5 Free or Cheap Communications Resources for Church Plants

Hello there! JJ Campbell here! I wanted to take a quick minute to introduce myself. Not only do I work here at the 242 Network managing communications, but I also work for one of the churches in our network of churches. My role at Vertical Church has evolved from Social Media Manager to Communications Coordinator. With that I oversee and carry out our Follow Up process with guests and regular attenders, manage social media and church communications, and manage our database of people. Basically, I talk with people and figure out the best ways to talk with people all day. It's wonderful for an extrovert like me! 

There are a number of resources I use in carrying out all of these communications functions. Most of them are free and those that aren't are extremely cheap. I know in church plant life, the staff is limited with one person wearing a number of hats and the budget is lean. Today I wanted to share my favorite communications resources that I've come to know, love, and rely on. You or whoever is managing your communications probably already know of these resources, but I wanted to share with you the way I utilize them. 

1. Planning Center People

Planning Center Online (PCO) offers a wide variety of services for churches. Before utilizing the membership management services (Planning Center People) our worship leaders were using Planning Center Services to schedule musicians and the Sunday am service flow as well as communicating with musicians. Definitely check out Planning Center Services for your Sunday morning flow! 

Back to People. Planning Center People is comprehensive, easy to use, and easily customizable for membership management. From Planning Center I am able to keep up with people in the follow up process that holds me accountable. The Workflows and Custom Tabs make everything organized and easy for everyone to use. We know are people are being followed up with in a timely and efficient manner. 

The best part about Planning Center People is that IT'S FREE. Check out all of the different Planning Center Products! 

2. Hootsuite

I've been a fan of Hootsuite for a long time. Like for the past 5 years. It's evolved beautifully and it makes social media scheduling easy and convenient. From Hootsuite you can schedule Tweets, Facebook Posts, Instagram Posts (you have to have the Hootsuite app downloaded on your phone), and a number of other social media services. 

There are paid versions that make things a little easier, but the free version works really well! 

3. Buffer

Buffer is a new love. After using it for a few weeks, I prefer it over Hootsuite. Buffer analyzes your best social media posting times and schedules your messages. All you have to do is write the messages and select which social media account to post it to. I like not having to set the time. I can write messages and schedule them quicker on Buffer than I could on Hootsuite. 

Buffer also lets you save messages and "re-buffer" them. I really like that for the generic, non-temporal messages I write. 

The major con when it comes to Hootsuite vs Buffer is that you can't schedule Instagram posts like you can on Hootsuite. 

There is a free version of Buffer, but it's limited in what you can do. To me, it's worth it to have a paid subscription. Since making the switch to Buffer, our engagement on Twitter and Facebook is at an all time high. 

4. MailChimp

We use MailChimp for our Weekly Email Updates as well as our Daily Devotion Emails. MailChimp makes it easy to design engaging emails with graphics and colors. I prefer MailChimp over anything else because it's easy to drop in graphics and images. 

There is a free version of MailChimp or a paid version. It just depends on how many emails you house. It also lets you see analytics of how many people are actually reading your emails.

5. Slack

Slack is the new favorite around our office. I can sing the praises of Slack all day. It's, by far, the best inter-office communication system I've ever used. You can create "channels" of different teams as well as communicate person to person. There is a desktop app for your computer as well as an app. 

I use slack when gathering information for social media and email communications. It makes it so easy to quickly communicate with people and pass graphics and documents back and forth. Definitley check it out! There are so many inns and outs of Slack to make your team communicate efficiently. 

Our team uses the free version of Slack and it's perfect! 

I hope that these resources are helpful to you and your team! It's imperative that we communicate well with our people. I'm more than happy to help walk you through using these resources. You can click here to email me!

- JJ Campbell