Do you know what your church’s communications strategy is? Probably not if your church has never had one! Instead, each individual group may be left to work out its own methods of publicity in isolation from other groups in church. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some kind of consistency in the approach that various groups took? Or if you had some overall objective to aim for – perhaps to promote your church as a family-friendly worshipping community, or a caring group of people committed to your neighbourhood?
And what about priorities? One of the ideas in the book is that you should have a communications group that might decide which church activity or church event should be given overall priority over the next few weeks or months. Having taken that decision, you can devote more of your time and resources to publicising that item. If you wanted to promote your work with children and families, that might mean consistently putting photos and articles about schools work and holiday clubs in your parish magazine and website, displays inside your church of Sunday School groups, press releases to the media about family events and spending money on producing professional posters advertising your family fun day. Publicity for other events or activities would still go on, but might be allocated less time or fewer resources.
There are other suggestions on how to create a communications strategy in the book, but here’s one example of a church that seems to have thought it through. City Life Church in Portsmouth have included this slogan on their publicity material. It addresses head-on the misconception that you have to be a ‘good’ person to come to church, emphasising the reality that we all need forgiveness. Hence, you should ‘come as you are’ to meet other people who aren’t perfect.
Another important principle is that you will need to use different methods to reach different kinds of people. What might be appropriate for your youth group might not work for the over-80s and vice versa. Those who live in a close-knit rural village might communicate in a different way from those living in a brand new housing development. And those who don’t go to your church will need different kinds of information from those who do.
Above Bar Church in Southampton provides ‘inform’, with information for newcomers, ‘intouch’ as a magazine for regulars, ‘inview’ as the information for those who attend services, and a website. Not only that, but there is consistency in the names given to each of the items of literature, and even a consistency in the way each is presented.
Could you say that your church has thought this through in the same way?