8 Bad Habits in Church Communications

We can get stuck in a rut when it comes to our leadership and church communications. Even in the most “progressive” churches, we can just do things the way that they have always been done. Here are a few areas in which I think we can suffer from our past habits sneaking up on us …

  • Too Much Reliance on the Bulletin. The church bulletin is still a staple communications tool in churches today. But if you think that getting your “ad” in the program will move people to action in your church, you may be delusional. Try this … put an ad in this weekend’s bulletin offering $10 for the first 10 people that contact you via email … you’ll be surprised how few people contact you. If it’s important to communicate to your church, then you need to use many channels to get the message out!
  • Using the Senior Pastor as the Magic Bullet. We all know that if the lead pastor at your church gets up and communicates whatever the need is, your people will be moved to action. But the more that person leverages their influence in this way, the less effective it is. Choose wisely how you manage the finite amount of trust your senior leaders have with people … don’t waste it on secondary issues at your church.
  • Too Many Messages. How many things are you “asking” your people to be involved with? Cut it in half … and then next year cut it in half again. Narrow the focus on what you communicate about to get traction in your church. The more you talk about, the less likely any of it will make an impact.
  • Way Too Much Asking … Not Enough Celebrating. We suffer from talking too much about the future in our churches … asking people to come to events, join small groups, volunteer for upcoming outreaches. We need to spend more time celebrating what has happened in the life of our churches! Thank donors. Take time out to declare, isn’t it great to be a part of us?!
  • Complex Response Systems. We want to make it easier for “us” so we make our people jump through more hoops than is necessary to sign up for stuff. We should be finding ways to reduce friction for our people … simplify, simplify simplify! Typically that means it’s going to be more work for “us” … but that’s OK … that’s what being in leadership is all about!
  • Lousy Visuals. We live in a post-literate society. Your people need you to communicate with them in a visual manner. Your messages need compelling images (and video?) to move people to action. Most church leaders think in words and concepts while the people we lead are visual learners … we need to close that gap!
  • Acronyms. This is a serious pet peeve of mine … acronyms are total “insider language.” They aren’t friendly to the people we are trying to lead. They are used by the “in” people to have a “code language” that can’t be understood by outsiders … acronyms make us feel great but make new people feel left out. (Similar … “cool” program names that aren’t self-evident. It’s cool that your kids program is called Nirmātā Land … but the fact that you need to constantly explain that it means Creator Land in Nepalese is sideways energy and confuses outsiders.)
  • You’re Passionate … They’re Not. We’re called to shepherd and lead the people that we serve. By definition, the shepherd is more passionate and knowledgeable than the sheep. Stop assuming that your people care about what is happening at your church. Don’t whine that people aren’t joining your ministry approach … it’s our job to raise our programs up in their priorities. They don’t come to it passionate … our role is to lead them there … to shepherd them.

Each one of those I’ve suffered from in my leadership in church communications! What am I missing from this list?  

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Rich Birch
Rich serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. He blogs at UnSeminary.com and is a sought after speaker and consultant on multisite, pastoral productivity and communications.