Communicating Your Promise

As communicators, I think we often forget to tell people why we are asking them to do something. We get focused on asking people to volunteer, sign up for weekly emails or follow us on Facebook, but we’re not always so good at letting them know why they should do it.

A call to action is important, but it can’t live out there on its own. We have to let people know what they can expect for taking that action. If they commit to something, what’s our realistic promise of what they will get in return? After all, a healthy relationship takes two sides working together.

Here are a few reasons I think promise matters:

  • Promise communicates value. Making a promise means you’ll have to be more specific about what you’re giving. And if people realize there’s something meaningful or tangible by participating they will perceive the value of it. Conversely, if you’re vague or don’t promise what people will get out of participating in something, there’s less value or buy-in.
  • Promise keeps you accountable. If you publically say you’re going to do something, you’re more likely to stick with it. Once people have expectations of what you’re going to provide you’ll feel more responsible for holding up your end of the relationship.
  • Promise sets realistic expectations. At least that’s the hope. There’s nothing worse than over promising and under delivering. That said, making a promise is a great time to set expectations for how each side of the relationship will benefit from working together. It also lets people on the other side of the partnership better understand what they’re getting and why that’s important.

As you start thinking more about why promise is an important part of the communications process, here are some areas where you can try to put it into practice:

  • Brand promise. This is one of the biggest areas where communicating promise matters. If someone is a part of your church, what are they getting? As an organization what are you offering people? It’s important to keep this realistic. For example, we can’t guarantee everyone will have his or her life changed by coming to our church, but we can promise to create an atmosphere where it could happen.
  • Worship experience promise. Sundays (and Saturday nights) are often the most active and visible time for churches. As you think about how you create a weekly worship experience, what is it you hope people leave with? How can you equip them? Can you promise a consistent experience week to week?
  • Sign-up promise. Being an effective church means you’re regularly asking people to volunteer or serve in some way. It’s important to think about how you’re communicating the benefits that will come to that individual by being a part of that activity. How will they be able to serve? Will you train them? Will you listen to their feedback? How will you equip them so they, along with the people they serve, see God?
  • Community promise. Your church is part of a neighborhood. How are you being a good member of your community? What are you promising to do to help make your city a better place to be?

Be specific with your promises. Generic wording gives you too much wiggle room to think you’ve followed through when you really haven’t. I understand that communicating promise can sound a little lofty, seem a bit abstract or feel like a waste of time. But I really believe the more intentional you are about communicating, the stronger your church family will be.

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