A decade ago 'church growth'was the in thing in many ministry circles. Professionalism, consistency and standardisation of what the church offered was one of the highest organisational values, especially when it came to the church communications.
In communications, broadcast quality and high production values ruled supreme. We were driven by excellence (Perhaps when we should have been driven by effectiveness). Communications was very much a one way street.
Today, culture is changing and church needs to keep in step with it. How people positively or negatively receive your message is changing at an exponential rate. Imperfect communication is now the new perfect communication. Churches cannot afford to communicate how they've always done it.
Here are 3 compelling reasons why churchporate communications fail:
1) If your communication is too corporate, your message becomes part of the noise.The age of corporate church is over, at least in Australia. People equate corporate with commercial or business, not spiritual. Your church needs to feel authentic, transparent in it's conversation, not a faceless churchporate* broadcast be-moth.
2) Poor quality corporate style communications will wound your message. Badly designed bulletins, websites, flyer's or even church signs (like the picture above) will definitely wound your message. You'll just come across as a wannabee churchporate.
3) Slick over-professionalisation of your communication will kill your message(When your message feels too slick). In Australia I've seen churches produce very high quality magazines that look fantastic but the first question that is often asked is 'how much did they spend on this?' If that is the first response then you've lost your audience and have probably stepped into slicksville.
As you can see, there is a very fine line to getting the balance right. I'm not claiming to have all the answers here, but I do have a few tips that I'd like to share on how I'm recovering from churchporate communications:
1) Find out what communication channels people use to communicate to each other.What communication style and channels feels natural and normal to them. Leverage off that and adopt that channel to talk to them on their terms. We are experimenting with texting for example. Not new, but effective. We are also using Facebook. Check out this previous post about what I wish I knew about Facebook before I started in social media.
2) Communications is a two way conversation channel, not one way broadcast channel. Social media is changing the way we communicate at a rapid rate. Be prepared to engage, rather than broadcast. Here are some brilliant best practices for engagement from the best of the best (It is also easy create havoc if you aren't careful especially in social media if you don't do your research).
3) Keep your communications simple.You don't need to go overboard, in the level of production. As I said earlier imperfect is the new perfect. Also, if you use humour, make sure it really is funny (Like this one which we recently used for Fathers Day). If you are using American content in your videos make sure it translates into Australian culture (yes there is a big cultural gap).
What insights have you seen in how people receive information? Have you seen any examples of churchporate communications? Get commenting below.
*Apologies to all grammar freaks out there for my assault on the word corporate and church. Photo credit: Loren Sztajer