(The Juicys are a way to recognize and reward those churches who’ve worked to improve their church communications in some way during the last year and includes giving them a grant to jump start their next project. We hadn’t expected to give any runner-up awards for the Juicys, but the smaller church division for Communications Church of the Year had so many entries we wanted to highlight more than one church. So here we go.)
No one usually likes annual meetings. They’re required by most church by-laws yet they’re a pain to plan and can be boring to sit through. That was the typical challenge faced by Level Ground Mennonite Church in Abbotsford, British Columbia.
“We had found in the past that evening meetings had low attendance and could often drag on and on with report after report,” says Worship and Creative Arts Pastor Dan Loewen. “We felt this didn't really get people excited about our church and what we had done in the last year so we came up with a way to make it more engaging.”
In order to do that, Level Ground, a church of around 225 people, decided to tell the stories of the past year through video. Sure, there will be a few reports given by someone standing up front, but that would be accompanied by videos featuring various ministries. They wanted to make sure there was a good mix of video, talking, worship, prayer, voting and humor. And to boost attendance, the replaced a Sunday morning service with the meeting to make it a vision weekend. As one of our judges said, “Love the time of the meeting; that’s meeting people where they’re at.”
“I would say this project was a success,” says Loewen. “Most of the time church meetings attendance is about half of the congregation and people just want the meeting to be over. We found this format worked great, we had full attendance and people were engaged and informed about what our church is passionate about and the ministries we are doing.”
Beyond the videos, Level Ground compiled the entire individual written reports into one intentionally designed PDF. (Check it out here or watch the video below.)
Deciding to do the annual meeting this way was a lot of work. It took time to gather video, edit and design the actual PDF report. Despite the time, doing something like this just seems to be a part of the church’s DNA.
“It's a shame to have a great message that people don't hear because it's either presented poorly or inaccessible,” explain Loewen. “Our communication strategy is to give our message the best chance possible by putting it in a creative format, and making it easy for people to get a hold of. We want to continue to use video as a tool to communicate our message and by using tools like Facebook, YouTube, and our website we hope to make that message as accessible as possible.”
Up next for Level Ground: incorporating more video into other aspects of their church. Planning is already underway for a possible Christmas video as part of their Advent series. Another one of our judges said he’d look forward to that. “Happy to hear of a church using technology to engage more of the congregation in ministry. Showcasing the creativity of the staff will likely be contagious for the community!”
As the runner up, Level Ground will get a smaller $250 Juicys grant to help them advance their video work.