I like indoor plants. They supposedly clean the air with big health benefits but I really just like the way they look. In a room of hard edges, plants soften the look of a room. I monitor their growth, prune, water and fertilize them as I need to. Occasionally as I’m tending to them, I notice various oddities: yellow leaves, a spider web, or wilting branches. All are warning signs.
If I don’t discover what’s causing these symptoms and fix them, I risk losing the whole plant.
As you tend to your church, do you notice things that seem wrong? Perhaps you’ve even heard people talking about things they don’t like but no one connects the symptoms to the underlying causes. If you continue to ignore the issues, you risk losing the organization.
Here are 2 symptoms we often see that indicate critical church communication issues:
- Ministry silos. Do individual ministries have protective walls around them? Do they clearly understand the benefit they bring to the church as a whole, and vice versa? Do ministries interact and help each other? Or do they have their own “look”, messaging, and workers. Often these silos start competing with other silos for budgets and attention. They don’t like the “church’s direction” so they repel from it. Soon the infighting and oneupmanship starts to spread like cancer. And it’ll kill your ministry. It may take several years, but it will happen.
Solution? Deal with them. Bring the silo leaders into a room and together, develop a church-wide strategy and vision. Get their buy-in or consider changing leadership. Then discuss how to nourish the entire organization and develop a communication strategy that attaches ministry messaging to an overall church brand. The church needs to be known for something — and each ministry needs to be connected to that “thing”.
- The Community wouldn’t miss you if the church vanished. Members may understand what you have to offer but the community probably doesn’t. You may have a communication strategy to attract members from other churches. But unless you’re truly missional and attractive to a larger non-church community; you’re not doing as the Bible says, and you’ll start plateauing in size. The church world is shrinking while communities are growing. We need to reach the community better. Sadly, 4000+ churches die each year and their communities don’t even notice.
Solution? Determine how to get on your community’s radar (in a good way). Determine needs, concerns, and pains that your community is facing. And start effectively communicating how you can help solve their issues. You do have a solution, right?
This post originally appeared in the Weekly Update for the National Association of Church Business Administration (NACBA). Mark MacDonald is a regular writer for this and other national publications about church communications.