Communication in the 21st Century
Communication just isn’t what it used to be. Our news platform isn’t either. The eReview is retired and the Florida Conference Connection debuts this week. It is structured like a news magazine that provides not only news, but also a place for readers to connect with new ideas and people with similar interests and to engage in conversations about church and faith.
Its focus is on news, connection, and conversation, and with it we are finally making the hard transition from the Information Age to the Age of Connection, or Engagement.
The Age of Connection, or Engagement, dawned upon us around 2003, when Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking sites took their places in our world’s communication platform. We are no longer in the Information Age, which stretched from around 1970 to 1990, but our communication strategies are still formed and implemented with 1970s thinking. This thinking is based on the advertising idea that the more messages we send and the more information we shoot out to the public, the more likely we are to get our audience’s attention and the more likely they are to engage in or buy into what we want them to do.
The problem with this is that it just doesn’t work anymore. The more email blasts the conference, districts, or local churches send out, the more likely they are ignored. The more brochures we generate, the harder it is to find what we want. The more Florida Conference logos we create, the less clear our identity becomes. The more buttons on a website – and the Conference website is a great example of this – the less important each of them becomes.
The Florida Conference Connection is part of a new communication strategy that embraces the Age of Connection. Think relationships, not email blasts. We acknowledge that we create overload that makes it hard for people to hear what we have to say. We will be striving for clarity and trying to avoid information overload. We’ll join conversations that are already in process, in districts and local churches. And, we’ll be asking churches how they are connecting with conversations on the baseball field, at the pool, on the golf course or shooting hoops. Where people are and we aren’t.
This Age of Connection model works like this: connect, energize, communicate information. It acknowledges that people aren’t teachable until they are reachable. The master communicator – Christ – used this model. Before He began teaching the crowd at the Sermon on the Mount, He reached out to and connected to them: blessing the poor in spirit, the sorrowful, the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers, those persecuted.
It will take time to turn away from the old Information Age model based on high frequency messaging that gets lost in information overload. Clarity and simplicity, not frequency, creates a memorable message. As people of faith, we all have the greatest story ever told – and the greatest story ought to be memorable.