Where Your Church Should Spend More Time Communicating
In a recent article, I talked about how churches need to be, mainly, communicating less. We’re all bombarded with messages coming from every organization imaginable. A special email about the postponement of the annual flower sale feels unimportant during a pandemic. Rather than adding to that noise, the church needs to break through it. The best way to do that is to communicate with a better strategy.
Although many churches need to communicate less, there are two areas where churches need to step up their communication efforts. Maybe it’s less of an overall “communicating less,” and more of a general shift in the type of information we are communicating. Here are two questions your church (and mine, too) needs to spend more time answering.
How are we staying connected?
The people in your congregation care more about staying connected than they do about being entertained. For years, churches have been trying to avoid being just a source of entertainment. “Stay at home” orders have caused us all to think about what the church is meant to be and what it has to offer. How are you helping people stay connected to God and each other throughout this pandemic? How will that strategy shift once you start allowing people to meet in your building again? We have a long road ahead of us—keeping people connected to God and each other should be vital to how your church is thinking through its ministry.
What are we doing to provide support?
People need support right now. That may not mean they need a counseling session (though it might). It may not look like mortgage payment assistance (though it might). Support might look different than what you expected. But we all need help. One way to provide support is to provide clear and engaging opportunities to stay connected, but that cannot be the only answer. How is your church providing for emotional, spiritual, marital, mental health, material, and other needs? What does support look like for people who are stuck at home? Unemployed? In abusive situations? What about those with underlying health conditions, or who are lacking the technology to stay connected in traditional ways?
You don’t need to be the expert in everything, but you do need to have answers ready. Partner with organizations that can help provide material needs. Create a partnership with counseling centers, or mental health experts, to help provide answers to some of these questions. Start thinking about your ministries and how you can begin to offer solutions to people who need (or will need) support in various areas. Perhaps revamping your small group ministry to provide budgeting or marital-based study is what your church is going to need. Plan creatively to provide the support your congregation needs.
An overlooked group of people
There’s one overlooked group when it comes to connecting and supporting—your church staff and leadership. It’s critical for your church to be looking for ways right now to provide support for your church’s leadership and staff. They are carrying heavy burdens right now, and I see a lot of church administrators, pastors, tech directors, and other staff headed toward burnout.
While many of us are working from home, your church staff needs to find ways to connect with each other and God. That might mean more frequent meetings, even if it’s a no-agenda meeting, just to hang out and talk. That might mean making sure that everything is being over-communicated to ensure all leaders are on the same page. Remind the elders (or deacons or board) of your church to pray for and pray with their pastors and staff.
In addition, we all need to be aware of the risk of burnout. There need to be two avenues for providing support for your church leadership: immediate needs and long-term needs. What your church is doing right now should be sustainable. Even though we may desire to be in our building by the end of the month (and doing all the activities that you did pre-pandemic), that may not be possible. So think about more sustainable solutions. It’s okay to simplify what you’re doing for the sake of long-term health. And in the long-term, how are you supporting your staff? Are you going to provide more opportunities for vacation? Plan for a “sabbatical” for the whole team? What ways can you help your staff?