This blog originally appeared on Exponent II. Click here to view the original post.
“Those in favour, please show by a raise of hands.”
Counting, recounting, recording.
“Those opposed, please show by a raise of hands.”
Counting, recounting, recording.
“The yeses take it.”
I breathed a sigh of relief–not because my preference was passed but because despite the strong words shared on both sides of the issue being voted on, everyone seemed to be okay. No one stormed out. No one was called unfaithful. The vote was noted, we closed the meeting, put the chairs away and gave one another hugs over doughnuts and over-cooled coffee.
After years of raising my hand to sustain new callings, church officers and to show a vote of thanks, I’ll admit that my first experience voting in a church business meeting was exciting and unnerving. To this point in my religious life, voting in church had largely been a point of formality. The bishop, stake president or general authority read a name and we sustained them. I never saw a contrary vote in my 30 years of attending LDS meetings. I know they exist but they’re certainly rare.
But right here, right now, voting carried some weight. I was putting my own opinions and judgement out in the open. As a member of less than a year, my vote mattered as much as everyone else’s—old, young, convert and lifetime member. And I’ll admit that the thought of conflict seemed suddenly scary. I didn’t want anyone to be hurt and I didn’t want to be wrong.
It was watching this process one year ago that fueled my excitement about being part of a church again. I realized that I didn’t just want to attend, I wanted to have a bit of skin in the game. As I watched my fellow congregants raise their hands for or against motions regarding everything from the election of a pastor to the adoption of a budget, it was exciting and a bit overwhelming to realize that no one person had all the answers. No pastor, no bishop, not even a prophet, could do this alone. Revelation and the inspiration that prompted it was a communal act. Every member was entitled and empowered to a part in it. And I wanted to part of that.
I try to be careful to not draw too many comparisons between my experiences growing up in the LDS faith and my experiences now in Community of Christ. Both continue to teach me to draw deep from the well of faith, to aim for goodness and to practice mercy. But as I raised my hand and voice on a touchy and controversial matter, I wish I could have told my budding Mormon feminist self that there would come a day in my life when conflict and difference of opinion at church would be a sign of involvement rather than disobedience or hardheartedness. God has granted all of us a measure of the Spirit with hands and heart for building Zion. We are best served when we recognize the unique contributions, experiences and opinions of one another and not only dare to do right, but also dare to be vulnerable, mistaken, passionate and even gloriously wrong. We’ll be okay. And then we’ll end with hugs, doughnuts and over-cooled coffee.
It's been roughly one year since our congregation put forth its first communications strategy, and what a year of firsts it's been!
In collaboration with the newly formed Communications Team (made up of 60% millennials), we charged ahead by first examining our pre-existing web presence. We evaluated what other churches of comparable size were doing and surveyed our own congregation to find out what meant the most to them. The survey results were incredibly helpful and were immediately implemented on our website and social media channels.
In one year, we launched and maintained the following:
One of the most rewarding things about web-based marketing is that we are able to see accurate, reliable insights in real-time. Every click of a mouse, every visit to our website, every 'like' or 'retweet' on social media...all of it is logged and recorded for us. This information is invaluable to our community. But more important than simply reading this data or sharing it is that we act upon it. Continuous check-ins with these metrics begs the questions: What is working? What isn't working? How can we improve? Who is our target audience? How does our target audience prefer to be communicated with?
We are forming new expressions of ministry based on data-driven decisions...and it's working. Community of Christ International Headquarters, located in Independence, Missouri, USA, recently recognized us as being a 'best practices' congregation in the area of communications.
See for yourself in our Calgary Communications Report below. Enjoy!
Special thanks to the Calgary Communications Team for all your hard work and dedication!
Calgary Spark is a collection of stories told by members and friends of the church alike. Each person's story is helping to shape our community in new ways.