Focused writing is scarce, but it reflects focused thought and intention. You’ve probably read a book or an article (or heard a sermon) that seems disjointed. The points don’t flow together. The argument jabs in all directions but lands on nothing. Unfortunately, the same lack of thesis, a driving point, can be seen in how churches communicate. Some churches jump at every new channel whereas other churches ignore them all together, but both of these are symptoms of not understanding the communication ecosystem.
Communication channels exist to carry a message to a particular audience; some channels are more effective than others, but they all serve the message. Gospel ministry has always adapted to the most effective and relevant channels, from the papyrus to the printing press, to radio and television.
In each of these instances, the goal was to get the gospel to as many people as possible, and the last few decades have given us almost eight times as many ways to communicate the gospel. It’s understandable to be overwhelmed by these changes or to not have the resources to take steps toward utilizing them well, but to intentionally neglect them is to devalue to gospel. To not share it is to insinuate that it’s not for all people.
The priority of a church’s communication plan/ministry/team should be something like this: to amplify what’s unique to Christ and to your local church.
Every church should be a buttress of truth and herald the gospel handed down once for all for the saints, but it also has secondary messages, the circumstances of that local church. These can be initiatives to get more people involved in serving, joining small groups or attending Sunday school, and the other events and seasons of that church.
Broadly speaking, a strategy can take individual artifacts – like messages, videos, events, and graphics – and put them in a context that multiplies their effectiveness, that makes them more meaningful for the individual experiencing them. More specifically, a communication plan can reach more people with the gospel, create exponentially more discipleship opportunities, and enhance the leadership of the local church.
The expansion of social media has made it ridiculously easy to interact with our communities and our congregations between Sundays. Several studies have confirmed two relevant statistics: that 70% of people in the U.S. are active on Facebook, and that even those between ages 35 and 49 spend almost 7 hours a week on social media.
Every church has its strengths and weaknesses; denominations are often groups of churches with the same proclivities and blind spots. The church at Ephesus is a great example of a healthy church that still needed to grow and mature, but imagine being the pastor of any of those churches and reading that letter. Everyone of us would be scrambling to shift our priorities, to get our people on board, and to start a corporate march in the right direction.
The best bridge between local church leadership, the people they lead, and the future is a communication plan rooted in amplifying what’s unique to Christ and unique to the local church.