We are all aware that church communications is no small task. A lot of planning needs to happen just to decide what communication channels are appropriate, what schedule of communication is best for lead up to the event, then the details of the description, call to action, and then graphics all begin to bog down the process even more. It is just not that simple for even one event. Now, depending on your church size, take one event from a ministry and times it by 5–9 more ministries. There can be a lot happening at any given time in ministry life. To help streamline the church communication process, and alleviate some pressure on you as a communicator, the best strategy is to involve the ministries trying to promote their events or programs. With that, here are 4 easy steps to involve ministries in event communication.
1. Let them own the event description
The best path to clear communications really starts with what the event is. Your audience (the congregation) should easily know what the purpose of the event is, what will happen during the time of the event, and what the call to action is to attend the event. It is sometimes difficult, frustrating, and even a bit precarious to own the event copy as a communications director. I don’t know the ins and outs of a ministry, what the vision is for an event, and what attenders should expect and how they should sign up. However, as a good leader in communications, I can speak into the event description and offer support and guidance. Here is a simple heuristic for allowing ministries to write clear, concise, and effective copy for an event:
Purpose of the event/program:
Why should people participate? How does the event/program fit with the church’s mission?
Example: This 10-week equipping class with Pastor David and Mark will help Christians (newer and older) get grounded in the basics of following Jesus and understanding Scriptural doctrine.
Description of the event/program:
What will you be doing? When people sign up, what should they expect at your event/class?
Example: We’ll be diving into Wayne Grudem’s CHRISTIAN BELIEFS and strengthening seekers and believers in the basics of knowing and walking with Jesus Christ, what to believe, how to live it out.
Call to Action:
How will people let you know they are coming? What costs are involved? What is your RSVP or sign-up process? Do you need a form?
Example: Registration* is $15 per participant and includes price of book. Class can fit up to 30 people. Bring cash or check to the kiosk on Sundays or the Church Office. Checks should be made to Christ Community Church with Following Jesus in the memo line.
2. Provide a clear communication plan structure
Ever since I started in my roles as communication director, Kem Meyer’s Less Chaos Less Noise has been invaluable! One of the more beneficial resources from Meyer is the chart for determining what your audience is and what level of communication and channels is most appropriate for the audience of a ministry event. Creating a clear, accessible path for your ministry leaders helps alleviate the pressure of the decision making process for what and how an event gets communicated.
Clear communication channels
I adapted Meyer’s “Communication Triage” to fit our context and our needs, and had a fun time making something memorable. I identified the level of communication as church wide (applicable to 80% of congregation), large venue/demographics (applicable to 50% of congregation), and local ministry (applicable to 20% or less of congregation). The table (pictured below) lists examples that fit within the key demographic ranges so ministry leaders can easily see where their own event/program fits. From their, you look down at the applicable channels on a chart that lists every communication genre available through the church, i.e. website, video announcements, bulletin, social media, etc. The ministry leader only needs to identify which column of communication channels that fit and then see the check boxes that apply specifically to them.
For instance, if your event is only applicable to a local ministry, you see in your column that you can only communicate through the web events page on the website, to small group leaders, and social media within your group. All other high impact channels are not applicable to the event. As a communication director you provide clear, concise expectations.
Deciding on communication channels is simple enough with the approach above. Now, agreeing on a timeline to promote an event is even more simple. We use Asana for all of our ministry projects, so I created a simple template (pictured below) that plans three weeks out. Ministry leaders take the channels they selected in the chart and translate it into a timeline simply filling in the blanks. Then, for each channel I created a heading and open brackets for a date. Your ministry leader just enters in the date. Now I can approve the communication plan, create tasks, assign people and dates, and done! Timeline and channels are planned. You did hardly any work, and the ministry leader feels more empowered in the process.
3. Create a Style Guide and Graphic Templates
One of the more challenging aspects of constant event planning and promotion is creating all of the graphics. Do you have time to create everything? Should you be responsible for individual ministry graphics, especially small events? No. But, you want everything to look, feel, and work consistently within your church brand and style.
There are so many scenarios and tools available, but I won’t cover every option. What you choose as a common design program will be unique and specific to you and your church. What matters most is you utilize what you have and create clear expectations. Simple style guide and templates will alleviate your burden of creating tons of graphics and give more ownership to your ministry leader. We don’t expect our ministry leaders to be graphic designers capable of using the Adobe Creative Suite. However, we can make them feel comfortable by providing more accessible resources and expectation.
For example, I use the Adobe Suite for most designs. However, I realized quickly that I cannot create everything for everyone, so I utilized Canva For Work’s features of brand kits, teams, and templates. I uploaded our main fonts for our brand, logos and alternatives, and then created design templates for every communication channel. We know that every platform has a unique size. That is a strange concept to some ministry leaders. So, I created a shared folder called production templates and made a basic design for each platform. I even color coded the designs so that app graphics are all one color, website one color, and so forth. When a ministry leader wants to make graphics for an event they just choose the platform and use the template. Off to the races!
4. Host Brown Bag Sessions
Finally, and perhaps my favorite strategy, is host some training sessions with ministries. Our support ministry staff is rolling out a lot of new platforms that we expect ministry leaders to use. Not everyone is comfortable learning a new technology. As a communicator, we tend to miss out on the ministry. In other words, we don’t always get the relational aspect of working at a church. We have a ministry, we have a lot of knowledge, and we want to support our ministry leaders. Hosting a brown bag or training session on a regular basis allows you to make deeper connections with each ministry leader. Instead of operating as production shop, you have an opportunity to equip others to do good work!
These are some strategies that I have used to help involve more ministry leaders in church communications. It is not perfect, but it is creating such a better team environment. You may have different platforms, systems, and processes. However, the strategies here can help more people be involved in what you do as a communicator and build a stronger ministry relationship.