As a church leader, your greatest honor is being trusted with the spiritual growth of other believers. Your greatest responsibility is to set the overall tone of the ministry while providing a safe environment for believers to thrive. One of the most important ways you do this is by preparing a solid communication foundation for your church.
Unfortunately, you cannot schedule when a crisis situation will happen or who will be available to help. Instead, you can prepare a solid communication foundation in advance to maneuver whatever situation may come, with as much grace as possible.
To help, here are four simple steps complete with tips to help you prepare a solid communication foundation for your church:
- Prepare Annual Policies & Guidelines
- Establish Crisis Management Procedures
- Invest In Your Employees and Volunteers
- Define Your Communication Strategy
Prepare Annual Policies & Guidelines
Setting and implementing policies for your church is imperative to the success of your ministry. Your policies and procedures set the tone for everyone’s expectations for your church. It is a good practice to establish a handbook for employees along with a separate handbook for specific ministries within your church (including weekday childcare, counseling, etc).
Tips on what to include in your policies and guidelines:
- Legal requirements
- Expectations (employees, volunteers and members)
- Facility and property policies
- Health and sickness
- Emergency procedures (including fire, inclement weather, lockdown, etc.)
- HIPPA compliance (including counseling, etc.)
Establish Crisis Management Procedures
An emergency situation can happen with little or no warning. Establishing a crisis management plan, along with providing thorough training, is essential in reducing a negative impact on your ministry. Comprehensive emergency management procedures protect your members, volunteers, employees and your church’s reputation within the community.
Tips on how to develop a crisis management strategy:
- Ensure everyone’s contact information is current and accessible in the event of an emergency
- Verify all inspections are current and your facility is up to code
- Develop inclement weather strategies
- Create emergency draft messages to expedite the communication process
- Confirm all ministry leaders have access to and receive alerts regarding weather
- Define and communicate all “Safe Places,” along with emergency exits within your facilities
- Maintain a First Aid/Survival Kit for each building/floor
- Provide frequent trainings and safety drills
Invest In Your Employees and Volunteers
One of the best things you can do is develop a ministry team with a sense of pride in what they do. An employee/volunteer that is not invested in your ministry during normal circumstances can be a hazard during moments of crisis. The best way to keep your leaders invested is to invest in them.
Tips on how to invest in your ministry leaders:
- Recruit qualified employees with a genuine passion for ministry
- Define expectations and guidelines, then let your ministry leaders help establish goals
- Assign tasks according to strengths and keep ministry leaders challenged
- Notice individual personalities/strengths then match ministry leaders with complimentary teammates
- Praise them when they succeed
- Equip your team with the tools needed to succeed (ex. trainings, supplies, curriculum, safe facility, etc.)
- Be intentional about talking to each employee and volunteer
- Pay for required certifications when possible (ex. First Aid, CPR & AED)
- Create opportunities for your entire ministry team to be together
Define Your Communication Strategy
As a church leader, you’re responsible for every aspect of the program including managing family account information, legal requirements and other administrative tasks. Your team of ministers and volunteers are responsible for equipping your members with the tools to grow spiritually. Church members are often juggling work, home and social life while pursuing their desired spiritual outcome. Keeping multiple avenues of communication open between church leaders, ministry leaders and members will ensure a more enjoyable church experience for everyone.
There are many communication strategies for ministries. Each option has advantages and disadvantages, you will want to consider both along with the level of importance of each message before selecting the best option for your church.
Printed Church Bulletin and/or Newsletter
Printed Church Bulletin and/or Newsletter communication encompasses all information sent between church and home via a weekly hand out during services. Some churches also mail newsletters to their recipients.
Designated Phone Calling Lists
The phone calling list strategy typically involves key ministry leaders calling designated contacts in hopes of reaching a large number of people in a short amount of time.
Social Media communication relies on websites and/or applications for users to share content. Two of the most popular social media sites are Facebook and Twitter.
Text Message communication is sending short electronic messages to and from a mobile phone.
Email communication consists of sending electronic messages to and from computers and/or mobile devices via an Internet connection.
All-Inclusive Rapid Notification System
All-Inclusive Rapid Notification Systems provide communication in multiple methods. An example of an all-inclusive notification system is ChurchCast.
Communication is the key to a successful ministry. Without it there is no foundation to build trust or grow relationships between church leaders, ministry leaders, volunteers and members. Safeguarding the flow of information within your church will enhance the quality of your ministry while setting the tone for crisis management along with establishing a positive reputation in the community. Taking the time to produce annual policies and guidelines, establish crisis management procedures, invest in your employees/volunteers, and define your communication strategy will prepare a solid communication foundation for your church to thrive.
This blog was provided by Catherine Franklin of High Ground Solutions. Before Catherine joined High Ground Solutions, Inc., she served many years as a weekday preschool ministry administrator. Her passion for ministry and desire to help other ministries succeed serves as a great asset to the ChurchCast Communications Team. She currently lives in Birmingham, AL with her husband of 13 years, two amazing daughters, one clumsy Weimaraner and one fat orange tabby cat named “Hershey.”