The State of Church Communications in 2018

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As we get settled into the new year, there are a lot of things that happen. We begin to evaluate current policies, strategies, procedures, programs, and ministries. Our churches set goals for the coming year. Many churches set their budget for the year ahead. It’s important to take time to look back where we’ve come from, how we’ve improved. But it’s also vital to look forward, to see where we can continue to make advancements.

In 2017, we saw a continuation of the online communication evolution. Social media continued to change — moving more toward image-focused mediums. Video is becoming king, as Facebook moved into the realm of original content and updated its algorithms to favor video. Instagram continued to gain traction, especially among millennials and Gen Z’ers.

Besides social media, technology and communication continued to change at a fast pace. In 2017, many churches struggled to adapt to the changing culture and technology. A bulk of churches struggled getting their message out. Many more wrestled with what to do with all these new possibilities.

The move to mobile pressed onward throughout 2017. In the United States, 71% of Internet traffic is from a mobile device (compared to 62% in Canada, and more than 90% in Indonesia!). For churches, the importance of a mobile-friendly, responsive, website is critical. New technology (like mobile giving, note-taking, text announcements, and Bible apps) are going to be commonplace.

So what about this coming year? What can we expect? What should the Church strive for in the arena of communications and marketing? Well, I’m glad you asked.

TECHNOLOGY

Technology is going to continue to move forward at a rapid pace. For the local church, this means we need to keep tap on current trends. Not so we can be early adopters, but so we can see what we need to prepare for. The need for a strategic plan is even more necessary. As our churches add new methods of communication, a strategic plan means there is a clear purpose, audience, and strategy in mind. Having a plan in place allows you to be better prepared for the changing times. A plan also means there is a method to assess modes of communication and their effectiveness.

DISCIPLESHIP

It’s time we start seeing everything we do as a church as discipleship. We’ve all heard the Great Commission—most of us use it in some form or another as our mission and vision statements. Our mission, as the Church, is to make disciples and to teach (equip) them to be more Christlike. That means in everything we do, our goal needs to be to make disciples of Jesus. The disconnect between administration or operations and discipleship needs to disappear. Our churches need to see the value of administrative tasks as giftings of the Holy Spirit. Administration (including communication) is a tool for making disciples and part of the mission of the church. The church secretary of 1997 cannot be the church administrator of 2018. With the change in technology, culture, and communication, our churches need to put a bigger priority on the administration of the church. Communication will continue to suffer in your church until every aspect of ministry is seen as discipleship ministry.

UNITY

Keeping up with the Joneses is something that gets preached against on a regular basis. But what we don’t do is apply this message to our church organization. Our churches need to stop seeing the church down the street as its competition. We need to stop comparing, competing, and coveting over our fellow congregations. Unity among the Church needs to be a priority as we move forward. Your church is reaching a specific audience. Stop worrying about what the church down the street is doing; start tailoring your message and ministry to your audience. Open up lines of communication with churches down the street. Do they do something well? Ask them for advice, or insight, into how they do what they’re doing. Could the church around the corner use some help? Offer your expertise. Gospel unity needs to be a priority if we’re going to make a lasting impact in our communities. Our fallen world sees enough division. Let’s offer something different.

CHURCH JUICE

For Church Juice these items are going to be the priority over the coming year. You’ll see some new and exciting tools and resources coming your way in the weeks ahead. We want to help energize your congregation’s church communication. But we also want to foster an environment of unity, discipleship, and being up-to-date. Our desire is to help you foster those relationships with fellow churches. We want to assist your congregation in viewing communication (as well as every other aspect of ministry) as discipleship. We want to help you stay on top of evolving trends and technologies.

Church Juice provides congregations with free resources, articles, and opportunities for training and consulting on church communications. Church Juice is a ministry of Back to God Ministries International, the media mission of the CRCNA.

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