Tiny church administration: the communications plan

I’ve gotten some kind feedback about this emerging series, and not even from someone in a tiny church! That feedback leads me to the next two or three installments, continuing the theme of communications.

The question was about having a good email newsletter. But that assumes a communications plan. Does your church have a strong culture of using email? What is the tolerance for email in the community? Is it an effort to save money, labor or both? What about people who don’t have or only grudgingly use email?

An email newsletter is a publication in its own right, and because few churches are going to jettison any of their existing publications to accommodate it, it makes sense to think of a communications plan first.

Most, perhaps all, churches have an implicit plan. The newsletter has to get out and Members X and Y don’t like to be bothered and so forth. An explicit plan gives an opportunity to make changes and improvements. I would review those actions already commonly done, write them down and get sign-off by the stake-holders who will implement them.

I could imagine this non-exhaustive plan coming out of a small church:

  • This church shares information about itself through its newsletter, website, directory, development and pastoral letters and occasional press releases and telephone calls.
  • N.N. is the point-person for communications, including additions to the website, submissions to the newsletters and contact with outside entities.
  • Any member or known donor may request mailed newsletters. Visitors and inquirers may request newsletters for four months. There is no fee for the newsletter.
  • The deadline for the print monthly newsletter is the third Wednesday of the month. The newsletter is mailed the fourth Wednesday of the month. The communications contact prefers submissions mailed in plain text to editor@mychurch.org
  • The email newsletter is a paper-free alternative to the print newsletter. Additional email editions may be issued, for good cause, in times of church closure, pastoral emergencies and extreme or disastrous circumstances. The email newsletter list is opt-in only.
  • Church directories are limited in circulation to those listed within it.
  • Children under thirteen years of age are not named in full in church publications shared with the general public. Contact information for persons under eighteen years of age is not given; substitute contact information to a responsible adult party or refer readers to the directory.
  • This church is non-partisan and supports no candidates for political office, including in its publications.

Readers: other suggestions to this plan?

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

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