Pastors Knute Larson, Jim Brown, and Jeff Bogue talk about communication in church ministry.Every pastor (or leader) communicates a mood as well as content. Here are some options:
- I am here because I have to be and here is some boring news.
- Blah, blah, blah. Yada, yada, yada. And so on, and so on. Etc.
- I am glad to be with you people whom I love and here is some exciting news for sure!
- Jesus has returned!
Hopefully you will note they are ascending order. 🙂 And hopefully, you will always shoot for number three. Number four is above our pay grades.
It is quite easy to skip evaluating.
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What are some specific ways for all sizes of churches to improve their communication?
- Electronic communication is the way people function now.
- At all churches of all sizes and ages, the smart phone is the constant in everyone’s life.
- Email communication is a fine form of communication, but is often dated. Many young people no longer use email consistently. They communicate through social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat.
- Let me say, nothing is ever better than personal communication. Even in this day and age of great technology, nothing replaces a cup of coffee, five minutes in the lobby, or sitting down with a person eyeball to eyeball.
- When communicating something of great importance or great difficulty, always do it in person.
- It is important that communication is consistent, clear, short, and creative.
- Do it with creativity, passion, and enthusiasm. If you are bored with the issue at hand, do not expect them to listen.
- Often! When it comes to vision do it more than you think you should. Communication each time will be the first time some see the news! Communication, communication!
- Don’t expect them to read the bulletin and grab the information.
- Use video and social media to share news and publicity.
- Do Facebook live updates – people have a tendency to watch it live!
- People do not read bulk emails.
- Develop a texting system to deliver messages to your church – many of them at least.
- Use closed and secret Facebook pages to communicate.
- Grab people of all ages, male and female, to do announcements so they connect with all generations.
- Place announcements at different spots in your Sunday morning programming so people do not check out.
- Friday emails to express your emotion about the coming weekend. If you do not receive Bill Hybels’ Friday note, consider doing that. It always shows such joy about the worship services just ahead.
- “Note from the pastor” in the bulletin or handout. This adds warmth and your personal touch.
- Run the gamut of social media. The one most popular right now might not be next month!
And use young people to manage each – many are good at this and would benefit from a ministry job in the church.
- Try different ways of communicating, announcements on needs in the services. A good rule is three by three – three items in less than three minutes. There are good arguments for and against videos, as live interviews or sharing can be warmer and more spontaneous.
- For sure, every church should have more than one way! Madison Avenue, the ad people, used to say that people buy a product after they see the ad for it seventeen times! So much for “We already had that in the bulletin”!
- For years I was part of these categories of communication
In the bulletin:
- Small succinct announcement
- Larger and in a box or with art
- On the front or top right and with a headline!
In the services:
- One of the three spoken announcements
- An interview with the key person (but you hold the microphone)
- The first 30-45 seconds of the sermon time! This was the most desired and only allowed about once a month!
What mood do we communicate?
- Communicate whatever mood is correctly associated with the information being presently communicated; in general, try to communicate with joy, warmth, and encouragement. We want them to think of church in such positive ways.
- Never try to communicate using guilt or shame, but always with a vision or opportunity that someone can be a part of.
- Stay positive; never shrink to negative or pessimistic language when preaching, giving out news, or motivation.
- Do not look angry when you preach or do announcements. Way too many preachers look mean, as do those giving updates.
- Let love be the motive behind everything you speak or write.
- Smile more when talking; thank and compliment more when writing.
- Use good inflection.
- Never speak or write down to people. Use “we” and “us” instead of “you”!
- Probably our question should have been what mood should we communicate? And the answer to that is love, joy, peace, etc. Nothing we put out needs to be cold or boring or condescending!
- This is an educated guess, that the Apostle Paul would always add a word of love or encouragement if he wrote emails, as he often did in his handwritten letters. Why not add a word of appreciation or encouragement before you finish a call or text or email?
- A mood of love for our Lord and His church and the recipients!
What staff and volunteers can do
- A great place for staff and volunteers to function is working on social media; it is a great way to bring people in because it is free, easy, and fluid.
- Staff and volunteers can help provide clarity. Messaging is a big thing we work on – there is one thing we are saying again and again and again.
- They can cheerlead ideas by expressing their excitement to be a part of an idea or by commenting on or re-posting on social media.
- They can give feedback (especially our young people). They may look and say, “Yeah, that form of communication was not effective,” or a volunteer or staff person might say, “I do not think people got the message. It was not clear.” We need to interact with them and listen to their feedback as well!”
- Utilize the staff and volunteers because of their ability to reach different people and their knowledge of social media.
- Let them give feedback, input, and talent to help develop good communication pieces.
- Let them view any video before you use it, to give new eyes to what you may not see.
- Anything one of them can do as well as you. “Give away titles and volunteer jobs freely,” Marlene Wilson writes in one of her books on volunteerism.
- Pastors and staff easily become administrators instead of visionaries and motivators.
- Many teenagers and young adults would love to manage a social media account that you write for. Find them!
- Someone on staff can get very good at helping you to decide what announcements or pushes get priority each week! Once there are multiple ministries in the church, this can get competitive – which in some ways is a good sign!
- Get feedback on publicity sometimes to see what is conveyed, how we communicate, our content, and mood. We may not realize our social media content or our emails or our church announcements are clearly stuck in number two.
Boring, yawn, ho-hum.
Maybe, hopefully, some of our concerns will help.
Knute, with Jeff and Jim
Vol. 4, Issue 5
Produced by CE National
Pastorpedia is produced monthly by three experienced pastors: Jeff Bogue, of Grace Church, in several locations in the Bath-Norton-Medina areas of Ohio; Jim Brown, of Grace Community Church in Goshen, Indiana, a church known for its strong growth, family and men’s ministries, and community response teams; and Knute Larson, a coach of pastors, who previously led The Chapel in Akron for 26 years. Pastorpedia is brought to you by CE National. Visit cenational.org/pastorpedia for more issues and to read the bios of our contributors.