What are your church communications accomplishing?
A recent article from the Marketoonist (a secular resource I highly recommend everyone interested in church marketing read) had a challenging article that related the current crisis of CMOs (chief marketing officers) in corporations who are being fired or replaced because though their work isn’t producing results. Here’s a key quote from the article:
“As long as marketers continue to position themselves as experts in advertising, brand positioning, millennials and the latest digital fads – instead of being growth drivers – we’ll see more CMO positions disappear. The message is pretty simple: as a marketer, stand for growth — or else.”
The article emphasized that no matter what complex, flashy, current, or exciting things marketers were doing, if the evaluation of their work did not result in growth for the organization, the marketing person was replaced with someone who get the job done.
How this applies to the church
Lest we think that this kind of evaluation is unspiritual, let’s recall the parable of the talents, in Matt. 25:14-30. Here Jesus tells the story of the master who entrusts his fortune to three servants and then leaves. While he is gone the Master expects them to do something with what he entrusted them with; he expects a tangible return on his investment at his return. Christians love to jump to the statement repeated to the servants who gave their master a good return, where he (and we assume correctly this means Jesus and his judgment of our lives) where he says, “Well-done good and faithful servant” and then rewards them proportionately.
We tend to ignore the Master’s harsh judgment of the servant who did nothing with his talent and to whom the Master’s words were: “Cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Tangible, realistic, honest evaluation is important in the church if we want our Lord’s commendation. Following are some ideas on how you can evaluate and if necessary modify what you are doing in your church communications and the tools of technology you must serve our Lord effectively.
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How to evaluate church communications
Effective church communication evaluation involves much more than competing opinions over who thinks they are right and who doesn’t. To do it honestly involves more than who likes what or who is not wanting to change a way they’ve “always done” something. It also means you don’t change things or do away with something because somebody went to a big church conference, and that big church did this or that, and to be like that big church you think you need to do the same thing, or that you get rid of (or add) technology just because it is the “in” thing today and everyone who is anyone who is doing it.
Don’t look at another church or trend to decide what to change in the tech ministry or communication program in your church. First get an honest assessment of what you are doing in your church. To evaluate you don’t look primarily at your tools, instead:
- Look at lives.
- Look at behavior.
Are these changing or not because of your communications or the technology or social media you’ve implemented? Most importantly are the changes you see making progress in these two areas:
- Helping people come to know Jesus as Savior.
- Enabling them to grow into mature disciples.
Start your evaluation by simple counting
This is not rocket science. You create events or ministries to introduce people to the Christian faith or to help people grow in their Christian lives. They must get there for that to happen. Therefore, effectiveness in church communications or the technology you use is determined first by attendance, the simple numbers of people who respond (or didn’t). After you created and distributed your communications to market, inform, and get people to the event, so assess the results. This is how you start the evaluation process of what works and what doesn’t in church communications. Like success in any game, you keep score.
The score is determined by asking questions such as these and recording your response:
- Did you do a mailing? Send a postcard? An email? Web announcement? Pulpit announcement? Share on social media?
- Did you equip your people with communication tools? Connection cards, postcards, website links?
- Based on those actions, then how many people attended event? How many were new to the church?
The simple numbers of how many new people attend the church, why, and what brought them there is important because you cannot start the road toward sharing the message of salvation and growing people to Christian maturity without people first getting inside the church and becoming part of the process. Whether your church accepts individuals as believers with a simple confession of faith after one visit or whether becoming a Christian is defined by a series of explorations and classes, followed by a decision and baptism, or any combination of these events, whatever your tradition, it must start with simple attendance.
Be honest in record keeping and evaluation
If you spend thousands of dollars on seasonal outreach events, what was your return on investment? Again, ask the questions above: how many are now attending the church because of the event? How many have become Christians because of the event? I suspect far too many churches do seasonal and holiday events because the people currently attending the church really like to put on the events. To decide if this is the primary motivation — track the results. To repeat:
- How many new people are now attending the church because of the event?
- How many have become Christians because of the event?
- How many have taken discipleship steps because of the event?
Or is it primarily members of your congregation and a few scattered family members who only come to big events who attended and was it put on primarily for their enjoyment.
If you aren’t honestly tracking costs and results, why not?
Even without tracking it, if you know the answer is something like “We didn’t do a very good job of communicating it to people outside the church and we can’t honestly point to anyone who is now attending, who has come to know Jesus, or grown in their faith because of it” you need to make changes.
Often the changes are simply a commitment to use the tools of technology and communications you have with a deeper purpose behind them of spiritual outreach and growth. Effective Church Communications has an in-depth course on Successful Seasonal Strategy that will help you understand what communications you need before, during, and after your event, how to involve the entire church, and how to honestly evaluate the response. It will show you how seasonal events can not only grow your church in numbers, but your people in discipleship maturity.
Check out the course and other articles on seasonal strategy at our Effective Church Communications website, brainstorm, pray, try new things, innovate, and then evaluate so that your use of technology and church communications will be worthy of our Lord’s commendation, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”