What’s the best way to ensure people show up?
Well, first and foremost, they have to know what’s going on.
Of course that’s the answer. But you and I both know that in this information age, when people spend more time scrolling screens rather than reading what’s written, getting your words out and getting your words heard are two totally different endeavors.
My guess is this isn’t news to you. In every age human beings have lived, the question of, “How do we help people know what’s going on?” gets asked. But maybe it’s time we edit the question. Maybe, we need to start asking, “How do we help people know what’s going on… so that they’ll show up?”
Three Ideas to Get Started
- Ask people their preference.
Often, we as ministry leaders default to communication mediums we think people use rather than asking them what they actually use. By mixing up this key starting point, we may overcomplicate what should be a simple thing. We get to be the askers and our stakeholders – those with a vested interest in our ministry – they get to provide the answers. Why? Because they know what forms of communication work best for them. And when they share with us what’s best, we can start building a plan.
- Put those preferences into a plan.
A communication plan is essential to sustaining a ministry and helping ensure people know what’s going on. Crucial to a strong plan is its adaptability. That’s why it’s good to revisit your plans, from time to time, and build into your annual rhythm a mass ask, where everyone updates or confirms their preferred form of communication.
- Don’t put everything everywhere
Studies are showing that the average attention span for most adults is under 10 seconds. So before you go about writing another long weekly email or detail-filled caption for your social media posts, consider focusing on just the most important information. You don’t have to communicate every detail in every medium for everybody. And people don’t want to have to search high and low for the information they need. If you ask, they will tell you the best ways to get them important information. And, then? Share only what’s most important and make it easy for them to follow-up with further questions.
So, What’s a Communication Plan?
I’m glad you asked! Basically, it lists four things – stakeholder groups, forms of communication, types of information each group needs, and how often they will receive that information. And, here’s a helpful trick learned from experience: don’t just communicate the information, communicate the communication plan with everyone related to the ministry. Share how you’re going to communicate! This way, you won’t have to put everything everywhere, but everyone will know where to look to find everything they need.
A simple youth ministry plan might look something like this:
|Updates, Schedule, Resources
|Take-Home Flyer / Letter
|Event dates (4-months at a time)
|3x / year
|3-4x / week
Communication Isn’t Separate from the Mission
Besides Jesus, information is one of the best things you can share with people! Think about it:
To be “in the know” is to be included. And to be included goes a long way toward helping a young person feel loved.
To be “in the know” is to be informed. And to be informed goes a long way toward helping a volunteer leader feel valued.
To be “in the know” is to be encouraged. And to be encouraged goes a long way toward helping a parent feel enthusiastic about driving to the church one more time, because their kid just might find Jesus that night.
Let’s go back to our starting question: “How do we help people know what’s going on… so that they’ll show up?”
I can’t promise that people will be more present because you have a plan in place. But what I have experienced is that if you ask, people will tell what you need to know to communicate effectively.
And if you want to explore more about what this looks like in your unique setting or see other examples of communication plans, connect with a ministry coach today. We’d love to spend some time helping you get your words heard in your ministry.