By Jonathan Howe
Most churches don’t think strategically about their communications efforts. Many times, communications practices are passed on from staffer to staffer without any regard to what is effective. And often, the responsible staff member or volunteer has other duties that take precedent in ministry.
Regardless of your staffing structure or size, church communications can be done effectively and strategically if you consider the perspective of your audience. Church communication isn’t for the benefit of the church; it’s for the benefit of members and guests. So when considering what to say, when to say it, and which channel to use, keep in mind these three essential elements:
- Engage the audience. Your church communications should be engaging. Putting out a tweet or Facebook post just so you can check that item off your to-do list is rarely going to engage your church members and potential guests. Content should be sharable, memorable, and relevant. The difference between engaging content and content that is not typically involves thinking through the messaging. Start with the goals of your communication in mind and work backwards: consider the desired result, decide the best platform to reach your goal, and word your message accordingly.
- Inform the audience. Once you’ve engaged your audience, keep them informed. Consistency with your communications is important. Try to plan out your church’s communications week by week and stick to the plan as best as possible. Once you have your weekly schedule set, then you can move to monthly, quarterly, and annual planning. By planning out what you want to communicate to members and guests on a consistent basis, you can more effectively integrate major church events into your communications plan.
- Inspire the audience. Informing and engaging your audience isn’t enough. They should be inspired to share. Graphics aid in this area more than words. People are more likely to share inspiring graphics than inspiring paragraphs. Both have value, but one appeals visually. The graphics you choose can be the difference in someone sharing your content and not sharing it.
Over the next few week’s, I’ll be digging deeper into these three elements. So if you have any questions about the specifics, share them in the comments section below, and I’ll be sure to touch on those items in future posts.
Does your church plan its communications strategically? Do you engage, inform, and inspire your church members and guests with your content?
Amen!!! Great word! God Bless you!
Loved this information. Will you address examples of each of these components in your follow up? Thank you.
Morning Thom! I whole-heartedly agree on a documented Comms Plan! One issue that comes up however, is that of privacy. For example, you want to take some pictures of the Womens Ministry gathering or Fellowship time after the Service and post the pics on FB or the church’s website. However, the church policy says that unless you have permission of all the people in the picture, you can’t post it. I understand that when taking pictures of children, but adults? Have you experienced this before?
Change the policy. Make it where there’s a blanket approval for anyone unless they request to not be posted online. You are subjected to the same type of policy at any public event you attend (ballgame, concert, political rally, etc.). They have permission to use your image however they see fit. In your case, you’d actually give people the ability to opt out, which is not typically offered by the other events I listed.
We have a written policy in our weekly bulletin. It states that by participation in services and activities a person grants consent to the use of their image (excluding children).
One shy woman left our church over it, but everyone else appreciated the notification. Besides, people like seeing themselves in print, video or on a website.
As a worship committee co-chair in a larger mainstream church wrestling with the common issues of decline, I am interested in setting up a TWO – WAY communications medium for our congregation and visitors. No channel for upward communication has ever existed, except the usual parking lot caucuses, individual complaints, pastor visits, etc. I would like to keep it centered away from the pastors, lest it involve them in a whirlwind of controversy, if talking with me/committee would generate less heat and more open thinking.
Currently thinking of eMail + Constant Contact and maybe Survey Monkey.
Any ideas or hints?
You can do a survey if you choose. Those allow for feedback of those already attending. I’d also consider using Dr. Rainer’s secret guest survey.
Great thoughts! Can’t wait to see the further development of these thoughts. We have a lot of communication tools and need to use them wisely. I know I have had my fair sure of not knowing how to use the multi platforms we have.
I’m currently trying to simplify and strengthen our communication. Our church currently does a monthly newsletter, bulletin, and the pastor does a weekly email. We do email blasts for occasional important info and mass texting for quick reminders and emergency info (such as inclement weather). I think we under utilize social media. I think we are using so many avenues that it actually harms our communication efforts. Looking forward to this series.
This is a great launching point – I’m excited to see the posts moving forward. Is there a typical schedule that is a good rule of thumb for churches to follow? Should we post daily? As needed? 4 times weekly?
I’m starting from scratch in this style of communication – Anyone have a resource or sample calendar?
This was a great article until I got to the punctuation error.