As I talk to church leaders, I’m amazed by the consistency of the challenges they face. One of the biggest questions they ask comes down to their church communications. How do we get people to respond to communications and attend events?
Almost every leader has faced it at some point. Hours spent planning and preparing for an event, to have a low response or attendance. It is incredibly disheartening and can make you question what and why you are doing ministry. The reality is.. most churches are better at planning than at promoting. The weight of our focus and attention goes into creating the event, rather than inviting people to be a part.
The issue is, effectively communicating with our congregation and community takes… time and consistency. It’s no longer something that can be an afterthought. It has to be part of the planning process. Thankfully, there are some simple things you can do to increase attendance and connect your community. If you plan ahead.
Since time is always in short supply, I’ve created a done-for-you church communication plan.
It’s based on my 12 years in church communications and will help you organize your communications to get your message:
- Heard multiple times
- Seen in various forms
- Delivered in time for people to plan to attend
Here is Your Church Communication Plan for the New Year
1) Verbal – Start Five Weeks Before
Statistically, people need to hear about something three to seven times before they respond. With the typical churchgoer only attending two to three times a month we need to maximize the number of times we announce opportunities.
Don’t just share the when, where, how of your event. Take time to let people know how participating will affect their lives. If they come, how will they be impacted?
Your goal here is to not only inform them but to inspire them. If they see the importance, they become an advocate for you and will be more likely to invite someone else.
2) Print – Start Four to Five Weeks Before
There is a fine line with print. Too early and people forget about it. Too late and they’ve already made plans.
Start talking about important events or opportunities in your bulletin four to five weeks before your event. Letting people know details and filling in information.
Make it easy for your church to invite friends by providing flyers or invite cards three to four weeks before your event. This gives them time to make connections and saves them the embarrassment of forgetting details.
At the same time, send a postcard to your church family. Reiterate the details and let them know about the invitations for their friends. This reminds those who’ve been at church and informs those who’ve missed recently.
Your goal is to deliver information but also to hint at what to expect. Set the tone for them so they know what they’re getting in to. If it’s a serious event than speak more seriously if a lighthearted opportunity than be fun.
3) Web – Start Four Weeks Before
Your website is the digital front door of your church. Most visitors will visit you online before they ever walk in your building.
Make the most of it by sharing about your event and what they can expect when they arrive. Use the space as an opportunity to break down mental barriers that people might have about attending a church event.
4) Email – Start Two to Three Weeks Before
Depending on the day of your event, plan to send several emails over the course of two to three weeks. This is a great place to repurpose what you’ve used in print already, so you don’t have to start from scratch.
The key is to remember that people live busy lives. You want to deliver the important details, set a tone for what to expect and let them know why attending is important. Encourage them to bring a friend and leave them wanting more. It is better to deliver several emails people want to read, then a long winded one just because you had the room.
5) Social Media – Start Two to Three Weeks Before
Use your social media as a way to spread the excitement of what is coming. Minimize posts about the when, where, how of your event. Instead, build excitement with visual posts about last minute planning, event details, volunteers and what to expect. This is your opportunity to make your event personal and relational. Link to more expanded event details for those who want to know more. And, don’t forget to encourage followers to share your content.
6) Text Messages – Start Two Weeks Before
Harness the power of your connected church by messaging them directly. Use a text messaging provider to manage your contacts and avoid the dreaded reply-all that can start by sending texts to a large group.
Like email, keep your messages short and send people to your website or social media for more details or to register.
Following this communication plan will help increase your event success.
For some, I know this list is enough. I also know, some people would rather have a checklist to follow or an actual calendar. So, I’ve created an automated one for you. It takes all these items into account and even includes suggested delivery dates for your planning.
You can download the Excel sheet here:
Watch this 51-second video to see how easy it is to use.
I’d love to know how this church communication plan has helped. Let me know in the comments below.