Church Communication — Keep it Clear and Simple

Marketing and communication play an important role in any pastoral team’s ability to connect with congregants, as well as the church’s overall ability to connect with the community. 

Obviously, good organizational communication cannot replace pastoral care, and slick church marketing can’t overcome a dearth of personal evangelism and invitation. But church marketing and communication is at its best when it provides informative and inspirational material that draws people, both within the church and outside it, to the vision that God has given your congregation.

The work church marketers do is important. It also comes with a unique set of challenges to overcome. 

Here are seven tips for your church marketing and communication plan.

1. Clear Is Better Than Clever

When it comes to communicating an idea in a way that encourages next steps, clear is always better than clever. To be sure, your marketing and communication materials should express some measure of creativity. But that creativity must never come at the expense of clarity.

So when it comes to communicating events and initiatives, don’t try to force alliteration, rhyming, or puns. Be clear and straightforward with what is happening at your church such that no further explanation is needed. 

This goes for how you name events, programs, and even the physical spaces on your campus.

For a time, it was a widespread trend in churches to be more creative in their naming conventions so as to do away with tired or stuffy language. Youth groups were renamed things like “Catalyst” and “Encounter.” Perhaps the Fellowship Hall at your campus got renamed to “The Commons.”

In the interest of full disclosure, I have been a part of some of these types of rebrands—enthusiastically so. And some of them were good. But the danger of overdoing it is ever present, particularly when you take something that was relatively transparent in meaning, such as “youth group” and rebrand it to something less transparent—I renamed my former church’s youth group “The Ascent.”

“What is The Ascent?” someone might ask.

“It’s our youth group for junior high and high school students.”

“Why didn’t you just call it that?”

A good rule of thumb is that if a naming convention or event description requires followup explanation, it’s not a winner—regardless of how cool it sounds.

2. Over-Communication Is Underrated

Having done a fair amount of church marketing and communication, the inability of otherwise intelligent and capable congregants to absorb basic information when it is repeatedly given directly to them has never ceased to amaze me.

That is, until I feel out of the loop on the goings on of my church, despite multiple efforts to communicate them to me. 

In short, over-communication is underrated. 

Your church’s marketing and communication plans should be as robust and omnichannel as possible. Don’t just send one email; send multiple emails. Don’t just make one announcement; make multiple announcements, both in physical and digital spaces. 

Even still, some of your favorite church folks will accuse you of needing to communicate better. Take that instruction to heart, but also realize that sometimes no amount of good marketing and communication can make a particular announcement stick. So just be diligent and do your best.

3. Social Media Isn’t a Digital Bulletin Board for Events

One of the major mistakes churches make as it relates to their social media presence is that they essentially use their online platforms as a bulletin board for whatever events are coming up. 

Every post is just an announcement image with the event name and information, along with the somewhat ominous phrase, “You don’t want to miss it!” Veiled threat as marketing copy aside, one other thing these posts typically have in common is this: almost no one engages with them.

And that’s because, despite how often they encounter ads on these platforms, people don’t come to social media to be marketed to. They come to social media to be social. 

Only accounts that offer socially engaging content will appear in the newsfeed of the people who follow them. Thus, the bulk of the time spent on your church’s social media plan should be used to create that type of content.

It is only then that you have the credibility to sparingly include posts that advertise church events and initiatives. Strive to keep those posts to only about 20% of your church’s posts—what church communications expert Brady Shearer calls the “1-In-5 Rule.”

4. Don’t Sleep on Google Ads and Boosted Social Media Content

Since church marketing and communication is meant not only to inform those within your congregation about the church’s goings on but also to raise awareness of the church in the community at large, your church would do well to invest in social media advertising or Google ads—or both. 

In fact, Google actually offers grants to nonprofits, including churches, worth up to $10,000 to raise awareness of purpose-driven causes and organizations.

Social media ads are also an effective way to create awareness. Be sure that these ads include high quality videos that give an accurate representation of what your church is actually like. This will make them more authentic, as well as more effective.

5. The More Stage Announcements You Have, the Less People Listen

For many ministry leaders, they perceive Sunday morning stage announcements to be the end-all-be-all of event promotion—the one thing that will solve for their low signups and infuse church wide enthusiasm into their cause.

But the fact of the matter is that it almost never works out that way. And the more announcements you have during a worship service, the less likely that any of them will be effective at burrowing themselves into the brains of your congregants.

I sleep with a sound machine at night to help me fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. But a lengthy announcement time that includes every little thing happening at the church will work just as well. 

To more effectively utilize your church’s Sunday announcement time, keep the number of announcements to a minimum. One announcement per week is ideal, and the absolute maximum is three.

Further, nothing should be announced in service that doesn’t apply to the supermajority of people sitting in the service. Consistently presenting information that is irrelevant to those hearing it actually trains your people not to listen. 

Each announcement should be story driven, demonstrate impact, and inspire those sitting in the congregation to take their next step.

6. Your Website Is Where You Make Your First Impression

Research tells us that a person emotionally decides whether they will make a return visit to a church within 15 minutes of exiting their car. As such, churches rightfully expend a great deal of effort ensuring that they create a welcoming environment from street to seat. But equally important is working on ensuring the steps that a person took before even entering the parking lot were just as welcoming. 

Your church’s website is vital for your effectiveness in reaching new people.

When a person comes to your website, they should be able to easily find important information, such as your church’s location and service times. They should also get a glimpse into what life at your church is like. Your website should feature lots of videos and pictures of your people, your buildings, and the types of things your church does. 

Your vision and beliefs should be front and center on your website, inspiring people and making them feel as though they will be welcomed onto your campus. 

7. Tie Everything Back to Your Vision

As marketing expert Donald Miller has said, good marketing is simply an exercise in memorization. 

While the mission of the Church is universal—to love God, love others, and make disciples—your church has a unique vision and DNA for accomplishing that mission in your particular context. Every part of your marketing and communication plan should reinforce that particular vision. 

Ideally, the way that your church selects which ministries it will offer, what events it will hold, and which initiatives it will engage in would be through the grid of your church’s vision. The work of good marketing is to make the connection between any one event or initiative and the broader vision of the church as clear and compelling as possible. 

The Work of Church Marketers Is Important

Church marketing and communication isn’t all about creative assets and KPIs—even if it isn’t less than that. The work you are doing is eternally important. 

As you strive to introduce people to your church and the ministry opportunities it offers, you are introducing them to an opportunity to encounter God himself.

This article originally appeared here and is used by permission. 

Dale Chamberlain
Dale Chamberlain

Dale Chamberlain is content manager for With experience in pastoral ministry as well as the corporate marketing world, he is also an author and podcaster who is passionate about helping people tackle ancient truths in everyday settings.