Three Dimensions of a Total Church Communications Strategy

3 dimensions church communicationYesterday 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

  1. Communication Among the Leadership
  2. Communication Between the Pulpit and the Pew
  3. 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.

1) Speaking

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.

2) Listening

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.

3) Facilitating

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?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

8 Responses to “Three Dimensions of a Total Church Communications Strategy”

  1. I have begun a small home mission work in my city. There are communication problems at present. Mostly consisting of Vision. Most want to get the cart before the horse. It is hard for a man of God to speak to truly important subjects like money and relationships. It can feel personal at our level. It is necessary though. I pray for wisdom as to how to proceed. I feel that Satan has this last day church bound because of money issues, and issues that establish Gods family order in our life's.

    • PaulSteinbrueck Jan 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm

      May I ask what your vision is? And then specifically how people are putting the cart before the horse?

  2. love this!

  3. Wow! This is awesome!
    I am in a class right now at The Art Institute of Pittsburg (online Division) where I am acquiring an Asscosiates degree in Web Design/Interactive Media. The Class is speech, but as we were fore warned this class is not what one may think.
    It involves Listening strategies, the importance of being an active listener to be more exact.

    Being first and foremost a church leader, I can truly see how important it is to work in the vineyard and to be effective we must facilitate, listen and speak. Some leaders do all the speaking, all the facilitating. I mean for instance the word of "God" says to abide(work/serve) in your calling, and I see to truly abide in your calling, you will welcome and allow others to abide(work).In other words facilitate man! Facilitate Woman! Facilitate boy! Facilitate Girl!
    Liken unto what Proverbs say 's; "Wisdom is the principle thing, therefore get wisdom, but out of all your getting, get an understanding! Therefore Facilitating is a principle thing! Facilitate, Speak, but out of all your facilitating and speaking, LISTEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • PaulSteinbrueck Jan 20, 2011 at 9:32 am

      Thanks Elissa! I'm glad to hear this post resonated with you. And I love your enthusiasm!!!!! :)

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