10 Red Flags Your Church Communications May Need Help
Before a person ever steps foot in your brick and mortar church for the first time, they likely will have visited your church website to see what you’re all about. Are you communicating who you are and what they can expect in a way that’s clear and inviting so that they’ll want to learn more? Are your overall church communications helping you reach more people and engage your congregation? Or do your communications reveal some underlying problems that may need attention?
Our Fishhook team loves partnering with churches to help them communicate in strategic and compelling ways to impact more people for Christ. Throughout our team's years of collaborating with churches of all shapes, sizes, and denominations, here are 10 red flags that signal a church may need help with their communications in order to achieve their overall priorities, goals, and impact for the future.
1. No Communications Leader on Staff
If no one on the church staff—either in a part-time or full-time capacity—owns or leads communications, then the communications strategy and tools become an afterthought. Your church’s communications efforts need a champion and a team to give this important ministry area ongoing time and attention.
2. The Focus is on Deliverables (More Than Planning)
If the person (or team) who is owning or leading communications is only or primarily focused on producing the tools or tactics, then their efforts will be about filling and printing the bulletin or posting a few items on social media, maybe ahead of intentionally communicating with key audiences about the primary messaging for your church. Your communications strategy and related planning must come first. Then, creating the deliverables flow out from that planning.
Learn how to leverage your church’s most valuable asset—your building—to build community, accelerate growth, and improve stewardship in your congregation.
3. Lack of a Clear Mission or Vision
If no one or few on staff or in the congregation can say what the church's overall mission, vision, and priorities are, it may be a sign that there is confusion or missed opportunities with communications. When your mission and vision aren't clear and can't be easily repeated, then people don’t know how to be part of your calling as a church and take next steps to grow and serve.
4. Lack of Planning or Big-Picture Coordination
Does your church have a master planning calendar? If not, this can indicate that advance planning for intentional communications may not be happening. Understanding the full picture of what’s going on at your church, having priorities that tie to your mission and vision, and communicating accordingly brings clarity.
5. Lack of a Compelling Brand
If you have no church-wide/corporate branding, it may be a sign that your church isn’t telling a current or compelling story to reach people today. Your branding should reflect who you are as a church, be memorable, inviting, and intriguing to others.
6. Lack of Sharing Online
People are searching online to find answers, inspiration, and connection. If you are mostly focused on print communications or what is being communicated in person at your church—with little or no focus on your online/web/social efforts—you're missing the chance to connect on a more regular basis with your congregation and many others in the community. Consider: How often is your website updated with timely, fresh content in a month? Or, how has the life, people, and stories of your ministry been shared through your social media efforts in the past 60 days?
7. Your Senior Leader is Calling All the Shots With Communications
If the lead or senior pastor is calling all the shots with communications and graphic design, then your communications efforts will only match his or her skill, expertise, or the time he or she has to offer in this area. Instead, empower others with gifts in these areas and lean into their ideas.
8. If Communications Efforts Are All About Promotions
If your church's communications efforts are mostly promotional or about getting announcements out to people, then your communications efforts may feel like you are barking information at people. Do your messages sound like this? "Attend this event. Donate these items. Sign up here. Give more. Volunteer again." Instead, your communications should cast vision, share compelling stories, and then guide people to next steps so they can grow in their faith and inspire others.
9. Last-Minute Efforts Are the Norm
If many items in communications are coming together last minute or in a panic again and again, this is a red flag. Reactive or rushed communications work isn’t sustainable. Building a process for communications planning with your staff team weeks or even months in advance should be the aim.
10. Your Staff Are Finding Their Own Ways to Get Communications Done
Are your staff, elders, or key leaders finding other ways (on the side and outside of the suggested processes at the church) to piece communications together? They might be hiring their own freelancer, asking a friend or family member for help, or copying something they find online. This signifies that they don't want to work with the existing communications team or processes within the church. Or, that what exists isn’t sufficient to meet their needs. It’s time to find out more and make improvements.
Which of these red flags have you noticed at your church? Or, do you have other red flags you would add to this list? I'd love to hear from you and learn with you.
About Leah Norton
Leah Norton is Managing Partner at Fishhook, based out of Indianapolis, IN. Fishhook is a communications team called to work with and encourage churches and ministries to help them communicate in clear, compelling and intentional ways. Leah has been helping to lead the team at Fishhook since 2005. Leah loves the local church and it shows when she, her husband and two teenage daughters are worshiping and serving together at their own church. Leah serves in the Guest Services area at her church and especially loves welcoming first-time guests and helping them get connected.