Keeping Small Church Comms Simple
Alright. Before I even start writing the meat of this post, let's just pause for a moment to face the cold, hard truth: We all have a tendency to overcomplicate things from time to time. I know I do. Whether it's in our ministry lives, our personal lives, our relationships, our churches, our businesses, our careers, or some combination of all the aforementioned, it can be terrifyingly easy to convolute things that are actually, at the end of the day, quite simple. Heck, I even overcomplicate my food and my coffee. (Starbucks-only Venti vanilla latte hot with an extra pump of vanilla, anyone?)
Believe it or not, there's a psychological term for this. (Isn't there always?) It's called complexity bias. Our brains and emotions are naturally hardwired to make some situations and circumstances far more complex than they were ever intended or designed to be in the first place. Oftentimes we do this for one core reason: We're battling with our own insecurities and shortcomings, which typically leads to blaming another person or set of circumstances — rather than accepting our own responsibility — which then only serves to deepen our misperceptions about reality.
Those of us who serve in ministry see this happen all the time. And sometimes we ourselves are guilty of tumbling headfirst into the trap of over-complication. I would argue it's not so much a trap as it is a snare set by the Enemy, but we can have that theological debate over a cup of complicated coffee some other time. (Your treat.)
For now, let's refine this to the specific ministry niche of small church communications and take a look at how and why simplification is, in all actuality, a good thing.
#1. Simplifying Small Church Comms Increases Engagement. Complexity Repels It.
You want people to interact with your church on social media. You want them to leave comments, encourage one another, and speak truth. You want them to fill out the prayer request submission form on your website. And you'd really love to see someone subscribe to your pastor's darn YouTube channel. But if you're a small church with too many digital platforms and channels operating at once, many folks in your congregation are probably going to feel overwhelmed. When this happens, they will be far less likely to engage with any of your digital and social media at all. Or they'll just pick one (usually your Facebook Page) and stick to that.
Scale back where you can and don't clutter your social media channels or your website with unnecessary posts and content. Don't put your church on platforms you don't need yet. People do not want to have to sift through that. There's a delicate balancing act to social media management and — despite what you might read — there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Post the type of content and the amount of content that is appropriate for your specific audience. What works for you will be different than what works for the church across town. And speaking of that other church...
#2. You Don't Have To Be On Every Platform. Seriously.
Oftentimes the small church feels that they must be everywhere, do everything, and have all of the cool toys because the neighboring church down the street seems to have it all figured out. They see that church's website, Facebook Page, Instagram account, Twitter profile, YouTube channel, and sermon podcasts and think they need the same. Oh and don't forget the senior pastor's TikTok account. It's like, totally lit, bro.
The assumption tends to be: "Wow, that church is really knocking it out of the park." And, in all honesty, they might be.
But, in the small church world, in a smaller community or town, a well-designed, functioning website and a strong Facebook presence can make a tremendous impact for the Kingdom and the advancement of the Gospel. Those two things alone can allow your church's message to resonate far and wide. Instagram and Twitter are often unnecessary for many small churches, particularly if you don't have the time, skills, or the manpower to keep up with them. Start with the core fundamentals and the basics and then worry about the rest later.
#3. Complex Websites Are Not Seeker-Friendly.
Your website is usually the front door of your church. It's what people see before they see you. (Sometimes it's your Facebook Page.) People who are interested in attending your church need to be able to locate basic, essential information before they ever visit your physical building. Ask yourself: Can online seekers easily locate my church's street address? Staff page? Service times? Ministries? Parking information? If these items are buried under mounds of complex menus and dozens of unnecessary pages, seekers will give up and move on to the next church in the area. Why would they bother visiting your church or learning more about it if they can't even figure out how to get there in the first place?
#4. Simplifying Small Church Comms Allows for More and Better Ministry. Complexity Inhibits It.
At the end of the day, everything that falls under the umbrella of Church Communications — from digital and social media to print materials — should be pointing people toward Jesus and encouraging them to follow Him. Your platforms should literally become places where ministry occurs, truth is spoken, and real life transformation happens. That happens best when things are simple to understand, utilize, and apply. Inundating those platforms with an array of overly-complex elements will only serve to dampen, and eventually eradicate, your ability to reach — much less minister to — your audience altogether.
Remember: Jesus didn't complicate His ministry. Neither should we. Let's keep it simple.