Effective Church Communications Begins in ‘Jerusalem’

acts-1_8When Jesus gave his disciples the Acts 1:8 evangelism mandate regarding being his witnesses “in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth,” he laid out a plan to saturate the globe with the gospel. Learn and model your faith first in your “Jerusalem,” he taught – even as Jesus himself did in Galilee – and then launch out further, incrementally.

Each of the Acts 1:8 geographic locations has a marketing and public relations strategy parallel for every stakeholder group related to your church, whether members, staff or the community at large. As you create a communications strategy for your church, you can be effective in each zone. But it starts in your “Jerusalem.” You need to own it and never let it go.

In your church’s “Jerusalem,” first establish solid communications channels with your members. Examine the ways you can reach them – pulpit, personal conversations, programs, events, church newsletters, web, Facebook and other social media channels – to ensure you are secure in your relationship with those already closest to you.

“Judea” represents a broader communications spectrum. As your church grows, the spheres of influence you will want to affect will be communicated with other Christians with a similar ethos and the larger Christian community around you. This “Judea” approach – through community outreach events, regional conferences, local ecumenical groups and interfaith activities – might be the best way to reach potential supporters among the larger, but still related populace.

“Samaria” represents the general public, with an eye on the unchurched. Reaching that audience requires a push beyond personal conversations and often requires a media outreach that includes more than notices about church activities. It requires an active engagement with a media mindset that will look for bright strategies for church outreach and activities, a mindset that is less emphasis on belief and more on active demonstration of those beliefs.

Numerous channels exist to reach the unchurched, including print and broadcast media, social media and word-of-mouth. Having a solid “Jerusalem” foundation can serve you well when you are in the public spotlight.  And that spotlight could be negative at some point in a crisis communications situation, so be sure you’re prepared for a variety of crisis scenarios ahead of time.

It is even possible that a church activity may push your church into national or international media, carrying your message to the “ends of the earth.” That seldom happens, but the international refugee crisis recently launched several ministries we work with into the world of international media.

Though rare and unpredictable, your organization periodically may also have a “Macedonian call” opportunity or issue that presents itself out of the blue, stretching your communications strategy. Be sure and heed those calls, as they can be divine appointments.

If you have questions or insights about this topic or other faith-based communications issues, please complete the “Contact” form located on our web site or set up a free, no-obligation strategy session with us. We’d love to hear from you.

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Palmer Holt, founder and CEO, is an award-winning communications professional with more than 25 years’ experience in journalism, corporate and agency public relations, marketing and advertising.

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