

Make a plan for sharing about your Easter service, add a custom profile picture or header image. Bonus: Download a free image pack!

4. Create a Facebook event for your Easter services.

Make the most of your church’s Facebook Page by creating an event which your congregation can use to invite their friends to.

5. Host an Easter egg hunt

Make a big family fun morning by holding an Easter Egg Hunt Around your church or in a local park.

6. Fish and Chip Prayers

Here’s one for Good Friday. Set up a hall or various rooms with a range of prayer activities, and create space for families to engage in the Easter story (you could recreate the stations of the cross). You could also have a separate room with Easter craft activities. Then share a family meal of fish and chips together.

7. Passover Meal

Hold a ‘traditional’ last supper on Maundy Thursday. Share a meal of lamb and retell the Passover as Jesus would have done at the last supper.

8. Overnight Prayer Vigil

Gather together for a 24-hour or overnight prayer vigil, set to finish at sunrise on Easter Sunday.

9. Create an Easter Flash Mob

Why not try something like this in your local shopping precinct?

10. Host an Easter Lunch

Many churches hold a meal on Christmas Day for those who might otherwise be alone. Why not do the same at Easter?

11. Put an advert in your local paper

Many local papers will have a section to publicise the local churches’ Easter Services.

12. Deliver Easter Cards to your community.

Hand deliver Easter cards with a simple message and invitation to local homes.

13. Give away Hot Cross Buns

Set up a table outside and hand out free Hot Cross Buns to passers-by.

14. Hold an Easter Fun Day

Play traditional sports day sports like an egg and spoon race and bunny hopping races (sack races).

15. Create an Easter garden

Creating a mini garden scene in a shoe box was one of my favourite Easter craft activities as a child. Why not take it a step further and create a full garden scene at the front of the church using pot plants and a green rug or AstroTurf for grass.

16. Hold a flower arranging course

If you have a team of people who arrange the flowers in your church, why not ask if they would hold a course (or a morning) where they can teach their skills. You could also use this as an outreach event to invite friends to.

17. Palm Sunday Family Service with a real donkey

Make memories by making a donkey the star of the show!

18. Good Friday Walk of Witness

It’s a traditional part of many local churches’ Easter plans, but it’s a great way of having a visual presence in your local community.

19. My King video

Easter is a great time to include video as part of your service if you don’t normally. Here’s a video that might work particularly well as a reminder of who Jesus is.

20. Make a mosaic cross with broken tiles

Prepare a large wooden cross with a small wooden bead around the edge. In the service, give everyone a piece of broken tile and ask them to stick it to the cross. (See here for an example). You might even be able to get free broken tiles from a DIY store.

21. Act out the Easter story.

Characters dressed up, coming in through the back running to the tomb or looking for Jesus. This could be a great opportunity for a narrative sermon.

Conclusion

We hope you find these ideas helpful! If you’re looking for flyers or Easter cards, get in touch with our design team and let us do the hard work!

25 Ways to Build A Facebook audience

So you’ve taken your first steps and created a Facebook Page for your church, but how do you grow your audience? Here are 25 practical ideas that you can start today to grow your audience and reach more people through the Facebook Newsfeed:

1. Invite your friends/family

Probably the first step many of us take is to invite our friends and family to “like” our Page. Whilst this may be a good way of getting a load of “likes” at the start, it can be a bit of a false-starter. Focus on building an audience of people who relate most to the page – close family/friends who support your church, and those who live locally.

2. Invite your congregation

Inviting your congregation to “like” the church’s Page seems obvious – but it’s often missed! If you are connected with members of the church on Facebook, then you can invite them through your Facebook Page, but it’s also worth making a point of speaking to people face-to-face and asking them to click “like” in order to help reach more people on Facebook.

3. Post more often…

One of the best ways to grow your Facebook audience is to increase the number of photos/statuses/links that are shared on your Facebook Page. The most content you are producing, the more likely that it is to be seen by a wider audience.

4. …but don’t over-post!

However, it’s also important that you don’t post too often! Keeping it to around 1 or 2 posts a day is probably about right. Less than that, and you may drop off from your followers’ Newsfeeds, more than that and you risk becoming ‘spam’.

5. Be regular

The most successful Facebook Pages have a regular rhythm of posting throughout the week. Set up a regular schedule of posts (such as 3 times a week), and be consistent in posting content at around the same times. Try using a tool such as Buffer to create a regular schedule.

6. Schedule themes

One way to achieve a regular rhythm of posting is to schedule in certain themes. For instance, you could share a Bible verse every Monday morning, share an upcoming event on Wednesdays, and share an invitation to the Sunday service on Friday.

7. Post about events you are hosting

Make a habit of creating Facebook Events for one-off and monthly events; then set a time each week to share those events and invite people to them.

8. Use Facebook Live

Facebook Live is a great way for churches to share the latest news and announcements. All you need is yourself, a phone, and something to talk about! Facebook’s Newsfeed algorithm prioritises live videos, so it’s a great way to grow your audience.

9. Post photos from Church events

Posting photos is a great way of giving people a glimpse into the life of your church, and engagement with these photos will help them appear across the Newsfeed.

