The Good News of Jesus Christ and the work of the Church is been shared in an increasingly digital way that wasn't possible before, says the Church of England's latest Digital Report released today.
In recent months the Church of England has had a fresh focus on the way it communciates digitally, which has lead to a number of new, creative projects and campaigns that have dramatically increased the number of people that the Church of England reaches online.
And members of the Church of England's Digital team will be leading training for churches on digital media taking place in Leeds on Monday 3 December - see the event page for more information
The Church of England has more than doubled its monthly reach on social media this year, from 1.2 million in 2017 to 2.44 million in 2017/2018. Engagement on the Church of England Instagram has quadrupled over the last 12 months, and the majority of people they reach on this platform are under the age of 34.
Their campaigns to mark the key events in the Christian calendar saw a significant increase in size, with the reach of their Christmas campaign quadrupling for Christmas 2017 to 6.8 million from 1.5 million in 2016.
While they are working to increase the number of people who can access content, they’re also trying to ensure that more people are encouraged to visit their local, worshipping communities making digital evangelism and promoting the common good key priorities.
Through research carried out by the Church of England, after last year’s Christmas campaign, it was evident that those who followed the campaign and read their Advent and Christmas reflections felt that their faith had been strengthened by the content.
One respondent said: “It has brought me closer to God and made me determined to get back to church,” while another said: “Thoroughly enjoyed the reflections, it gave me an opportunity to sit and spend time with God. Thank you.”
For Lent and Easter, the Church of England launched a discipleship campaign, running daily reflections (produced by Church House Publishing and made available in both print and as emails) and explainer graphics for days such as Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. The campaign reached more than a million more people in 2018, up to 3.54 million from 2.5 million in 2017.
This was the first integrated campaign the Church of England ran, with print and digital working together to make the content accessible to as many people as possible. Next year’s campaign, Lent Pilgrim and Easter Pilgrim, will build off the success of this.
Church of England website
In the first year after the Church of Engalnd Digital Team was et up, research was carried out to identify who was using the Church of England website and what content they were looking for.
Based on the results, they were able to redesign the site with a focus on those who are exploring faith, giving them information about what it means to be a Christian, how to develop their faith and how Christians today live out their beliefs.
Since launching last November, there have been more than two million new users on the site.
A Church Near You
A Church Near You is the Church of England's church-finder tool and is at the heart of each of their campaigns to lead people into a local church.
Traffic to A Church Near You doubled in Christmas 2017 compared to Christmas 2016. This increase came one month after the site was totally redesigned – for the first time in seven years.
Each church in the Church of England has a page on A Church Near You, and they can claim these pages and personalise them by adding services and events, images and information about the accessibility of the church.
Since then, phase two has been launched, which allows churches to use the site as their website for free.
Dioceses and local churches have been crucial to the success of the digital output produced in the last year, with the way they have shared content, joined in with the digital campaigns and supported the hashtags.
By this December, the Church of England will have trained 1,000 local churches in social media and websites, resulting in more and more local churches using digital in a strategic way to reach people in their communities who they may not have been able to reach previously.
To view the full Church of England's 2018 digital report please follow the link.