This fortnight's blog comes from Matt, our Circuit Communications Coordinator, feeding back from some recent training he went to.
Last week, I went to ‘Communicating with Impact’, training on Church communications delivered by UCAN (UK Church Administrators Network). It was a fascinating day, spending time with people who do a similar job to me, learning some new things, swapping tips and reinforcing the importance of churches doing communication well.
I am still digesting everything that was said (and will probably re-watch presentations as they were all recorded), but I thought I would share a couple of the things that really stood out.
1) You are always communicating - even when you’re not
This might seem like a nonsense statement, but it is one of the biggest things I took away for the day. What they were saying is that, even when you aren’t promoting, pushing, talking, that communicates something.
A notice board that has nothing on it except a dog-eared poster for a coffee morning that happened six months ago creams “THIS CHURCH HAS NOTHING GOING ON!” A website that is hard to use and doesn’t have service times front and centre on the homepage says “We don’t want newcomers”.
This is something I think I instinctively knew, but hadn’t had it spelt out so obviously. We really need to always think about what we are saying, and how our silence is heard.
2) Once is not enough
“Once you have communicated something three times more than you think you need to, communicate one more time.”
That quotation really resonated with me. It is easy to think that the pretty poster on the church noticeboard means everyone knows about the upcoming coffee morning or that putting a post on Facebook will reach everyone. But it is simply not the case, for two reasons.
Firstly, different people are in different places. As someone who is just about a ‘digital native’ (meaning social media platforms were starting as I was in my teens), Facebook is how I keep in touch with people, find out what is going on. But for many in our church, they aren’t on social media. So we need to make sure that we are targeting communications in the right place, and using different tricks to engage different people. A notice on a church noticeboard may speak to those in church, but won’t be seen by those who aren’t already coming.
Secondly, people are busy, and are bombarded with information, so a poster in a window they walk past has to be something amazing to really get attention. There is a theory in marketing that you need to have between five and seven ‘touch points’ to get a sale - this means you need to see a product and its adverts five to seven times before you actually consider buying it. So to actually reach people, we need to promote events in numerous places, in numerous ways. An example of this is our upcoming ‘Messy Holiday’ - there are flyers going to the school, posters in churches, events on Facebook, texts to families we already have relationships with, and posts on community websites. This might seem a lot of work, but it is necessary to stand out amongst all the noise.
3) We need to take communication seriously
One of the points that the main speaker came back to time and again was the need for churches to take communication seriously. He highlighted the fact that communication is more than telling people when events are happening, but actually part of our calling as followers of Jesus.
“Go forth and tell”
The trainer, therefore, believes that every church should have someone responsible for communication, and that the role should be held up in the same way that we consider the treasurer or safeguarding officer. This is something I am thinking a lot about. My role focuses on Circuit level, but how best can I equip and encourage people in each of the churches to communicate well. So keep an eye out for more on that!