Five Keys for Effective Church Communication

Your church is the only one struggling to communicate effectively. Your website is quite possibly the worst church website ever created. You are the only leader who loses a half-day to social media distraction while trying to post a simple announcement.

Of course none of those things are true.

In this era of over-messaging and under-communicating, every church struggles to ensure people live excited and on-mission. While this may be comforting to some, the uncomfortable reality is that there is also no single silver-bullet solution. Effective church communication is an art, not a science. Yet all is not lost. It remains possible to successfully reach your congregation and encourage them toward next steps in Christ.

One approach to developing a focused and holistic pattern of regular communication sits literally at your fingertips. The expertly crafted and balanced tool of the human hand presents a strategic picture of how complementary channels of connection might work in unison to accomplish the singular task of effective communication.

HERE IS THE FIVE-FINGER CHURCH COMMUNICATION STRATEGY

THE THUMB: WEEKLY EMAILS

The opposing thumb is an anatomical separator of humans from the majority of the animal kingdom. Thumbs allow people to use tools through grasping and gripping. Your thumb is a key part of daily life. The thumb is the unsung hero of eating Chinese food, changing channels and crafting witty text messages. But the thumb is somewhat useless by itself. Imagine your hand with just a thumb. It would be hard to do anything very well. Most churches rely on a weekly email blast as their only venue of informing and connecting people. In today’s world, digital communication is a must. But weekly emails are somewhat useless and easily ignored by themselves. Worse yet, when every department sends a separate email email blast to the same people, it is as if everyone has two hands full of thumbs. Your weekly email should anchor a communication strategy in the same way the thumb anchors your hand: one vital part of a greater whole.

THE POINTER FINGER: STAGE ANNOUNCEMENTS

Each Sunday, someone on your platform or pulpit stands and verbally points the church toward key events or next steps of growth in Christ. Stage announcements relate as a pointer finger points, by focusing attention on what lies ahead. And each Sunday the congregation either hears three minutes of announcements, or receives 180 seconds of visionary communication. One form results in continued inattention, the other toward immediate engagement in God’s better future. Stage announcements, or videos, each Sunday morning serve to align and point people toward what matters the most.

THE MIDDLE FINGER: SOCIAL MEDIA

What can you really say about the middle finger that was not completely obvious by Middle School? A raised middle finger is all about making a statement. It is sharing an emotional response and often designed to directly impact a specific audience: like the jerk behind you in traffic. A middle finger message is more sender-centric than viewer-concerned, and therefore comes with consequences when the wrong person or group receive the message. In this way, social media functions as a middle finger (so long as we can take the horribly offensive nature of the symbol out of this illustration). Facebook and Instagram posts are egotistically self-serving. They are typically designed to evoke emotion or communicate a quick point. Response is infrequent, and when a response happens, it is rarely helpful or healthy. Understand your social media strategy as a powerful and emotional communication tool. But brace yourself if the wrong people get the message.

THE RING FINGER: FAMILY MINISTRY

One of the most powerful symbols in our culture today, as well as every young pastor’s go-to baptism illustration, is the wedding ring. It goes without saying that the ring finger stands for family. And family is where our culture lives. In communicating to the church, meet every parent right where they are spending the majority of their time, their waking hours driving, and every bit of their income: with their kids. Essential to any full-formed communication strategy is integration into the weekly rhythms of preschool, children and student ministry. Invest the extra time to craft take-home moments each week, in every ministry, that speak to what matters most at your church. Leverage parent meetings and milestone moments to communicate directly with families. In these seasons, parents are most attentive. And if you really want your parents to engage in the larger story of church vision, get their kids excited about it first.

THE PINKIE FINGER: CHURCH WEBSITE

What exactly does the pinkie finger do but, when extended, signify a special moment? It is found in a sip of exquisite liquid or in a particular affinity to the University of Texas. The pinkie is all about small dose savoring and a specialized approach to the finer things in life. Your church website should be approached in this same way. More than 80% of the everyday users of church websites are guests looking for information. The other 2-20% are church members trying to figure out what time something starts. Unfortunately, the amount of design time and effort most communication teams invest in their church website in no way reflects this imbalance. Churches often bury essential information on service time and campus location three-to-four clicks deep. They use language that only insiders understand. They post 8 minute-long videos that are rarely viewed all the way through. Instead of thinking about small engagements, and a special audience (first time guests) church websites are burdened by by-laws, expired announcements and labyrinthine navigation menus. Approach the design and content of your church website with an eye for small doses. Ask yourself and the team: what is most important? How can it be accessed quickly? Who is actually looking at it?

Great church communication is as balanced and useful as the human hand. It can be as powerful as a solid punch, with every finger involved in making impact possible. After-all, what challenges are you facing in your weekly church leadership that a good punch wouldn’t solve?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Rose

As Lead Navigator for Auxano, Bryan Rose has a strong bias toward merging strategy and creativity within the vision of the local church and has had a diversity of experience in just about every ministry discipline over the last 12 years. With his experience as a multi-site strategist and campus pastor at a 3500 member multi-campus church in the Houston Metro area, Bryan has a passion to see “launch clarity” define the unique Great Commission call of developing church plants and campus, while at the same time serving established churches as they seek to clarify their individual ministry calling. Bryan has demonstrated achievement as a strategic thinker with a unique ability to infuse creativity into the visioning process while bringing a group of people to a deep sense of personal ownership and passion.

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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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