Like any organization, the church must be effective at communicating its message. The most important message, of course, is the message of the gospel. Ultimately, everything that’s formally communicated by the church should point to Christ. The gospel is the common message of every single Bible-believing church.
But it’s naïve not to acknowledge that every active and healthy church has ministry programs, initiatives, activities, service projects, and events that support the goal of reaching people for Christ and helping them grow toward Christ-likeness. Our church offers more opportunities than any one member could ever participate in. Communicating all of these opportunities in a consistent and effective way can be overwhelming.
Effectively connecting the right message to the right people at the right time is the ultimate goal of communication. In an extremely active church culture, this can only be done with a good communication strategy.
Defining a church communication strategy is beyond the scope of this article. But here are five reasons why having a strategy is important:
1. To align with your church’s mission and objectives.
A successful communication strategy will take into account the church’s mission, vision, and objectives. Your message priorities should then be largely dictated by the missional focus of the church. This is one of the best ways to deny or weed out distracting or superfluous messages that should not be a priority. We have to hold back on promoting “good” things so that the “best” things are seen and heard.
2. To set standards.
Every good communication plan includes creating standards for how you will communicate your message. Standards include your processes for identifying messages (including receiving requests for promotion from ministries), the ways in which communication channels will be used, and your brand and style standards (usually achieved through a style guide; subscribe to my blog and download our church’s style guide for free).
3. To define your audience.
Even in the church setting, there are a number of different audiences. Your communication strategy should identify those audience segments and then define the channels of communication best suited to reach them. You’ll likely have different approaches to communicating with those in the Student Ministry than with your senior adults.
4. To level the playing field.
In our church, ministry leaders vary in their skill and attention to effective communication and promotion. That doesn’t mean they’re not good at what they do, it just means some ministry areas’ primary roles are not promotion-centered. Your strategy should help prevent the ministry areas that are more aggressive about their messages from overshadowing those who don’t initiate much of their own communication. The mission and objectives should drive the priorities, not who has the loudest voice.
5. To measure results.
The saying goes, “we inspect what we expect.” Without a clear set of expectations as defined in a communication strategy, it would be difficult to know what how to measure the effectiveness of the communication. Your strategy should include how often a review will be done, the measurement tools that will be used (such as goals reports, online metrics tools, and surveys), and what action steps will be taken as a result of the data received.
Understanding the reasons for a communication strategy is the first step in creating one. Structuring a strategy around these five concepts could be an effective way to get started.