Even the most powerful, life-changing message can fail to get off the ground if it’s poorly communicated. Taking some time to evaluate what communication tools and strategies your church is currently using and to what effect is well worth the effort and can avert a lot of frustration and disappointment. Here are five areas Nativity looks to on a constant basis to ensure creative and effective communication of our message.
- You Are Your Website
The first place anyone looks when they want to check out your church is your website. I’ll brag just a little that our parish just launched a brand new website that we think is pretty great. But while having an attractive website is nice, it’s more important that it’s constantly updated.
In fact, I’d even go so far as to say it’s better not to even have a website than a dreadfully out of date one. Advertisements for events that happened a year ago communicate one message: “Out of business.”
- Your Online Campus Is Your Next Best Opportunity
Just this past weekend someone came up to a staff person and said, “I’ve been watching you guys online for a while and decided it was about time I actually came it check it out for myself.” Live-streaming the liturgy will always have critics (though it’s been happening on traditional Catholic TV networks for decades). We totally agree that it is not a replacement, but it has been an invaluable communication tool for reaching outsiders not ready to darken the doors of a church. We believe the purpose of an online campus is leading people to our physical congregation, and we have seriously seen fruit in our congregation as a result.
- Social Media Is Your Partner
Believe it or not, I admit I am fairly illiterate about the ins-and-outs of social media. I know how to send a tweet, and that’s about it. But I accept that it is an indispensible element for any organization today and I rely on my more tech-savvy staff to build a great social media platform. Social media is an extension of your church in your local community- it’s where people make plans, get news, engage in discussion. You don’t need to post 100 times a day, but your parish needs to have a presence on the popular platforms.
Not to mention- if your website is lackluster, think of social media as a free and easy way to provide updated news and information (see above). But please, don’t flood it with random articles and cute videos; use it to establish a clear identity and purpose that defines what your church is all about.
- Your Announcements Are More Important than You Think
When to deliver the announcements is one debate churches will probably have until the Second Coming.
Whatever you do, stop reading the announcements like a laundry list. We began doing them in video format before Mass starts. Rather than spell out every detail no one will remember anyway, hit the main idea and send them to your website. We recently switched to a new format of our video announcements called the “5 be4,” where we count down the top five things parishioners need to know for this week. In this format when the announcements are done, we’ve actually caught, not lost, their attention for Mass.
- Your People Are Part of Your Communication Plan
For all I’ve just mentioned, the truth is, when it comes to communicating what your church is all about, your best asset isn’t a website or device, but your parishioners. Nothing replaces personal invitation. People who love their parish don’t have a hard time inviting their unchurched friends and family.