The Word Made Fresh: Communicating Church and Faith Today is a helpful primer for church communicators everywhere. Meredith Gould draws on her experience with Roman Catholic, Episcopal and Lutheran congregations, and it’s clear that church communication headaches transcend our denominational differences.
We’re Not Alone
For me, the most encouraging aspect of this book is the frequent quotes and lengthy list of resources from a crowd of folks who were talking church communication long before we first declared it sucked back in 2004. Like this prayer from Anglican Communications Sunday:
Almighty God, you proclaim your truth in every age by many voices:
Direct, in our time, we pray, those who speak where many listen and publish (write) what many read;
that they may do their part in making the heart of this people wise, its mind sound, and its will righteous; to the honour of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The appendix even includes a commissioning service for church communicators from 2004, mere months after this blog had started. We could have used a commissioning back then, but we’ll take it retroactively:
V.: Will you commit yourself to help tell the stories of God’s people as they are lived out in your congregation, welcoming those who come seeking him?
R.: We will, with God’s help.
You’ll have to forgive me if my excitement seems self-indulgent, but this is exactly why we’ve been doing a series on church communication heroes. The call for churches to communicate better has a long and storied history and it’s so encouraging for us to be reminded of that.
On to the Book
The Word Made Fresh is immensely practical, but in a way that taps into the deep spiritual roots of our calling. The very first chapter explores how church communication is ministry. Creating bulletins and prepping announcements isn’t some mundane administrative task, it’s a holy calling. You’re doing gospel work. That’s a needed reminder and an appreciated pat on the back.
From there Gould covers the basics you’ll need to start and maintain a communications ministry. She offers a high-level view, covering a lot of ground quickly, but also touching on the specific obstacles and challenges church communicators face, from church hierarchy to the “good enough” mindset. She even addresses those difficult fellow staff members who tend to spiritualize their objections to whatever you’re trying to do.
While some of this may be familiar ground—the need for a communication plan, the importance of caring for your creative staff, etc.—Gould does touch on a few unique areas. One is her exploration of social contexts and learning styles. Being aware of your audience isn’t a ground-breaking communication topic, but it seems like it’s neglected in church conversations where for hundreds of years we’ve relied on a guy talking at length. Another unique aspect of The Word Made Fresh is her frank and honest assessment of any attempt at measuring church communication. We love to tout numbers, but the simple fact is the number of Facebook likes or a boost in attendance tells us very little about how people are growing in faith.
The only complaint I might muster about The Word Made Fresh is that Meredith Gould is an exceptionally intelligent writer and at times the text feels wordy. She frequently leavens that wordiness with witty comments and quips, but in general it’s not light, quick reading.
The Word Made Fresh is focused on liturgical churches, but don’t let that scare you away. All of her insights and wisdom work just as well in any denominational context. Plus getting outside your circle can be a needed change of pace.
- Buy The Word Made Fresh: Communicating Church and Faith Today.
- Read our interview with Meredith Gould.
- Learn about the #chsocm (church social media) chats that Meredith Gould leads every Tuesday evening on Twitter.