Effective Strategies to Combat Church Communication Issues During COVID-19

(Unsplash/ John Schnobrich)

In a time of continuous change, it is more important than ever for churches to prioritize communicating effectively with their church members. As we continue to alter the ways we gather, it is critical for churches to have an effective communication strategy that ensures information is readily available.

It can be challenging to determine how to successfully use your communication strategy to reach members who are participating in the church, both online and offline. I interviewed a panel of top church communication experts to discuss ways to effectively communicate with your church body through this time of continuous change. The panel included:

Kenny Jahng, founder and CEO, Big Click Syndicate.

Kem Meyer, author and communications leader, Granger Community Church.

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Shayla Kenworthy, partner and director of business development, Fishhook.

Ryan Wakefield, founder, Church Marketing University.

The Role of Church Communications

To fully understand the importance of effective communication strategies, it's important to first answer the question, "What all does church communications really encompass?"

This is what our panelists had to say:

A centralized ministry for your church. Although it's every church leader's job to be a great communicator, it's especially crucial for those who manage the message for the church community. In a digital world, your online presence is your first impression in many cases. Displaying your values and culture in a clear way helps you attract people who align with your message and depict an honest picture of your church or organization.

An agile area of ministry that reduces information overload. What is considered necessary information will vary from church to church. However, it's vital for leaders to reduce information overload while still communicating the important narrative to the people in your church. Clear and concise is always the goal in order to keep your audience's attention and ensure everything you communicate is purposeful.

It shapes the narrative and message around the mission of the church. Church communicators infuse the mission and vision into all of the church's endeavors. It's vital that everything you prioritize points back to your mission in a clear way.

Qualities and Responsibilities of Church Communications Leaders

A church communications leader is someone who can adapt to change quickly. They should also be able to think at a high level and lead others to the best strategy at any given time. This person can look at the big picture and develop teams of other people as their first solution to problems. While many communications leaders had their content strategy laid out for quarter 2 and quarter 3 this year, COVID-19 forced them to pivot and focus on creating the content people needed during this crisis.

To make tough calls like this, these leaders need to have high emotional and relational intelligence and the ability to relate to and communicate with others. It's the communications team's job to strike a balance of sticking to a plan and pivoting to the needs of their audience. It's critical to keep a pulse on the needs of your audience at all times to understand what they want to see from your church.

Another quality necessary for this role is the capacity to identify the essentials while also being a strategic advocate. Your communications leader will be the person who consistently reminds everyone of the strategy and essentials so it points them back in the right direction of the mission and vision.

Understanding Church Communication Trends Since COVID-19

—During COVID-19, ministries are understanding and valuing the importance of effective communication. Church communications is now a crisis clarifier, cutting through the noise of content overload.

—Churches are realizing the need to simplify their message and translate it in a way that's easy to understand.

—Agility is the secret weapon in being effective at communicating with your church community. Kem Meyer says you have to aim to "comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable."

Establishing an Omni-Channel Presence

Omni channel is a way to reach audiences across various channels of communication while integrating the experiences and providing a clear understanding. It's a process that champions less clutter and less noise by using a common strategy to create an empowering framework that clarifies what you're doing and what you want your audience to understand. Overall, it aligns your online and offline channels.

For example, we held this initial conversation on Facebook Live to reach people who are on social media and enjoy live discussions and interaction. However, we also shared this recording on YouTube, so viewers can find the video later, as well as created this blog post for people who prefer skimming information over watching videos. We will also post links back to this blog on our other social media platforms. Using this one conversation in numerous ways allows more people to find this information no matter where they're searching.

4 Tips to Strategize With the End-User in Mind

—Determine who you are as a church and align that identity with your brand experience.

—Understand your audience and who you want to connect with your brand. Make serving this audience your primary goal.

—Get to know your community well by gathering data whenever you can. This will help you understand your community and their needs. Each church is different, so you have to be committed to learning your people.

—Focus on your community and deliver content that connects with them. This will help you build ministries around what genuinely connects with them.

For more insight on the importance and responsibilities of communications leaders, check out our Ultimate Guide To Church Communications. Also, be sure to visit our panelists' websites for more church communications resources.

Holly Tate is the vice president of business development atVanderbloemen, which serves teams with a greater purpose by aligning their people solutions for growth: hiring, compensation, succession and culture. Through its retained executive search and consulting services, Vanderbloemen serves churches, schools, nonprofits, family offices and Christian businesses in all parts of the United States and internationally.

To view the full discussion, visit vanderbloemen.com.

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