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How To

How To Develop An Effective Church Communications Plan

If you’re wondering what church communications are, what a church communications plan is and how to use one, read on!

In this post, we’re going to tackle some the most relevant questions about developing an effective church communications plan, so you can create your own. Keep reading to find out:

Why develop a church communications plan?

So why should you bother developing a church communications plan? In short, it’s because the good news of the gospel is at stake.

Let me explain.

We all know the gospel is ‘good news.’ But news like the gospel, as good as it is, cannot be called ‘news’ in the first place without also having hands, feet, and mouths planning to communicate it (c.f. Romans 10:14-17).

Here comes the local church: the planner, articulator, and communicator of the message that Jesus Christ laid down his life for those who couldn’t earn God’s love (c.f. Romans 5:8).

Local churches communicate, inside and outside of themselves, in ways that are creative and distinct from one another. But regardless of any creative differences, each church needs to consider how to develop an effective communications plan.

If it doesn’t, the gospel–the news to be communicated–may itself be at stake.

What is church communications?

Church communications are the ways in which a local church expresses and makes known its mission and message. 

Internal and External Communications

Church communications can both internal communications and external communications.

venn diagram comparing external and internal communication
There are two forms of communications: internal and external.

Internal church communications are typically within and on behalf of the local church, who makes its messaging known to its own people, like:

  • church staff,
  • church leaders, 
  • volunteers, 
  • small groups 
  • and church members.

Internal people embrace and advance the mission and the message.

But church communications is also understood by way of external communications, when the church makes known the right message, beyond itself. This could be by way of evangelism or outreach, to the de-churched, unchurched, and so on, using:

  • social media, 
  • podcasts,
  • text messages,
  • live streaming, 
  • the church’s website, and many other options. 

For the local church, people are the mission (c.f. Matt 28:19; 1 Chron 16:24; Matt 9:35-36). So, having people inside the church reaching people outside of it is also an ‘ends’ of the communications plan. People reaching people.

This is significant because we can think of communications plans simply as a ‘means.’ But they aren’t. Here’s a link explaining the idea of fulfilling the mission of God through the multiplication of people via church plants. Good communications help make a ‘means’ also an ‘end’.

Integrated Communications

The internal and external forms of church communications require a little further thought and explanation. They can be discussed separately only in theory because in practice they are highly dependent upon each other. 

For example, let’s say a local church’s goal is to increase outreach and evangelism. This is a communication channel we probably think of as external.

Yet, the best way to ramp up outreach could actually be by addressing an area not outside, but inside–like improving internal church software to better communicate the vision and how this goal is going to be achieved and addressed through ministry.

My local church has just upgraded to the new Planning Center software. This suite of products has helped us keep-on-top-of everything from what’s going on in a ministry team all the way to first-time follow-ups with guests.

It has also been super helpful for scheduling and registering people in church events, like Christmas and Easter, which are especially complicated to plan, communicate, and manage during COVID!  

mind map of integrated communications strategy
Churches need to decide how their communications are integrated, as typified above.

Each church needs to wrestle with the degree to which its internal and externals communications plans are linked. But it’s hard to think of a good external communications plan without there also being a robust and cohesive team working together behind-the-scenes, with the right tools. 

So, church communications require integration and a blended value approach. This also relates to the church’s overall goals, objectives, and strategy.

How to develop a church communications strategy

The best church communication strategy uses multiple mediums to reach its intended audience with an integrated, foundational idea or message.

In the Church Communications Handbook, George Barna says,

“Most communications experts will tell you that your best media strategy is one that relies upon a blend of several media to reach your desired audience.” 

George Barna

If your goal is to do this online, Brady Shearer’s YouTube video is super helpful in this medium. In particular, his rule #3 highlights what we will pick up below.

Here are 5 steps you can ask in order to develop an integrated communications strategy:

Step 1: Who is the target audience?

A blended church communications strategy first identifies who is being communicated with. This makes sense when talking about the mission and message of the gospel because, in the end, the intended audience of the gospel is everyone (c.f. Rev 7:9). 

