In today’s world, it’s easier than ever to stay connected to the people, places, and organizations that we love. From instant messaging to social media, there are so many ways to connect literally at our fingertips. But, strategically using these digital tools for church communications can feel daunting. There could be hesitancy or uncertainty about adding something new to the church’s communication strategy. Or there’s simply just not enough time in the day. But church communications go beyond a once-a-week sermon, and these digital platforms play a pivotal role in the life and growth of the church.
Whether you want to attract newcomers, nurture existing relationships in your congregation, or share important updates, an intentionally-created church communication strategy paves the way for those deeper connections and a thriving community.
Here’s what we’re covering in this complete guide to church communication strategy:
Types of Communication Within a Church
There are hundreds of methods for communicating (think texting, tweeting, talking, and so on). But all those methods can be organized into two main types of communication for your church: internal and external.
External communication is probably the type that comes to mind first. Those are the messages focused on reaching an audience outside of your congregation. It’s a gateway to introduce your church to the broader community, promote outreach initiatives, and invite newcomers to special events.
Internal communication, on the other hand, focuses on connecting within your church family—congregants, volunteers, and staff members. This type of communication plays a vital role in fostering a sense of belonging, unity, and engagement among your church community. Whether you’re sharing volunteer opportunities from the stage on Sunday morning or sending out newsletters and donor emails, internal communication is a lifeline to your members and helps cultivate a .
Good internal communication should help everyone stay informed, connected, and engaged in their faith journey.
When you differentiate the communications your church creates between internal and external, you can better tailor your messages and strategies to effectively reach and engage both your existing church family and those you’re trying to connect with. Each type serves a unique purpose and requires careful consideration of content, tone, and delivery. Striking the right balance between these communication types is essential for effectively spreading your church’s message and making a meaningful impact within and beyond your congregation.
But, like most things, there is a gray area between internal and external communications. Sometimes the channels you’re using or the messages themselves have an overlap of audience. Your Sunday morning sermons are a perfect example, where your building is filled with a mix of long-time church members and people who are brand new. It’s essential in that instance (and in every other message you send) to communicate information that is relevant and meaningful for both groups of people. We’ll continue exploring this idea of tailoring your communications to your audience later in the blog.
Creating a Church Communication Policy
Before we navigate the building blocks of an effective communication strategy, it’s essential to know (or place) guardrails around what exactly you’re sharing. Communication is a central part of your ministry, whether you’re sharing news about upcoming events, offering guidance during difficult times, or simply staying connected with your members. With all these different communications swirling around, messages can easily get lost in translation. A clear and defined policy can make all the difference as you work to build a stronger, more connected community.
At its core, a church’s communication policy is a set of guidelines that govern how they communicate with their members and the public. These guidelines include everything from the types of content and messages that are acceptable to the preferred methods of communication and even what types of information can be shared publicly.
You might be thinking, “Why do I need a policy for this? Can’t we just figure it out as we go?” But if you’re prayerfully reflecting on what to say on the stage on Sunday morning or in the next staff meeting, you know that the words you share matter. They have the power to inspire, comfort, guide, and inform.
That’s why a communication policy needs to be put in place: so the messages you publish protect people and prevent problems. Those intentional guidelines for how your church communicates ensure that your messaging is consistent with your mission and values, build trust with your community and establish your brand identity.
So, what should be included in a communication policy? The specifics will vary based on the needs and culture of your church, but we’ve got a few important questions for you to consider.
What kind of content is appropriate for social media?
Do you have a process to get consent to post videos and photos on social media or your website?
Who is responsible for posting and responding to comments?
When should you send an email, text, or make a phone call? Are there any communication channels you’re intentionally not going to use?
How should you handle negative comments or feedback online?
What information can be shared publicly, and what should remain private?
How should you communicate during emergencies or unforeseen situations?
We’re not telling you to craft an overbearing rule book for every message you send. We’re encouraging you that with a communication policy, you’ll be able to make sure every word spoken and every message shared is aligned with your church’s mission and values. It’s a valuable tool that can streamline your church’s communication, enhance transparency, and ultimately foster a stronger and more connected community.
Elements of a Successful Communication Strategy
So now that we know the types of communication, let’s dive into what makes up an effective church communication strategy.
A preliminary audit
Effective communication is key to building a thriving community, especially in today’s digitally-driven world. But where do you even start? The answer is an audit.
Review your current communications: what’s working and what needs improvement. It may feel like slowing down at first, but by reviewing (and thinking through) your strategies, you’ll be able to do even more with your team and your resources in the long run.
As we covered above, there are a number of different audiences for you to communicate with. While it’s easy to broadly categorize your audience as congregants or new visitors, it’s important to dig deeper. Your audience is likely made up of a diverse range of individuals, from families and students to seniors and singles. Each group has unique needs and communication preferences that must be considered.
For example, how you communicate with members of your Student Ministry will differ greatly from how you communicate with senior adults. By tailoring your messaging to each specific audience segment, you can ensure that your communication is targeted and effective.
Your communication strategy should identify a couple of primary audiences your church is (or wants to) reach and then define what matters to them, their questions, and their felt needs. With those details, you can decide which messages and channels of communication are best suited to reach them. And now that you know your audiences and their needs well, you’ll be able to create more impactful and engaging content.
