A lot of people want you to believe that the basics of communication are tough to master; there are a lot of great books and consultants out there, but the truth is that it’s pretty easy to get started on the right foot… You just have to know the right questions to ask.
Through Creative Missions and other projects, I’ve had a lot of time to fine tune a process to help ministries reboot their approach to general communication. The start of this process involves three “secret” questions that every ministry needs to ask; they may be simple, but they’re surprisingly effective. Give them a shot:
1) Who are you?
Everyone always laughs at this question, but I’ve rarely met a ministry that can answer this in less than two sentences (my required length). It’s a tough question, but its something you need to know the answer to… It sits at the core of everything you do as a church. Who are you? Really? What is your personality? Where do you want to take people?
The answer should be about 2 sentences long and should be easily understood by the average human (try to avoid theological language). Think of it as the “elevator pitch” for your ministry.
One of the best examples of this I’ve ever seen came from one of the pastors at The Awakening of NWA (a church we served for Creative Missions 2012). After our team of “experts” put our heads together and threw out slogans for a few minutes, the pastor casually threw out this amazing mission statement: “We want our church to be a place where people can come to relax, worship and discover truth.”
Wow… doesn’t get much better than that!
2) Who are you trying to reach?
Another basic question, right? The gut-reaction, quick answer to this one is to immediately blurt out: “EVERYONE!”
While that is generally an accurate statement, most ministries are called to a much more specific target. I like to create an imaginary person (“First Baptist Frank, Grace Church Gary”) and use these questions to build out a persona:
- How old are they? What’s their average life stage? (ex: 30-40yr old young families)
- What does their average day look like?
- What’s their previous experience with Christianity? With church?
- What’s their biggest felt need?
- What is their existing perception of us (both positive and negative)?
Having answers to these questions will give you a critical foundation that leads to my final question…
3) How are you communicating who you are to the people you’re trying to reach?
So you know who you are and who your audience is… Are you communicating to them in a way where they actually get it?
It’s amazing how clarifying this question can be; a lot of times, I find that we as a staff are projecting our preferences onto an audience that needs a different approach. Maybe you’re sending out an email newsletter to an audience that mostly engages with physical media. Maybe you’re spending thousands of dollars on print with an audience who doesn’t look past their iPad screen. Use what you discover in this process to change the way you approach your community… I think you’ll be surprised at the results.
Have you ever walked through these questions with your ministry? Let us know your story in the comments below.