Jesus Christ came into the world so that everyone would come to know and experience his love (c.f. Ps 67:2; John 3:16; and 1 Tim 2:4). As we discussed above, the local church owns this communication.

Step 2: Why this target audience?

This is your opportunity to refine your audience. In the case of the gospel, “everyone” is far too large a demographic for any single, local church to bite-off-and-chew on its own. So, with this step, you can ask why or why not this person or group of persons.

“Everyone” has different habits, preferences, and areas of interest, meaning that reaching them with one medium or one strategy in isolation of others is literally impossible. 

So, understanding that local churches can rely upon one another, and we can see the capital “C,” universal Church working across the globe. 

Also, understanding that there are different mediums through which different people can be reached helps you know why one audience can be targeted and another cannot.

After asking the question of why your audience can become more focused and narrow.

Step 3: What to communicate to them?

This is where you clarify your medium and message. The gospel message itself isn’t brand spanking new. But it can be thought of as old news that brings new life in new ways.

So, answering what to communicate is more a matter of what emphasis of the gospel is on display. You can figure that out be addressing these questions:

  • What truth or truths of the gospel are being articulated or supported by this communication?
  • How is Jesus revealed by what I am saying or how I am treating people with what I say?
  • Where is there room for new life to be brought into this medium?

Step 4: When to communicate with the target audience?

The “when” we see in the Bible can be called an “occasion.” It can be reactive or proactive. But the best time to communicate is proactive.

If the Apostle Paul’s writings teach us anything, it is that local churches in different areas of the world work together and, at the same time, focus on specific messaging to specific people on specific occasions (c.f. Gal 1:6-9).

We see biblical authors writing towards a “future” of things that will happen on planned or foreseen occasions. Some examples of this include the Prophetic literature in the Old Testament, but also how believers in a community should behave in the New Testament (e.g. see Gal 5-6 for proactive communications).

Step 5: How to communicate with the audience?

This can be called a ‘Big Idea.’ In his book, The Social Church: A Theology of Digital CommunicationJustin Wise suggests that each church needs to develop a “Big Idea” that is “foundational,” from which every other act of communication flows from the base of a pyramid. 

The “Big Idea” that informs strategic communications is developed, for Wise, by receiving life and being breathed on by God the Father. This is no trivial point. Unless the reason why we are communicating is important enough to communicate and empowered by the one who ‘communicated’ life into being, then it doesn’t have much hope of success.

But Wise also gets practical too. He suggests that a “Big Idea” can be formed by approaching the question: “What objectives are we trying to accomplish as a community?” This is integrated not only by things “to do” but by an identity “to be.”

Examples of church communications

Let’s look at some examples of how a local church can use the integrated communications strategy. Pretend that the ‘Big Idea’ of this example is “to spread the worship of Jesus in the city of ‘XYZ’ by increasing the depth and breadth of disciples.”

Church’s Website Strategy

Church websites are a hugely important aspect of any church communication plan. This is the online medium through which first-time guests learn new information about your church, its mission, its message, and its “Big Idea.”

Daniel Babcock suggests in his blog that these people want to join the community, but prefer not to engage right away. If this is true, the website should very quickly include the information you want them to know about the “Big Idea” and how it is directly supported.

This is especially the case because the average website visitor views, says Babcock, only 1 or 2 pages of the website for a very brief amount of time. So brevity is key. 

With our “Big Idea” above, the church website should have an about page that states the “Big Idea” explicitly, making available information about small groups that exist. It should also share how the mission relates to what Jesus wants in city “XYZ.” 

Look at this good and simple example of the landing page at www.life.church. It uses images and banners to point new people directly to areas about the church’s mission.

screenshot of lifechurch homepage website strategy
Landing page at www.life.church is clear, succinct and interesting.

Any information on the website that doesn’t relate to the ‘Big Idea’ shouldn’t be on the website. 

Social Media Strategy

The “Big Idea” approach translates directly to your church’s social media strategy, content, and messaging. In the book, Social Media Strategy, Keith Quesenberry suggests that:

Social media big ideas must be unifying but also interesting and engaging.

