I remember leading a church planting team that was made up of some unlikely friends. We had a diverse team. We had 19 year old college students, married couples in their 30’s with young kids, professionals, and older adults in their early 70’s who just retired. It was a lot of fun. We ate together, we prayed together, and we worked hard to reach our community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I learned a few things about church communication with this diverse group. Communication is leading. Just as I had to understand each person’s personality and life experiences to lead them well, I had to figure out ways to communicate with them individually as parts of a group.
First, know your people. Keep a database with everyone’s demographic information and contact information. I used Realm. As the group grows, this becomes essential. I knew who I was leading, what their responsibilities were, and how to get a hold of them. I was able to easily share it with others.
Second, know your communication channels. Snail mail still works, but it’s slow and some people don’t open it unless it’s a bill. Some people prefer phone calls, others rely on social media. Text messages work sometimes, but some people don’t respond well to them. Some people check their emails daily, and others haven’t opened their emails for months. No one communication channel works for everyone. Some, like Realm, were good places for people to coordinate events, childcares or meals. Others, were good for last minute updates or changes.
Third, teach and train people to look in certain places. We created a private Facebook Group and used Realm to communicate most of our information. We showed people how to use these platforms to make sure they were familiar with them. We asked people to check these weekly so that they could know what was going on. We put our meeting times, prayer requests, and project timelines in these two systems so that people could find the information they needed easily.
Fourth, know what you’re saying.
- Regular information, like meeting times, can be placed on social media groups, emails, and websites. Sensitive information should go in secure locations.
- Timely information, like unforeseen changes to times or locations, should be everywhere. It should be texted, emailed, on Realm, and on social media. Remember to call those who don’t have easy access to these channels so that they don’t miss an opportunity or show up at the wrong time or place.
- Big information, like a change in direction or new initiative, should be done face to face with most people. Some people can take this information over a phone call, but you have to know your people. When in doubt, meet them face to face.
Fifth, be consistent. Put the same things in the same places. Don’t change the way you communicate. Consistency improves efficiency and reduces anxiety. Once people know where to look for information, keep it current.
Sixth, be up to date. While we were meeting house to house preparing to launch our church, we had to leverage electronic and face to face communication, but once we got a building we used lots of signage, announcements, and bulletin boards. These worked in a building but make little sense in a living room. Use videos, graphics, handwritten notes, snail mail, text messages, emails, social media, and ChMS systems as they fit your communication needs and help you lead.
How do you handle church communication?
Written by Chris Martinez. Chris is a church planter and educator currently planting Lakeside Church outside of Columbia, SC.