Here are the final 10 of the 20 other surprising things I learned over the 20 years since starting my Be Known for Something agency for church branding and communication strategy.
Wait. You missed the first 10? They’re posted here.
- Focus is lacking in most churches. Along the way, churches started believing they need to look busy with lots going on, in order to attract. So their church communication became noisy with a ton of event and ministry promotion. Everyone using a loud voice! But communicating many things this way will be ignored because we have to decide what interests us and ignore the rest. If unchecked, churches talk too much. Less is always more. Start with a thread; then add an effective communication strategy!
- The person creating an event is the most interested in it. The further you move away from the event’s creator, the interest will wane. Unless you talk HUGE benefits of attending. But often the benefits become lost in the details (when, where, who, etc.). People show interest by their attendance. Ensure you provide events that are needed and then communicate them properly!
- Local churches are full of great content that is totally wasted. Think about all the content being generated each week at the average local church. Sunday School teachers creating outlines. Youth leaders creating discussions. Pastors sermonizing. And the list goes on and on. Good church communication strategy figures out how to repurpose content to a different audience (while bridging the relevance to the new group). Our searchable communication articles give free guidance to help you along the way.
- Church leaders say “we’ll do whatever it takes to reach younger families”. But don’t. I hear this regularly — but then see that the church doesn’t have updated children’s space or a nursery that instills confidence in the young mom. Or their older buildings smell like a poorly-run seniors home. “But it costs so much!” needs to stop being used if you want growth. Look around your community for where young families hangout to give you an idea of their expectations. Hint: they’re very high.
- Most churches think they’re friendly and, to an outsider, they’re not. I’ve done hundreds of mystery visits (acting like a random person visiting a local church). I often see “community” and friendliness all around me. But rarely do I feel invited to participate in a way that makes me feel comfortable. We need to teach members how to welcome people and start a conversation.
- Most Pastors haven’t looked at their church website lately. Neither have the congregation. The world has switched to digital communications with the website at the center. 90% of guests will have visited your website before attending. The more critical statistic? Those who checked your website and decided NOT to attend. Your website needs to be simple, interesting, and helpful to your audience. If you’re a Pastor? Look at your website REGULARLY and refer to it in sermons. You may want to start with our website assessment to open your eyes! And then have someone responsible for updating it and up to SEO standards. A website is never “done”.
- Social Media failure demonstrates how disconnected many churches are. Churches often struggle with social media followers. Why? Because they struggle with content that members and community are looking for. Our churches must start creating posts that people want and need (so they’ll like and share them). Careful: it needs to start with ministries. If they’re not relevant and needed, your posts won’t be either. Yikes! Stop talking to yourself and instead focus on “them”.
- Pastors are their church’s chief communicator but need a communicator to help. What a huge role leading a congregation in spiritual things. And weekly shaping God’s Word to be received by a group who’s given up valuable weekend time to listen. Pastor’s need to have exceptional communication skills to capture attention and to cast vision. But what I’ve often seen? When it comes to shaping and repurposing content into other forms, Pastors fail. Why? Because, for most churches, it needs to be led by someone who understands the tools, SEO, channels, and communication strategy for engagement OFF the stage. It’s so complex colleges have focused degrees towards the expertise. Pastor, stop trying to do everything. It’s time to encourage someone else with communication, design, media, and/or development gifts to LEAD your communication ministry. Empower them and give them the responsibility. Need help? We can become a virtual Comm Director for you and hold your person or team accountable.
- Most churches aren’t known for something relevant to their community. Your community is waking up needing something this morning. A good demographic study will reveal their needs, concerns, and goals. Some were kept awake with these nagging issues. To truly love them the church must speak about solutions or paths to THEIR goals in order for them to feel like you’re relevant and needed. We call that a thread. And it needs to connect with the Scarlet Thread of Jesus Christ. The Gospel! If you’re not known for something relevant first, you’ll miss the opportunity of sharing the gospel. Discover your thread! Our book walks you through our process.
- Christians have resistance in sharing religious concepts with neighbors. It’s difficult in our culture to share biblical truths. We hear that many are scared they don’t know enough theology to answer expected questions. It’s understandable. So why do you ultimately NEED a church brand thread? Because, being known for something perceived as relevant (often a secular need), helps your members describe why they attend your local church. That helps your member more easily invite neighbors to enjoy your church’s ministries. It’s much easier as a needs-based engagement rather than a dreaded spiritual discussion. A good thread says “I care” about what their friend is going through and introduces spiritual content that your church is known for. That engagement allows them to eventually discover ministries that will connect them to their real spiritual needs.
For me, it isn’t 20 years and done. In fact, I’m excited to learn so many more things in the next 20 years. Church branding and communication strategy is a very complex and ever-changing world. I also became a Pastor along the way and want to continue to grow in my theological studies. I’ll keep learning and growing to ensure the Gospel message reaches our communities. Join me. Please!