Over the years I’ve decided there are some fundamental priorities when it comes to serving in church communications. If you operate in this framework you will go much further and succeed more than you thought.
These eight essentials can help you overcome the hurdles of communication ministry and reach depth in the work you seek to accomplish:
#1 – Think About the Right Response (whether you think you’re communicating well or not)
This is huge. You’ve got to test your church communications on real people. See how people respond to your message. Because if you don’t, you are gambling that they will respond the way you want them to respond. Get someone to read your copy. Look at your design. Watch a video. Ask them what they think about it.
I remember doing video announcements. We got really efficient and good at them. But we lost the audience. They saw them as an ad break in the service where they could do other things. So we changed and mixed our announcements to re-engage our congregations. And they listened. Read the post here where I write about announcements.
The great thing about running social media adverts is that I can actually test to see what’s working and creating the better responses. I then switch off the ads that aren’t performing as well. Sometimes the ad which performs the best isn’t the one I think is the one that is going to perform.
#2 – Think External and Digital First
Churches often slip into a majority internal focus with their communications. Wrong! You’ve got to think externally first. Read this post about why you need to do that.
You also think digital first. Most people are digital first people now. They shop online. Browse online. Get entertained online. Talk online. Find love online.
Be the church that helps them find Jesus online.
#3 – Think About How Your Systems Can Help, Not Hinder
Systems are great. They can bring order into chaos and help meet pressure cooker deadlines. But sometimes the system itself can be a barrier to the right communication. Be agile in your systems and allow for exceptions to the rule. Don’t be a doormat, but play the exception card when you know you should.
Your system should serve the structure. Not the other way around. Don’t let the system get in the way of a great idea.
#4 – Think Through the Best Ways to be Socially Engaging
Social media is here to stay. But so many churches just have the wrong approach to social media. They think announcements rather than engagement. Go look at a few church’s social feeds. Check to see how many posts are for events, versus asking questions, showing sermon snippets, devotions, scripture posts. Your social media community is there because they want to engage with your church. Not just sign up for events. Read 21 Social Media Tips For Your Church. It will really help your staff and senior leaders.
#5 – Think Through How to be Smart, Not Clever
There is a fine line between smart communications. You know, whimsical can be brilliant. Witty can make a person smile. But sometimes being too clever can lose the point of communication. It means that the communication is remembered for being clever, rather than the response you are trying to create.
#6 – Think Ahead and be Ready for Disruption and Change
One of the consistent themes of the last ten years has been the revolutionary shift into digital communications, especially with social media and the internet. More disruption is just around the corner. Be looking for trends early and try and test new ideas early. It may just get stunning results. New social media platforms are coming on stream. Tik Tok is a recent one. Eventually, a new platform will break through and become mainstream. Read 6 Powerful Trends That Your Church Needs To Act On In 2019.
I believe that more disruptive shifts are coming. Augmented reality (AR) is one that is becoming more and more frequent integrated into business communications. I have even a wine label that when I run an augmented reality app over it, the label comes to life and the person on the label starts talking. While this is very early, we’ll no doubt see more immersive AR come into our everyday lives.
#7 – Think About the Fact That You’re in the People Business
Key messages, brand positioning… our work is great, but sometimes we forget we are actually in the people business. Engage with your other members of staff. Get to know them beyond the task or project.
Hang out and interact with your congregation. Not only will it help you understand your audience more – their hopes, dreams, disappointments, failures and more about what makes them tick. But you will actually make some friends along the way too. Life is way too short to just be in church as a job. It’s a family.
#8 – Think About Ways Not to Get Lost in Your Work
You are on the most profound spiritual journey. Use your role as an opportunity to go deeper in your Christian faith, enjoy and explore the mystery. Listen, pray and learn. Serving in a church can mean that you can lose the personal time that needs to be invested. Set time aside where you can reconnect on a deeper level with the One you are serving.
Your congregation is also on a spiritual journey. Every single one of them. Don’t forget that. Even the grumpy complaining ones. You are helping them take steps of faith.