Church communication sounds simple at first. After all, it’s what we’re all here for: to communicate the Gospel to our communities. Frequently, though, lead pastors and their leadership teams can focus too much on the message and too little on how it is delivered.
I’m Alexandria Schmidt, and this article will tell you how to effectively communicate your message and vision to your pastors, elders, church staff, congregation, and the community beyond the doors of your church. By the end, you will have the tools to competently organize your volunteers and staff and be able to expand your ministry through new avenues of outreach.
- What Is Church Communication?
- Church Communication Plan
- Church Communication Best Practices
- Best Church Communication Software
What Is Church Communication?
Church communication is the combination of the words you say (your message) and how you say them (your delivery). Focusing too much on the message can make the delivery awkward or ineffective. Focusing too much on the delivery can make the message sound hollow or meaningless.
Occasionally, a church leader with extremely high charisma can get away with one or the other of those, but the rest of us have to walk the line between too much of one or too little of the other. For this reason, every message should be crafted with a specific audience in mind.
Internal Church Communication
Your first audience is your church staff and elders. From pastors to technicians to custodians, your staff keeps the church running so that people can enter the building at all.
For many churches, staff communication will be accomplished in two major ways: staff meetings and emails. Remember that, while your church is a house of God, it is also a business and all communications should be handled professionally. We cover this and more here.
Once your staff has their instructions on how to implement the current message, it is time to pass that message on to the church members and congregation. This can include the themes for small groups that week, the song choices of the worship leader, the layout of the church bulletin, and even the color of the flowers on stage. This level of communication is less formal since it is the first touchpoint of actual ministering.
Learning the many different ways communicating with your church congregation helps and grows the church is beyond the scope of this article, but you can read more about this rather extensive topic here.
External Church Communication
Now, we are called to minister to more than just the people who walk into our buildings. As long as churches have existed, they have ministered to their communities. So, what does that message look like beyond our walls?
I have seen churches do everything from billboards to mass mail to door-knocking to prison ministry to food pantry…and more. The only real question is, how does this reflect the message I am trying to send? Of course, you will be limited by your budget as well, but it is always good to have long-term goals.
The simplest and cheapest way to promote your church or church events is through social media. Whether Facebook, Youtube, TikTok, or Snapchat, you can have a message pass to thousands within a matter of hours.
I was asked to lead a peer support group in my church recently and posted it to Facebook. Nearly 200 people saw it, close to 40 said they were interested, and 5 showed up. Your mileage may vary.
When dealing with external communications, from marketing to press releases, a dedicated communications officer for your church is always a good idea, if you can afford one. Your outreach goals can be met sooner than you think when your efforts are led by a talented media person.
What Is A Church Communication Plan?
Your church communication plan is the written procedure that outlines how and when your message is spread on each level of communication. Church communication plans can be called church communication strategies by some people, but I have found the terms refer to two separate ideas.
To avoid confusion here, I will define a communications plan as above, and a church communications strategy as the individual methods that can be used within a plan. I will provide specific examples in the next sections.
Example Church Communication Plan
While your church communication plan should cover how every type of person receives your message, you should avoid micromanaging the delivery methods. For instance, let’s say that this week’s sermon is about “Casting Your Nets On The Other Side”. A good communication plan would look something like this:
- Staff Meeting, Tuesday
- Worship Leader: Songs about fishing and being led to the water.
- Bulletin Department: Nets and fish for graphics.
- Associate Pastors: Develop prayer cards for the elders around the theme.
- Tech Ministry: Find pictures or footage of fishing boats for the website and Facebook page.
- Maintenance: Change the outdoor sign to reflect the messaging.
- Stage Department: Source nets to drape on stage during sermon.
- Wednesday, Final Approval of Songs and Graphics
- Thursday, The website and outdoor sign are changed. The bulletin goes to print.
- Friday, Choir practice.
- Saturday, Stage dressing and any final tweaks.
- Sunday, Service.
This plan gives a clear timeline with simple expectations, while also leaving room for each person or department to find out how to accomplish their tasks on their own. You might not have access to all of the things mentioned in that plan. Conversely, you may have access to more resources. This is why your job is to tailor your plan to the strategies at your disposal.
What Is A Church Communication Strategy?
A church communication strategy is the tools of communication you have at your disposal. Does your church have a website? Then website communication is one of your available strategies. Do you have social media (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Snapchat, etc.)? Then social media communication is a communication strategy for you.
Some strategies are shared by nearly all churches. Praise and Worship through singing and instruments are present in nearly every Christian denomination. While we might disagree on which instruments or styles to use, music is a universal human language which permeates religious ceremonies of all types. We share sermons in common, too.
Even if some preachers are fiery and loud while others quiet and stoic, many times they preach the same messages. All that said, I cannot tell you what you have in your church. You need to take some time and take stock of the various strategies available to you. Once that is done, you can start to make your plan.
How To Develop A Church Communications Plan
Developing a church communications plan can be as easy as following a few steps once you know what you have.
- Step 1: Identify Your Audience. Who is this message for?
- Step 2: Why This Audience? Is your message too broad or too narrow?
- Step 3: What Am I Communicating? Find the wording of your message.
- Step 4: When Do I Communicate? Can you time your message for greater impact?
- Step 5: How Do I Communicate? Which strategies will have the greatest impact?
The steps above are a shortened version of our in-depth article, How To Develop A Church Communications Plan.
Church Communication Best Practices
- Know Your Audience. The first, and best, rule of all communications. As luck would have it, as the lead pastor of your church, you know your congregation better than anyone. You know what they react to the best and what will turn them away.
- Trust Your Staff. The purpose of the church staff is to support the vision and goals of the lead pastor. Trust them to follow your vision into the future.
- Have a Clear Plan. With all this talk of plans and strategies, keep in mind that my example had only six instructions for the staff. The article I linked has only five steps to develop your plan. Keep communications simple and clear to prevent your staff and your audience from getting confused.
- Be Agile. The other advantage to simplicity in your plans is that this allows for a greater ability to react to problems that arise. Without room to salvage failures or accidents, one problem can create unrecoverable issues. Don’t box yourself in. Unforeseen circumstances will do that enough.
- Have Fun. Don’t get so caught up in perfection that you forget the purpose of church communication: to spread the Good News. The Gospel doesn’t sound all that great coming from someone who is unhappy. Your attitude infects your staff, your congregation, and the community when you preach. Let it be an infection of love and joy and peace.
Another resource where you can learn about best practices in church communication is in this article. The final best practice I have is to always keep learning, so follow the links here and continue your journey of growth.
Best Church Communication Software
I would be remiss if I wrote all this without pointing you towards some extra church communication tools. Many types of software and apps exist to help you communicate with your staff, your volunteers, your church members, and your community. My church is currently, as of this writing, in the process of switching to new software with much better functionality than our old software.
One of the reasons we decided to switch is because our previous software did not allow us to send emails and texts to our volunteers based on our calendar or add songs to our service order. Now, we have those strategies at our disposal, so we can be more effective in organizing our services and communicating our needs to our helpers.
Church Communication And You
I hope you have a deeper understanding of church communication now than you did when you started reading. Communication is the core of our mission as pastors, and you should never take that for granted when you are managing a church.
I also hope that you have taken the time to read the articles linked in this one. The more that you develop as a communicator, the more people will hear the Gospel.
Comment below with any questions or ideas. You can also contact me on Twitter at @A_G_Schmidt.