Church communication: Tear down the silos!
In many organizations, some people complain about the silos and the lack of communication among various departments and teams. The church is not an exception to this.
Often, the youth ministry team will plan an event with little attention to what the worship team or trustees are doing. Sometimes one group plans an event and doesn’t realize the impact another’s work has until the event is supposed to start and things aren’t ready.
Using these tips will ensure you are managing your project well and your church teams are working optimally in cooperation with each other. Internal church communications doesn't have to be frustrating.
1. Invite teams to share at larger meetings
Whether it is a meeting of the staff, the church council or any team where subgroups or representatives from other teams are present, provide time and encouragement for each team leader or representative to share briefly what is happening in their respective areas. Do this and prevent staff conflict and other struggles within your congregation.
Team sharing at larger group meetings is a great time to mention upcoming events or projects or changes in team members or their responsibilities. Make sure to mention recent successes such as increased giving, attendance or volunteer hours.
Share what is challenging each group. Present your thoughts on how to address it and ask for ideas. Don’t be defensive in receiving feedback; listen with an open mind.
2. Train your new leaders and volunteers
When people take on new responsibilities and offer their time, be sure to provide them with training.
Training and handouts should include information about how to include items on the church calendar and in the newsletter or any other place for promotion. Also, include information about handling purchases and facility setup and use.
Be sure to give them a one- to two-page explanation of whom to contact for various needs and the responsibilities of other teams.
3. Who else may be affected?
Ask the following questions as often as necessary:
- Who else uses this meeting space?
- Who needs to know about this?
- What type of communications do we need to send and who will make sure they happen?
- What else is going on at the church around that time? Would it be better to have this event at a different time so as not to compete for attention?
- Is a cost or income involved? If so, be sure to talk with the finance committee. Many churches require finance committee approval for ANY fundraiser for church groups.
4. Invite representatives from other teams
Sometimes, it helps to have meetings that include at least one person from another team. For example, when the children’s ministry wants to have a mission project, have the key people from each group meet together to coordinate.
If your group has regular needs that involve another team, consider having someone who regularly participates in meetings of both teams or at least have regular check-ins.
Teams with budgets should get periodic reports from the church treasurer about the status of their line items. If these are not being provided, ask for them.
Know how to manage virtual teams if you don’t meet in person with those connected to your project.
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5. Share with the congregation
I once was a part of a church council that ended each meeting asking what information was discussed that should be shared with the congregation. The generated list would then be shared either on Sunday morning or in some other all-church communication.
This reporting ensures others learn about the items discussed. The budget should be shared with the congregation.
6. Use digital tools to strengthen communication
Websites, social media and file-sharing tools can be useful to enhance work and communication across teams. Identify the IT superheroes on your teams who know these tools well.
Silos develop when we are not proactive in keeping the communication flowing. Stay on top of all these methods of communicating, even if you are not on the communication team.
Greater forms of partnership will appear once communication flows effectively among various teams. Greater partnership means greater involvement and excitement about the ministry occurring.
Communicate well, and tear down the silos.
-- Andrew J. Schleicher is a project coordinator with United Methodist Communications.