The Communication Secret Your Church Needs

by Bobby Gilles

in Church Communications

Final Sojourn Community Church worship service At 930 Mary Street, "The 930 Art Center." Photo courtesy Matt Herp

From the final Sojourn worship service at 930 Mary Street

Too often, church communications is all about event promotion, whether that event is a new class, sermon series, vision campaign, retreat, seminar or outreach festival. Then when the event is over, we’re onto the next thing.

If you consistently promote events as “a huge opportunity” or “can’t miss,” but you say nothing about the event when it’s finished, then you are unintentionally communicating that the event wasn’t a big deal after all. Over time, people will be less likely to believe that future events are “can’t miss” because nothing in the past turned out to be as special as what the event promotion led them to believe.

This is why we’ve posted recaps, photo blog posts, and testimonies following Sojourn Church events like our recurring Redeem Marriage seminars, baptism services, Fall Festival, campus launches, medical clinics and other events. And it’s why we took time to look back, even in the midst of looking forward, when our Midtown Campus left its original building for a bigger one down the street.

The first building Sojourn owned was originally a school building, built in 1906. We bought it nearly 100 years later, launching services at “The 930” in 2006. In the years since then we’ve outgrown the Sunday worship space, so we bought a former Catholic cathedral named St. Vincent’s, just two blocks from The 930. We’ve spent the last year on a massive renovation project. The new St. Vincent’s looks amazing, and the seating capacity is double the capacity at The 930 (which will remain our central staff office building and our meeting place for student ministry).

We’ve spent much energy promoting the launch of services at this new building, but we knew something would be missing if we didn’t give ourselves and Sojourn members the chance to reminisce and even mourn for the time we spent at The 930. Sojourners poured their hearts into The 930 in the years since we bought it. I remember many initial volunteer work days and subsequent campus cleanup/beautification days. As our pastor Mike Cosper said, Sojourners “scrubbed, painted, cleaned, and hauled all manner of trash and rubble out of that space …”

Many Sojourners got married in The 930 (including Kristen and me). Many gave their lives to Christ there, were baptized there, dedicated their babies there, and grew in Christ there. Many of our Sojourn Music worship leaders first led worship there. Church planters preached their first sermons there, and many of their songs received their first hearing there.

So in the weeks leading up to our final service at The 930, we invited people to record their memories. Then our Art Director Michael Winters and community group leader Drew Layman put together this video, which we showed at the final service at The 930:

And now we’ve moved on. This past Sunday we held our first services at St. Vincent’s. Yes, we did promote that event heavily, and several major Louisville media outlets covered it. We also took photos, video and captured testimonies that we’ll use in the future, because “communication” isn’t just “promotion.” It’s about telling stories to each other and to the world — where we are, where we’re going, but also where we’ve been.

So the secret is to celebrate, commemorate and even mourn. Tell your stories. Slow down on hyping “the next big thing” and help us see — in the midst of our hurried, harried lives — where Christ has been at work in your midst. Own your history, and look for ways to ensure it is not forgotten.



Trent S. August 28, 2012 at 9:00 pm

great! Passed this one on to the rest of our staff… Thanks, Bobby

Bobby Gilles August 29, 2012 at 2:28 pm

You’re welcome! I’m glad it was helpful.

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