Most churches understand the significance of communications and the importance of planning. However, far too few churches actually take the time to create and implement even a basic communications plan.
“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” This adage holds true because those churches without strategic communication are often the same churches that fail to reach a wider audience. They struggle to grow and wonder why their message falls flat. But the obvious reason is the lack of a clear communications plan.
Communication is Crucial For Outreach
A communications plan helps your church achieve its mission—which, as Jesus put it, is to make disciples of all nations. Assuming your ministry is committed to growing and reaching more people for Christ, effective and organized communications is critical.
Average consumers are bombarded daily with messages from advertisers, entertainers, the media and corporations. These societal pillars most definitely have a communications plan, along with a wealth of resources at their disposal to broadcast their message.
How can the Church hope to compete with these distractions without clarity of purpose? If your church can’t take the time to understand its communications, why should other people? The best way to elevate your message of hope above all the noise is through careful strategy.
Maximize Your Resources
Even at large churches, resources are limited. This means limited time, limited personnel and limited money. Resources are often the greatest restriction on reaching goals. Without a clear plan to allocate resources toward their greatest impact, they will be wasted with scant progress.
By establishing a unified plan, your church can create consistency of work and build momentum. Planning always works better than constantly scrambling to decide what to do next. It sets the scope of your work, so you avoid becoming overburdened or underperforming.
Ideally, it means that time and money aren’t misused on projects that get abandoned. Staff and volunteers aren’t duplicating work. And precious time isn’t squandered in efforts that don’t align with the larger goals of your church.
Maximize your church’s limited resources by planning how to use them efficiently ahead of time.
Keeps You Focused on Your Goals
The clearer the plan, the more likely (and quickly) that you’ll reach your goals. This is because a well-organized plan is built with the end goal in mind. Thinking long-term keeps your team working in unison toward one purpose.
At its core, a good communications plan is a track that guides everyone in the appropriate direction. It ensures that someone is responsible for every task and that everyone is being held accountable for performing that task.
A key component of this strategy is building in checkpoints within your communications efforts. This provides time to reflect on your progress, ensure that everything is being done correctly and allows for adjustments if needed.
If you don’t stick to your plan, it isn’t worth creating in the first place.
Less Missed Opportunities
Two of the biggest missteps that occur without a communications plan in place are:
Not knowing how to handle spontaneous opportunities when they arise; or
Not recognizing these opportunities in the first place.
Any communications plan worth its salt is built on set patterns and rhythms, but it should also allow for some variation and improvisation. Think ahead to some of these unplanned opportunities when building the plan and allow for space to accommodate.
Having a plan should allow for enough leeway in your resources to accept the right opportunities. How do you know which opportunities are the right fit? Your communications plan can help with this, too. The right opportunity is anything that helps you get closer to your overall goal.
It’s Not As Difficult As You Think
There will always be excuses why you can’t create a strategic communications plan—there isn’t enough time; you don’t know how; it won’t work anyway. And it no doubt takes time and thought to create and stick to a communications plan.
However, it’s worth the effort—especially since strategic planning and development has become easier than ever. There are a number of resources and guides available for developing a basic strategy that will get your church started in the right direction:
Don’t think you need to get it perfect the first time. Just start with something small and build on it. You’ll be amazed at the difference some simple planning can make.