Communication isn't always simple, but we should aim for it to be. Let's be intentional about the language and tools we use when speaking to our audience.
If you've ever tried to do your own taxes, you understand the barriers that complicated communication can present to anyone.
The language and tools involved can leave the audience feeling confused and rather hopeless.
Let's make sure how we communicate as the Church feels like the opposite of that.
That’s why we need to keep things simple. If we as The Church strive to reach anyone and everyone, why would we overcomplicate our message and create exclusivity in a place that should be the furthest from it?
Let’s look at a few ways we can keep things simple in church communications:
Using Common Language
Using words and phrases that everyone can understand is critical to communication. If you were sending a message to a group of pastors with a degree in Divinity, you could probably use much heaver “insider language” than if you were trying to communicate with those in your community, many of which have never been to a church or studied the dictionary of Christian language.
As communicators, we need to appeal to the most basic level of human understanding. In the fast paced, over stimulated world we live in, people rarely devote their time to things that come across as overly complex or exclusive.
At Fishhook, we compare the use of language to wayfinding signage in an airport. Imagine if every airport you flew into had a different phrase for “baggage claim.” If you arrived at your next destination and that airport referred to it as “the rotating rotunda of personal cargo” you might be confused by the difference and complexity of this idea.
So when you’re communicating, think of the person in your life least interested (at this moment) in attending church. What would you say that they would understand and could leave a message that resonates? Say that instead.
Leverage Technology with Audience in Mind
Depending on your church and its leaders, the level of technology you use each week could vary a ton. With each passing year, there seem to be new tools to aid us in our communication, as well as a few more options that have withstood decades of testing.
So, which of these is your audience most comfortable with—more traditional or state of the art? I’m sure you know, and it’s important to lean into the methods that best resonate with the audience you’re trying to reach.
If your student ministry wants to start using QR codes and TikTok, by all means, help them pull it off. However, these ideas might not translate quite as smoothly to your senior ministry, who might prefer a printed newsletter and a physical Bible.
There’s been a stereotype that the church is usually 10 years behind with technology and its uses in communication. And while that’s not where we want to be, being on the front lines of technological innovation might not be the best either.
I’m asking you to find balance. I know that’s hard, but you know the people you want to reach, so use whatever tools needed to reach that group best.
Ask Good Questions
As a communications leader, it’s important for you to be a champion of accessible language and tools for your church.
Don’t shutdown creativity and trying new things, but do be thinking about how ideas will translate to the language and tools that the un-churched person or slightly less tech savvy person might interact with. Seek the balance between these things that can inspire but can also be easily understood.
Asking questions can help you and ministry leaders find the sweet spot between all of these things.
We Want to Hear From You
What communication challenges are you facing? Have you tried a new tool that the audience loved or didn't receive as well? Any big wins lately?
Let us know so we can provide better resources that benefit you and The Church.