Churches have the greatest story ever told, but we don't always know how to tell it. If we can't communicate, how can we fulfill the great commission?
What follows is some good advice from United Methodist Communications website (www.umcom.org) about taking a serious, hard look at our communications assumptions, strengths and blind spots. If your church is considering conducting a communications audit, please contact Gretchen Hastings, Florida Conference Director of Connectional Relations (firstname.lastname@example.org), for help or for sharing your ideas on how you are already doing an audit.
A Church Communications Audit
Could your church communicate more effectively? Are you getting the most value for your communications dollars?
No matter how well we think we’re communicating, we may be able to do even better. How do we find out? We evaluate and we ask questions, evaluate again, and make changes as needed. That’s the basis of a local church communications audit.
A communications audit can help answer such questions as:
Are current communications efforts meeting the real wants and needs of our audiences?
Are there communications gaps we need to bridge?
Do we have communication barriers we can’t see?
Are our communications being received, understood, and acted upon by the audiences we intend to reach in ways we intend for them to respond?
What are our strengths?
What are our challenges?
What can we do differently?
How do people say they would respond if we were going to try [WHATEVER YOU’RE THINKING OF DOING]
What would make an effective mission of our communications ministry?
Generally, a church communications audit looks at the overall communications practices to see how everything fits together to meet the needs of the congregation, visitors, and so forth as well as addresses specific communications vehicles, such as the newsletter, website and so forth.
Key elements in a communications audit include:
Having a stated purpose and specific outcomes for the audit
Good questions that get to the goals of the audit
Holding listening sessions to get “qualitative” information
Online and printed surveys to get “quantitative” information
An individual or group that can evaluate the information and provide recommendations.
A survey of the effectiveness of communications within the community can be more difficult – but the basic approach can be the same if you can pull together focus groups within the community. You will probably be considering the image the church has in the community; how well the community responds to or engages in things going on with ministry and so forth.
Key advice: Consider forming a taskforce for the audit. Keep the audit manageable so you can get information in a timely manner and respond to the needs as appropriate.
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