Plenty of churches communicate well, at least in one aspect of communications. What we often lack, however, is a comprehensive and cohesive total church communications strategy.
I don’t recommend sitting on a stool with only one or two legs, but with three, properly arranged, you’re probably safe. The same is true of church communications. There are at least three important components—the legs of the stool, if you will—of a total communications strategy which need to be held in tension and balanced well.
Communication Among the Leadership
Communication between staff members and lay leaders is crucial for the day-to-day operation of the church. Our ability to consistently meet the needs of people requires that we get the right information to the right people at the right time. It also requires that we effectively sort out the must-do's from the smaller matters.
Communication starts with the Lead Pastor who, by default, does most of the talking. :-) Vision is caught by other leaders in sermons, team meetings, emails, and other forms of communication. A good leadership team will find ways to make sure that the communication lines from the leader are open and clear.
Communication Between the Platform and the Pew
Thankfully, there are a lot fewer pews than in previous generations, but the point is the same—there needs to be clear communication between the leadership of the church and the congregation. A lot of great ideas die early deaths because the meaning and impact behind the idea is lost in translation; they fail to grab the right level of attention.
We can’t call for enthusiastic support of a ministry that doesn’t have a strong voice. We can’t expect successful growth or capital campaigns if we don't make them a priority in our communications schedule. And on a spiritual note, we can’t expect our church community to grow deeper and bring others into the fold if we aren’t clearly communicating the priorities of Jesus for our lives and for the corporate body.
Communication From the Church to the Community
In one sense, this is the big one. This is the layer of communication that gets all the attention. Books and magazines are written about outreach-oriented communication. Seminars are taught and conference keynotes delivered on how to communicate to the culture in which we live.
It was just a decade ago when direct mail was the primary outreach tool. Now we dive into social media and text messaging. Never before have so many opportunities existed for us to communicate with so many people. So yes, this layer of communication is vital. But …
If we don't communicate well among our leadership, or between the staff and the church community, then our outreach communication begins to break down. Operationally, churches may not be able to properly process the community interactions in a way that drives those interactions deeper and deeper toward relationship. When it comes to connecting, engaging and relating with a community, quality of handling responses is far more valuable than volume.
The first quarter is a good time to re-evaluate the effectiveness of your communications strategy at every level. And if you’re the leader at the top, you may not be aware of all the weaknesses. Ask a few people if they know what’s going on from week to week. The answer can be painful, but helpful.