I find there’s a major disconnect between churches wanting to improve their communication and actually doing it. It’s easy to talk about change. It can even be fun to dream about what changes you’d like to make. But when it comes to going through the process of making those changes, things break down. Committee members disappear. Leadership becomes too busy. Everything seems to fall apart and you’re stuck.
I get why that happens. When you start talking about communications, it goes beyond just making a new weekly bulletin or updating the website. You can’t really make meaningful changes without knowing what your mission and vision is as an organization. And at that point, some churches start to realize their mission is out of date or there is no vision at all. Communications conversations become big and far-reaching. And to stick with it means you need courage.
You’ll have to make hard decisions. They are tough because talking vision touches every aspect of your church. It can change what you’re doing and where you’re putting resources. Casting vision means you’ll see where you’re strong, but also where you’re vulnerable.
You will ruffle feathers. When you see the weaknesses in your church that don’t align with your vision you’ll need to make changes. That will make people uneasy. Long time members who are stuck in their ways will shake their fist at any sign of change.
You will feel uncomfortable. The fist shaking and mean words will get to you. You will get frustrated. You may feel defeated. Even if you do everything right, like explaining why you’re doing what you’re doing for the sake of making the church stronger, there will still be naysayers. Welcome to life in a church.
Understand people’s passion means they care. When the congregation or staff give you grief, it's typically because they feel strongly about the church and they want to defend it. While it can be difficult to be on the receiving end, remember what an awesome thing it is that people feel passionate about the church. They feel ownership for the church. Be patient, explain everything thoroughly and then use their passion and sense of ownership for the church into becoming your new communication ambassadors.
Stand up for what you believe. Despite the grief you’ll get, stick with it. When a church is staying true to its vision, everything makes more sense. There’s a common goal to rally around. Communicating with your congregation gets easier because you can say how the things you’re doing connect back to that vision.
You might have to drag people along. It’s a cliché, but change really doesn’t happen overnight. Some people will want to bail. They’ll give in to the complainers. They’ll get tired of not seeing the results happen faster. That means you’ll be the voice of reason. You’ll have to keep them on board.
You will come out better on the other side. The struggles of being intentional communicators will eventually get smaller. Your congregation will be stronger. When a church has something to aim for, there will be buy-in. They want to be a part of it. They’ll share it with their friends. They’ll pay attention to what you’re saying because they know it matters.
If you’re in the process of trying to revamp communications in your church, I want to encourage you. The work you’re doing is important and good. Solid communication always makes a church stronger.