The Importance of Good Church Communication

Communication // January 4, 2010

Over one million nonprofits exist in America today. Nonprofits compete for discretionary dollars. They invest time and money in telling their donors and prospects why giving to them is an important and effective use of their charitable dollars.

A recent survey indicated that 89% of Americans give. What percentage of your active members and attendees give? If it is less than 89%, then there are people in your services who believe that their charitable dollars are better used elsewhere. Begin a conversation that regularly tells all the good things that happen when people give to your ministry. Then listen for an even better conversation.

Communication includes questioning, listening, probing and telling. Questioning and listening are important, and telling is strategically necessary in growing generosity.

By starting with telling and open-ended questions, the conversations in church life can be shaped towards desired ends.

And by listening and adjusting, conversations can be corrected toward even better ends. Congregational conversations occur naturally.

Are your conversations helpful to the church and hopeful for others? Are they leading to a growing generosity in congregational life and mission?

So, what’s to tell? Begin with your regular printed or electronic newsletter. Most churches mail or email a weekly newsletter that tells a lot of information. Much of that information is forward looking, date specific and majors on marking calendars and making reservations. Most church newsletters are elaborate forward-looking social and ministry calendars.

Without spending any additional money for production costs or postage, change the newsletter content to tell about the successes of events that have occurred. Report on ministry outcomes in every newsletter. This is what the fund raising profession calls “stewardship.” It is informing donors of how and how well their contributions were used, and that because of their contributions, good things have happened.

Another effective church communication strategy for growing generosity includes an annual report and/or an annual “state of the church” address. This January report or sermon reinforces a larger conversation about the church’s commonly understood mission. Added to mission are the agreed values that guide how the church carries out its mission. Particular ministries, programs and mission initiatives are covered in some detail, making sure to highlight outcomes and successes.

About Rusty Lewis

As a church leader, there’s nothing more frustrating than not having the funding to do what God’s calling you to do. But when you think about trying to address that problem, you feel overwhelmed, you dread the potential pushback from your congregation, and you’re not sure where to turn for help. Over the last 18 years, I’ve helped more than 120 churches close the gap between their current financial reality and what they need to move forward in ministry.

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