There are more options for communication today than ever before. Church leaders may feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of them and therefore not use them, and miscommunication often ensues when a church does not have a comprehensive communication strategy that includes many communication methods.
People also have different preferred methods of communication, so reaching each person can be difficult. This is another reason church leaders need to strategically implement a communication strategy that addresses a variety of fronts.
Some methods of communication to implement in a communication strategy are:
1. The Weekly Bulletin
The weekly bulletin is often the first line of offense for communicating effectively. Include a few essential announcements in them each week about what’s coming up. Also, promote your other avenues of communication in the bulletin, including your website and social media accounts.
2. On-the-Stage or Video Announcements
Announcements during worship can create a distraction if not done well, so it is best to keep announcements in the service at a minimum. Only promote the most vital ones. Announcements in a service, whether in person or by video, remain an essential component for communication.
3. Announcement Slides
Most churches now have screens in their worship center or sanctuary. As part of your communication strategy, utilize the screen before and after the service with well-done, professional announcement slides. This is a great way to catch people’s attention and update them with what’s coming up in the life of your church.
Any effective communication strategy involves a strong web presence, and that starts with the website. Your website should provide information on upcoming events, ministry news, and church-wide announcements. Your other communication channels should direct your members and visitors to this information pit-stop, driving your web traffic. Make sure your website looks great, is easy to navigate, and regularly produces solid content and updates.
5. Social Media
If you are not using social media, you are missing out on a huge avenue for communication. Most people receive all their news from some sort of social network, primarily on Facebook and Twitter. Your church should strive to engage your people in these spaces with announcements, updates, and content. Though the elderly in your congregation may care less about your church’s social media presence, if your church wants to engage a younger generation, using social media outlets is a non-negotiable.
Many tools exist that can help you get started using social media. Once your Facebook page or Twitter account is setup, you can harness the power of tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to train a staff member to schedule updates each week.
6. Email Marketing
Just about everyone has an email account. How about sending out an eNewsletter each week filled with updates and announcements for church members? You can use an email marketing service like MailChimp to help manage your mailing list and send out your emails. Email marketing campaigns will help your church reach email inboxes and drive more traffic to your website.
7. Phone Calls and Text Messaging
Some members of your congregation will not participate in Facebook or email. They resist these innovations and prefer old-fashioned means of communication. A service like PhoneTree, which records a message and calls phones with this message, can remain an effective way to communicate. In my experience, our younger members tend to hate pre-recorded phone messages, and our older members love it. Also, you may want to use a text messaging system to increase communication.
8. Conventional Mailings
As the cost of postage increases, physical mailings can get pricy. Today, there are so many free methods of communication and physical mailings are time-consuming. Yet, this remains the preferred means of communication for some people. At my church, we infrequently send a mailing to the entire congregation, but we do mail documents to our elderly and shut-in members so that they can stay in the loop of what God is doing at our church. Though churches are using conventional mail less and less, it has its function and can still assist you in creating a comprehensive communication strategy.
Communicating from Every Angle
If you wish to communicate effectively in your church, learn to utilize different avenues of communication, and you can learn to target each individual with their preferred method. Whether your updates appear in a person's Twitter feed or as a message on their voicemail, using diverse methods will increase your effectiveness.
Sit down with your leadership team and map out a comprehensive communication strategy that implements some of the avenues mentioned above. Put it in writing. Delegate the responsibilities to the appropriate team member.
Learn how to avoid liability with your church's website and use of social media by downloading Using Social Media Safely.