The Evolution of Ward Communications

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jeffa
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The Evolution of Ward Communications

Postby jeffa » Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:04 am

I'm currently serving as ward executive secretary. Our bishopric has engaged the counsel from Elder Quentin L. Cook from his Oct 2018 conference talk (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2018/10/deep-and-lasting-conversion-to-heavenly-father-and-the-lord-jesus-christ?lang=eng) about optimizing the Sacrament Meeting hour by reducing announcements, etc. so that the focus of the meeting can be more on the ordinance of the Sacrament.
"To help members prepare for the Sabbath, some wards already send an informative email, text, or social media message midweek. In view of this adjustment, we strongly recommend this type of communication. These invitations will remind the members of the Sunday meeting schedule for that week, including the upcoming class lesson topic, and support continuing gospel conversation at home. In addition, the adult meetings on Sunday will also provide information to connect church and home study each week."

I've been sending out emails using LCR pointing to a Google Document shared with only those who have the link for the following reasons:

  • So we can overcome the limitations of the formatting of the "Send a Message" application in LCR.
  • "Advertising" of events using posters and flyers can be digitized and not placed in the foyer thereby not distracting members and visitors who are seeking the healing influence of the Lord by coming to church
  • If we ever get an affordable SMS texting solution we can point members to this Google Document via text

The direction we're heading towards is starting to look more like a website rather than an email. This has bred the question: Is there a precedence as to how we can reliably put this information into a mobile application of sorts? I know that LDS.org has in the past let members enter information regarding lesson schedules and currently allows for events to be placed in a calendar, but I'm wondering if anyone in Salt Lake has considered creating a mobile app that will allow push notifications to be sent out (sort of like SMS text messages) along with some sort of template for supplementing a printed program with a bulletin of announcements. If not that, is there any interest by Salt Lake into implementing some type of opt-in SMS texting platform for church members similar to one I've researched here: https://clearstream.io/

I'd be interested to know if there are any other tech savvy members who are starting to put more of their weekly communications online rather than in print format. Could you share what you've been doing?

Thanks in advance!

Timgoat
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Re: The Evolution of Ward Communications

Postby Timgoat » Mon Apr 22, 2019 11:52 pm

Hopefully you found a good answer to your questions. If not, I would like to throw-in my 2 cents. My Bishop has charged me with creating a digital copy of the Sunday program/bulletin. I use the fantastic site https://wardbulletin.app. It's very easy to use. There are a couple a quirks to it but overall it's a great tool. I also use a simple qrcode so people can access it easily.

jeffa
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Re: The Evolution of Ward Communications

Postby jeffa » Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:52 pm

Thanks for the response. I had no idea this site even existed, so thanks for sharing!. In the meanwhile since we've discovered a more collaborative approach by using Google Sites to do basically the same thing. The benefit is now we can get other auxiliaries to have a special place to put their own information so that a link to this goes out via email along with the qr code in the printed program. We've also discovered that the LDS Tools app has a texting function so that auxiliaries can communicate via text with the specific members in that group (i.e. YW/YM).

Timgoat
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Re: The Evolution of Ward Communications

Postby Timgoat » Tue Apr 23, 2019 8:20 pm

Do you have a link you could share? I would love to get a centralized place for aux newsletters etc

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johnshaw
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Re: The Evolution of Ward Communications

Postby johnshaw » Wed Apr 24, 2019 6:36 am

I've been suggesting that the LDS tools app allow for types of push notifications like this, Ward programs, mission, heckle, emergency plans, etc... This is a long needed aspect of the solution
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”
― Thomas Paine, Common Sense

drepouille
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Re: The Evolution of Ward Communications

Postby drepouille » Wed Apr 24, 2019 6:53 am

I have noticed that the new FIR app delivers push notifications. I received a closure/completion notice yesterday. I was surprised, because I did not know the FIR app was running as a background process.

There is no single best way to disseminate information, so we must deliver the same information to the members in multiple ways, even though that may annoy those who receive the information several times. I think announcing things verbally (in Sacrament meeting or EQ/RS/AP/YW meetings) is the least effective means. Yet, if we don't announce things verbally, there will always be those who claim they were not announced at all.
Dana Repouille, Plattsmouth, Nebraska

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johnshaw
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Re: The Evolution of Ward Communications

Postby johnshaw » Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:16 am

drepouille wrote:There is no single best way to disseminate information, so we must deliver the same information to the members in multiple ways, even though that may annoy those who receive the information several times. I think announcing things verbally (in Sacrament meeting or EQ/RS/AP/YW meetings) is the least effective means. Yet, if we don't announce things verbally, there will always be those who claim they were not announced at all.


