Rethink Communication Excerpt: Urgent vs. Important

Rethink Communication Excerpt: Urgent vs. Important

December 18, 2018 by

Rethink Communication by Phil BowdleWe’re thrilled to announce that we’re publishing a new book from Phil Bowdle, and you can pre-order it now it launches Jan. 22. It’s called Rethink Communication: A Playbook to Clarify and Communicate Everything in Your Church. Here’s an excerpt:

Urgent vs. Important

In my first three months on the job in church communication, I had to tell a well-intentioned volunteer their ministry was not important. Now I didn’t say it like that, but that’s exactly what he heard when I couldn’t meet his request for a full-fledged marketing campaign for his ministry.

It started like this: I received an urgent email requesting a meeting to talk about a marketing campaign for his ministry. His ministry was dogs. At this church of more than 6,000 people, there was a small handful of dedicated volunteers who took pets to local rehab centers and children’s homes to minister to them. It was a really cool ministry—I’m not knocking it.

So I sit down with the volunteer leader and he proceeds to vent his frustrations. He wanted answers for why his ministry wasn’t being announced on Sunday, why his ministry wasn’t being featured in the bulletin, why their next event wasn’t featured on the homepage, and why the newsletter he emailed me the day before had not been promptly uploaded for the world to see.

Look, I completely understood his frustrations. This ministry was important to him, it made a difference in the lives of others, and he wanted it to be important to everyone else. But in reality, this was a very small, niche ministry best communicated by word of mouth. After looking into it, the ministry web page had a sum total of two visitors over the previous two months. I was one of those visitors, and I was likely sitting across from the other visitor.

Urgent does not always equal important. But it’s the urgent requests that keep us from focusing on what’s most important.

So here’s the tension every communication leader faces: How do I communicate what is important when every ministry wants a marketing campaign?

What do we do when we’re stuck between meeting the needs of our audience and meeting the requests of ministry leaders?

Some days it’s tempting to give in and let ministry leaders have their way—say yes to every request and crank out the marketing messages. But we’d just be adding to the noise. By trying to make everything important, nothing is important. And in all that noise, the vital message that drives our church would be lost, and we couldn’t be effective in helping people take their next step and experience life change.

It’s hard work to fight through the clutter and capture what’s most important in the midst of everyone’s desire to share more and more.

To manage this tension, I challenge you to rethink the idea of fairness in church communication.

Fairness should not be a value in church communication.

Not all events, ministries, or programs are created equal.

Not all announcements need to be made from the stage.

Not every ministry warrants a menu listing on your website.

Like my friend Tony Morgan says, “When fairness drives your communication strategy, your least important message has the same weight as your most important message.” If you try to treat every event or program the same and make everything important, nothing is important.

The urgent things you deal with are rarely the most important. The only person who can fix that is you.

Launches in January

Rethink Communication will be released on Jan. 22, 2019.

Rethink Communication by Phil Bowdle

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Phil Bowdle


Phil Bowdle got his start in church as a pastor's kid making faces at his dad while he preached. Today Phil is the creative arts pastor at West Ridge Church in Atlanta and author of Rethink Communication: A Playbook to Clarify and Communicate Everything in Your Church.
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