Your church’s digital outreach strategy is built upon a solid internal communication strategy
Whether you’re a big busy church or a small congregation with big dreams, it’s tough to make an impact without a documented plan that includes everyone involved and plans for growth.
Yes, you’re eager to share the good news through your digital and social channels and start engaging the local community through today’s “word of mouth” (internet, social media, blogs, reviews, directories, etc.). And we don’t intend to hold you back! But if you truly want success in digital outreach efforts, you must build upon a foundation of unified internal communication strategy.
God has a lot to say about teamwork and organization, as illustrated in verses like 1 Cor. 12:17-20, Rom. 15:5, 1 Cor. 1:10, Eph. 4:11-16, Eccl. 4:9-12, Prov. 27:17, 1 Cor. 14:40… the list goes on. By moving forward together and ensuring everyone stays informed, the sky’s the limit!
To succinctly cover the elements of an effective church internal communications strategy, here is an excerpt from the book reTHINK.Ministry, with a hat tip to sdadata.org for the content. (View the full post by fellow digital marketer, Jason Alexis)
Here are the 6 (+2) Easy Ways to Maximize Your Church’s Internal Communication
1) Audit and Optimize Your Existing Communications Channels:
Which communication channels are currently in place? Ask yourself if these channels are as effective as they could be, or if you’re using ones that your congregation is already using.
Are you promoting the use of these channels by your congregation? Are these channels coordinated efficiently with one another? Revisit your current methods to bring them into alignment with your overall communication goals.
2) Update Your Membership Database:
You will not be able to communicate effectively if your member database is outdated. You need current contact information for everyone in your congregation.
This information must include current cell phone numbers and emails. Ask regularly for these updates, especially in efforts to maintain a church directory (which is imperative in engaging new members)! Make frequent calls for updates, and make it easy for members to update their info, whether online or through a card they can drop into the offering plate.
3) Add New Channels If Needed:
This takes careful planning, as you want to add new tools one at a time so your congregation can get used to using them. Adding too much at once will overwhelm your staff, volunteers, and congregation.
Make sure you’re not just hopping on the latest fad and that you have the right kind of content for the new channel you are adopting.
4) Document the Use of Your Communication Channels:
Develop a documented set of best practices for using these communication channels. This will include how frequently each channel will be used, what kinds of communications will be sent on each channel, and the criteria required for making an announcement.
Make sure everyone knows of this documentation and follows it closely.
5) Launch and Promote the Use of Your Communication Channels:
An email or text may not be enough to get your congregation on board. You may need to explain why a new tool makes sense before people adopt it. One congregation with an older population knows they need to spend time teaching their members how to use new tools.
But the fruits are well worth it, because many people have become more connected to their congregation than ever before.
6) AND KEEP PROMOTING!
Habits take time to build. Even after announcements and tutorials for new tools, frequently remind members to check the website, to log in to the directory, etc.
Reiterate the importance of whichever new tool you implement, and always have instructions and documentation readily available.
Ultimately, your congregation will look for information where you tell them to look for information.
7) 24/7, Your Church is Online:
Setting up an internal communication system is about selecting the right people to manage communications, putting communications processes in place, and using the best-fitting tech tools to implement these processes.
Once the people, processes, and technology are in place, you can begin to develop a strategy that puts these digital tools to work. The result will be an online church experience that is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!
8) Work and Lead in Unity—No Silos!
When discussing these communication tools and methods, make sure all ministry leaders, staff, and volunteers have a voice. Find a communication method that all leaders can easily use to get their information to the central calendar.
Keep your ears open for volunteers or staff members that need extra assistance as new things are implemented. This keeps morale up and stress down while trying to make sure all ministry efforts are coordinated in harmony with one another, rather than overlapping or encroaching on time, effort or exposure.
While no strategy is perfect, simply HAVING a documented strategy is a giant step in the right direction. Prayerful dedication, follow-through, and the willingness to be adaptable and accommodating will take you far.
“And whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col. 3:23-24).