March 15, 2013

Church Communication & Our Older Adults

I spent some time leading the older adult study group at our church earlier this week and used the opportunity to have a conversation about communication. We talked primarily about the ways in which they communicate and their thoughts on the communication coming from our church. I learned some interesting things from this group of individuals who averaged 75yrs in age.

  • Only 50% of them have email and the ones who use it check it daily. 78% of those who use email are subscribed to receive church emails.
  • 78% use cell phones but only 14% of those text. 7% use their cell phones to access the internet. 
  • 6% use Facebook to "look at" family & friends but have not updated their profile.
  • None of them use Twitter. 
  • 6% look at our church's website, and that only once a week. A few did not know the church had a website at all and did not know the address. 
  • 94% take the Sunday bulletin home with them each week. Many of them could not understand how individuals "survive" without it. 
  • They viewed announcements made from the pulpit as the most important.
  • They felt that our church communications included too much "insider lingo" and too many confusing acronyms. 

  • The communication challenge within the Church for the foreseeable future will be to walk this tension of traditional and modern forms of communication and how to best use the two while honoring their users.

    Please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences.


    Katie said...

    Wow - great stuff. It's so hard to relate to this! I build websites; email, text, Facebook and Twitter almost daily; I feel like the bulletin is a waste of resources. Great to tart to understand how others communicate...

    Aaron Helman said...

    Communication is always contextual based on the audience.

    My favorite point was the last one, because that seems to be universal.

    Students, young adults, parents, grandparents...

    All turned off by insider lingo and "Christianese."

    Matt Lipan said...

    @katie: thanks for the read & comment. i was feeling the same way as the conversation was unfolding. i've found it to be a powerful reminder of all the different forms of communication we have to be aware of.

    @aaron: thanks for the read & comment. agreed, knowing the audience and their context is HUGE. an easy thing to ignore. it's also easy to forget that the language we use can really become an obstacle for those new to church.