Keith Quesenberry

So, how does your church make your message unifying? Well, your social media strategy can support your “Big Idea” by having some specific objectives, like:

  • Building Awareness: of your mission and message. (i.e. telling people you run small groups in the city).
  • Increasing Engagement: with your church’s communications and community (i.e. showing fun events and activities that are happening in your city that you are engaging with).
  • Raising Conversion: having non-members of the community see, hear, and respond. (i.e. asking for a response with questions or offering prayer or items that require action). 
  • Sharing Vision & Values: see people adopt your message and encourage others to do the same. (i.e. reward and encourage people who are loyal to your mission and message).

These objectives help you target a focused subset of the demographic of “everyone” (discussed above). Each objective relates to the “Big Idea” but can be employed on its own with dedicated social media posts at different times.

Here are some examples of Instagram screenshots from theway_vancouver. They do a great job integrating building awareness and sharing vision through integrated communications.

screenshot of the way vancouver instagram
theway_vancouver does a great job integrating communications of its mission and message using social media posts on Instagram.
Social Media Best Practices

This is how you can make your big idea interesting and engaging! Some best practices of how to roll out your engaging “Big Idea” on social media include:

  1. Post more videos: if a picture is worth 1000 words, how many words is a video worth. Here is a blog about the interest that can be generated by video.
  2. Use interesting pictures: the background, lighting, and colour of a photo are important.
  3. Tie the description to the photo: Far too often a video or picture isn’t related to the description or objective of the approach. The post becomes less interesting and engaging when it isn’t unified with itself!
  4. Use a social media calendar: your church can leverage events in your city and culture by posting about how the “Big Idea” relates to that time. (i.e. if your big idea is “to spread the worship of Jesus” then on something like ‘Valentines Day’ you could post about how worshipping Jesus is the ultimate form of love). 
  5. Subscribe to social media management software: all of the above best practices can be challenging to employ manually, say if you’re sharing with a team manually in a google doc. Hootsuite is an excellent platform for scheduling this automatically. Check Hootsuite out here. 

Template for church communications

Here is a great template from the diocese of Scranton that can help you get started with your church communications plan.

It identifies the target audience, highlights the message, and the medium. All of which are tied to the integrated approach described above.

editorial plan example for church communication strategy
An example of a completed editorial plan.

Further Reading

If you found this article helpful, you can check out how to leverage church metrics here. Monitoring and measuring metrics are a very helpful way of knowing whether your social media best practices and objectives are unifying, interesting, and especially, engaging!

What do you think?

Are you looking to develop a church communications plan? If so, how are the above insights helpful? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.

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How To

Worship Team Auditions: Step-by-Step Process + Templates

I think most of us at some point may have experienced this:

You’re the worship pastor, the worship leader, the music minister, and you have some people on your team that can’t cut it. Their musicality is not great, they show up unpracticed and late, and yet somehow they have managed time to stop and grab a Starbucks. Their attitudes drain the life out of practice time, and they just don’t seem to take instruction or work with a team very well.

How did we get here? Either we inherited this worship team mess or we created this mess ourselves. None the less, it’s time for auditions!

In this article I will cover:

I’ll also include some templates in a downloadable pack to make the process easier.

The most important thing to remember about auditions is this: it’s always easier to add a member to the team than to take them off. Thankfully, God hasn’t required us to use a specific instrument or vocal part in praising him, so we shouldn’t feel any pressure to add a drummer, guitarist, pianist, or alto ASAP to the worship band.

Auditions will certainly look different depending on the size of the church, the skill level of the current musicians, and the discernment of the leader. 

New Church Or Church Plant Auditions

For a new church, I’d recommend a more casual audition process. 

  • You could invite any musicians who are interested over to your house to play and sing on a regular basis. This way you can see how well they play, get to know them, and their character without any expectation of being included on a Sunday morning. 
  • While the standards may be lower in a new or smaller church auditions, I’d make sure that everyone is skilled enough not to be a distraction. 
  • Finally, look for people who are eager to support your leadership, not people who feel they need to display their gifts. Remember that pride on the team will only cause problems later, and it’s a contradiction to our intentions to bring glory to God, not ourselves.

