The Top Reason For Ineffective Church Communication

by Bobby Gilles

in Church Communications

Sojourn Church Pulpit Communications Team: Michael Winters, Amanda Edmondson, Daniel Montgomery, Bobby Gilles, Chris Bennett

Sojourn Communications team, L. to R: Michael Winters, Amanda Edmondson, Daniel Montgomery, Bobby Gilles, Chris Bennett

It isn’t cheesy road signs. It isn’t an out-of-date website. It isn’t clip art. Believe it or not, there is one thing even worse, and perhaps just as prevalent or even more so in churches around the world. The number one reason that church communication is ineffective is …

When the communication ministry is disconnected from the vision of your Lead Pastor.

This may seem obvious, but as Director of Communications at Sojourn Community Church, I’ve talked with many counterparts at other churches who say things like:

  • I’m pretty sure my senior pastor has no idea what I do on staff.
  • I haven’t been in a meeting with our pastor since the staff retreat last year.
  • Our Lead Pastor runs his own communications through his secretary, and I communicate for our other ministries.

and many more comments like this.

At Sojourn, it was never quite this bad but we did have to make an adjustment over a year ago. As we’ve grown rapidly from a single-campus church of a few hundred to a four-campus church of over 3000, communication has gotten much more complicated. More campuses, more ministries, more staff, more elders and deacons, more outreach. This is all good, but the tendency is to move in so many different directions that the overall vision and mission of a church gets lost.

Until the beginning of 2010, Sojourn communications was a ministry of “central operations.” I had little interaction with our founder and Lead Pastor Daniel Montgomery. What ended up happening is that Pastor Daniel would preach on Sundays and would try to communicate vision and big picture things during the week, only to see the vision drowned in lots of major promotional pushes for ministry events — including even small classes.

The Solution Was Simple

I joined Pastor Daniel’s team. I now report directly to him. Instead of going to the weekly central opps meeting, I began going to the weekly pulpit team meeting. The idea has always been that Pastor Daniel directs the vision of Sojourn, but now Pastor Daniel practically directs that vision. He sets the communication priorities, and I carry them out. He barges in my office all the time, or calls out to me from his office, and we talk. This is a good thing. In some churches, the Senior Pastor wouldn’t even be able to find the office of his Communications Director.

Remember pastor, your communications person wants to do a good job, to be busy. This person will make himself busy communicating something — don’t make him guess what that something should be by sorting through emails, calls and visits from staff, key volunteers and members. Set the vision, and stay on top of it.

And What If Your Church Isn’t Big Enough To Have Communications Staff?

Church Planter: right now you are the Director of Communications at your young plant. You may (and should) outsource things to volunteers such as web maintenance, graphic design, printing, social media and signage, but you need to be on top of all of it. Your volunteers may mean well but if you aren’t directing them, one day you’re going to walk out of the grocery store to your car and find a brochure under the windshield wiper. You’re going to pull it out, and discover it’s a brochure for your church. With a logo you think is ugly. And a tagline you’ve never heard of.

Small/Mid-sized Church Pastor: You can still probably get by without hiring a Communications Director — at least not a full time one. Maybe communications duties will involve your administrative assistant, the Group Life director, your wife and a few trusted volunteers. But one of them needs to be the coordinator, and that person needs to have direct and regular access to you.



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