Hi, I’m Yvon Prehn, and welcome to the Effective Church Communications podcast. A few weeks ago, I did a survey to find out more about what church communicators are using currently and what they need to do their work more effectively.
In today’s podcast, I’ll talk about the Results of the Church Communications Survey Summary and Commentary on it
Below is the podcast and following that a copy of the notes/transcript of it.
So let’s get started…..
As I begin, I’d like to ask you, if you feel as I did …
Do you sometimes feel like everybody else doing church communications uses the highest-end software (Photoshop, InDesign, etc.), is satisfied with their communication creations and thinks they are doing great just as they are and has free time to create unlimited, fascinating social media posts?
I know I probably read too many online church communications Facebook comments and look at too many super successful YouTube videos of big church communications people whose work has little or nothing to do with what I need to create for the people I do ministry with and I confess…..
In part, I created and sent out the survey I’m about to share results of to find out what was going on with others in the church communications world.
I wondered. . . .
Was I that out of touch primarily using MS Publisher and Canva? Was I the only one whose audience appreciated printed flyers and postcards and hated QR codes? Was I the only one who agonized over not knowing enough or doing enough, but who loved communications ministry anyway?
To find out some answers for myself and to help plan content and how I can better serve through the Effective Church Communications ministry I sent out the survey and now I’m excited to share the results.
A few notes on the survey overall before I do:
- This is not a scientific survey—it was of the people on my mailing list, not of the world of church communications—but you are the ones I work to serve, and I do believe you are representative of church communicators overall.
- I tried very hard to make the survey truly unbiased and open-ended. I have recently seen several so-called surveys that are obviously structured to provide answers within pre-determined parameters without the option for additional input. I understand why some survey creators do that. It is more difficult to tabulate and share the results of open-ended questions, but I wanted your open-ended input and though I can’t tabulate all of it in neat numbers or charts and I won’t include every individual comment in this summary, I will share an honest representation of the results. Though they may not be included in this initial report, the open-ended comments were so useful, that I will follow up on many of the individual responses in upcoming online articles and podcasts.
- One other very important note: I did not require that everyone answer every question, nor did I limit the answers to only one choice. That’s why the percentages don’t add up to 100%. What is useful is looking at what answers got the largest percentage, particularly in comparison with other percentages. This will make more sense in the results that follow.
After I share percentages or summaries of survey answers, I’ll share my comments and what I’ll be doing about them.
Survey Results and Commentary
Question #1— What software are you currently using to create your church communications? Check all you use.
25% each—both MS Word and MS Publisher
9%—Photoshop and other Abobe products
“Other” answers (all less than 1%) included PowerPoint, PicMonkey, Google Docs, and other one-time mentions of various products
Comments: I was honestly surprised (even though I do the same thing) to find Word, Publisher, and Canva to be the primary church creation software. From what many talk about online, I was feeling left behind the curve, but it was good to know I’m right with the majority of ECC readers.
As I share below on the training people want, this energizes me to do more training videos and create new templates, especially with Canva and combining Canva with MS Publisher.
Question #2 What Church Communication projects do you create?
12%—Church Facebook pages, church website content, church email updates
11%—Church Bulletins in print
11% (but lower numerical count)—church website management
9%--Church online bulletins, Church social media, Church Marketing
“Other” answers (all less than 1%) included primarily mentions that the communicators worked for ministries, not churches and listed newsletters and related materials, one mention of live streaming and broadcast advertising.
My comments on what churches create
It isn’t surprising that #1 encompasses church Facebook pages, church website content, and church email updates are the primary creations of church communicators. All churches need to create items in a digital format today.
What was surprising to me is that only right behind it was the creation of PRINT church bulletins.
So much chatter online has to do with churches doing away with their printed bulletins, in part because of the pandemic, but truth be told, I think many are doing away with church bulletins much more because people are tired of doing them.
At the same time they’ve done away with church bulletins and many other print formats, church after church complains that people don’t show up to events and church attendance overall has fallen lower than ever before.
Though I plan to do quite a bit of content (and perhaps a little ranting) on this issue, might not it be fair to assume that part of the reason people don’t show up for things is that they don’t know they are going on?
The printed church bulletin may have all sorts of problems and may be time-consuming and a challenge to create and people may not read it all, but for the event they are interested in, that involves their kids, they want to be sure not to miss, that event gets circled and put on the refrigerator. And they show up for that event.
Covid did many things, but it did not enable people to become mind-readers of what is going on in the church every week if you don’t tell them and tell them repeatedly in formats that are easily accessible about it. Print remains one of the most accessible formats and I’ll be talking much more about it in upcoming podcasts and newsletters. CLICK HERE to sign up for the ECC newsletter where you'll get notifications of them.
For the remaining completely open-ended questions
As I said earlier, open-ended questions like this one and the other two that follow are harder to tabulate, but more than coming up with a statistical result, I will do three things with the following answers.
- Summarize the overall collection of answers. Please know I’m doing the summary prayerfully and reverently and with thanks for the time that those of you took to answer the questions. I love open-ended questions like these because they allow you to speak what is on your heart and that is precious to me. Because I am summarizing or only quoting some answers doesn’t mean I’m losing track of any of them.
- I’ll comment on some responses and answer some questions.
