Communicating clearly about church events, news, and opportunities can make or break your church. Do it well and you will see people engaged and their lives changing. Do it poorly, and you may have frustrated leaders, uninformed church members, and stagnant growth.
A healthy church communication system is one that adheres to a regular rhythm, is attentive to current events and changing needs, and inspires active and regular participation. It is also built on the foundation of strong online communication channels like websites and social media platforms that church members are using regularly.
Having healthy, thriving, and vibrant communication systems and channels are valuable and necessary to keep church members informed, engaged, included, and to welcome in new members and/or prospective church shoppers.
As a leader, it’s easy to think you are communicating more clearly than you actually are. Pastors and church leaders spend their days planning ministry, but church members don’t. They live busy lives and rely on clear, concise, and compelling communications so they know what is happening and how to respond in a timely manner.
How can you get an accurate perspective of the effectiveness of your church communications? The best way is with a communication audit.
Communication Audit Process
An audit allows for the systematic review of what you communicate and how it is done. This process can provide an honest assessment of what is working and what is not for your church. This also allows for improvements to be made over time.
The process doesn’t need to be scary, but it does need to be thorough. While anyone in leadership can perform the audit, it is important to have a clear audit plan and establish who will oversee it and participate in it. After the audit, it will also be important to know who has the authority to set goals and make changes based on the audit findings.
To communicate more clearly and increase engagement with your church community, here are five steps to help your church begin a communication audit:
1) List all the ways you communicate with your church and community.
Be as detailed as possible with your list. Including items like the bulletin, website, email, social media, signage, small groups, and church management software (ChMS). This will help identify all the channels currently used to communicate about your ministry, so you know where to focus your attention.
2) Identify who oversees each of the communication channels.
Every communication channel needs an owner and someone whose job it is to collect information and make sure it gets shared. Without this person, the channel will never succeed. Some churches may have communication coordinators on staff, while others may rely on volunteers. Understanding this will help you know who to contact to communicate through a specific channel and will also reveal what areas still need an owner.
3) Identify what is working in your current communications.
Look critically at your communications and determine where you are winning. Also look for areas that have strong engagement over time and find the patterns that identify why it works and what you can learn from it. Ask questions like, “Why does this channel work better than others? Is it the way we share? What gets shared? What is the communication preference of our church community?”
This will help to focus attention on what channels to use to share important information and what can help improve other channels.
4) Identify what is not working in your current communications.
Be realistic about what is not working and ask the hard questions. Is the channel still needed? Does it need more focus or a different leader? What have we learned in other channels that might improve the results? This will help you know where you need to put attention and possibly when it’s time to retire a communication channel.
5) Set measurable goals for improving your communications.
The goal of your communication audit is to improve your overall communication. It is the responsibility of pastors, church communicators, and leaders to look at the results and set a course of action. Measure the audit findings against what needs the most attention and what fits your church vision, then set measurable goals to work toward.
This will help improve communications over time and reach your church community more effectively. Your church has a powerful message to share. Doing the hard work of a communication audit will help bring clarity to the ways you share it.