Whether it’s with parents, volunteers, core leaders or staff, communication is critical. Here are a few things I’ve learned about communicating effectively in children’s ministry:
1. More Is More AND Less Is More
If you’ve got an event of some sort, or anything that involves large groups, I’ve found more is more. In other words, get the word out in as many forms as possible—newsletter, posters, word of mouth, phone calls … however you can. People need to see this communication over and over again until it sticks.
However, I also have learned less is more. I used to communicate about anything and everything. If it was happening in children’s ministry, I would send a communication out about it. That doesn’t work. I learned to focus on the really important things—there’s just too much noise out there, and if all we are doing is being noisy, people will turn us off just like they do everyone else.
2. Communicate directly
Early on it wasn’t uncommon for me to say something to the spouse of one of my key volunteers and assume the message got through. Of course, people would do that with me, too—they would tell my wife something on a Sunday morning and assume I got the message. I really disliked when people did that—it wasn’t fair to Michele! And then it dawned on me that I was doing the same thing with my key volunteers.
Don’t put the responsibility for your communication on the spouse of the person you are trying to communicate with (or anyone else!). Take responsibility to communicate directly with them, regardless of what that takes. The more important the communication, the more important this becomes. And, as a side note, give your spouse permission to not accept communication on your behalf—it’s OK for them to gently and kindly say, “You know, it would be better if you communicated that directly if you want to ensure the message gets to him/her.”
3. Communicate the big stuff personally
Vision needs to come from you. Communication about critical change needs to come from you. Information about strategically important events needs to come from you. Personal appreciation of key leaders needs to come from you.
You get the idea—if it’s really important, don’t hand it off. The “big stuff” needs to be communicated by you. With every handoff to others, the impact of the message is lessened. If you want it to retain its importance, it needs to come from you.