After my dad left the pastorate, when I was in high school, I became a “church shopper”. Like many onlookers who haven’t yet thrown their hats in the ring, I had plenty of opinions about what churches were doing wrong. Near the top of my list were printed bulletins and connection cards. Week after week, some chipper church volunteer attempted to hand me a bulletin, replete with inserts of all kinds containing what I could only imagine were golden nuggets of spiritual truth. I began to get creative with how I would avoid taking a bulletin without seeming rude. I just didn’t want it. I figured, “If it’s important, I’ll see it on the website.” I just didn’t understand why so many churches, in this day and age, were still paper-pushers. And yet, I saw many people grabbing the printed packets with eager anticipation of what they would discover inside.
Now that I’m actively involved in in our church, I get it. In fact, I’ve become a paper-pusher myself. When I’m handing out bulletins, I like to hand it off like a football, to make sure they take it. Some people employ a few of my old avoidance techniques, probably wondering, “Why are they still using printed bulletins.” Others never miss an opportunity to take one and scour over its contents. But the information we are sharing is important to them, even if they don’t yet understand why.
Some years later, as email became ubiquitous, I wondered when it would eventually go away. I thought that by now social media and other real-time messaging apps would have replaced email this communication option. Even after all this time, it’s still with us. And guess what, our church sends a lot of emails.
What I’ve come to realize is that all forms of communication have value because each one reaches a segment of your audience that prefers a certain method.
Print media has been affected by online media, but it hasn’t gone away. Email has been affected by social media, but it’s still alive and well. Live messages have been affected by video, but people still flock to churches. Direct mail has been affected by online ads, but our mailboxes are still full of it.
People involved in ministry have a powerful message that must be told – the Gospel.
Within that overarching story, there are a plethora of messages that need to be shared. We need to empower leaders, help people understand their relationship with God, supply timely advice, and get people engaged in the work of ministry. Church communication is important- perhaps the most important thing your team will regularly engage in.
The messages you share will resonate with different people, in different stages of life, in different ways.
From handwritten letters, to printed materials, to email, social media, and mobile apps; it all matters. And what matters most is that your church is actively seeking new ways, while utilizing tried and true methods, to effectively reach your audiences with timely truths.
But it doesn’t stop there. As any recent grad with a communications degree will tell you, communication is a two-way street. We need ways to listen to what our audiences are saying and participate in conversations that “build one another up to love and do good works.”
At the heart of the matter is honest reflection. When fashioning a communication strategy, it’s important to ask questions such as:
- How will your audience best respond to your messages?
- What does your audience prefer?
- How are you engaging your audience in the conversation?
- In what ways are you encouraging participation and life change?
- Are your messages making an impact?
- What tools will you use, and use well?
It’s incumbent on ministry leaders to do all they can to utilize every church communication tool at their disposal so the transformational messages fall on ears that will hear.