Below is an outline of how you can run an audition in an established church.

Before The Audition

Here are some things you need to do at least a couple weeks before the audition. You want to make sure you are prepared before audition day arrives.

1. Select A Date And Time For Auditions

The whole audition may take a couple hours. This depends on how many musicians have signed up. It usually takes 10 to 15 minutes to audition one person, so if you have 5 people sign up, you’re looking at about an hour to an hour and a half with transition times.

2. Create A Way For People To Sign Up

An easy option is Google Forms. It’s a free service that Google offers where you can make a signup form and include all the questions you want people to answer before the audition.

If a good old piece of paper is easier for you, then go for it! Get that table set up in the church lobby and have people sign up.

Musicians could also email the worship pastor to sign up for the audition.

Instead of specifying what instrument(s) you are looking for, you may want to just hold an “open audition”. You never know who might walk through that door!

Worship Team Audition Signup Sheet Template

I’ve made an example of a worship team audition signup sheet, which you can download in the pack at the end of this article.

Download Template Here

3. Communicate With People Before The Audition

Email everyone who signed up to let them know when and where the audition will be and what they can expect to happen. People will want to be as prepared as possible, which is awesome. You may want to send the music ahead of time as well. With this email you can also add another form for the potential team member to fill in. This form will give you a bit more information about the person, their desires with worship, and some of their musical history.

Sample Worship Team Audition Email Template

 You can download an example of the email I usually send in the pack at the bottom of this article—copy and adapt for your auditions.

Download Template Here

 Worship Team Audition Info Sheet Template

You can include these info sheets in your email to collect additional information from people who are auditioning for your worship team. Get the download in the pack at the bottom of this article.

Download Template Here

4. Assemble An Audition Panel

An audition panel is one of the things that will separate a formal audition from just listening to someone play. It’s probably best to have three or five people on the audition panel (preferably an uneven number). Your audition panel should be other worship team members, like worship leaders, vocalists, or instrumentalists who are either on your team or others you know and trust. You don’t want the decision to lay only in your hands. There is safety in numbers, especially when it comes to having someone fail an audition and you need to communicate that with them. 

Day Of Audition

The day of the audition is finally here. Here are some ideas on what to do the day of the audition.

Auditioning Singers

  • Ask them to come with voices warmed up and ready to sing.
  • Have them sing a well-known worship song that you will pick for them.
  • Take some time to figure out their vocal range and decide on the best key for them. Make sure it’s a key they feel comfortable and confident in.
  • Be on stage playing the song during the audition, and callout different parts of the song to see how they flow with the music.
  • Ask them to sing a spontaneous song or even a bible verse over a chord progression of your choosing. This can test their ear and their flow as a singer.
  • If there are any weaknesses or mistakes, kindly point them out and have them play the song through again, and see if there are any improvements.
  • Encourage them with the strengths you saw in them after the audition.

Auditioning Musicians

  • Give them a few minutes to get their gear setup and prepared, whether this is an acoustic guitar, electric guitar, drum kit, or another instrument.
  • Lead them through a well-known worship song, watching that they confidently follow the chord charts and make smooth transitions.
  • Have them play the song in different keys, transposing in their heads.
  • Have them play lead-line melodies or a spontaneous song.
  • If there are any weaknesses or mistakes, kindly point them out and have them play the song through again, and see if there are any improvements.
  • Encourage them with the strengths you saw in them after the audition.

When auditioning a potential team member for the worship team, remember that you’re not only looking for technical ability, you’re also looking at their musicianship. Pay attention to how it felt playing with them. Was it smooth sailing or did it seem like they were struggling or fighting the flow of the music?

It is better for your worship team to consist of you and a keyboard player than a worship team full of musicians that can’t play or worse off, don’t care. I am quite happy to have a smaller worship team that is tight than a huge team that doesn’t know what they’re doing. It’s ok to build your team slowly over time. 

Make sure that you and your audition panel have a plan figured out. Try to establish exactly what you are looking for, and the type of standards you are expecting. Are you looking only for perfect pitch and tone? If they make a mistake, are they out? It’s best not to be too picky, but you also don’t want to be too lenient either. 