I agree that multiple ways should be used to communicate that would include both physical and digital, but disagree that there is a single best way to disseminate information. If the LDS Tools app were allowed to host a small number of documents and could push notifications to ward members (weekly communicate we've been asked to do, Sacrament Program, ward Temple&FH plan, missionary plan, emergency plan, etc) it would become the single best way to disseminate information.

mostly it's either inconsistency or lack of a plan that produces the results that are just chaotica and random.

I attended Bishopric/StakePresidency/Ward/Stake Council meetings for about 17 straight years, I never knew just how much information I would've been missing -- if i hadn't had the opportunity for the last 5 years or so not to be in those meetings. Trying to get information about activities my kids are involved in is like managing a herd of cats. If the leaders have planned at all, they've not communicated (or calendared), if they communicate they choose specifically who to communicate with (usually a mom, or the kids directly - don't get me started on trying to track down each and every individual who is managing their own text lists for communicating, only to have those people change and recreate their own lists that I have to chase down and be added to because I guess dad's aren't important in the church to leaders in Primary and the Youth) We've created a mess that could easily be remedied with the apps we all use now.
“A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom.”

― Thomas Paine, Common Sense

drepouille
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Re: The Evolution of Ward Communications

Postby drepouille » Wed Apr 24, 2019 7:38 am

There are some members who will never be reachable. They don't listen to announcements. They don't bring the ward bulletin home. They will never have an LDS Account, or if they do, they will never remember their passwords or PINs. Members will often ask me for my phone number, and I tell them to look it up in the Directory or LDS Tools. "Oh, it doesn't work because I don't know my password."

I am frustrated as well that our ward and stake councils do not use the calendar as designed, and they do not maintain it when plans change. I frequently receive new event notifications for events happening the very next day. I think our ward council is not motivated to use the calendar because our ward members do not go to the calendar to find out what events have been planned. They resort to using the ward Facebook page to announce plans and changes to planned activities, but that completely ignores all the members who do not have Facebook accounts.

The Handbooks are very clear that stake and ward activities must be planned for an placed on the calendar far in advance. The Handbook also states that we are not to spend much time in our council meetings talking about calendaring events. Therefore, event planning and scheduling must be done online. But nobody wants to use the calendar app.
Dana Repouille, Plattsmouth, Nebraska

drepouille
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Re: The Evolution of Ward Communications

Postby drepouille » Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:01 am

For the past year, I have served as president of my Homeowners Association. I decided to implement a quarterly newsletter, as well as a texting group. My neighbors are extremely excited to receive regular news about what the HOA is doing for them. So I likewise think that the bishopric or ward council should publish a regular newsletter. If for nothing else, we can use it to test for valid mailing addresses for members.
Dana Repouille, Plattsmouth, Nebraska

jeffa
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Re: The Evolution of Ward Communications

Postby jeffa » Wed Apr 24, 2019 8:39 am

drepouille wrote:There are some members who will never be reachable. They don't listen to announcements. They don't bring the ward bulletin home. They will never have an LDS Account, or if they do, they will never remember their passwords or PINs. Members will often ask me for my phone number, and I tell them to look it up in the Directory or LDS Tools. "Oh, it doesn't work because I don't know my password."

I am frustrated as well that our ward and stake councils do not use the calendar as designed, and they do not maintain it when plans change. I frequently receive new event notifications for events happening the very next day. I think our ward council is not motivated to use the calendar because our ward members do not go to the calendar to find out what events have been planned. They resort to using the ward Facebook page to announce plans and changes to planned activities, but that completely ignores all the members who do not have Facebook accounts.

The Handbooks are very clear that stake and ward activities must be planned for an placed on the calendar far in advance. The Handbook also states that we are not to spend much time in our council meetings talking about calendaring events. Therefore, event planning and scheduling must be done online. But nobody wants to use the calendar app.


We've had some grumblings about going 100% digital too. I can sympathize with the members who have tech issues or who are not 'up with the times', but that will hopefully be suplemented by good ministering brothers/sisters who can assist them with important event dates and information. My mother's ward has made a change to their printed program that I really like: It's devoid of announcements and has a list of everyone who is speaking in their Sacrament meeting with some space underneath their name to write down one's thought. With our printed program we have some nice features that complement the digital announcements: there's a 2-week calendar so the schedule of ward/stake happenings can be seen at a glance...and each square on the calendar has ward member birthdays on it. We've received feedback that these features are really depended on so I imagine they won't be going away anytime soon.


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