Business and churches alike are scrambling to create an effective communication strategy in the midst of a global crisis. Many churches feel like they have been thrown into the deep end of the virtual/online pool.
It’s a lot to take in all at once.
So many questions. What to communicate, when, how, on what platforms? And then there’s a possible learning curve involved in order to teach church staff and members how to navigate those online resources. It’s stressful—we get it.
We are happy to help!
Please note, Hilldale Baptist Church is not an expert in communications. We have simply worked with and learned from several churches willing to share their expertise.
Below are strategies and tips we’ve found helpful for communicating with our church body during these difficult times. You’re more than welcome to implement (even copy) anything you find useful for your church.
1: Have a communication strategy:
This is an actual plan to get information out in a particular order. For example, our communication flow plan is as follows:
1: Email | we send an email to the church body
2: Web | a specific website page designated for the information is updated simultaneously
3: Social |within 1-2 hrs of the email being sent, social media is then updated to reflect the email & directing them to the designated website
4: Video |and then within 24hrs we work to have a video from our Pastor posted on the designated webpage & social to reflect the info and incorporate added encouragement to the church.
Let me park here for a second and emphasize the importance of email. Yes, social is awesome, but email is still king.
Email is the second most effective way to communicate—word of mouth is the first. The average open rate is around 30-35%, meaning a third of your congregation will open it and share the word. Some sneer at those percentages, but those are high in the world of communication. And effective.
Email your church body. All of them.
Don’t have a church email list? Start one today.
There are free options out there (up to so many subscribers)—MailChimp, Mailerlite are both free newsletter/email options for churches. For churches with 500 or less in your congregation, you may be able to send emails through Outlook or your email provider simply by pasting the emails in the BCC line (this respects privacy rights of members).
2: Have a central location where important updates can be found:
We suggest a webpage designed & designated only for COVID-19 updates & worship/church event schedules. For us, we’re sending our congregation to yourhbc.info/coronavirus. Note, we knew we needed this, but weren’t sure what to say or exactly how this should look. McLean Bible Church in Virginia was our model, and we are very thankful to them.
For information on virtual gatherings, online hangouts, and giving, we’re directing our people to yourhbc.info/virtualgatherings. Calvary Church in West Lafayette, Indiana was eager to share their format for online hangouts, and we are thankful for them as well. They rock at communication and are worth following.
We’ve made sure to direct our members to these specific links in all our communication — emails, social media, videos etc. It’s comforting for people and takes any guess work out of where to get updates. And, it works. In six days we’ve had over 1,600 views on the yourhbc.info/coronavirus page alone.
3: Know what you’re communicating before you communicate:
Take time to word your message. Keep it as simple and clear as possible.
If crafting an email, consider the central message. Instead of stuffing the email full of everything everyone needs to know, find the focus of your email and direct your readers to one location/website where they can find the information for themselves.
For example, if you want to let the church know church will be worship online only, direct them to the place where they will be able to access the virtual gathering.
Want more information on crafting effective emails? Check out ProChurch Tools tutorial here. We love this company and find them to be a great resource for us.
4: Know who’s in charge of implementing communication:
Where is the information coming from? Correct answer—the Pastor. Who will send out the church email? Who will update the webpage? Who will post on social media? These questions need to be answered before anyone sends or posts anything. No one wants to accidentally send out wrong messages.
In our office, we have a Media Team and the three of us have assigned roles. The Pastor decides what he wants to say, and then I work with him to craft the emails. One of our guys will work on the webpage, I then go to social, then the other guy swoops in to get the video ready. It’s a team effort.
Short on staff to help with this? Ask for help. Know of any tech savvy teens, college students, grand kids? They would love to help.
5: Ask for help. Share Ideas. Help each other learn:
One thing I love seeing during this time is how we (all the churches no matter the denomination) are helping each other. We’re sharing information, how-to’s, what works/what doesn’t etc.
I’m currently learning elements of design from Valley Creek Baptist Church in Elizabethtown, Ky. Their style, look, graphics, design, video quality—it’s on point. More than once I’ve called them for insight or permission to copy what they’re doing.
Resources: From my Toolbox to Yours
- Social Media Graphics: Until I learn to master all things Adobe Photoshop, I use Canva. I’ve also heard that Ignitermedia is incredible for media graphics.
- ProChurch Tools: For Church Communication, What to Post on Social Media for Churches, Email/Newsletter and MORE
- Book | Less Chaos. Less Noise by Kem Meyer is an amazing resource for learning how to better communicate & create a plan
- Book |Generational IQ by Hayden Shaw is an excellent tool for helping us to bridge generation gaps in our church.
- Church Communication Facebook Group: a wonderful place to learn and share info
- Churches I follow online/on social and learn from:
- Valley Creek Baptist Church in Elizabethtown, Ky.
- Calvary Church in West Lafayette, Ind.
- Sevier Heights in Knoxville, Tenn.
- Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn.
- McLean Bible Church in Vienna, Va.
- Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Ky.
- BLDG 28 Church in Clearwater, Fla.
We truly hope these strategies and tips help you and your church communicate well during these unprecedented times.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. If we don’t have the answer, we’ll work to direct you to someone who does.
God bless all of you!