Every six months stake conference is a symbolic mile marker for most stake presidencies. When one ends the next one is ready to be planned for. Having the experience of going through my first stake conference as a member of the stake presidency, I realized what a hectic time it is for stake presidencies as they plan each detail. Not to mention we had a visiting authority that makes you feel like you are being graded each step of the way.
With so many items to consider when planning a stake conference, stake leaders can be left holding their breath when the weekend arrives, hoping that people actually show up.
I’d like to share with you a strategy we used to assure that people showed up to stake conference. It’s hard to say what works and what doesn’t, but we were very pleased by the results and we calculated that we had about 20% more people in attendance then prior stake conferences.
Step 1: Create a private Facebook event for stake conference
I remember being in the bishopric and announcing stake conference for 4-6 weeks prior and then being frustrated when a member would ask why nobody was at sacrament meeting the day of stake conference. The reality is, announcements or ward bulletin notices are not very effective. Most people need a constant reminder the days leading up to the stake conference. A Facebook event is a great way to do this.
I would recommend that you create the Facebook event 4-6 weeks prior to your stake conference. In my situation, I was a little late and created it 2 weeks prior to the stake conference and it still made a huge difference.
When you create the event you can add event name (stake conference), location (stake center address), date and time (generally Saturday evening until Sunday) and a description. Be sure to allow guests to invite friends to the Facebook event.
Just to give you an idea, this is what we put in the description:
Dear members of the _________ Stake,
Stake Conference will be held on January 16th and 17th. _____________________ Quorum of the Seventy will be our visiting authority. Please join us at the following sessions:
Sunday, January 17th, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 Noon
Stake Center Chapel
Saturday, January 16th, 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Stake Center Chapel
*Nursery will be provided for children ages 1 and up
Priesthood Leadership Session
Invited: High Council, Bishoprics, Clerks, Executive Secretaries, Assistant Clerks & Secretaries, High Priest Group Leaderships, Elders Quorum Presidencies, Young Men Presidencies, and Ward Mission Leaders & Assistants.
Saturday, January 16th, 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Stake Center Relief Society Room
As you prepare to receive instruction at these Stake Conference sessions, please consider your next ordinance, whether it be baptism, priesthood ordination, temple endowment, marriage sealing, or partaking of the sacrament in remembrance of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. How will that ordinance bless your life? What must you do to prepare yourself for that sacred ordinance? How will that ordinance increase your faith in the Savior and help you return to our Heavenly Father?
We look forward to strengthening our faith and testimonies with you as we learn together and enjoy this conference with each of you.
The Stake Presidency
Step 2: Dress up your Facebook event page
Using a free design tool call Canva I made a simple image for the event image. This took no design experience at all since I used on of the Canva templates.
Here’s what it looked like:
I used a simple photo from the LDS Media Library. I referenced the name of our stake and the dates of the stake conference. The stake conference theme, “What is your next ordinance?” is most prominent on the image. I then upload it as the event image on the Facebook event page. Dressing up the event page will help it get more noticed and help the event feel like an official event.
Step 3: Invite people to the Facebook event
Your stake conference event page is worthless unless you have people coming to the event. Like I said before, I only had 2 weeks to invite people to the event, and in those 2 weeks we were able to invite 336 people. That doesn’t mean a few of us invited 336 people to the event, that was the efforts of everyone invited to the event because those invited can invite others they are connected to on Facebook to the event.
To start the wave of invites we sent out a mass email to the entire stake, which is possible for the stake president to do in the Leadership & Clerk Resources on lds.org. In that email we shared the message we put in the description and we encouraged people to find the Facebook event for stake conference.
Each member of the stake presidency logged on to our own Facebook accounts and invited every Facebook friend that lives in our stake boundaries. We then sent out a message to the bishops to invite all of their Facebook friends that live in the stake. Every few days we would put a message on the event page encouraging those invited to invite all of their Facebook friends that lived in the stake to the event.
As you can see it is a word-of-mouth process and can’t be done overnight.
Step 4: Create a flier to share at church the weeks leading up to stake conference
We then went back to Canva and used one of their templates to create a flier we could print out and share at church the Sundays leading up to stake conference.
This is what ours looked like:
Now members of the stake had a visual reminder to place on the fridge. 🙂
Step 5: Share, Remind, Share, Remind
At this point you will see the “invited” number increased day-to-day as more and more people are being invited by the fellow stake members. Your work is not done, but the good news is you have a captive audience through the powers of Facebook events.
At this point you will want to create images (using Canva) that will get people in the spirit of stake conference and to also highlight the theme. You can also search the LDS Media Library for memes related to your theme. You may want to post something twice a week on the events page when you are more than 4 weeks out from the day of stake conference and then increase the number of posts as it draws closer.
I posted daily the week leading up to stake conference so nobody had a chance to forget it was happening during the coming weekend.
Here’s a few examples of what I posted:
I shared the first one Sunday morning a week before stake conference to remind people to ask people at church if they are going to stake conference next week.
This next meme I found on the LDS Media Library…
Another LDS Media Library creation…
It was amazing the engagement that we had by posting these images and giving reminders through the Facebook events page. It was very unifying as a stake and members got to know each other through their comments, and they could even ask questions if something was unclear about the upcoming stake conference.
The night of our Saturday evening session I was shocked to see the 2nd overflow (the gym) needed to be opened in order to fit everyone in attendance. I couldn’t remember a time before when we have needed the 2nd overflow for the Saturday evening session. Sunday was no different, it was obvious we had a good number of additional people there.
The icing on the cake was how many members of the stake approached the stake presidency and commented on how much they appreciated the Facebook reminders.
This model could also be used for any activity you have in your local ward or stake. We look forward to using this approach the next time we are gearing up for a stake conference.
…that reminds me, I should go write my talk. 😉
Other stake conference invite ideas:
Check out THIS VIDEO that another stake presidency created. I think it is a fun way to remind people of stake conference.