First, let’s define the term “strategy, before we talk about why it’s important and how to implement strategy in our church communications ministry,
Strategy: etymology: Greet ‘strategia” or generalship, from the word “strategos”
- The science and art of employing the political, economic, psychological, and military forces of a nation or group of nations to afford maximum support to adopted policies in peace or war.
- A careful plan or method; a method worked out in advance for achieving some objective.
Adapted from Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, copyright 2008, Miriam Webster, incorporated
To summarize, strategy is how you get to where you want to go; it’s how you achieve your objective. It is the commanding general in your head that chooses and uses whatever resources necessary for victory.
How this applies to church communicators
As followers of the Lord Jesus, we have our objective clearly spelled out in the Great Commission in Matt. 28:18-20 and it can be summarized as:
- Helping people come to know Jesus as Savior
- Growing them to mature disciples
Effective Church Communications refers to accomplishing these two goals as “fully fulfilling the Great Commission.”
That is our goal—that is the objective we are commanded to reach. That’s where we want to go as obedient followers of Jesus.
Church Communicators work incredibly hard, create lots of materials, scramble to keep up with the latest tools and trends, but for that work to be meaningful in obedience to Jesus, the most important question we need to ask ourselves is: “How is the communication work we do help our church accomplish the objective of fully fulfilling the Great Commission?”
A strategic approach to church communications can help us answer that question positively because it is so easy to get distracted and to focus on limited goals such as increasing attendance at your worship service, conquering the latest technology, or creating compelling social media as the central goal of our work. All of these might be worthy, partial objectives, but they aren’t the ultimate objective—only being obedient to the Great Commission is.
How the approach of Effective Church Communications can help you be strategic
As the definition states, the goal of strategy is “achieving some objective.” Our objective is fully fulfilling the Great Commission. That objective is achieved by a “careful plan or method” and by the “science and art of employing…maximum support to adopted policies."
Though there are many fine church equipping ministries available today and all are needed for the great task we share, the primary contribution to this effort by Effective Church Communications is our emphasis on strategy, on giving you “careful plans and methods” that are the foundation of the shifting tools we use to accomplish temporary goals.
Though every article and resource we produce won’t always explicitly state the strategy we are working to fulfill, be assured that we always keep our strategic goal of fully fulfilling the Great Commission in mind. As we work to make that practical for you, we’ve broken this strategy down into eight specific areas which follow.
We are currently reorganizing our Effective Church Communications website and our training school site, Church Communications Training with the eight strategies in mind. Our goal in the coming months of reorganization is that when you click on each strategy (menu at the bottom of this article and elsewhere on the website) it will take you to a category with the overall definition of that strategy at the top of the page and below it will be articles, books, and classes that help you accomplish that strategy. We have some limited links in place now and more will be added each week. Be sure you are signed up for our newsletter so you will get notification of when new materials are added. CLICK HERE to sign up for it.
The objective we propose for church communicators is to fully fulfill the Great Commission. The Five Steps of Effective Church Communications and Marketing is a way to do that. It is “a strategic, progressive system of church communications that helps people come to know Jesus as Savior and grow to mature disciples."
The Five Steps are:
Here is a chart of them, click on the chart download it, and CLICK HERE to go to an article and link to an online course that explains this strategic system in more detail.
Please take time to study the chart and take the class. This system will pull all the scattered work you do in church communications into one focused process to help people outside the church become mature disciples of Jesus.
Strategy #2: Make the most of seasonal events—grow your church in numbers AND your people in discipleship
This is a big emphasis for Effective Church Communications and many of the articles and templates we create are inspired by seasonal events. In our current post-Christian world an invitation to come to church has little appeal, but an invitation to a non-threatening seasonal event will often be accepted.
In addition to getting people to the event, you need a way to engage with them at the event and strategies that will bring them back to the church after the event. Not only are seasonal events a primary way to grow your church, but if used strategically they are also prime times to grow your people in discipleship.
Not only do we have templates and articles on this topic, but our Church Communication Training School has an in-depth course, Successful Seasonal Strategies that with train your church on how to maximize the impact of seasonal events. This is an essential strategy that can totally transform the impact of seasonal events at your church into growth producing times not only in numbers, but in the discipleship maturity of your members. CLICK HERE to find out more about the course.
In this time of rapid communication changes one of the biggest challenges for church communicators is to keep up with new technologies and communication tools.
These are important, but it is more important to remember that though we want to learn the new and innovative, we can’t stop doing the tried and true if we want to reach our entire world for Jesus, not just those with the latest tech tools and tastes. It is a time of both/and in church communications, not either/or and we have many resources that will help you navigate this challenging time.
There is a world of communication beyond the hysteria of social media. Good writing (and creating content beyond 500 words) is still important, both on paper and online and from decades of successful writing experience from newspaper journalism, magazine (print and online) and book production we’ll help your church make the most of every channel.
Strategy #4: Divide your communication team into two production levels—save your sanity, expand the ministry
Following this strategy will expand your communication ministry exponentially. At its core it is about dividing your communications creation into two levels, one that consists of the core communications of the church and that you keep tight control over and a second level of communications for and by the various ministries of the church that you train volunteers to create.
