When you saw someone wearing a mask in the grocery store in early spring 2020, you would assume they were ill or had an allergy. Fast forward to the end of summer, and those strange looks go to the people who aren't wearing a mask. So, how did that happen? Here are three takeaways from the pandemic related to communication.
With the talk of COVID-19 dominating the world's conversation, we are all making short-term decisions. These "in the moment for the moment" decisions are tactical rather than strategic. They feel reactionary because, well, they are. For some strategic thinkers, this can be a welcome change. But for others, it might seem a little paralyzing. For the second audience, we want to encourage you with a couple of basic thoughts as you lead your congregation through this tumultuous time.
It was a typical Monday when the news started to break. A gunman entered a one-room Amish schoolhouse just 10 miles from our church, and it didn't look good. In the end, he took the lives of 5 innocent girls that day, injured more, and left a community in shock.
I was the church's communications director, so my thoughts went to how we, as a church, would respond to such tragedy. Having come from an Amish background, several of our staff had friends and acquaintances in that community. We'd never gone through a crisis like this, so we pulled people together to come up with an approach and what we might say.
Too often, churches unintentionally introduce a level of competition by scheduling events that overlap. Or they schedule too many activities in a month for the same audience. With so many contributing (and competing) messages, church communicators like you take on the challenge to promote each event in a way that connects with its audience, generates interest and, hopefully, results in strong attendance. Yes, the struggle is real!
As you face what seems like a perpetual mountain, here are a few overarching keys that I hope will help.
Someone asks you if you heard what happen to one of your close friends. As you listen, you wonder, "How come I didn't know about this?" Think about how this lack of communication made you feel at that moment.
Why do you think this happened? At least one of the emotions generated by the conversation is that of surprise–being confronted with information you thought you should have known (particularly before the person who was telling you), but for some reason, you didn't.