Worship Team Audition Scoring Sheet Template

This is a really useful sheet you and your panel can use to score the auditions. Download this and the other audition materials below.

Download Template Here

After The Audition

The auditions may be done, but the tough work is just beginning. Here is what you should do after the auditions.

1. Confer With Your Panel

Chat with the panel immediately after the auditions, assessing each person’s strengths and weaknesses in a way that honours their audition.

2. Send An Email With Your Decision

When you and the other leaders have figured out results, send an email letting people know the results within 3-5 days of their audition. One of the best ways we can honor those who audition is by following up in a clear and timely manner.

The email can be simple but should include: encouragement on their audition, whether or not they passed the audition, and the next steps in the process.

Remember that sometimes instead of “no” we can respond with “not yet”. Are there some tips you can send them? Perhaps it’s a suggestion of lessons? If the musician does put in that work you have suggested, this shows not only that they are teachable, but willing to put in the work and effort.

If you feel that they will be better suited for another ministry instead, suggest that to them as well.

Worship Team Audition Templates

Download all the templates mentioned in this article here:

Conclusion

It may sound cliché to say, but prayer is also a big part of this audition process. Ask the Lord to direct you in this decision process as well. As worship pastors it’s our mission to not just lead our worship ministry well, but to lead the worship team in submission to the Holy Spirit. He will be your best friend when it comes to building your worship team.

I have had incredible musicians audition, but after praying I had a sense from the Holy Spirit that it wouldn’t be a good fit. Later on, things came out that confirmed this decision. Going through the worship team audition process gives time for both you and that musician auditioning to get a feel for whether this is really going to work.

In the end it’s important to emphasize that musical skill is not the most important thing. Character and skill must go hand in hand when finding a team member.

For more on worship teams and church planting, sign up for The Lead Pastor community here!

Other Worship Team Audition Resources

Read about Bethel Church’s worship audition process.

See an example of a worship audition application from Elevation.

Check out Hillsong’s great article on building a worship team.

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How To

How To Become More Self-aware As a Pastor

Entrepreneur, author and social media icon Gary Vaynerchuk is one self-aware dude. He certainly talks about self-awareness enough. He even calls it your most important attribute. In seemingly everything he does, Vaynerchuk exudes a self-assured confidence.

“Self-awareness is being able to accept your weaknesses while focusing all of your attention on your strengths,” says Vaynerchuk, who has made millions off of successful businesses and investments.

Self-awareness is easier said than done. How do you become more self-aware? How do you discover your strengths to focus on? The path to self-realization is different for everyone (because everyone is different). But there are a few tips you can use to learn more about yourself.

Ask Yourself

The entire point of self-awareness is educating yourself about yourself. Most of us see this as an insurmountable challenge.

But odds are, you know yourself better than you think. You just need to unlock that hidden knowledge. Open up to you. Here’s how.

  • Be honest with yourself. Lying to other people is bad. Lying to yourself is worse.
  • Look at yourself in the mirror. What do you see? What’s your perception of yourself? Try singing some Michael Jackson to yourself.
  • Talk to yourself alone. Start a conversation with you. It may appear crazy, but it’s a healthy way to talk through issues and verbalize your own thoughts. I do it all the time.
  • Keep a journal. Or a diary, if you prefer. Write down your thoughts. Get it on paper. Create a record of your mind that you can review later.
  • Write a page-long autobiography. We write short bios for each social media account. Expand that to a page. What do you say about yourself?

Ask Others

Ironically, it’s sometimes others who know us better than ourselves. They can see things about our personality and character that escapes our notice.

Take the time to ask these people how they would describe you. What are your strengths? Weaknesses? What could you do better? There are dozens of people you can ask.

  • Family. Your spouse. Your parents. Your siblings. Uncle Bob.
  • Friends. Childhood pals. College roommate. Neighbors.
  • Coworkers. Your boss. Your employees. Your clients.
  • Mentors. People who you trust and admire.
  • Strangers. Just kidding.