The right channels
Effective communication is not just about what you say but how and where you choose to say it. That’s why identifying the right channels for your church is crucial to creating a church communications strategy. George Barna wrote, “Most communications experts will tell you that your best media strategy is one that relies upon a blend of several media to reach your desired audience.”
When considering which channels to use, it’s important to think about what will resonate the most with your particular audience. For example, younger audiences may prefer video content on platforms like YouTube or Instagram, and older generations may prefer face-to-face conversations or written communication like email.
There are so many options for you to communicate in. Traditional channels include church bulletins, newsletters, announcement boards, and posters. These can be effective for getting the attention of members and visitors alike, especially during church services and events.
Then there are digital communication channels, like church apps, websites, social media, and newsletters, that offer additional opportunities to connect with your community, especially after Sunday. These channels allow for more interaction and engagement, giving members the chance to participate in discussions, share content, and stay up-to-date on the latest church news.
With so many traditional and digital communication channels at your disposal, trying to do everything all at once can be tempting. But we’ll encourage you that quality is often more important than quantity.
A centralized communication hub
You’ll want (and even need) to use different, targeted methods of communication, but it’s just as important to organize all of those messages in one easy-to-find place. Grab their attention with the various methods, then send them to a central hub for all the answers.
- Need to know if it’s your week to volunteer in Sunday School? Go to the central hub.
- Can’t remember what time the back-to-school celebration starts tomorrow? Central hub.
- Want to sign up for a small group or Bible study? Central hub.
All of your church’s communication should start at and point back to the central hub. So where should your church’s central hub be? It could be on your website or a group on Facebook. But, having a custom church app takes your communication strategy to the next level.
A church app streamlines your communication and puts your ministry in your congregants’ hands. With a church app, people can revisit past sermons, listen to worship music, check in on events, donate, sign up to volunteer, and take other important actions anytime and anywhere.
Here’s one church’s success story after creating a central hub for their congregation.
Springs Church’s Connection Day for Their Central Hub
faced a common problem that many churches experience – disconnection from their congregation. They recognized that many people leave the Church because they don’t feel connected. So Springs Church made a bold move to prioritize connection in their congregation.
Instead of preaching from the pulpit, they turned one of their typical Sunday morning services into a Connection Sunday. During those two services, church leaders helped their congregation connect with each other and the church by walking through all the features of their new custom church app. From group sign-ups to sermon notes to giving options, Springs Church members discovered how their app could keep them connected to their community. The app also empowered members to volunteer and get involved in connection groups, making it easy for them to contribute to the church’s mission in a meaningful way. By leveraging a custom church app, Springs Church has created a culture of connection and engagement that goes beyond Sunday services and is truly transforming the lives of its members. Ashley Moore, Springs Church’s Executive Administrative Assistant, shared, “The app has just become the way that everybody finds the information that they need in the church.”
Now, after Connection Sunday and the launch of their church app, Springs Church prioritizes community engagement by devoting time during each service for meaningful connection and ministry opportunities. Karen Woodyard, Deacon Ministry Director, said, “There was a QR code up on the screen, and Pastor Michael said, ‘Okay, I want everybody to give to this orphanage in Haiti.’ Everybody lifts up their phone, takes a picture of the QR code, and within 10 seconds, donations just started piling in. The app made it so much easier.”
They’ve created a more connected community and increased engagement within their congregation. Karen said, “We’ve finally made it super easy to connect. For many people who get disgruntled with the Church, it’s usually because they didn’t feel connected. And I really feel that Pushpay gave us that edge to where people now can really feel connected because everything’s right there, right in front of them, with the church app.”
How to Create a Church Communications Calendar
A well-organized communication strategy can make all the difference in building a thriving church community. Here are some tips to help you create an effective church communication calendar to keep your congregation informed, engaged, and excited about upcoming events.
Start with decided dates by noting major holidays like Easter, VBS, Christmas, and any annual events on your calendar. Then, pencil in tentative event dates. Once you have your major events, pencil in tentative event dates and smaller events throughout the year like small group kick-off or a back-to-school celebration. Having a rough idea of when these events will happen will give you time to plan your communication strategy.
When event dates are confirmed, work backward for each event. Start with the communications needed on the day of the event, and list out the messages you’ll need to send up to its initial announcement. You’ll want to include emails, social media posts, and church app push notifications in your plan to maximize your promotional efforts and ensure you’re reaching out to your audience with the right messages at the right times.
Finally, fill in big empty sections of your calendar. If you notice large blank spaces on your communications calendar, fill them with clips from Sunday’s sermons, Bible verses relevant to the current sermon series, highlights from previous events, or church news. It will help you stay connected with your members even when there are no significant events happening.
A church communication calendar can seem overwhelming to create initially, but it’s worth the effort. With a solid plan in place, you’ll be confident that your church’s communications are consistent, engaging, and effective.
If you’re looking for the best apps for churches to improve communication, creativity, security, and more, check out this blog!
Start Ministering Through Your Communications
As technology continues to rapidly change how we communicate, it’s easy to forget that communication is not just a means to an end but a ministry in itself. Communication can be its own ministry, not just a tool to do ministry. A solid church communication strategy is foundational to effectively sharing the gospel and serving your congregation.
At Pushpay, we’re passionate about helping churches make the most of their ministry efforts. Our custom church app is a powerful tool to connect with your congregation. To learn more about how our app can support your church’s communication strategy, take a tour of our custom church app builder.
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