- I’ll answer and comment on the remaining questions and responses on a regular and continuing basis on the Effective Church Communications website.
Here we go…..
OPEN ENDED QUESTION #1 What do you most want to learn about in church communications? What skills? What software? What organizational or spiritual struggles do you have?
Summary of Responses: The biggest need overall from people’s responses is training on how to use current tools with the most requested training being with Canva. Many of the additional questions, on how to make things look good, how to give communications an updated look, how to create appealing social media content, and how to give a consistent look to your communications can all be answered by the effective use of Canva, and by illustrating basics (such as how to use a consistent color palette and how to use typography effectively) could be done with Canva.
What I hope to do: I will work on providing training in Canva specifically for the communications churches need. I’ve realized much of the training online for Canva (and there is a lot of it) is not designed for churches. I’ve also learned some techniques that have worked well combining Canva and MS Publisher. There are funny little quirks that Canva has that can be extremely frustrating, but once you learn your way around them you can get extraordinary results from the program.
UPDATE: Since I wrote this post, I created a training video on Canva, 3 BIG mistakes in creating Bible verse graphics and how to correct them.
I will also be taking individual questions from the survey and answering them in upcoming articles and training videos on Effective Church Communications.
What you will need to learn elsewhere: I also want to share what I won’t be providing in upcoming training because I don’t want to create false expectations: You won’t learn from me the software specifics of how to better use ProPresenter, Mail Chimp, and Photoshop. However, many of the design principles and communication strategies that I teach will apply overall to what you create with these programs.
What are your biggest frustrations, challenges, or questions in Church Communications? This can be in the technical, training, or spiritual areas.
Summary of responses: Frustration seemed to be primarily from two main areas: staff problems that range from passive aggressive pastors and others on staff and in the congregation who do not seem to value those in the communication ministry, and then questions of how often to get things out, what to expect in terms of response, how to improve communication response to the communications sent out.
What I hope to do to help: I have written extensively in both areas and will be updating and letting you know about articles and podcasts that specifically address these issues in upcoming issues of the ECC newsletter.
One thing to answer now and this is only part of the answer on how to improve response, is that one of the most effective ways to do that is to simply get out the communication about a specific event more times than you are doing it now. Churches, for a variety of reasons, including not wanting to bother or over-communicate and plus the reality that many churches do understand the media-saturated society we live in and how much we need to repeat a message to get it heard, let alone to get a response, rarely get a message out there as many times a is needed.
One of the most basic principles of marketing (marketing anything from the church small group launch to a new movie) is that you must get your message out there a MINIMUM of SEVEN times and preferably in seven different media channels (7x7). I totally understand that number is seldom reached for any event in any church for many reasons, but given the reality of what is needed to get people to attend or buy anything, we can’t be surprised at the low response we get.
I’ll be giving you some ideas on how to combat this in upcoming materials.
Be sure you are signed up and read the newsletter for them, again, here is where to sign up for it HERE.
Finally, what do you love most about your job in Church Communications? What are you most thankful for?
Answers: I want to quote a number of these and will quote others on upcoming articles in the ECC Newsletter:
Working with people that have a love for God and His word.
I LOVE my job. I get to be creative, work with a great staff, serve a wonderful church, and serve an awesome God. I'm very thankful.
Serving God with my talents, making a difference in lives, and inspiring people to know God more fully, get into community, and serve others
When I am feeling frustrated and wonder if it's worth it, I try to remember, that if only one person comes to God through something I have created, then it's all worth it.
My comments on the above responses:
Consider that final answer—it is not a situation of “if” but many, many people come to God from church communications. I know some personally and have met others through my seminars or online who tell stories such as these—one person knew nothing about God she found a piece of church communication literally as a piece of trash beneath a bush and another who was had just gotten out of prison and didn’t know what to do found a dropped bulletin on the floor of McDonalds. Both people found their way to a church and Jesus because of something in that communication piece.
They never met who created the pieces; the creator of them never knew the result of their hard work. And I know there are uncounted people whose lives were changed in many ways because of church communications, people who are lonely, who attend a church event or study and find friends and meaning in life; of people who are lost who hear or see a video or read a clear explanation of eternal salvation in Jesus; of people are saved, but without purpose who connect with a discipleship group or a service project and learn what it means to live as a follower of Jesus.
There will be surprises in heaven—and you, dear church or ministry communicator will be the reason for them.
What you do changes the destiny of eternal souls. You have an extraordinary calling and my prayer and purpose is to help you to continue to do it effectively.
This survey has given me direction and encouragement to do more. Please pray I can do all the Lord wants so that all of us can help people come to know Jesus and become His mature disciples.
That’s all for now,
For more resources, free templates, training and more go to www.effectivechurchcom.com.
In closing, I’m Yvon Prehn, your fellow pilgrim, writer and teacher for Jesus and I’d like to close with this benediction.
May the Lord grow in you deep compassion, insight, and a servant’s heart for the people in your church and community.
May He enable your words to reflect His Word in all you create so that they will touch and change lives for eternity.
May He give you wisdom in your use of technology, the resources you need, and grant peace in your work setting.
And most of all may He fill you with His joy, thankfulness, and strength as you serve Him today as a Christian communicator.