The names we choose…and are given in the Church of England

Questions about digital conversion efficiency of church, parish and benefice names in the Church of England

In the social media / digital product domain what is the most effective form for naming:

  1. parishes
  2. multi-parish benefices

In this context effectiveness has three dimensions:

  • conversion efficiency in terms of ‘engagement’
  • openness to messaging from
  • affinity to church / parish / benefice

If you work or help with communications in a church with many congregations or a denomination with many churches how do you handle this. I would love to hear from you. I’m @ianwyllie on twitter or comment below… 

Why this question important?

In our area we see, and the anecdotal evidence also suggests that:

  1. There is poor recognition:
    • of the names the Church of England uses for benefices and ministry units larger than one parish
  2. Parish names are typically
    • longer than is ideal for conversion on social media and convenient display in digital products
    • do not unambiguously connect the parish to the Church of England
    • do not unambiguously locate the parish geographically
  3. Church names
    • do not unambiguously locate the church geographically
    • do not unambiguously connect the parish to the Church of England
  4. We also see confusion between ecclesial and civil parish names and their boundaries.

Some observations:

There is no common pattern for the naming of multi-parish benefices. Yet these supra parish structures are becoming more and more common, and often function, and are encouraged to function, as integrated ministry units. Here are some names in use locally with issues I note

  • The Church of England in Village, Village, and Village (a benefice) used by Ampfield, Chilworth and North Baddesley where I assist with communications, but is cumbersomely long and doesn’t convert as well as we hoped. This suggests to us that either
    • the association between the local church name / dedication and the geography is strong, OR the association of the church name / dedication and Church of England is weak
    • There is poor recognition of the name / dedication of the church – its simply ‘the village church’ and understanding of a) name / dedication or in fact denomination is weak
  • The ‘Avon Valley Partnership’: Partnership of what? relating to which Avon? – two Avon rivers in Hampshire, nine in the UK – three in Scotland)
  • ‘North Hampshire Downs Benefice’: Geographically this area is diffuse and the ‘Benefice’ seems to be very poorly understood
  • ‘Pastrow Benefice’ 12 churches in the Diocese of Winchester. Pastrow is a historic ‘hundred’ division of Hampshire
  • All Saints C of E:
  • All Saints Church in Village
The Owl is watching… and always wise.

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