In the spring of 2018 council approved a mass communications policy for our church. Though our committees and teams should already be aware of the policy, since they all were to read and sign consent that they had read and understand the policy, it is good to occasionally have a refresher. Additionally, we are posting here in our E-Newsletter so that the church knows that we take communications seriously and desire a high level of professionalism and respect in and for our organization.
This policy applies to all staff, Elders, council members, and ministry team members.
Mass Communications Policy
The purpose of mass communication is to support and serve Central Manor Church of God (hereafter CMCOG) in furthering its ministries and promoting its programs to the congregation and community. CMCOG’s mass communication initiatives apply to both print and digital communication outlets.
In the interest of intentional management of the communications process, all official mass communications intended to represent, or be distributed on behalf of CMCOG or its ministries must be sent to the Worship and Technology Director (hereafter WTD), Senior Pastor (hereafter SP), or someone approved to act on behalf of the WTD or SP for review and approval before publication. These communications need not be created nor ultimately distributed by the WTD, but they must be reviewed and approved before publication or release on behalf of CMCOG.
Unauthorized mass communication using the church name and targeting all or selected congregants and/or external audiences is not permitted.
Except for the SP, congregants, committee members, and staff members are not authorized to speak to reporters as representatives of the church without advance knowledge and coordination with the WTD or SP. All media inquiries should be directed to the WTD. Similarly, congregants and staff members are not authorized to communicate broadly (e.g., through social media) in a manner that is intended to communicate, or might reasonably be interpreted as communicating, on behalf of CMCOG.
CMCOG’s publications are for the purpose of communicating news and information for and about CMCOG and its ministries. In the spirit of good stewardship of its limited resources of staff time, editorial space and audience attention, CMCOG limits its publications to promoting only ministries, programs and events sponsored or co-sponsored by the church. Exceptions may be made if there is a similar or complementary mission and an established connection or ongoing relationship between the sponsoring organization and CMCOG. The interest or involvement of CMCOG’s congregants as individuals does not establish sponsorship by the church itself. Using CMCOG’s facilities does not necessarily establish such a relationship.
The SP and the WTD are the primary Editors of mass communications. Under the direction of the SP and/or WTD, the office staff may act as Editor and will determine scheduling and placement of articles and announcements in the various publications. Materials submitted by staff members, congregants and others for use in CMCOG’s publications may be edited for clarity, style, tone, spelling, grammar and length, or in order to comport with policies or the mission of the church, without review or approval by the original author. Space limitations and production schedules may preclude publication of submissions. Inappropriate or editorially unsuitable materials, as determined by the Editor, will not be published.
Although there are often exceptions, announcements are usually started about four weeks in advance of the event being promoted or, if applicable, the registration deadline. The announcement request must be submitted to the church office and the WTD at least six weeks prior to the event date or applicable registration deadline. Announcements generally continue in the publications, as space permits, until the registration deadline has passed or the event has occurred.
CMCOG does not publish commercial messages promoting for-profit businesses or professional practices, including offers of free products or services intended to promote a for-profit concern.
Individuals’ advertisements to buy or sell goods and services or concerning employment opportunities are not appropriate for church publications, including all print and digital outlets, including social media.
Guidelines for Social Media Communications
All Mass Communications policies apply to internet and social media outlets.
Confidential information about individual congregants, staff members, or employees shall not be published through any website, public social media channel, or other public forum.
Prayer requests should be handled through the church office by submitting the request to the church office by phone, email, or through the church app. Office staff will determine the best wording to share the request while retaining confidential information and then distribute the request.
CMCOG’s website and official social media outlets shall not contain hyperlinks to non-commercial or political web sites. CMCOG disclaims any association with or responsibility for uncontrollable content displayed on third-party websites, such as Facebook and YouTube.
Only those permitted by the SP and the WTD may create new social media sites, pages, groups, or similar outlets on behalf of CMCOG.
Any existing site, page or group set up on behalf of CMCOG or a ministry of the church, using the church name or not, must include the WTD as an administrator and must be set to require administrator approval of posts. Upon request of the WTD, the founding administrator will relinquish administrative rights to existing pages and allow the WTD to reinstate him or her so that the page can be fully controlled by the church. Otherwise, the page cannot be deleted in the event the founding administrator abandons the page, is the victim of hacking, is locked out of his or her account, or similar circumstance. CMCOG must have administrative control of all outlets associated with the church and its ministries.
Congregants are encouraged to participate in CMCOG social media outlets, sharing photographs, testimonies, announcements related to church events, and encouragement to CMCOG church family. All posts are subject to administrative approval. Administrators have the authority to edit, decline, or remove and post or blog responses considered inappropriate or in violation of the church policies. Users who post or attempt to post inappropriate content may be blocked and or removed from social media groups that require membership.
When tagging or identifying people in photographs, minors should not be identified.
Congregants may act as administrator of pages to support programs and ministries of the church, provided they are familiar with and agree to follow the church’s social media policies. Administrators will be chosen at the discretion of the WTD.
Administrators should screen group membership requests to confirm that the prospective member appears to be a “real person” and not a potential spammer. Spam accounts usually show no friends, few if any posts and memberships in multiple groups. Our Members of Central Manor Church Facebook group is a closed group, intended only for members and regular attenders of the church. It is to be used for communication within the church and not intended for sharing information to the public. People requesting membership of this group must be active members and/or regular attenders. Anyone requesting membership to the group that is not an active church member or regular attendee is not to be granted access. Periodically, the group membership shall be scanned to remove those who have left the church.
Staff and lay leaders are responsible for administering their personal social media accounts, including content posted on their profile pages and friendships and connections they maintain. It is recommended that profile pages are monitored regularly and postings they feel are inappropriate or may reflect negatively on our church family should be deleted.
Guidelines for Communications with Youth
In the virtual world, as in the physical world, CMCOG observes healthy boundaries and safe church practices.
The primary purpose of social media communication by the church aimed at youth is for providing information related to a ministry or event and not for one-on-one interaction between staff members and youths.
Because of fundamental power inequalities, staff and lay staff should not submit “friend” requests to youth.
Youth sending friend requests to staff and lay staff’s personal accounts may, at the discretion of the staff member, be directed to the Youth Ministry page. If a staff member chooses to accept a friend request from a minor, he or she will search the social media site for the youth’s parents’ profiles and issue friend requests to them.
When communicating with youth via social media, there must be at least two adults with administrative rights for each account used for ministry communication.
Social networking groups for youth should be open to parents of current members.
Social media and other electronic communication may not be used to communicate with children who have not reached age thirteen, but instead should be directed to their parents.
By supplying an email address to the church, congregants grant consent for CMCOG to contact them by email. Addresses that repeatedly bounce will be removed from the contacts list.
Although congregant’s email addresses are included in the printed directory CMCOG does not share congregant’s email addresses in digital form with third parties, nor does it publish congregant’s email addresses on its website, except when given express permission by a congregant.
Anyone using a valid email address may subscribe to the CMCOG mailing list using the link on the CMCOG website. Office staff may add new subscribers on request from the owner of the email address, and email addresses may be imported from the church database to create targeted mailing lists for church-related purposes.
Those sending email messages to multiple congregants are encouraged to use the blind carbon copy (BCC) field to keep recipients’ addresses private. Other than the office email, mass emailing’s from church email accounts are prohibited.
Policies and guidelines set forth herein relating to email or social media shall also apply to other, analogous means of communication, including presently existing alternatives such as texting, as well future technological mass or group communication applications, media or methods providing similar functionality.