Church PR specialist, Marcia Dixon, shares why it’s important for churches to devise a communications plan when formulating their goals and objectives
The key aim of any church should be to spread the Good News of Jesus, convert people into Christian disciples, help the disadvantaged and destitute, and give hope. To put it in a nutshell, churches are involved in the task of communicating an awesome message, and they are duty-bound to find effective ways to do so.
Romans 10:14-16 makes this clear. “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”
One way in which leaders can spread the Good News of Jesus more effectively is to devise a PR/communication strategy when compiling their vision for the church.
Devising a communication strategy will help your church/ministry to:
- understand where it’s at
- help you devise a plan to help you achieve your church/ministry goals
- make greater use of the communication tools available to you to reach your goals
- formulate ways to get the whole church/Christian community involved in sharing news of what you do
- extend the reach of your church/ministry beyond its geographical location
When devising your strategy, remember you’ll need to communicate internally with those people who attend your church, and externally with the different audiences and people groups you interact with, or are desirous to forge relationships with.
During the course of a year, church leaders and ministry heads will need to convey information to members and visitors, and also encourage the congregation to support various projects, join church initiatives, as well as play a part in the church evangelism programme.
It pays to give thought to the communication methods used. Sometimes, in order to elicit the kind of support a church needs to achieve its goals, it requires more than just an announcement by a church secretary. Sometimes, members give greater credence to an announcement if delivered by the senior pastor or head of department. So, if you have an importance message to share, get the most senior person possible to share it.
DATABASE – One easy way of communicating with members is via a database. Churches should regularly collect and update the postal and email addresses, as well as mobile numbers, of all its members, as well as visitors to the church.
INTERNET AND SOCIAL MEDIA – All churches should have a website and a social media presence – even if it’s just a Facebook page – and someone should be given the responsibility to keep both sites updated with the latest developments within their church. Web and social media addresses should be listed on all church material, to encourage people to visit them for information.
EVENTS – Not only can events be used to bring together church members in worship, they can also be used to convey key messages or elicit support for key initiatives. For instance, instead of advertising for volunteers at the main Sunday service, why not organise a special Open Day, where people interested in joining a ministry can hear first-hand what being a volunteer entails? You’ll most probably get a bigger sign-up.
Not only does a church have to be mindful of how they communicate internally, they also have to be concerned about to whom, how and what they communicate to the outside world.
Any church embarking on a communications strategy needs it to be aligned with its objectives. So, for instance, if one of your church’s key goals is to win new converts, you need to look at ways your communication strategy can help you do that. Should you hold seeker events? Give out tracts in the town centre? Or maybe your church could run a project that the local community could benefit from, and you need to find a way to share information with potential users.
Any external communication strategy should include the following:
- a list the key objectives your church is seeking to achieve
- details of the target audience your church wants to reach
- the PR tools you will use to reach your objectives, eg. leaflets, social media, newsletters
- the media outlets you will utilise
- how you’ll measure whether you’ve attained your communications objectives or not
Some of the world’s largest and most impactful churches and ministries utilise and implement PR strategies. In fact, it makes sense for churches to take a strategic approach to sharing the Gospel and Christian values, as this is the most important message they’ll ever share.