Yesterday Brandon Cox published a blog post on Resonate or Die titled Three Layers of a Total Church Communications Strategy. The three layers he describes are
- Communication Among the Leadership
- Communication Between the Pulpit and the Pew
- Communication From the Church to the Community
If you haven’t read the post, I encourage you to. I think you’ll agree that for a church to function well, it has to communicate well on all three “layers.” But I believe there is more to it than that.
In addition to these three layers, there are also three dimensions to each of these layers. For a church to really live out its calling, it must communicate in all three dimensions.
Most churches live in this first dimension of church communication, speaking. The vast majority of time, energy, and resources and put into communicating the vision, mission, and values from the top down.
- Communication among the leadership consists of the senior pastor communicating his vision to the church leaders in staff meetings, emails, etc.
- Communications between the pulpit and the pew consists of sermons, the Sunday program, emails and newsletters from the staff to the congregation.
- Communication from the church to the community consists of marketing, signage, evangelism and getting the church involved in the community.
These are all critically important facets of communication, but notice how in this first dimension all the information flows in one direction, from leader to followers.
The second dimension of church communications is listening. It’s providing ways for information to flow from the bottom up.
- Communication among the leadership consists of the senior pastor getting ideas and input from other leaders.
- Communication between the pulpit and the pew consists of surveys, communication cards that invite comments & feedback on services and ministries, putting email addresses in the program and on the website so people can get in touch with church leaders.
- Communication between the church and the community consists of church leaders going to people in the community and asking, “How can we help?” “Where are your greatest needs?” “What’s hindering your relationship with God?”
If you really want to know how to help people, it starts with listening.
The third dimension of a total church communications strategy is facilitating communication among other people.
- Communication among the leadership consists of leaders from different departments, discussing ideas and planning cross-ministry events without the direct oversight of the senior pastor.
- Communication between the pulpit and the pew might be conversations had between church members on the church’s blog, forums, or Facebook page. It might be a member of the congregation organizing meals for a family that has a new baby, someone in the hospital, or experienced loss.
- Communications between the church and the community consists of equipping people in the church to talk about their faith with friends, start a bible study at work, or serve outside the church in a teen pregnancy center.
This can be really scary for a lot of church leaders because when you facilitate, you lose control. What if some staff begin to focus more on their own side projects rather than the core church vision? What if some church members post some bad theology to the blog? What if a church member gets involved in the community and does something to embarrass the church? These are all real possibilities.
But God doesn’t speak solely to and through senior pastors. And churches are not called to put forth perfect ministries staffed with obedient minions walking in lock-step to the vision of the senior pastor.
God speaks to and through every follower of Christ. And for a church to be attentive to what the Holy Spirit is doing in its midst, its communication must be three dimensional – speaking, listening, and facilitating.
What could your church do to become stronger in all three dimensions of church communication?