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Lessons In Not Sucking: Common Communication Mistakes

November 9, 2007 by

This is part three in a series on Lessons In Not Sucking. Today we discuss common communication mistakes. Here are some choice mistakes I believe get in the way of our well meaning communication and marketing.

1. We confuse the three M’s (message, method, movement).
Step #1: Know your message (your call to action, your point, your purpose).
Step #2: Define what you want to happen (the movement) as a result of your message being heard/seen/experienced (attendance, action, feeling, etc.)
Step #3: Determine the best method to connect the message with the movement. The method is the bridge.

Do not get these out of order. If the method comes first (as if often does), what we get is a really cool web site that doesn’t do anything except look cool. If the movement comes first, we end up with a bunch of people but no purpose for their assembly.


2. We copy others’ methods.
Just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you. It goes back to knowing the three M’s and approaching them in the right order. It’s no wonder the church has taken a back seat to innovation and originality. We just look at what everyone else is doing and tweak it for us. When we let the method come last, we’ll start to see new methods developed because we’ll come up with things that have never been done before because we care more about the message and the movement from that message than we do about the method itself.

3. We assume people get it
We all know the ass-u-me game. And the stakes are even higher in mass communication. Don’t assume people understand what you’re trying to communicate. The only thing safe to assume is that no one heard you, no one understood and no one got it. Now what?

4. We speak church-iberish.
Use real people words. Don’t create your own vocabulary or try and re-invent the language wheel. Check out this Dunkin’ Donuts commercial to see what I mean.

5. We underestimate our boring-ness.
From the way we communicate to what we have to communicate, we often come across a lot more boring than we think.

6. We choose the easiest/cheapest method vs. the right method.
If you can’t afford to do it right, don’t do it all. It would be better for you to save some money on a few projects so you can do the right projects well.

7. We assume we’re credible.
Don’t assume that people want to hear what you have to say or that they will even care what you have to say. The audience is a privilege, not a right.

8. We forget to develop a plan and how to measure it.
If you don’t know where you’re going or what you’re attempting to do, how will you ever know when you arrive?

9. We forget the rule about “Fast. Good. Cheap.” Pick two.
This axiom is all over the web. I wrote briefly about the concept at Personality™ a couple years ago.

Post By:

Brad Abare


Brad Abare is the founder of the Center for Church Communication. He consults with companies and organizations, helping them figure out why in the world they exist, why anyone should care and what to do about it. He and his wife Jamaica live in Los Angeles with their daughter, Miró.
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6 Responses to “Lessons In Not Sucking: Common Communication Mistakes”

  • Billy
    November 9, 2007

    I love this series…you have really posted a wealth of information for your viewers. I really like point #7 from today…what a thought to dwell upon for a few hours.


  • Roland Thomas Gilbert
    November 9, 2007

    Good heavens! I’m astounded at what I just learned in the last two minutes of reading this post. I’m seeking out parts one and two … and catching up. Awesome info!


  • Jeff Hamilton
    November 9, 2007

    Brad, here’s another “three-choose two” ministry issue: money, people, time. Whenever one of these resources is lacking, the the others have to make up for the lack.


  • Nathan Ketsdever
    November 10, 2007

    Great post…it seems like the following are also critically important:
    1) Determining your audience. Who?
    2) Determining what is important to your audience. (What values you hold in common) Why?
    3) What channels/locations/times you will link your message to your. Where and when?
    And finally how you cut through the clutter and your audience will remember….all seem like important questions.
    Thanks again!


  • Brad Abare
    November 11, 2007

    Nathan, stay tuned for the rest of the series. I’ll have an entire post dedicated to knowing your audience.


  • Rachel
    May 10, 2012

    For point #5, are you saying that our marketing is boring, or what we are marketing is boring (a sermon, some new event, a vision plan, etc.). To correct this problem, would you suggest… a flash mob for every event, a man careening in on a zip line, bold print colors…?



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