by Brian McMurray, Independence, MO
Several years ago I stopped going to church. I was starting my career, recently married and moving into my first house. In the midst of all this church got thrown to the side. I spent Sundays sleeping in, watching football and taking a break. Maybe I was being lazy. Maybe I needed the break. Whatever the case, I soon found myself missing the weekly interaction with that unique community. I thought about how they had supported me throughout my life and yet, as soon as I could give something back, here I was spending my Sunday mornings on the couch. This thinking, coupled with the birth of my first daughter in 2007, inspired me to return.
I wanted to be more involved so I began looking for opportunities. I quickly noticed that our congregation had no website or social media presence. We may have been theologically progressive but we were a bit behind the curve technologically. I’m a creative director by trade so it seemed a natural fit for me to take on that responsibility at Walnut Gardens, my home congregation. I developed a website, social media accounts and began sending out an email newsletter. Our church community loved the changes, so we did even more. Our annual retreat and fundraiser registrations were done completely online. We used electronic surveys to ask questions and get feedback. All of this was enthusiastically embraced.
Unfortunately, there were some downsides. Keeping things updated required a lot of me and my pastor’s time each week. I soon realized why there weren’t many churches doing regular electronic communication. If it was this hard for everyone then no one would do it and they’d miss out on a huge opportunity. I kept thinking there had to be a better way.
But the need for effective communication didn’t become clear to me until my uncle, one of the most giving people in our congregation, had a stroke. The members wanted to help and I was asked if I could create an online way to schedule this help. I had wondered if there was a more effective method of handling church communication and here in front of me was an obvious example of why it was important.
Inspired to do something I brought the idea to my company, Opus. I told Jack Hayhow (the CEO of Opus) about my experiences, frustrations and my uncle’s situation. Jack was intrigued and together we formed a concept of what church communication could be.
Several months later we launched Church Updates. Walnut Gardens was the first church to use the product and it was an immediate hit. The word then spread to several other Community of Christ churches (as well as other denominations). Several congregations have begun using Church Updates and we are hearing incredible stories from people using it. It means a lot to me that something I helped create is making a difference for people. I can’t imagine my life without my congregation and hopefully this is a way for me to give a little bit back.
If you’re not sure where you fit, don’t give up on your church – try getting more involved. Look for a way to apply your passions to your community. If your experience is anything like mine you’ll find that involvement leads to a much deeper satisfaction than you could’ve ever imagined.
Church Updates will be sharing the Young Adult Ministries booth at World Conference (April 13-18, 2013 in Independence, MO)! Stop by the World Village and check out this great connection tool for your young adult group or congregation.