Chuck Scoggins is a former youth minister and church communications director who now serves a several churches through consulting and contract communications work. Recently Chuck released an ebook titled Getting Started in Church Communications, and I thought it’d be fun to ask him a few questions.
ECHO HUB: In the book you mention the importance of people skills and relationships for church communicators. Some people might assume that anyone who can help an organization communicate effectively can also naturally communicate on an interpersonal basis, but is that necessarily the case?
CHUCK SCOGGINS: Great question. There are certainly people who don’t consider themselves to be great interpersonal communicators yet still have gifts – such as organizational skills or artistic talents – that can help with church communications. However, I strongly believe that an effective champion for a church’s communication vision must be able to relate with other leaders in the church. It is vital for ministry leaders to understand that we want to serve them and are there to maximize ministry efforts (as opposed to being a roadblock to them).
ECHO HUB: In your experience, what is the relationship between effective communication and an organization’s vision and/or mission?
SCOGGINS: We all know Proverbs 29:18: “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” What we sometimes forget is if nobody hears the vision, there might as well not be one. Effective communication is key to helping people understand an organization’s vision and/or mission. And, to take it a step further, often the way a vision is communicated says just as much about the vision as the vision itself. The role of church communication folks is more important than ever in helping the church realize its mission.
ECHO HUB: Are there are any differences in how you approach internal communication (to the congregation) and external communication (to the community)?
SCOGGINS: Philosophically, no, but practically, yes.
What I mean by that is this: all of the principles of communication should pertain to both groups. We must communicate with clarity. We must ruthlessly eliminate noise and distractions. We must be creative. I could go on and on.
Practically, of course, there are different vehicles that might speak to the different groups. Internally it might be a Sunday handout or an e-newsletter. Externally it might be through a Facebook ad or a billboard.
ECHO HUB: Are there specific keys to an effective church website? Or is that unique to each organization?
SCOGGINS: Context does matter somewhat, but generally there are certain elements that should be on all church websites:
- meeting times
- something that gives a hint about the culture of the church (don’t over-sell on that point)
- contact info
- upcoming big events
It’s important to think about both attendees and potential newcomers since both audiences use the website.
Our website is the front door to the church. These days, nearly everyone will Google a church before they ever step foot inside the doors, so the website is very important. I highly recommend if church leaders don’t know what they are doing in designing and maintaining the church site, reach out to an expert who can help. It’s that important and worth the money spent.
ECHO HUB: Can you point us to some examples of organizations that use social media well? If so, what sets apart their approaches from other organizations?
SCOGGINS: A few that immediately come to mind include:
- Longhollow Baptist Church – they’re doing some really innovative marketing using social media (Twitter, Facebook)
- Park Community Church in Chicago — they have a very young and transient congregation, and they leverage social media to communicate to that demographic (Twitter, Facebook)
- The Crossing near St. Louis — they use social media to encourage their people with Scripture throughout the week (Twitter, Facebook)
Scott McClellan is the Editor of Echo Hub and the Director of Echo Conference. You can follow him on Twitter: @scottmcclellan.