5 Areas of Communication that Church Leaders Need to Audit Regularly

Everything your church does is communication, from the condition of the parking lot to the content in your bulletin to the tone of your sermon. Everything you do communicates something about what you really value, regardless of what you say you value.

I’m a church communications nut. I read dozens of blogs on design, branding, social media and marketing. I’ve designed logos, websites, and print pieces for dozens of churches. So I’ve perfected the art and science of church communications, right? Actually, in the last week, I received an email from someone who couldn’t find a location for our services, another who had a hard time finding out how to get involved, and a third who couldn’t find details on a couple of upcoming events. #humbled

But our bulletin does look kind of pretty…

Since the publishing and communication of the gospel is paramount, I’ve learned the value of doing some punch-me-in-the-gut audits of our communication strategy. We’re constantly tweaking and improving so that we can put our best foot forward and do the best possible job of getting the word out, connecting people to each other, plugging people in, and staying in touch.

To every Lead Pastor I would say, you need to perform an audit of your church’s communication strategy to see if all those sermons you’re studying so hard for will have maximum reach in your community. Here’s a questionnaire, divided by areas of communication.

BRANDING

Phil Cooke defines a brand as “the story people tell about a person, product, or organization.” Yourchurch has a brand in your community whether you realize it or not. The key to understanding your brand is to find out what story people tell when your church gets brought up in conversation. That’s your brand.

  • What story do we want people to associate with our church? How would we like people to feel when they think about us?
  • What story do people actually tell about us? And how do we know this?
  • Does the appearance of our building, landscaping, and outdoor signage communicate the feelings we want people to experience?
  • Do we have a church logo that communicates the feeling and the story we want people to experience?
  • Does our website, bulletin, and other printed materials such as brochures, business/invite cards, or postcards uniformly agree with the story we’re telling across the board?

CHURCH WEBSITE

If you’re not found in a Google search for churches in your area, you don’t exist to people moving into town. A website is essential, even if it’s a free or inexpensively made website. And while not every church can afford the fees charged by professional designers, we still ought to invest in our website with both energy and resources that honor the importance of this crucial area of communication.

  • Is our website responsive and mobile-friendly?
  • Is our most basic information easy to find on our main homepage (location, service times, etc.)?
  • Do we use imagery that tells people that we’re human, we’re alive, and we’re welcoming?
  • Are event listings available and up-to-date?
  • Can people easily know what we believe? what we value? and how we function?
  • Do we have links to our Facebook page and other social profiles on our website?
  • Is there a way for people to reach out and get in touch with us without leaving our website?
  • Can people easily know how to pursue next steps such as baptism, joining a small group, or volunteering in an area of ministry?
  • Do we have a page dedicated to our staff and/or key leaders so that potential visitors can know who we are?

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media is a weird phrase. Media is just information, and “social” simply refers to how information spreads – from person to person, socially. When we use the phrase “social media” we’re generally referring to the websites or web-based platforms used for social networking. While a previous generation got to know social media as an optional activity, an up-and-coming generation sees social media the way we see oxygen – it’s just part of the air people are breathing.

  • Do we have a main church Facebook page?
  • Do the header and profile images represent us well? Are they consistent with the branding on our website and print pieces?
  • Are we a location that people can check into when they visit on Sunday?
  • Is our address, phone number, and website address displayed in the ‘about’ area?
  • Are we posting regularly? At least weekly if not several times per week?
  • Are we posting a variety of content such as pictures, text, and links?
  • Are we offering more than just announcements? Are we also telling stories, giving valuable content, and extending the preaching of our church in a positive way?
  • Do we engage our fans and followers by responding to comments?
  • Are our key leaders using social media? Are they on Facebook and Twitter? And do they promote the ministry of the church through those platforms?

PRINT DESIGN

Many experts claim that “print is dying” but most people walking through the doors of a church building on Sunday still expect some kind of bulletin to know what’s going on.

  • Does our bulletin look nice and clean? Does it match the look of our website and other communication mediums?
  • Have we put guests first, using bulletin space to explain what to expect during their visit?
  • Have we made it clear what announcements are really the most important?
  • Do we use valuable space to communicate church-wide what could be communicated via a different means to only a few people?
  • Have we offered clear “next steps” such as were to go online to get more information, how to sign up for events, and who to talk to about knowing Jesus, baptism, or church membership?
  • Are we using readable typefaces?

COMMUNICATION SYSTEMS

A lot of work goes into planning special events and ministries. It’s a shame for that work to go to waste when the right people don’t know about the event or service we’re working toward. Systems are imperative if we’re going to communicate effectively.

  • Do we have a process to follow when an event is planned?
  • Do we have a calendar that can be seen and shared by all leaders to avoid scheduling conflicts?
  • Do we have a checklist to glance at to be sure we’ve communicated events using every necessary means?
  • Have we made it clear that only major, church-wide announcements need to be communicated from the stage or pulpit?
  • Do we have any kind of content calendar or plan for what updates get posted on our website and social profiles and what times they should be posted?

There is more. Much more, in fact. But these 33 questions offer a great starting place for the leadership team of any small to medium-sized church. Knowing where we are and how we’re doing is half the battle!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders (brandonacox.com). He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 

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