It’s no news flash that many churches struggle with keeping consistent in their church communication efforts. Often, emails are sent out to the church irregularly, even social networks go without being updated daily or weekly. Emergencies do happen and small churches do struggle more without a huge staff or entire department to make things happen.
But more than anything, being consistent in your church communication can be one of the best uses of church resources.
As with any church communication efforts, there are a variety of factors involved. I polled a few Facebook ministry groups to confirm my suspicions in what the top three problems in church communication are: 1) too many people involved 2) not enough expertise and resources and 3) not enough time.
In this article, I hope to detail three of the biggest problems and three helpful solutions to point your church communication ship in the right direction to reach your church goals.
Problem #1 – Too Many ‘Cooks in the Kitchen’
We’ve all had the experience of Thanksgiving dinner prep when grandma, mom, daughter, and maybe an auntie or two are all trying to get the gravy just right. Yes, I know, it’s too many cooks in the kitchen. In church, you might see that the youth leader has a Facebook or Instagram page, the women’s ministry leader sends emails, the church secretary creates and emails a newsletter, the pastor writes blog posts, there are too many people all doing ‘their own thing.’
Problem #2 – Not Enough Expertise / Short on Ideas
Often in ministry, the person handling communication is not trained in this field. If this is you, you most likely have a willing heart and an open mind, but you’ve never done this before and you don’t know where to start. Feeling like you don’t have enough good ideas is a common issue.
Problem #3 – Not Enough Time
Often, the person in charge of church communication is strapped for time with too many things on their plate. If that’s you, I think you can rest assured that almost everyone can relate. Churches are a little like start-up companies – you could be leading a meeting, coordinating marketing, and even taking out the trash and paying bills.
This is totally normal, but it does create a bit of a problem.
Now that I’ve identified the three big sources of problems related to church communication at churches, let’s consider some solutions to get you headed in the right direction, or what my video presentation of this article below:
Solution #1 – Create Point Person to Handle all Church Communication
Over and over again I see this as the fundamental problem when it comes to churches and their communication. As a former public relations executive and consultant, I see the church communicator as the key coordinator for all print, online, and verbal communication from the church. This includes all announcements from the pulpit, digital displays around the church, church bulletins, connection cards, the church website, all church email communication, and social media.
Even for a church plant or small church of 100, your church needs to designate a willing and capable leader who is a good communicator with excellent verbal and written skills, is organized, detail-oriented, and a is natural multi-tasker with a desire to see God working in and through all communication efforts. I know it sounds like a tall order, but it is what your church needs. This person can rally a small team of volunteers to assist in aspects of communication, but the goal here is that no one goes rogue and everyone understands the vision and purpose of the organization. You are the shepherd of all communication, overseen by the pastoral leadership of your church.
Solution #2 – Create an Idea Bank and Build a Communication Tribe
I’d like to suggest that in order to negate the problem of not having enough good church communication topics and ideas, you build a team around you and cull ideas from them. One of the most amazing things about the day and age we live in with social media is that you can instantly become a part of a tribe of people and ask questions to get help.
For instance, there are a plethora of good Facebook private groups – there are several on church communication, church marketing, church technology, worship leading, pastoring, etc. Also, within your church, chances are there are lots of amazing things happening that you might not know about. Start building yourself a list of people whom you can call to find out what’s going on ‘on the ground floor.’ What volunteer is working with teens and can share a recent praise to share via social media? What pastor can you check in with weekly to get the skinny on ministry needs and ministry wins?
Church communication doesn’t happen in a bubble. We need our church family, and they need us. Start building an ‘idea bank,’ which is fancy for an ongoing list of ideas to work with. You can use Google Docs and share it with the pastoral leadership team, or you can build a list in Evernote, Pages, or Word. Whatever the method, it will help you feel like you’ll never run out of ideas. When you need encouragement, jump into a private Facebook group of church communicators and share your need, or ask for help. It’s there if you want it.
Solution #3 – Create More Time
Listen, I realize I don’t have a magic wand to add extra hours to your already packed day. I’ve written lots of helpful articles on tech tools that might be able to help you with the issues of time, but nothing is a silver bullet. You might need to get an intern to help you, you might need to increase your hours, or you might need to work on developing some methods to help ‘tame the beast’ so to speak. Building systems for each area of church communication is one of the best ways to get back your time. A system looks like a simple step-by-step process of what it takes from start to finish to cross the task off your list.
I’m sure you realize that social media can quickly take over your time. Utilizing social scheduling tools available such as Hootsuite, Buffer App, Coschedule, and the like can help. It’s also vital that you don’t try to do everything under the sun. Most churches these days stick with Instagram and Facebook as their primary social networks.
Steps to Find More Time and Get Organized:
1) First, Pray – ask God to direct your steps.
2) Do a communication audit see what you’re already doing.
3) Build a simple plan that includes your primary social networks, primary all-church communication, primary ministry communication.
4) Decide on a social media scheduling solution.
5) Set up solutions and begin to schedule out 3x Facebook posts a week, daily Instagram posts, then set a task reminder to check the post responses several times a day or allow push notifications on your phone.
I’m a huge fan of the social and marketing calendar platform, Coschedule, because you can schedule email communication, social communication, blog posts – virtually anything and everything – and see it in one place at one time. This helps me be consistent in my own company’s communication in ways that far surpassed my own abilities. Technology makes it possible keep up; without it I’d be far behind for sure.
I can’t go into every area of church communication here to build systems for you but know that half the battle with time management is breaking tasks and projects down into smaller steps. It can help you avoid total overwhelm and also allow you to set times during your week when you handle each aspect of church communication.
For instance, block out Monday mornings to work on the following Sunday’s bulletin copy.
Set a time Monday afternoon to schedule the following week’s social posts, then get the scheduled and ready to go.
Overall, setting up systems to solve these three church communication challenges is crucial.