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Posted by on in communications, strategy | 10 comments

8 Bad Habits in Church Communications

8 Bad Habits in Church Communications

We can get stuck in a rut when it comes to our leadership and church communications. Even in the most “progressive” churches we can just do things the way that they have always been done. Here are a few areas that I think we can suffer from our past habits sneaking up on us …

  • Too Much Reliance on the Bulletin // The church bulletin is still a staple communications tool in church’s today. But if you think that getting your “ad” in the program will move people to action in your church you may be delusional. 😉 Try this … put an ad in this weekend’s bulletin offering $10 for the first 10 people that contact you via email … you’ll be surprised how few people contact you. If it’s important to communicate to your church than you need to use many channels to get the message out!
  • Using the Senior Pastor as the Magic Bullet // We all know that if the lead pastor at your church gets up and communicates whatever the need is your people will be moved to action. But the more that person leverages their influence in this way the less effective it is. Choose wisely how you manage the finite amount of trust your senior leaders have with people … don’t waste it on secondary issues at your church.
  • Too Many Messages // How many things are you “asking” your people to be involved with? Cut it in half … and then next year cut it in half again. Narrow the focus on what you communicate about to get traction in your church. The more you talk about the less likely any of it will make an impact.
  • Way Too Much Asking … Not Enough Celebrating // We suffer from talking too much about the future in our churches … asking people to come to events, join small groups, volunteer for upcoming outreaches. We need to spend more time celebrating what has happened in the life our churches! Thank donors. Take time out to declare isn’t it great to be a part of us?!
  • Complex Response Systems // We want to make it easier for “us” so we make our people jump through more hoops than is necessary to sign up for stuff. We should be finding ways to reduce friction for our people … simplify, simplify simplify! Typically that means it’s going to be more work for “us” … but that’s ok … that’s what being in leadership is all about!
  • Lousy Visuals // We live in a post-literate society. Your people need you to communicate with them in a visual manner. Your messages need compelling images (and video?) to move people to action. Most church leaders think in words and concepts while the people we lead are visual learners … we need to close that gap!
  • Acronyms // This is a serious pet peeve of mine … acronyms are total “insider language”. They aren’t friendly to the people we are trying to lead. They are used by the “in” people to have a “code language” that can’t be understood by outsiders … acronyms make us feel great but make new people feel left out. (Similar … “cool” program names that aren’t self evident. It’s cool that your kids program is called Nirmātā Land … but the fact that you need to constantly explain that it means Creator Land in Nepalese is sideways energy and confuses outsiders.)
  • You’re Passionate … They’re Not // We’re called to shepherd and lead the people that we serve. By definition the shepherd is more passionate and knowledgeable than the sheep. Stop assuming that your people care about what is happening at your church. Don’t whine that people aren’t joining your ministry approach … it’s our job to raise our programs up in their priorities. They don’t come to it passionate … our role is to lead them there … to shepherd them.

Each one of those I’ve suffered from in my leadership in church communications! What am I missing from this list?


10 Comments

  1. I think this is great article and thoughts….I am very glad you think about all of this. I also think it is important for leaders to realize that it is important for their congregations to foster relationships outside of the church. I know that I came from a church that I was so busy with church events that I didn’t have time to reach out to those in my community with whom I was doing daily life with. Creating that balance from the leadership of the church is good.

    I also think it is important to know every group that is represented in your congregation….so often in the churches I’ve gone to it’s been about Families, Moms, Dads, Kids, Teens, Young Adults and Seniors. What about the part of the population that is single and not married and not young or old…the forgotten singles between 28-50 are often left out.

    • Great thoughts!

      I like what you are saying there … not only should we look to “good representation” in our communications but we probably want to think through which groups need more communication and support from us.

      Have a great week!

      Rich

  2. Great Article!

    Communications to large groups is hard. Here are my own thoughts/Ideas of ways we could communicate.

    – I think smaller groups are easier to communicate an idea or vision to. Consider using smaller meetings to promote events.

    – Give them something they can put on the fridge. Maybe only 15% will make it to the fridge but that’s 15% that are going to be reminded everyday.

    – Personal invites Text, email, phone from a real person they know.

    – Social Media – especially if you can generate a lot of likes or comments. most people don’t want to miss out on something that everyone is talking about – maybe at the end of a planing meeting, post your event and ask everyone at the meeting to like, comment, and share before you end the meeting.

    Happy communicating 🙂

    • Great feedback, Randy.

      Love the reminder to go personal … that’s the best way. Every step away from a 1on1 conversation is a concession … how can we make our mass communications feel more personal!

      -Rich

  3. Thanks for this post. Another thing I would say is a mistake is communicating in ways that aren’t mobile friendly. You’d be surprised what percentage of your folks are on smart phones and checking their email and social media there almost exclusively. We’re in the process of converting our email news and (yikes) our newsletter to mobile first design. (Heather Mansfield with Nonprofit Tech for Good – http://www.nptechforgood.com – is my guru for this!)

    • Thanks Michelle … great reminder.

      In so many ways the phone is now the “first screen” …

      – Rich

    • Eric! Thanks so much for the encouragement! I love what you guys do.

      – Rich

  4. It’s encouraging to hear “thank you” rather than the constant “we need to reach our target goal” all the time.

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