By Mark Wilson
How do you know if your church would benefit from the investment of time and resources to create a marketing and communication strategy? I believe every church that is committed to following Jesus' Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) should have a plan for reaching people in their community and being effective communicators. Here are some questions pastors and staffs should consider when deciding to adopt a plan and areas to focus.
Are you a Public Church? This may sound obvious, but it doesn't mean that you are "open to the public." A public church is committed to reaching out to people in the community that need to know Jesus and they create a safe environment where they can begin to know Him. A public church is one that has the culture and strategy that says that anyone is welcome no matter what their relationship status is with God. A Public Church is a place that expects to greet guests of every race, color, and creed with every imaginable habit, hurt, and hang-up in the book. Public churches are equipped to welcome these people into worship and will ensure that they are given the opportunity to hear a message of hope through Jesus Christ in a way that they can understand. Becoming a public church means paying attention to the layers of details pertaining to making your church a safe haven for people who are looking for an authentic solution to their pain. Are you ready to be a public church?
What are the “location, location, location” spots for your message? Just like in real estate, the most important factor in getting your message across is where it is presented. The problem: worship is the largest, captive audience we have weekly but we can't announce everything during the service or there would be no time for worship. The key to effective communication is to know what information goes where, and when. We have a lot of real estate where we can communicate like worship announcements, social media, bulletins, website, newsletters, emails, snail mail, calendars, etc. and some of it is obviously prime but it can all be effective. What is your prime real estate for communication and how are you using it?
Are you ready to de-clutter your communication closets? Once you identify the proper locations for your messages to reside, we have to make sure we are not cramming every last detail of information into your small closets (the attention spans of your audience). Clutter or massive amounts of information quickly becomes static and can be overlooked, misunderstood, and miscommunicated by your audience. Clutter can result from poor planning to get information communicated in advance or too many events/opportunities that are being supported at the church level. I am not saying that we should say no to groups that want to serve, but not all service events are open to the majority of the church and should be promoted to everyone. How do you determine what information gets communicated through what channels and ensure it doesn't become more static?
How is your word-of-mouth? Word-of-mouth communication is still the most effective form of communication and by far the most dangerous! People are talkers and some more than others, so make sure you are speaking your message and casting your vision through your internal networks of families, groups, and ministries. The responsibility to communicate 100% of the information is not 100% the responsibility of the staff. It is critical that your congregation know where they can get the latest information and have the ability to share it. Are you equipping your people to be followers of Jesus like the Great Commission expects?
If any or all of these areas resonated with you as a concern or an issue that you would like to improve, then congratulations, your church would most definitely benefit from a comprehensive strategy for marketing and communication. The hard part is to know how to take the first step in creating and implementing your plan. Luckily, I know a guy...