When it comes to business, it’s easy to draw the line between external and internal communications. Reaching a customer with a message is clearly external, while talking about the day-to-day work of a company is internal.
For churches, it’s a little fuzzier. Talking to your congregation could be considered internal communications, while speaking to potential visitors and your community might be external.
I would argue that the way you speak to both of these audiences should be very similar. Yes, there are moments you target your message differently to visitors over against your members. But the language and vision should be the same. It shows that your church is being authentic in how it’s presenting what it believes. There should not be an “insider track,” but instead a true representation of how your church can serve people and change lives.
The internal audience church communicators often forget, however, is their own staff members, leadership and key volunteers. They are truly the internal people that need to be well informed. Here’s why:
Rallying support. Part of winning support is keeping everyone informed about what’s happening. In reality, it starts with the staff. If your church staff and leadership aren’t on board with what you’re doing, you cannot hope to achieve your optimal impact.
Assuming that everyone on staff knows what’s happening never works. Just because you have heard something in a meeting doesn’t mean everyone else is privy to your knowledge. “Over communication” always trumps leaving people in information limbo. Share decisions made by elders. Recast the vision you shared in a meeting with the rest of the staff. Let people know what’s happening that will affect the entire church.
It allows better communication to members and the community. Inevitably staff, board members, high level volunteers or anyone with influence in a church will be questioned about what’s going on. If someone can’t answer a question it makes the church as a whole look less organized. On the opposite side, having knowledgeable people who can share church vision and activities will show a united team focused on empowering the church to serve people.
It helps remove silos. The easiest way to become closed off is to be oblivious to what your coworkers are doing. Focusing on communicating with staff helps a team know how they connect in what they’re doing to be a better service to the congregation and community. A united team moves the right initiatives forward. Divided teams put self-interest ahead of the better good.
In all honesty, how you label communications matters far less than how you actually do it. Remember all your audiences, including your staff and leadership, as you intentionally plan for how you share information in your church.