Communication is messy. It’s complicated. And in many ways it can’t be controlled. No one can completely anticipate how another person will hear, interpret, and respond to what you say.
Communication becomes even more complex within organizations like church. Everyone has their own preferences about how they want to receive and consume content. Very often the default strategy is the preferences of the individual making the announcement rather than the native habits of those he or she wants to engage.
There are four degrees of communication in local churches:
- Vision — This primarily comes from the pastor or senior leadership. It contains the victory stories of the past and heralds the coming future that is bigger, brighter, and bolder than anyone might have first thought. The greatest risk in this form of communication is that vision must be shared otherwise it is simply the dream of the leader rather than the passion of the people. How can you be sure people “own” the vision?
- Internal — The area ensures everyone on the staff is on the same page. I know this sounds over simplified, but we can’t underestimate the need to bring everyone along with the big picture in mind. Ministry leaders often get so focused in their own work that they never see how what they are doing impacts other areas. If you’re people aren’t on the same page, your church won’t be either. How confident are you that everyone on your staff knows the big picture?
- Member — This requires a multi-dimensional, fully integrated approach to ensure you are accounting for the native content consumption habits of a broad cross section of your membership. Some rely on Facebook, others Twitter, some text messages, and many email. Are you multiplying the ways you are sending messages or just continuing to print the newsletter hoping more people will read it?
- Community — How are you going to involve people who are on the fringe of your church. They may be new, curious, or whatever. They aren’t ready to jump in head first, but they are curious. How can you ensure they get to hear the stories of life change, impact, and community?
The good news is that technology has made this easier than ever. Small groups can dialogue throughout the week. Leaders can share vision beyond the pulpit. Members — and those on the fringe of the community — can tune in through the channels that they are most comfortable with.
If your ChMS doesn’t allow you to offer these options or at least track them, then maybe it’s time to reconsider if your current solution is the best solution for you?
Without communication...community never happens.