This is one story in a continuing series about the Oklahoma Conference Strategic Plan.
The King James Bible, printed and bound in leather; Sunday worship bulletins and monthly newsletters; Christmas letters from missionaries — all tangible forms of communicating, across the years, for the Church in ministry in the world.
Today, that which is invisible drives much Church communication: the Internet. And we ponder, as did the psalmist: How do we sing the Lord’s song in a new land? (Psalm 137:4)
The modern version of that question: Should we use print or digital?
The answer is always "Yes!"
Just as translations of the Bible are prolific today, effective communication for the Church involves multiple tools, both unseen and corporeal. And the Department of Communications works intentionally with these tools to connect Oklahoma United Methodists in ministry at all levels.
- What message do we want to send?
- Who is our audience?
- Is the message relevant?
- What media tools will we use?
These questions deserve attention in your church, too. Effective communication is crucial to call people to action: Come. Believe. Pray. Give. Volunteer. Study. Connect. Grow in faith.
In September 1970, the very first print issue of Contact called Oklahoma’s United Methodists to action. And the newspaper continues to be distributed via U.S. Mail, every three weeks, to about 8,500 readers.
Today, email and the Web also transmit Contact’s news. This media strategy has proven effective for the Department of Communications to reach even more people with Oklahoma Conference information, education, and inspiration.
The printed Contact is delivered to church officers and all clergy via Conference-paid subscriptions. Those names are updated annually from the Conference database.
The 16-page newspaper includes a section with Oklahoma United Methodist news and a section containing news from across the denomination. The latter is generated by the United Methodist Reporter, based in Dallas.
Any individual can receive the Contact newspaper by subscription, and bundled copies to one address are an option. Find more information on page 2A. Address changes may be requested at any time.
Contact Digest, an e-newsletter, summarizes the Oklahoma news from each newspaper and includes links to the complete stories and photos online.
This free Digest also provides a way to communicate time-sensitive news that occurs outside the newspaper’s production schedule. The e-newsletter does not include the Reporter stories.
Contact Digest is emailed to all who sign up for it. You can register online by clicking the link at the bottom of the Oklahoma Conference homepage.
"Online," "link," and "homepage." Those references shift this conversation to the Internet.
The hub for all Web ministry in this department is www.okumc.org. That’s the homepage, the front door that opens upon the resources of the Oklahoma Conference website and beyond. Just click a link.
Here are a few to explore.
Choose "Publications." That opens a Web page with the latest headlines from Contact and more. Also offered are Mobile and RSS feeds that access the Contact content.
The 2011 Journal was posted online in late August. (Publications—Directory of Journals—Journal 2011) The CD and printed book will be delivered in early October.
Choose "Contact newspaper." This displays Contact pages that match the printed pages. The technical term is PDF formatting. (Only the Oklahoma section is available).
"e-training." This link leads you to online training for local church leaders, including trustees and members of Staff-Parish Relations Committees. You set your own pace for learning through these classes.
"UM Connection" links you to the denomination’s homepage. And that leads you to a cornucopia of United Methodist news and resources. For instance, watch for timely reports by the United Methodist News Service as the 2012 General Conference approaches.
Choose "Upper Room," and that links you to the daily devotion from that revered publication. Yes, you can read it in the printed devotional booklet, too…
…Other Department of Communications links on the homepage deserve special mention in this report.
In late August, the tally topped 7,500 views at "OKVideo." The selection here continues to expand.
The free videos, most filmed within Oklahoma, can be downloaded. Thus your church group can learn about Campus Ministry, Camps, the "New Christians" evangelism initiative… can be nurtured by inspired preaching… and can glean ideas from video stories by other churches.
Your church is invited to shared through "OKVideo," too!
Many of the newest videos are from the 2011 Annual Conference. For example, "God Is Not Finished With Us Yet — UMC Realities" has generated high interest; it aired during the report by the Council on Finance & Administration.
The Media Library
Actual bookshelves hold the DVDs available for free check-out through the Department of Communications. But the "Media Library" link at www.okumc.org will reveal all the titles available.
Music videos, animated children’s films, and study series with guidebooks all are available in this collection.
Graphic Design and Audio/Video Production
- Did you receive a Camps book describing the Summer 2011 programming? Submit a registration form for a Local Church Leaders Workshop? Read the VIM Share magazine?
These are creations of the department’s graphic designer. So is the logo below.
- A new Apportionment DVD is being produced. Video prayer messages by Bishop Hayes are recorded and posted online. These are developed by the department’s audiovisual ministry, as were many of the 40-plus multimedia pieces that filled the big screens during Annual Conference.
Even more new(s) technology
This multiplicity of tools increases effective communication today. The Oklahoma Department of Communications strives to practice what it preaches.
So become a Facebook fan, and see photos from the Saint Paul graduation reported on page 1. Follow us on Twitter. We especially turn to these Internet networks to disseminate urgent news.
Also, watch for "Contact Breaking News" in the rotating banners on the Conference homepage.
Print or digitial? Yes.
One eternal message, multiple media to deliver it.
"For how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard, and how are they to hear, without someone to proclaim Him?" (Romans 10:14b)
—Compiled by Holly McCray, editor