Talking about church communication strategies is not a big church versus small church issue.
It’s not uncommon for someone to tell me they appreciate reading about church communications but don’t think it really applies to them in their small church setting. Or they’ll say the advice we give is good, but it assumes there’s a full time staff member working on communications. The wording is usually different from person to person, but the sentiment is the same: small churches with small staffs are exempt from being intentional communicators.
Friends, you’re using your size as an excuse to not make the tough decisions that come with creating a communications strategy. The truth is in our current society every organization, regardless of size or sector, has to think strategically.
Your members live in a world where they interact with other companies and organizations that have coordinated marketing, branding and communications efforts. They can tell the difference between that and something that’s randomly thrown together. Will they give their church some leeway? Probably. But think about how much more engaged they could be if you were being more intentional in planning how you communicate? If you’re not communicating effectively, people will eventually give up on trying to find the information they need if it’s not easy for them to access.
Of course a large church with a bigger staff might be able to do more than a smaller church, but the key is scalability. Are you doing the best with what you have or are you giving up because of your size?
Doing work in communications isn’t easy. Often times it falls on an already busy staff member who has no formal training in communications. Or sometimes there are so many people and volunteers in charge of little individual pieces of communications it’s hard to have any control over the cohesiveness of your message. And I get that trying to bring order to communications leads to tough conversations and confrontation. But we have a major motivation for making it happen. We’re tasked with helping people grow closer to God.
I recently read an article by Karl Vaters, a small church pastor and writer. He was talking about how younger generations are more open to going to smaller churches because they are looking for a more intimate, genuine experience. The caveat is they aren’t willing to give up quality to gain that intimacy.
Don’t write off being intentional about communications as a “big church only” kind of thing. Look at what you can do in your setting. Take the advice you read and pick a piece you can implement. Small steps can lead to bigger change.