Re-Thinking Communications at Church

In the church we are pretty good at one thing:  continuing to do what we’ve always done without asking ourselves “why?”  Now, I’ll give you one thing:  we do often ask, “how do I do this better?” But we’re often operating under the delusion that the newsletter or mailing formula we’ve used is the only way to do it.  Usually we are looking at a newsletter or bulletin or congregational letter and we are saying, “This is okay but I want it to look better or be more effective.”

That is simply the wrong approach.

Lately, I’ve been looking at church newsletters and bulletins (not just the ones from my churches) and I’ve asked myself that first question a lot over the past few months.  I’ve considered some re-designs.  I’ve thought about whitespace, flow, and consistency.  I’ve looked at these documents from every perspective of design and communication that I can think of…

…but I had failed to ask the really pertinent questions.  I had failed to think fully outside of the box.

This week I took some time to contemplate questions like, “What are we trying to accomplish,” and “what media (and format) would work best to do that?”

I made several realizations that I hope to share with you in the near future, once I put them into practice.

In the meantime, I beg all pastors and church leaders interested in effective communications in their church to do as I’ve done this week:  set aside your current publications and think bigger:

  1. What are you trying to accomplish with your church?
  2. What audiences do you need to communicate with?
    (worshipers, inactive members, active leaders, outsiders)
  3. What do you want to communicate to each of these audiences?
  4. What is the most effective means to use?
blessings,
It’s not just WHAT you do, but HOW you do it.

The difference between a foodie and a food snob can be a very fine line.  But I’m going to suggest that “foodies” enjoy gourmet food yet also, hopefully, the experience of eating and the relationships that can grow around that experience.  A food snob allows their experience of food to overshadow relationships.

A foodie will likely send back something that they don’t like…in fact, if asked “Could we improve,” or “What did you not like,” by a server:  A foodie may even offer their opinion, but tastefully, I would hope.

A food snob is more likely to ruin the dining experience for all those around them with comments, sneers and rudeness.

I observed this recently in one of the restaurants on our cruise.  A person found their meal to be less-than-satisfactory and began berating the server and making obvious comments and rudeness.  It doesn’t take an etiquette coach to see that others at the table were not enjoying their meal: not because of the food, but because of the experience.

It wasn’t that this woman returned her food or that she offered her opinion it was the way in which she did it.  It wasn’t a question of what but how.

I think an experience, like this, at a restaurant has implications for other facets of our lives.

  • It is not a question of whether we sit in church and ‘hear’ a sermon.  It is a question of experiencing God and others in worship and in fellowship.
  • It is not a question of whether or not I carry my wife’s purse or help her down a step, it is whether my action is an expression of my love for her and done joyfully.
  • It is not just that my in-laws would invite me above deck to the hot tub as an obligation, but that they are truly extending an invitation that I be a part of the family.

And for all of us:

  • It is not a matter of whether we take time to sit around a common table as a family and eat, but it is a question of whether we allow our time spent together to be a family-enriching experience or not.

I hope that as we spend time with others in our lives, whether ‘family or friend,’ ‘friend or foe,’ we would think not just about what we are doing, but about how we do it!  I pray that we would all strive for life-enriching, relationship-growing, community-renewing attitudes and experiences!