Don’t panic. The entire ministry, our Templates, and our Church Communications Training School will help you do that.
Strategy #5: Always be who you are, where you are—focus on your audience, adapt trends to their needs
Throughout history, many battles were won when an army either had a strategy that was indigenous to them or when they came up with something totally unexpected and invading armies could not defeat them. The Greek phalanx where each soldier’s shield covered the man next to him, the elephants of India that were terrifying to armies who first saw them, the power of the crossbow that broke the supremacy of knights on horseback—all of these were unique to a particular time and people that enabled them to achieve their strategic success.
Though you can learn from trends and training, always keep in mind your audience, your people, your style of communication. We try to make the advice and suggestions of our ministry flexible enough for you to always adapt your communications to the people God called you to reach, not to conform to some unrealistic picture of what we think church communications should be.
Strategy #6: Don’t let money be a determining factor—great communication results can cost little to nothing
It is a GREAT time to be doing church communications today because tools and resources that cost incredible amounts of money in the past are available either free or at very low cost today. We love pointing out and demonstrating many of these resources for you in reviews and videos and in our Church Communications Training School show you how to make the most of them.
Speaking of great deals, the Church Communications Training School offers extremely cost-effective training with one All Access Membership price for an ever-increasing offering of courses to equip your communication ministry.
Most churches today realize that marketing is not evil, that it is simply another term for telling people about the church and getting them involved in activities that will help them connect with the church and come to know Jesus as Savior. Secular marketing theory gives us strategic tips that help our church outreach: the importance of repeating our message in various channels, how to focus a message, what to measure to be effective, and many more that the Effective Church Communications ministry works to apply to the specific needs of the church.
In addition to specific strategies and tools, one area of marketing most churches need help in is marketing inside the church; internal marketing. This happens because those of us in the church and often church leadership and the people creating the church communications have been at the church for a long time and they forget that people new to the church and infrequent attenders don't know the jargon, the meaning of church traditions or special events or even what it means to be a member or why joining the church is important.
Successful marketing that both keeps people coming to the church and involved in the activities of the church takes much more than sending out postcards for the Easter service and we've got strategies that will help you be successful both with unchurched people and the uninvolved at your church.
It is so easy to think we are accomplishing great things if people like our work and tell us we are doing a great job, but we must take time to honestly evaluate the results of our communication and if they are accomplishing to our strategic objective which is to fully fulfill the Great Commission.
We must ask ourselves, what have we done in our communications to help people come to know Jesus as Savior and to grow to maturity in Him? Or are we simply working hard to jump from one event or trend to another without time to stop and ask, what is all this work actually accomplishing?
We’ve got lots of ways to help you measure your work and after you do encouragements to help you innovate ways to accomplish your strategic goals even more successfully.
We never want to use evaluation as a time to berate ourselves or others on our team, but as a time to praise God for what we’ve accomplished and to press ahead to greater ministry success.
Strategy #9: Do not confuse irreverence for relevancy—remember who you serve and reflect his character
We serve a holy God.
All our communications should reflect that truth. Doing that doesn’t mean our communications mouth meaningless, trite religious sayings, but that they have a purity and joy in them that would please our Lord. Jesus was able to be listened to and loved without compromise; he was able to confront evil and draw sinful people to himself without sinking to their level of despair.
I often wish I could have been there to see how he did it in a world as corrupt and vicious as our own. But though we don’t have his physical presence, we do have his Word. In our blogs, our book, Devotions for Church Communicators, and other resources work hard to help you get into God’s Word and to encourage godliness in this area.
Not only is this the right thing to do, but it is good strategy. No matter what we attempt, we will not succeed without the Lord’s favor and he does not use tarnished tools.
Here is the list of Nine Strategies for Church Communicators
Click on each strategy and it will take you to a page that has the definition and then links to articles related to it. As we continue to reorganize this site and create new materials, new articles, resources and links to training materials will be added to it.
Be sure you are signed up for our newsletter to get updates when the new material is added.
Strategy #7: Always be marketing--externally and internally
Overwhelming isn’t it?
Many of you got into church communications because the church needed “someone to help with the bulletin.”
Those days are long-gone. Church communications has become a core ministry of the church and essential to every part of its outreach, growth, and discipleship. The bulletin (if you event still have one) is only a tiny part of immense load of print, digital, and social media communications needed in your church.
I know it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when you look at a list of strategies like this and when you realize the incredible amount of work that needs to be done.
I feel overwhelmed thinking about how much work must be done to do all I can to equip and encourage you in your tasks.
But then I am reminded that what we are doing is truly spiritual warfare for the eternal souls of people. Heaven will be different because of the work you and I are doing each day as we sit in our offices facing our computer screens and praying all the time we work for God’s wisdom and his favor on the communications we create.
Sometimes I think about the joy we will have one day with our Lord Jesus and the people we helped find him. I look forward to meeting many of you whose lives have touched me digitally though you are a world away. Please know that every day all of you are in my prayers that God will use you and the communications you create so that your church will fully fulfill the Great Commission and God be gloried in it.
But until we meet with Jesus, we’ve got work to do and I want to end with these two quotes:
“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.”
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and
weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will
run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”