Winning the Battle – Part Two – Communications

Communication // November 17, 2010

What are you saying? How are you saying it? Is it being received? Are you using all the mediums available to you to reach your audience? Most likely, you are not.

Your congregation is likely to consists of a wide age range of people. Each of your generational groups prefers to receive information in different ways.

Be it Gen Y or the older population, they are more than eager to contribute to a cause that they believe and identify with.

Take your population of those age 60 and above. Most in this age group, still prefer to receive printed materials and will take the time to read lengthy articles. They scour the worship bulletin each weekend. The printed and mailed newsletter also appeals to them.

On the other end of the spectrum, consider your millennial – Generation Y.

Here are some interesting facts on this age group regarding their preferences with non-profits they choose to support financially:

  • 93% prefer to receive updates via email.
  • 37% joined a charity’s online social network last month.
  • 29% made their donations online last year.
  • 83% slept with their cell phone on, or near their bed.
  • 20 is the median number of instant messages (text messages) sent in the last 24 hours.

Do you think this group will read a four-panel newsletter full of articles that they receive in the mail? Highly doubtful. (I was with a group of millennial in a client engagement last spring where several admitted that they only go to their mailbox once per week!)

So do you stop printing and mailing newsletters? Should everything be done electronically? No and No.

It is key to send all your important information, using every communication channel available to you. Link them together when possible, and use every one of them to drive people to what should be your main communication “hub”, the church website.
Your list of channels should probably include:

  1. Weekend worship folder/bulletin
  2. Announcements – verbal and on pre-service slides
  3. Letter mailings
  4. Newsletters – printed and mailed to that group who prefers it
  5. E-Newsletters / Email – Mailchimp is an excellent resource to get you started (my personal choice for this e-zine)
  6. Video Blog – my new favorite – from the pastor weekly. If you are not using video, you are missing the most effective communications medium
  7. Text Messages – TaTango and others offer “mass texting” services
  8. Online Social Community – Facebook has become the defacto standard
  9. Twitter – the church can have an ID and send regular updates – the pastor will be followed by many in the church if he/she has their own ID

This is a lot to manage and someone has to have ownership over your communications area. I strongly recommend a matrix, that reflects which channels will carry what information. You do not want to flood email inboxes with numerous messages overloaded with information. Instead, you need to prioritize what will go where to achieve the greatest impact.

By methodically planning and executing a thorough communication plan, you can effectively reach your people with the information they need to have to be fully engaged in your ministry. A more enlightened congregation will more fully understand and embrace your vision, which in turn drives generosity to help fund the mission.

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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