The most important thing you need to do here is listen. Create a space where these people can be honest with you. Don’t get defensive. Don’t try to justify actions or behavior. Don’t take it personal.

Listen and observe. Find patterns in what people think about you. If there’s something you don’t like about this description of you, find a way to change it. Be a better you.

Ask the Experts

These days, personality tests are a dime a dozen. Buzzfeed will serve up endless quizzes so you can learn what kind of sandwich you are or which piece of IKEA furniture you most closely resemble.

There are a few more serious self-assessments you can take. Even these popular personality tests cannot fully capture your dynamic character. But they can give you a better sense of how you think and how you relate to others

  • Myers-Briggs
  • DiSC Profile
  • Right Path
  • Strengths Finder

I’ve even printed out some of my own test results and posted them in my office. This helps serve as a regular reminder who I am. At the very least, it’s a reminder to be more self-aware.

Ask God

Regardless of what you or anyone else thinks about you, know that God loves you. God loves everyone—self-aware or not. And there are certain truths that God says about each of us.

  • There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. —Romans 8:1
  • In all things, God works for the good of those who love him. —Romans 8:28
  • Nothing can ever separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus. —Romans 8:38-39
  • God is for me! Who can be against me? —Romans 8:31
  • But the one united with the Lord is one spirit with him. —1 Corinthians 6:17
  • Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? —1 Corinthians 6:19

Self-awareness is not about determining self-worth. Our self-worth was set for us by God. Being more self-aware allows us to better succeed in this world. But never let self-awareness jade you.

Always love yourself. Because God does. And he knows you better than anyone.

Categories
How To

How To Communicate With Your Congregation

Every week you probably have a staff meeting at your church. You go over your wins and losses from Sunday, you plan for next week. Maybe you even discuss what other churches are doing and what you can learn from them.

But its always the same old discussion.

There’s never any support for communications and marketing. It always comes back to “there isn’t budget for that,” or “that’s not as important as this.” or “we just can’t afford to hire more people.”

As the Communications person, how are you going to convince this group that your church needs to step up its digital communications strategy, or get more involved in social media?

How are you going to ever get a budget for such things?

I’ve come across it a million times. I encountered it at Mars Hill when I first started. I hear it every day from colleagues and clients. Even the big churches with a lot of followers struggle to put the resources and time and bodies that are needed to have a solid, and effective communications strategy.

So how do you get around this? How do we educate pastors and train up volunteers on the importance of church communications? How do we convince senior leadership to give us the budget we need to promote and grow the church?

When I encounter leaders who don’t want to support church communications, there are two common obstacles I run into the most:

1. We Can’t Measure ROI.

The most common thing I run into is the misconception that it’s hard to measure the return on investment when it comes to church communications efforts, particularly social media.

Leaders at the top are typically focused on results and return. That’s not a bad thing — they’re responsible for a lot of people and a lot of money, millions of dollars in most cases. And for a church, that’s tithe money from your donors and members.Stewarding that well means not wasting it on things that aren’t making a difference. And when you ask for $10,000 to run a Facebook ads campaign, or a billboard, or for new email marketing software, or even an Apple Watch… they don’t immediately see how that’s going to turn into more donors, more people being saved, more seats being filled.

Below I share some tips on how to define your purpose, as well as how to properly use data to help measure ROI.

2. Leaders with Little Digital Experience

The second most common obstacle I’ve encountered is leaders at that level are generally inexperienced with newer technologies and trends.

You’re probably a tech savvy millennial who grew up on Facebook, and now you’re trying to pitch your 60 year old senior pastor on why he should be more engaged on Twitter, how your church needs to reach the kids via SnapChat, or why you need to hire a social media manager and 3 interns to live tweet this Sunday’s sermon.

It’s the last thing on his mind because he doesn’t know what the heck you are talking about.

It’s on you to find a way to educate them. Below I’m going to walk you through five tips that will help you better educate with your pastors about the value of church communications.

5 Tips to Help You Better Communicate the Value of Church Communications

1. Have a strategy and a focus.

Know what you are doing, and cast the vision for why you are doing it. This may seem obvious, but it’s so important.

