More clergy and congregational decision-makers throughout Minnesota used News for the Common Good as a resource for their ministry this year than ever before. Our subscribers list grew by about 10% and you engaged with our content more than readers of most nonprofit newsletters do. But what did you look for most?
Four of the top-10 links were to content not produced by the Minnesota Council of Churches. The two most popular of these were directly related to national news events (the shooting of Philando Castile and the death of Prince), one was about an atheist group’s outreach tactics and one was about the practice of preaching.
Of the MCC original content receiving the most clicks, you liked resources for ministry with people experiencing dementia, links to some of our culture-changing interfaith work and resources related to conducting Respectful Conversations.
Here are the 10 most-clicked links from all 26 editions of News for the Common Good that went out in 2016:
10. Every Sermon a Missed Opportunity. This commentary from a frequent church attender on his weekly anticipation of God’s message every Sunday provided hope and advice for some clergy but was read as a discouraging indictment by others. Whether readers took to heart the words of this frustrated armchair preacher or not, his article in Commonweal magazine provided food for thought.
9. How to conduct a Respectful Conversation. This video, put together by The Theater of Public Policy for MCC’s Respectful Conversations Project, demonstrates in an amusing fashion how to follow the guidelines of a structured, facilitated conversation. Its popularity in an item about talking to friends and family about the election during Thanksgiving meals showed that we are all interested in bridging divides in our personal lives.
8. Taking Heart registration form. Every year is a record-breaker for this program, which invites non-Muslims into Minnesota mosques to observe a prayer and join their Muslim neighbors for a community meal. That was no less true in 2016, when over 800 non-Muslims participated in 19 different iftars around the state.
7. Atheist Christmas billboards. Organized atheism is a growing force in our increasingly secular society, but atheists still feel that their beliefs are seen as shameful. This billboard campaign seeks to destigmatize atheism by encouraging private nonbelievers to skip church when their family attends this Christmas. Informing readers of this campaign is one way that News for the Common Good helps Minnesota’s clergy and congregational decision-makers to be aware of the broader cultural context in which we are doing ministry.
6. Blessed Ramadan. Looking for a way to demonstrate that welcome is the order of the day and Americans did not fear or suspect their Muslim neighbors, the Minnesota Council of Churches began a lawn sign campaign that took off nationally. People of good will posted the signs coast to coast and the projected was covered in publications from Voice of America – Indonesia to the blog Church Marketing Sucks to the International business Times.
5. Various religion writers reflecting on musician Prince’s untimely death. Minnesotan identity had been so wound up in Prince and his music – even for those who never listened to it – that we all struggled to explore what it meant, and in some cases to understand why there was such global mourning. A prolific songwriter whose own spiritual life was very active, Prince’s interpreters had a lot to work with.
4. One Maplewood Pastor’s Blessed Ramadan story. While we in the nonprofit world often gauge our success on measurable data – how many people were served, how significantly did attitudes shift – sometimes one story tells it better than anything. This story of a delivery man’s change of heart after he talked with a man about his Blessed Ramadan lawn sign drove home for many people the reason we strive for a better world, and gave hope that we are making the world better.
3. Dementia resources. Our nation is aging and our congregations are aging, too. As median ages go up the needs of church members are becoming more related to the disease of old age, including dementia and Alzheimer’s. The popularity of this list of dementia resources for congregations demonstrates how churches are looking for more models and support for ministry with folks in the last third of life.
2. Church of God in Christ and National Baptist denominational responses to the Castile and Sterling shootings. In times of crisis when video evidence seems to point so clearly to the intensely dangerous situation black men face when engaged by law enforcement, the body of Christ mourns and, as evidenced by how many clicks each of these statements collected, it looks to the moral authority of the Historic Black Churches for guidance on further action.
1. 12 Tips if Your Presidential Candidate Loses. This link was placed in News for the Common Good before we knew the results of the election because we were certain that, in the wake of one of the most deliberately divisive Presidential races in recent history there would be significant damage done to our society, and significant healing needed. The guide offered good advice for all those disappointed by the election.