In a time of constant change, it’s more important than ever for churches to prioritize communicating effectively.
But what is the ultimate goal of communications in the church?
I would argue that it is to reach our community and our congregation in order to inspire, inform, and invite them to find their own next step on the path of following Jesus. No matter where someone is in their walk with Jesus, they have a next step, whether they have never set foot inside your building or they are the most treasured volunteer in your congregation. They all have a next step to take.
So how do we do that?
By simplifying. By clearing the clutter.
Do you sometimes wonder why people aren’t getting your message? You send emails. You hang up signs. You write bulletin announcements. You post on social media. Is anyone even listening?
Here’s the truth. People are busy. Information bombards them from everywhere.
People are also looking for real answers that make a real difference in their lives. And we know that Jesus is the answer to the question of changed lives. But people experience life-change one step at a time. Communications plays a key role in helping people easily find and say yes to their next step, however big or small.
Simplified communication is not about being on-trend or reaching one particular demographic. It is about giving people relief, letting them breathe so they can take a step. It is vital Kingdom work.
Quoting Kem Meyer from her best-selling communications book Less Chaos. Less Noise. (I would argue it is a fantastic “how-to” book for anyone in ministry as it relates to strategy and priorities.):
“In theory, more choices (or information) may lead people to find exactly what they want. But, research shows that when given too many choices, people actually feel worse. Too much choice (or information) leads to one of three results: regret, shutdown or paralysis. It looks different depending on the generational attributes, but “give them more choices” is often an ineffective communication strategy for people across all generations.
- Boomers get overwhelmed and shut down.
- GenXers think they want the choices (and expect them), but labor over whether or not they’re making the right decisions.
- Millennials just ignore you and move on to whatever interested them in the first place.”
What does that look like practically?
Here are two key tips for simplifying your communications so they can be more effective. Remember that anything you are communicating may be someone’s next step closer to Jesus.
Target your communication.
Every message doesn’t need to be broadcast in the same way. Think about who you are trying to reach (and who you are NOT trying to reach) and use the best tools to reach those specific people. For example, if a message does not apply to at least 75% of your congregation, do not announce it from the pulpit or platform. When a message does not apply to them, people tune you out. Eventually, that becomes a habit and no one is listening. Instead, use targeted ways to communicate like email or Facebook groups.
Time your communication.
Give people the information they need when they need it. We all know the struggle of people signing up for our events at the last minute. We make announcements for months and people sign up three days before the event. Here’s the problem: when we communicate too far in advance, people aren’t ready to make a commitment. Then they tune us out once they’ve heard the message too many times. We need to time our communications so they reach our audience at the right time FOR THEM. Sure, give people advance notice of big events. But don’t try to force people to commit too far out.
Then think about when they need more details and send those at the right time too. Maybe you should send addresses and locations a couple of days in advance, or even the morning of. Right when people are looking for that information rather than hoping they hold onto a piece of paper or an email for weeks or months.
A solid communication strategy is key to the growth and health of any organization, including the church.
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