When you’re pitching someone who doesn’t know a lot about what you are talking about, you’ve got to be able to speak with confidence to earn their trust. Every decision they make is prioritized, and all this cool internet mumbo jumbo just sounds like a waste.

If you’re just wanting to do what every other church is doing because it’s cool, that’s not going to fly well. So get down to the heart of it. Know why you do what you do and how that aligns with the bigger picture.

How are your church communications strategies going to fill seats, get more donors, sell out an event, sell books, and ultimately bring people closer to the Lord? Make sure these align with the goals and vision of the church in general. If you’re all about church planting, then how is your proposed Facebook plan going to plant more churches? Are you going to target church planters via Facebook ads and then engage with them and build relationships with them so you can turn them on to your church and your mission? Layout how you are going to do that.

Using social media as an example. If your senior leaders don’t see the value in it, then find out what they do value and show them how social media can enhance that.

If they value people — loving people well, teaching people about Jesus — then how is your social media strategy going to love people well? Who cares how many followers you have or promise to get, if you don’t know those people and don’t have a plan to engage with them.

Show your pastors that you care about the same vision, you’re just going to use more modern tools to reach them. The people on social media are real people who need Jesus, and the church is in a unique position to learn how to be the best at reaching them.

Show your senior leaders how your church can’t just ignore these people, no more than you can ignore people walking in your front door.

2. Start small and slow, and do it well.

Don’t bombard senior leaders with requests to get on SnapChat, when you aren’t even using Facebook and Twitter well. Focus your strategy like a sniper rifle not a shotgun. Take on one thing at a time and do it well, showing your results before asking for more.

One thing you may want to try is doing a pilot with one ministry or event. It’s usually easier to get in on a ministry or event budget, than it is to get your own line item on the budget for a social media or digital communications.

3. Use Data.

This goes back to the ROI question. Using data is going to help you show that an investment in better church communications is going to pay off. It can also validate and backup what you are talking about.

Using social media as an example again, many of the experts will tell you that social media is still new and we’re still figuring it out. I’m sure you’ve heard that before. Your senior pastor may even bring it up when you try to pitch him on the idea of spending more resources on it.

The idea that social media is too new, it’s only kinda true. I’ve found the people who say that are the people who are trying to get social media to do something that maybe it shouldn’t be doing. They’re using it wrong.

We actually know quite a bit about social media. You should know these stats:

  • Facebook has 1.44 billion users. That’s basically everyone.
  • Adults spend about 2.5 hours on social media every day. Every single day.
  • 56% of all American’s have a profile on a social networking site.
  • 31% of seniors use Facebook regularly.
  • 53% of young adults use Instagram and check it daily.
  • 42% of all online women use Pinterest.

These numbers go up every year. To not include social media in your marketing or communications strategy is foolish. What might be even more foolish is to jump in without a strategy or plan behind it.

Think of it this way. Chances are your church is trying to figure out better ways to engage in deeper relationships with the people who walk through your doors. As the communications person, it’s your job to figure out how digital and social strategies can help meet that need. You’ve only got people’s attention on Sunday for about an hour or so. If they’re in a small group, maybe another hour during the week. Well guess what, they’re on Facebook and Twitter almost 3 hours a day! Show your pastors how you can deepen those relationships by interacting with people where they already are. Start by sharing this data with them.

Now here’s the caveat. You’ve probably already bombarded your senior pastor with stats and spreadsheets. Maybe that’s why he’s turned you down. Is he a stats and spreadsheets kinda guy? Probably not. More often than not, preaching pastors are visual and conversational. They aren’t going to read a report or click on the links you send them. Try a different way to reach them. Draw a picture, create a video, demand an in person meeting rather than sending emails.

You also need to look at what are other churches doing and show examples. Use the churches that your senior pastor likes and that are like you. Keep in mind that chances are the bigger churches have a graphics team and content writers coming up with that stuff, so unless you have a team like that don’t compare your church to something you’re not going to be able to do.

