A Holistic View of Church Communications

A Holistic View of Church Communications
by Anthony Coppedge

As a church media consultant, I have the privilege of meeting with churches of nearly every size and quite a few denominations. There’s a lot of great ministry happening, to be sure, but I’ve observed that the very best churches have what I call a holistic approach for implementing media and communications into the fabric of their ministries.

Holistic – adj. emphasizing the organic or functional relation between parts and the whole.

These holistically-focused churches will standardize on computers, software, Wi-Fi, video tape formats and even wireless microphones. They standardize on hardware and software because they want to have consistency in performance amongst the various ministries.
Churches with a holistic approach also standardize in how they communicate–both externally and internally–between and amongst their various ministries, to ensure that a consistent brand and message is promoted to their members and community.
The solution for a holistic approach is relatively simple: include in the creative planning meetings all those who know what it takes to produce the communications (print, Web, video or broadcast).

Consistent branding of the church is paramount to branding a particular ministry. Each ministry can have a definitive “flavor,” but it must still fit into the larger context of the church.

For quite a few churches, organizing this job requires a staff position, while for others it can be a volunteer leader or even an outsourced firm. By thinking holistically and creatively from the conception of a new communications idea, you’ll find out what’s possible, what’s probable and what’s impractical. And, you’ll be able to do it before people become emotionally attached to a decision that, unbeknownst to them, has little chance of success.
So here’s a filter for you to use when developing a holistic approach at your church: ask yourself if the communications content from each ministry accurately reflects and enhances the overall mission and vision of the church instead of simply promoting another ministry silo.

Avoiding ministry silos

It’s hard for a church to be outreach oriented when the ministries are isolated and inwardly-focused. I, too, have served on church staffs where, even with the best of intentions, individual ministries have gravitated towards creating what I call a ministry silo.
On a micro level, these ministry silos can look successful–church member involvement, plenty of time dedicated to expanding the ministry and even lots of promotional marketing from within the ministry. So what’s the problem? The danger of a ministry silo lies within the self-serving interests unfiltered by the vision of the church.

You can spot ministry silos because they have the tendency to lack the big-picture perspective and integration into the entirety of their church. When the church leadership allows each ministry to create its own marketing, communication and brand, the potential to confuse your community, visitors and members with disassociated or even contradictory information is very real. It’s imperative for the church to have a unified, singularly-branded message and not look fragmented.
Don’t confuse branding with marketing. Sure, the youth ministry will have an edgier look to its communications than the senior adult ministry, as you want to market them differently. But they both need to share the same brand: your church. If they are promoted as stand-alone entities, you’ve got a ministry silo on your hands.

Make sure your ministry leaders understand that you as church leadership want them to have strong identities; they simply need to communicate that they are part of the overall brand. Each ministry should be part of what gives your church its unique DNA. This should come across in how they are promoted and perceived through your outreach methods. All the parts should be pieces of the whole.

Reprinted with permission from the Church Media Hotlist Newsletter.

Anthony Coppedge provides consulting to churches for developing and growing a Media Ministry, building teams, casting vision and even choosing the right equipment. He lives in Bedford, Texas, with his wife and two daughters and can be reached at anthony@anthonycoppedge.com.