I spend a lot of time helping churches find vision clarity in the local church. Much of my time, as you can imagine, is spent at the big picture level, not in the week-to-week details. It’s in the midst of slogging through the details of what announcements to make and what goes in the weekly bulletin and how all our activities get communicated that clarity is most needed. In other words, once you have clarity in your Vision Frame, how do you make sure that clarity at the big picture level filters down to the details each week?

There are four things that I think you must know whenever you’re communicating in order to maintain clarity and craft effective communication.

1. Know your audience.

Any good communicator will tell you that you have to know your audience in order to communicate well. And while that’s certainly true, in the church, this carries another level of complexity. Each specific event or program that you want to communicate about may not apply to the entire church. Your first question should always be, “How can I get as close as possible to the primary audience?” Here’s what I mean.

Let’s say your church is offering a series of classes for parents on raising kids with a strong faith foundation. Should you simply put something in the weekly bulletin and make an announcement? That’s not getting very close to your target audience, and you’re going to be communicating to people (singles, grandparents, etc.) to whom the communication does not apply. Instead, hand out a flyer regarding the classes to every parent as they pick up their kids from the children’s ministry on a Sunday morning. It would be best to schedule some extra workers that morning so they could have a short conversation with each parent about the class and its importance to parenting well. Now you’re communicating well. This kind of targeted, more personal interaction is much more effective than a scatter-shot announcement or bulletin blurb.

2. Know your message.

You must, of course, be crystal clear about what you want to communicate. Apart from communicating the details clearly (what, when, where), you must always communicate the why. Why does this matter? And the answer to that question should always lead you right back to the Vision Frame.

With clarity on your mission, values, strategy, and measures, you should leverage that clarity in all your week-to-week communication efforts. How does this specific event or program move us toward accomplishing our mission? Where does it fit within our strategy? If you don’t connect everything back to your Vision Frame, you will end up just communicating a disjointed calendar of events that have seemingly no connection to each other.

3. Know your context.

Some people may call this politics or organizational history. You may want to argue with me and say, “That shouldn’t enter into how and what we communicate. If we’re doing what God has called us to do, then politics shouldn’t matter.” Maybe it would be easier to think of this not in terms of politics, but in terms of relationships. Who has a vested interest in what we’re communicating? Have we brought them into the loop? Have we gotten their input? If you proceed without asking these kinds of questions, it’s like obliviously strolling through a field of land mines.

You want to communicate effectively, right? You want people to hear the true message, right? Why not remove any potential misunderstandings or hurt feelings before things get started? You actually have an opportunity to get buy-in from these key players before communicating more widely. So don’t think of it as bowing to organizational politics, think of it as intentional vision-casting and inviting people to be a part of moving the church forward. Trust me, you’ll be glad you took the time to do it right.

4. Know your place.

This is a special note for those of you that help to craft church communication from a seat other than the lead pastor’s chair. You need to understand that although you may be responsible for putting together the communication plan for different church initiatives, you are not the lead pastor. So don’t try to be something you’re not.

If you’ve put together a strategically beautiful plan (in your humble opinion) that your lead pastor doesn’t agree with, be willing to change it. Of course, make your case as to why the plan is solid, but in the end, always defer. This is the only way for the organization to work well in the long run. I’ve seen too many communication people that try to bring about organizational change through their role in ways that only end up hurting the church.

If you keep these four things in mind, you’ll craft communication that’s much more effective in generating movement toward accomplishing your church’s mission. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
Topics: Date: Nov 30, 1999 Tags: