Office Hours: Multi-Site Communications and Effective Communicators

Office Hours: Multi-Site Communications and Effective Communicators

August 3, 2011 by

Every week I hold online office hours and answer questions from folks like you. This week is all about church communications: How to build a multi-site strategy and what it takes to be a good church communicator. Take a look and be sure to join me every Wednesday from 2-4 p.m. CDT for online office hours!

Ever dealt with multi-site communications? We’re launching a campus this fall, and while I’m expecting only good intentions to create a few missteps, it’s always good to hear input from others who’ve been there.

My answer: Yes, in fact. I have.

I would say that 80-90% of churches who launch satellites/multi-sites don’t have a solid communication plan in place before they launch. That’s internally and externally. It’s kind of that Field of Dreams mentality, “build it and they will come.”

I think this can work in a few situations, but the overwhelming majority will want to have a communication structure in place well before the launch. For instance:

Internal:

  • Who will report to whom?
  • How will the staff at the new site be resourced? Who’s communicating that to them?
  • What are the expectations of the staff at the mother church? Are they expected to help train the new staff? Who’s communicating that?
  • What channels will you promote the new site through? Who will be responsible for that? For how long? Who will be supporting them? What authority do they have?

External:

  • How will we get the word out about this new site? How? Who’s responsible for that? For how long and on what channels?
  • Who will process interest forms/tweets/e-mails? For how long? What do they do with interested people after they’ve been processed?
  • What’s your main “hub” of promotional activity?
  • How are you communicating with the churches already in the area? Who’s the “ambassador” for the new site?

As you can see, there’s a lot to think about (and I barely scratched the surface). Your hunch is correct. No one has ill intentions when launching a campus. But I can tell you, from first-hand experience, the less clear you are with these things up front, the more pain there is further down the road.

Any suggestions on becoming a better church communicator?

My answer:

  1. First and foremost, be a good communicator. Period. Speak clearly, concisely and vividly.
  2. Second, know your audience. This is more about being a good communicator than a good church communicator. Don’t speak German to an English-only audience. Don’t take away a church bulletin if 90% of the people in your congregation still use it.
  3. Third, communicate in a way that makes sense to them. Not the way you want them to want to be communicated to. (There’s a big difference there. Believe me. I had to learn this lesson the hard way!)
  4. Fourth, aim for something bigger. I want church communicators to influence not just their church, but their community, town, city and country with how they’re communicating.

Thanks for the great communications questions everybody! You know more than you think you do. Trust me on that. See you next time.

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Justin Wise


Justin Wise lives in West Des Moines, Iowa, with his wife and son. He likes coffee, reading, running and blogging.
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