Some will say that the very act of sitting down to come up with a communication strategy will improve how you communicate. While that may be true, it helps if you are asking yourself the right questions:
Question 1: Who is my church trying to reach?
Now, you might be tempted to say, “Everyone!” But start with your church’s mission statement. Everything you do will trickle down from the mission of your church. If your church is like most churches, it probably has some sort of evangelistic phrases in its mission statement. In fact, if you asked your senior leaders to share their heart about who they would like to reach, they will most likely speak of reaching those who do not already know Jesus.
This step is critical because it will drive how you communicate in your bulletin, website and from the stage. It will force you to come up a communication system that is easy, obvious and strategic. It means you give preference to the outsider who has not yet been to your church, as opposed to the insider who has been there for years.
Example: Every weekend at our church we have a short video program before the service that talks about things going on at the church. Over half of the content is for someone who is new or who is not yet involved. This means the person who is already involved continues to hear much of the same information every week. But it is critical to have a consistent message for a first timer to have a great first experience with your church. Everything must happen in balance, but if the mission of your church is to reach those not in the church then start talking to them!
Question 2: How are we going to reach our audience on the weekend and during the week?
The weekend seems easy, but without a strategic plan it will turn to chaos. You will need to put together a simple criteria to determine what will be talked about through your bulletin, from the stage and on the screens. The easy criteria to start from is what percentage of your total audience does a particular announcement apply to. If it is below 90% then you might not want to talk about it from the stage. If it is below 50% then you might not want to talk about it at all on the weekends.
But don’t stop there, your website, email newsletter and social media should continue to engage and dialog about the same things that are talked about on the weekend. Your website should always be the most trusted source of information. Then all other media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) should point to that content.
The most important element about reaching your online audience is engagement. Don’t just tell them the information you want them to hear. Dialog with them. Ask questions. Post photos. Have fun!
By asking these two simple questions, it will begin to frame a strategy from which to start. Focus on communicating creatively and effectively to the people already connected to your church to get them motivated, excited and equipped for outreach. Then you can begin to focus on external marketing based on your mission and budget.
We’re thrilled to partner with Creative Missions (our nonprofit parent, the Center for Church Communication, handles the Creative Missions finances). Learn more about Creative Missions and this year’s trip to Alaska and consider a financial donation to help church communicators help other churches communicate better.
For more helpful tips like this, check out Dangerous: A Go-to Guide for Church Communication. It’s a booklet of articles by Creative Missions alumni offering a crash course in church marketing basics.