10. Share content from your services

Another way to give people a glimpse into your church is by sharing content from a Sunday morning (or evening/mid-week meeting!). Try sharing an inspirational quote from the sermon on a regular basis.

11. Share your good news stories

Make a point to collect stories from your congregation, and get their permission to share these good news stories. You could even try interviewing someone on Facebook Live!

12. Post about local news

One good way of growing your Facebook audience is by getting involved in your local community – make a point of posting about local news or issues in the community.

13. Use your page to engage with others

You can also use your Page to comment, like and share on posts from other Facebook Pages. This helps increase your reach and shows an increased level of interest in your local community.

14. Encourage your congregation to engage

One of the best ways to grow your Facebook audience is for your existing audience to engage with your Page. Encourage your church members to join in online, and explain how it can help you reach more people online. (Check out our post on the 2018 Facebook Newsfeed algorithm changes).

15. Share content on your personal Facebook page

Sharing content from your Facebook Page on your personal account is a good way of increasing your Page’s reach. Just make sure you don’t over share and risk people switching off!

16. Encourage users to “see first”

Facebook allows users to set how often they see your Page’s updates. Encourage your church to go to your Page and click on “See First” to make sure that they see your latest posts in their Newsfeed.

17. Talk about Your Facebook Page on Sunday

Keep reminding your congregation about what you are aiming for on Facebook – maybe look to share stories or feedback you may have recieved on Facebook.

18. Create a Facebook Group

Creating a Facebook Group is another great way of increasing engagement with your audience. Use it to share prayer requests, news updates, and encourage discussions.

19. Use Facebook Check-ins

Facebook allows users to “check-in” at physical locations linked to Facebook Pages. This helps grow your audience by bumping your Page up the search results, and by appearing in the Newsfeed.

20. Invest in Facebook Ads

Boosting posts, or investing in Facebook Ads can be a good way to increase your reach. You can also start a campaign to grow your likes. However, be careful not to get carried away – focus on creating quality content, rather than just growing “likes”.

21. Put a link to Facebook on your website

Make sure that you are giving people the opportunity to visit your Facebook Page from your church website.

22. Put a link to Facebook on your printed publicity

You could also add a “Find us on Facebook” badge to your printed materials.

23. Keep your about section up to date

Make sure that you re-visit your Page to check the “About” tab is showing the correct information.

24. Reply to comments and messages

Being responsive to comments and messages is another way of increasing your reach, and making sure you make a good impression.

25. Build a team of editors

You may find it helpful to invest in developing a team of volunteers who can help with regular posting and/or replying to messages.

Conclusion

We hope you’ve found these 25 ideas helpful. Just remember that Facebook favours quality content, so make sure that you focus on creating engaging posts on a regular basis.

Want to know more about how ChurchCreate can help you develop your online presence? Get in touch!

Ten of the best sites to find free and legal images for your website

Trying to find the right photo for your latest flyer or blog post can be tricky, and many of us head to Google and “borrow” one of the images that appear in a quick search. What you might or might not know is that using those images might just be illegal.

That’s right – illegal.

What’s more, if you pick an image that belongs to someone else and use it without permission, then you could find yourself on the receiving end of quite a hefty fine for copyright theft.

There’s an easy way avoiding copyright theft: get permission! This might mean paying for the rights to reproduce the image, getting written consent from the copyright owner, or making sure you use images which are released under a Creative Commons (CC0) license which allows you to use the image without accreditation. Always make sure to check the license – some licenses may allow you to use the image, but only if you include credits to the author.

But where can you find such images? These sites are some of our favourites:

1. Unsplash

Unsplash is a fantastic site with thousands of high-resolution images and a great search feature. Unsplash is one of our go-to sites when looking for free stock images. All the images are released under the Unsplash license, which allows you to use the images for free without accreditation (although crediting the author is always appreciated!)

www.unsplash.com

2. Pexels

Pexels provides high-quality, completely free stock photos licensed under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, meaning they can be used without crediting the author. Photos are tagged, meaning you can use the search feature to find the perfect photo.

www.pexels.com

3. Freely Photos

Freely Photos is a site full of faith-filled photos for churches and Christian organisations. All the photos are issued under the CC0 license, meaning you can do whatever you want with them.

www.freelyphotos.com

4. Creationswap

Creationswap provides a mix of free and paid-for graphics and media from church designers. The site contains everything from flyer templates to powerpoint slides to logo designs.

www.creationswap.com

5. StockSnap.io

StockSnap.io is full of high-resolution images, with new photos added weekly. All images are released under the CC0 license and can be searched using the search bar.

www.stocksnap.io

6. Lightstock

Lightstock is perfect for churches, offering a wide selection of “Cheesy-Free Christian Stock”. The site contains a vast range of images and videos (and vector graphics) which you can purchase at a very reasonable rate. Each week Lightstock release a free image and vector of the week – well worth keeping an eye out!

www.lightstock.com

7. YouVersion

The popular Bible App contains a clever feature where you can make your own Bible verse images. Check the copyright on the images, but if you’re looking for inspiring daily verses, this might be well worth a look.