Also, don’t just show screenshots of what others are posting to Facebook. Call up the church, ask to speak to the people who run the social media accounts. Take them out for coffee or invite them over to your church. Learn from them and ask how they do what they do and why. Collaborate together and bring what you learn to your leadership team. When you show a screenshot of another church’s Facebook page, you’ll then be able to share the story of how they posted what they did and why, and hopefully the results they saw from it.

Next, find your congregation online and show them off. Another objection you might here is that “relationships happen in person” or “our congregation isn’t online.” It’s 2015. 1.44 billion people are on Facebook. Even your mom tweets.

Take your top donors, your most faithful people who serve, the well known people in your congregation, and find them online. Search for them on Facebook and Twitter and put together a little presentation showing their photo and their posts, proving that these people are online, and that they are sharing more about themselves and their struggles and wins, than they ever would in person.

Like I said, Social Media is a tool to engage real people. It’s not a matter of if people are online, we will be. They are online, you have to be able to show that. Show your leaders that by not being online they aren’t staying relevant, they aren’t doing their best to engage and love on people. The question isn’t if we should be doing this, its how are we going to make it work so that we can.

Going back to our first point though, when you share data you’ve got to have a reason for it and you’ve got to be able to show why the data matters.

Facebook and Twitter have built in analytics that can give you a ton of useful info like followers, likes, comments, reach, etc. There’s a handful of other tools that you can get too. Your website has Google Analytics.

But if your pitch is “give me XX amount of dollars and I’ll increase our Twitter followers from 5000 to 10,000.” Who cares? What good does another 5000 Twitter followers do you if you don’t also follow up with a plan to engage those people and get to know them? Give me a week and I can increase your Twitter followers just by doing some searches and following like minded people. It doesn’t mean I’ll be able to actually communicate well with those people or convert them to church goers or donors. The data is useless without a plan for what to do with it.

4. Utilize and train up volunteers.

Chances are budgets are tight whether your department is getting some of that money or not. In the grand scheme of things, Twitter and billboards, and fun stuff just aren’t going to get the bucks if you don’t have them. There probably aren’t funds to hire some more people. That’s why taking the time to invest in your volunteers is crucial for any size team. If you can show you already have a team in place to help manage things, then you might have a better chance at getting approval for the things you want to try.

Don’t just assign tasks to volunteers. Train them in the same way you’re trying to train your senior leaders and pastors. Convince them of the vision and reason behind what you’re doing. If they can get excited about what they are doing, they’ll be better volunteers.

5. Share stories

People online are real people. Real people have stories. If you’re just pushing out content, you’re advertising. Which is fine, but that means you’re not going to be able to reach people well and build relationships with a strategy that’s only advertisements and promo.

If you’ve got a plan that actually aligns with your church’s plan to love on people well, and bring them closer to Jesus, then you’re going to hear stories. Stories of how unchurched people came to church. Stories of how Jesus is changing lives through your communications.

Share those stories with your senior leadership. Show them its working. Show them stories from other churches who are doing it well. And show your volunteers the results as well. Let them know who they are reaching and how it is making a difference.

Bonus Tip: Get outside help.

An outside consultant can sometimes have better credibility than you with your senior leadership, even if they’re saying the same thing you’ve been saying all along. Someone on the outside can validate what you’ve been saying all along.

Now I know what you’re saying, chances are you’ll never get approval for a consultant if you’re whole goal is getting approval for a communications budget. So tell them your struggles and a good consultant can help you calculate the ROI and will help you show senior leaders how they’ll pay for themselves with the work they provide.

I’ll close with this…

When it comes down to it, you’ve got to convince others that you’re working on the same team as them, not against them, but you’re working for the same goals.

You aren’t competing with other ministries for budget or time and resources, you’re creating new ways to reach new people and engage better with the people you already have so you can love them well and lead more people to Jesus.

The communications managers I talk to who are failing at getting what they need to do their jobs well, are the ones who don’t have a clear vision for why they do what they do, and a clear plan to do it.

The key to convincing leaders to support your church communications plan is aligning it with the church’s vision.

If you can dial that in and convince your pastors and volunteers of it, you’ll get the resources and budget you need.

Reposted from http://www.ministrycommunicators.com/