The start of each year is a good time to set goals to make your church communications more effective in growing your church, introducing people to Jesus, and helping them grow into mature disciples. One of the best ways to do that is through a proactive approach to communications.
To understand what proactive communication is, it helps to first look at its opposite—a reactive approach to communications, which is how most churches do their communications. While there is little "wrong" with this approach, it isn't always the most productive.
The characteristics of reactive communications
Last-minute communication production is a key characteristic of reactive communications.This is communication that is created after the event planning is done and the event is about to take place. Because everyone is overworked and often stressed, the details of many events aren't in place until a short time before the event and so the church staff waits until then to begin telling people about it. Unfortunately, by then many people have other plans or won't hear your message.
This happens because if your event is only a few weeks away and you rely on Sunday morning as your primary communication opportunity through verbal announcements, PowerPoint visuals, and bulletin notices, it's easy to forget that not everyone is in church every week and many people won't know about your event if they don't attend on the one or two Sundays you talk about it.
If you rely on the web or social media, the people in your congregation who don't access these channels regularly, or who are flooded with social media interactions, may miss out on only one or two mentions.
The result is that the attendance response to events or ministry opportunities is often a disappointment, not because people aren't interested, but simply because they didn't know about it.
The characteristics of proactive communication
In contrast, proactive communication is not simply last-minute quick invitation to come and bring friends, but a series of communications where the church staff:
- Looks ahead for seasonal and special events and ministry growth opportunities and gets target dates for a series of communications leading up to them on the calendar.
- Realizes that it takes repeated communications delivered through a variety of media channels (print, web, bulletin, PowerPoint, email, social media and whatever else you can think of) to involve people in the ministries of the church.
- If there is a time and money trade-off knows that complex, fancy, expensive one-time-only communication pieces aren't nearly as effective as consistent, complete, clear communications used many times and in many channels.
- Lets people know in advance of dates, costs, basics of programs for maturity and outreach.
- Acknowledges that people's lives today are full and don't revolve around the church and that attendance at church events is not a priority for most people.
- With the above reality in mind, communications include the benefits and reasons why people should come to or be involved in church events. We sometimes forget the incredible benefits we offer: peace with God, forgiveness of sins, purpose in living, opportunities to share and serve, hope in tragedy and death--remember them and share them.
- Fills in the details (this is where church websites can be extremely effective) as the staff gets them figured out, but doesn't wait to start communicating until everything is in place.
- Prays without ceasing that God touch hearts, bring people to events and enables the church staff to honestly evaluate their work and effectiveness in determining communication and ministry success.
Become proactive in your communication and you'll see more people attend church events, link up with the church, come to know Jesus, and grow into mature disciples.
The book, Church Communications Planning, Measuring, Evaluating done a new way—big is busted, try tiny!, is highly recommended as you plan your communications for the coming year.
The book is available in print and ebook formats, and it is FREE for Effective Church Communications members. CLICK HERE to go the page where you can get it.
A very important video to take time to watch with your staff as the year starts. We can think we are accomplishing all sorts of great ministry goals, but if we don't track and evaluate what we've done we may be lying to ourselves about how effective we are in the ministry God has given us.
Click on the image to go to the video.