Communication within your church is essential to build and support a healthy congregation. But why is it so hard? Even with sophisticated technology as it is, we still end up with lost messages and misunderstandings... why does this continue to happen?
Why do we communicate in the first place?
These are many reasons why we communicate as a church. We want to pass on information and establish a relationship to people. We want to motivate or influence people to get involved or stay in touch. We are trying to let people know we are there as a church.
However, many times we miss out on important aspects of great communication.
Let's take a closer look at these three issues and how we might overcome them:
- We are not strategic enough in the methods we use and/or the timing of our communication
- We are not considering what it is our audience wants to hear, as opposed to what we want to say
- We just don't understand our audience
"We are not strategic about how and when we communicate"
It is a simple fact, just because I am ready to communicate something, does not mean the audience is prepared to listen. Who am I trying to communicate with? When am I attempting to make this communication? Do I target my messages to the right people in a personal way?
If you are trying to reach the teenagers in your parish the postal service or even e-mail probably aren't the best avenues available. Social media is the way forward here. For other groups targeted e-mails are very effective. Identify the communication channels that work best for your congregation, and then segment your communications accordingly.
"We are telling our audience what we want to tell, not what they want to hear"
Each ministry within your church has their own announcements to make. If you make all of those announcements in the same e-mail or same newsletter you might be leaving your audience confused. What exactly am I supposed to get out of this and what is relevant to me? Granted, we should tell people what they need to hear and not just what they want to hear. However, we should at try and take our congregation’s interests into consideration as we craft a message and decide what to write and when.
"We simply do not understand our audience"
A message is interpreted according to various factors; age, education, career, upbringing and so much more. These factors influence your congregation and community.
How much do you know about your congregation? What are the demographics? What is happening in the community? What do they read? What do they watch? What social media channels do they use? The more you know about your congregation and the community, the more you can facilitate their communication needs and as a result really get your message to them.
Communicating to such a diverse ranch of people is a challenge. It is however, an opportunity for the church to cater to all of these different groups. As a result, this may require you to communicate via a medium you are not particularly accustomed tot. In order to spread the word, you must consider your entire congregation. It is crucial to invest the time to understand your audience, recognize their interests, and leverage the various communication methods to get your message across.