Have you ever read a newsletter and then put it down, thinking, ‘none of this interests me’?
Have you ever attempted to navigate a website, and when you can’t find what you want, you click away?
I’ll bet you have experienced at least one of these things. And the problem is this: church communicators (or communicators in general) are often tripped up when they are trying to figure out who they’re talking to.
Our default in church is to say, ‘Well, duh, EVERYONE. We want EVERYONE to come to Christ, and therefore EVERYTHING will be communicated to EVERYONE.’
I apologise for the all-caps, but I really wanted to emphasise this trap we are constantly falling into.
Feel like listening instead of reading?
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about.
Imagine if we talked to our church visitors the same way that we’re talked to our regular attendees. Imagine if we bombarded them with information about the men’s breakfast, and the women’s camp they should totally come to, and our discipleship training program, and then ask them to like our Facebook page and contact Joni if you’re interested in coming to her Bible study, and then throw in somewhere that if they’re not saved they’re going to hell. It is a LOT to take in for a new person.
So, you either end up assuming too much of your visitors, overloading them with information and inviting them to a billion different events that they’re just not ready for, or you end up patronising your regular attendees because you’re telling them about things they already know.
So, what do we do about it?
Before we move onto our main points for today, I just want to throw a couple of thoughts out there.
Firstly, it is not rude, or ungodly, or exclusive, or cliquey, to spend a little time figuring out who needs to hear what, and targeting specifically at groups of people, rather than everyone being thrown in together (which is a lot of what we’ll be talking about today!).
Secondly, if you begin to segment who you’re talking to into different groups, you can actually communicate with each group or segment much more effectively than if you were talking to a large group.
Alrighty, let me show you how its done!
In business, we often refer to two different types of communication - internal and external. Your internal communications usually go out to your employees, but in this case, lets refer to your internal communications recipients as our regular churchgoers. Your external communications go out into the world with the aim of bringing people in, so external communications are usually for people outside of the church, or visitors.
Whenever you’re putting together any form of communications, ask yourself this question: who am I writing this for? Are the people who I want to see this already in the church, or are they outside of the church?
This. Is. Vital.
We cannot mix these two groups, because they are coming from entirely different perspectives. So, how do we decide if what we’re doing is internal or external communications, and how does that change what I’m doing?
Let’s start with the medium you’re using. I’ve split these into internal and external communications, but you can chop and change to what suits your church best.
I highly recommend popping the different media you use into a quick table like this! It will give you clarity of thought, and you’ll be able to see quickly and easily who you’re aiming what at.
So, with a quick glance at this table, I can see that our website will be aimed at newcomers, and therefore I can head on over to the website and format the website and all of the text and images to appeal to newcomers.
Similarly, I can glance and see that our print newsletter is going to be focused on regular attendees, and therefore I can go ahead and pack it with the information they’ll be wanting.
I have added a ‘both’ category, however this still doesn’t mean you would talk to internal and external people in the same way. For instance, your email newsletter could be sent to both regulars and newbies, but when a new person signs up for your newsletter, you could automate an email sequence that introduces them to your church, and what it is that you do and believe, before throwing them into the deep end with an information overload.
So, where do you go from here? I’ve put together a quick workbook to help you figure out what you’re using to communicate internally and externally. If you’re struggling, make sure you talk to your pastor or leadership about it - this is not something you should have to figure out on your own! I hope this post has helped you to think a little more strategically about your communications!