www.youversion.com

8. Foodiesfeed

If you’re looking for excellent photos of food, perhaps for a breakfast meeting, coffee morning, or curry night, Foodiesfeed is packed full of yummy-looking photos of food, drinks and ingredients which will bring your next project to life.

www.foodiesfeed.com

9. PicJumbo

PicJumbo is a free stock photo site created in 2013 by designer & photographer Viktor Hanacek. There you’ll find a range of interesting photos which can be searched or browsed.

www.picjumbo.com

10. Negative Space

Negative Space is another site offering beautiful, high-resolution free stock photos under the CC0 license.

www.negativespace.co

Five things churches need to know about Facebook’s new algorithm

On 12th January 2018, Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook’s founder and CEO) announced some pretty big changes to the way in which the Newsfeed works: ‘making posts from businesses, brands and media less prominent’ (BBC News). These changes apply to any organisations (like churches) who have a public Facebook Page, and it’s worth knowing a little bit about them.

1. Everything nothing is changing.

The key message in Facebook’s announcement is that less “engaging” posts are less likely to appear on user’s newsfeeds, a trend that we’ve seen develop over a number of years. In the past, you may have used visual media (e.g. photos/video) as a way to increase the likelihood that your posts will be shown on your followers’ Newsfeeds, but this latest announcement has got many concerned that their Pages’ reach will decrease. As Mark Zuckerberg says: “We’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other…” (Link)

Churches and organisations who create posts which inspire conversation will benefit from a less crowded Newsfeed.

Whilst this announcement seems to have come as a shock to many organisations, Facebook is picking up on the way in which people use Facebook – face it, you’re pretty likely to scroll past an advert or a post from a page you barely engage with, and more likely to stop with a post from your closest friends. In actual fact, these changes present a great opportunity for churches who can create engaging posts.

2. Your reach will decrease (maybe).

The key takeaway that many have highlighted is the following: “As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media. And the public content you see more will be held to the same standard — it should encourage meaningful interactions between people…” (Link). Facebook seems to be planning on decreasing the number of posts from Pages that people see, meaning that, as a Page, your reach is likely to decrease.

Focus on creating meaningful interaction: create content that engages people, facilitate discussion, get people involved in the comments.

Again, the flip-side of these changes is that Facebook posts which create ‘meaningful interactions’ (e.g commenting/tagging friends etc.) may find themselves to be more widely noticed, which would then increase their reach. As a church, you have an ideal opportunity to encourage members of your congregation to get involved with your church’s Facebook Page, which will help increase the likelihood of your posts being seen more widely.

3. Facebook Live.

Video has long been an important part of developing a successful presence on Facebook, and whilst video will continue to feature strongly in the new algorithm, Facebook Live will take this to the next level: “Live videos often lead to discussion among viewers on Facebook—in fact, live videos on average get six times as many interactions as regular videos…” (Link)

Using Facebook Live demonstrates a deeper level of openness, integrity and personality. It’s a great way for churches to share the latest news and announcements.

If you haven’t already tried sharing live video, now is the time to get started – all you need is yourself, a phone, and something to talk about! Give it a try and discover how using live video can develop your reach.

4. Social connection is essential.

Facebook has a clear set of Newsfeed values which it uses to determine what posts appear on the Newsfeed. At the top of the list is this: “Facebook was built on the idea of connecting people with their friends and family. That is still the driving principle of News Feed today.” It might be tempting to create “engagement bait” – posts which include comments such as “comment below if you agree!”, but a word to the wise: don’t – Facebook actively demotes these types of posts. The key word in all this: Authenticity (another of Facebook’s Newsfeed values).

Think about about how you can share authentic posts that entertain, inform and create strong connections.

Churches are full of people and stories, so you have massive potential in the stories that are happening every day; from cups of coffee being shared with strangers, to school visits, to answers to prayer. Focus on telling your stories through a range of visual media – use photos and videos to effectively share what’s going on in your setting.

5. Have a think about Facebook Ads.

Organic reach (the number of people that see your posts ‘naturally’ (i.e. without paying Facebook to reach more people)) has been declining for a number of years, and many local churches and Christian organisations have already tried out Facebook Ads, perhaps by clicking the “Boost Post” button that appears on their posts. With these new changes, learning to make the most of Facebook Ads through targeting the right audiences will become essential.

Facebook Ads provides local churches with a unique opportunity to expand their reach by using Facebook Ads or Boosted Posts to target their local community.

If you have an upcoming event which you want to invite members of the local community to, Facebook Ads may successfully enable you to reach many people you might otherwise not have reached. The ads themselves don’t have to be expensive, but it is worthwhile taking the time to learn how to create an engaging ad. If you want to learn more about Facebook Ads, get in touch to explore how we can help.

In summary…

  1. These changes continue the trends we’ve seen over recent years towards promoting more socially-engaging posts.
  2. Expect your organic reach to decrease (but follow these steps to increase reach).
  3. Make increasing use of video, especially Facebook Live.
  4. Focus on creating authentic posts that naturally invite social connection.
  5. Learn how to target the right audiences with paid ads.

Bonus Tip: Encourage your followers to keep seeing your posts by adjusting their Newsfeed preferences to “See First”.