Communication Strategy – So Everyone Can Hear
Hear the author of ‘So Everyone Can Hear’ Mark Crosby speak with Elizabeth Neep on the importance and the simplicity of creating a church communication strategy.
Communication lies at the heart of every healthy community; the church is no exception. In Matthew 11:15, Jesus says, ‘Whoever has ears, let them hear’. How do we make sure we are saying things in a way that invites all people – no matter their background – to engage with what it means to be church today?
This video goes along side the book ‘So Everyone Can Hear’ – colourful, engaging and practical it will help leaders and members alike be more mindful of how they ‘communicate church’ both inside and outside of it within our dynamic and ever-changing digital culture. Get your copy of the book here.
If you are interested in taking this further have a look at these practical discussion points to work through along side the video.
How To Write A Communications Strategy
‘Strategy’ is a word that can stand in the way of what you want to achieve, but to break it down, Strategy is quite simply a misused word that means the details, methods and plans needed to achieve your goals.
In our planning we need to be mindful that values inform vision, vision informs objectives, objectives inform strategy, and strategy informs policy. So our order of planning, to reach our strategy, should follow that natural flow.
A good communications strategy pairs the objectives for your church with the tools in your hands. It helps plot a rhythm of sustained communications, to ensure that everyone in your church knows the direction of your church, is envisioned, informed and equipped for the task at hand.
- Start with a document that includes an overview of your values.
- Add into this document the vision for your church.
- Continue by adding the key objectives for your church in this season.
- Now on the same sheet write down the communications tools you have at your disposal, these might include some social media channels, Sunday services, email and church noticeboards.
- Now break down each objective looking at how your church is working to achieve these objectives and how your communications tools can play their part.
- Using a printed month-by-month calendar, write in the key dates down for one objective, then where you will need to use communications to share a message with the church. It might be that you need to send the leaders an email, create invitational flyers to give to visitors at a key seasonal service, or periodically share inspiring stories on social media. Plot these dates and pair them with the tools, being realistic around the time needed to make it happen. Don’t bite off more than you can chew – this is only the first objective.
- In turn, add each objective to this calendar.
- Once they have all been added, you might notice some cross-over or interference with the calendar, or that you have overloaded your workload. You have the freedom to tinker with this calendar so that this is all manageable.
- Take your final plans and add them to a central ‘communications’ diary, so that multiple people can view this.
- Regularly check how you’re doing. Is the strategy working? Do you need to make changes? Does the church understand what you’re trying to communicate? What has the feedback been? Review your plans accordingly, tinker and go again.
For more information and inspiration on strategy and Church communications check out ‘So Everyone Can Hear’ by Mark Crosby.
How To Write A Visions and Values Statement
A value is a belief system that assigns worth or importance to certain ideas, attitudes, actions, things, and so on. Values are sometimes conscious and verbalised, but many times they are below the surface, unconscious and never spoken.
You will probably already know some of your values, maybe all, but it’s worth taking the time to write these down. You should have between five and ten values.
Here’s how Messy Church identify their values:
If you’ve ever encountered or explored Messy Church, those values would resonate with you as they specifically help identify the driving values that all they do springs from, whether it’s training churches or creating resources. So when you see something from or about Messy Church, you know it will embody these values – ideas, themes, non-negotiable beliefs that shape and form everything they do.
You should be able to drop anything your church does through the filter of your values and they should come through unscathed looking the same. If they don’t, you need to alter your plans to reflect your values.
You may find it helpful, if this is new to you, to look at your values as a checklist. When you’re working on a new project in your church you can run through your values list and ask ‘Does this project tick these boxes?’ For Messy Church they might ask: Is this new project Christ-centered? Does it equip the church across all ages? Does it foster creativity? Does it encourage hospitality? Are we creating a culture of celebration? If it passes these questions without alteration, then it’s passed their values test.
There’s nothing new under the sun, so there’s no shame in googling ‘church values’ and looking through some of the church websites who are like you, to see how they’ve identified their values; but you also have the freedom to create your own distinctive list. Be inspired by others, but don’t imitate them.
Values inform your vision. Both are a gift from God for the direction of your church, so prayerfully seek him in this whole process.
For vision, ask him what he has called your church to and over a sustained period of time, paired with fasting, silence, solitude and stillness write down what he is saying to you. Refine with language that resonates with your church and sounds like you.
Vision will be timeless, it’s the key to staying in your lane and running the race that Jesus has set out for you.
Your vision should differ from the church next to you, as Jesus needs each church to be in their specific place, serving and loving the city in a unique way – whilst recognising that the crux of each church is a community under the authority of Jesus, who have been commissioned to go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that Jesus has commanded us.
If values are the foundations of a house, vision is the blueprint for a grand design. All our communications and methods are consistently filtered through our vision to ensure that we stay on track with all that God is calling us to.
Here are some steps to realise your vision:
- Prayerfully submit your plans and dreams to God. Lay it all down as a first step.
- Ask God what his Vision is for your church.
- Spend time praying and fasting, alongside other regular spiritual disciplines such as stillness, solitude and silence.
- Carefully research and compile other vision statements. Print these off and highlight areas and statements that resonate to you. Scribble notes next to these of how you might tweak them for your context.
- Alongside research have a separate journal or document where you’re writing down what you feel God is saying. Use this to write down bullet points, sentences or paragraphs as you circle around what God is saying.
- When you feel God nudging you to complete this exercise, compile your research with your own document. It’s important to land with this, otherwise it can become a never-ending exercise.
- Print off a list of your values and filter all of your research through this, crossing out any research or musings that fails the values test.
- Add into this your own language that would resonate with your church.
- Chop and change your vision document, until you believe you have what God is saying to you. Even at this stage hold this lightly.
- Share this document privately with a few key leaders in your church who are on this journey with you. Give them permission to push back or make suggestions. Some of these leaders might not be pastoral leaders, but those with experience or wisdom from industry, who can speak with wisdom into the statement.
- Finally, take the feedback and prayerfully edit your statement to prepare a final document.
Once you have written and refined your vision, you will need to focus on communicating it and ensuring that the church knows it, as you you want everyone rowing in the same direction.
Ask yourself, how can you write and then communicate your vision, and stay true to it, in such a way as to maintain momentum and not change direction to suit whims.
For more information and inspiration on Vision and Values read Chapter Two of ‘So Everyone Can Hear’ by Mark Crosby.