Focusing Your Message


Ann Michel offers a variety of suggestions to help churches improve different kinds of communication by prioritizing messages.

Sometimes church members are poorly informed because they receive too much information — not too little. A barrage of uncoordinated messages can be confusing and overwhelming, causing people to tune out. Churches can improve their communication by prioritizing messages.

Having clarity about the church’s ultimate vision and mission is one fundamental element in mastering the message. Without this, all the best communication techniques and technology will fall short. A clearly articulated mission statement, motto or slogan, and goals are themselves valuable communication tools — and they help prioritize, frame, and define other messages.

Creating a communication calendar around important congregational and liturgical events is another way to focus messages. For each period on the calendar ask, “What is the one thing every church member needs to know?” This “headline” should be on the front page of the newsletter, on the website’s homepage, and announced in worship. Less timely information, or that relevant only to subgroups, can be disseminated through other means — as long as everyone knows where to find it. Maintaining a comprehensive and up-to-date activity calendar is helpful in this regard, as is consistent categorization of newsletter and website material.

Worship announcements, both printed and verbal, should be brief and to the point. Websites or newsletters are better places for longer or less time-sensitive material, although brevity and browse-ability are important in these media as well.

Clearly stated communication procedures will also help maintain focus. Establishing a committee to oversee communication can be helpful, but a point-person for dealing with day-to-day issues is also needed. Setting standards for screening and reviewing material and maintaining regular deadlines will improve quality and make it easier to emphasize priority matters.

Finally, an annual communication audit can gauge the effectiveness of your strategies. Each different communication vehicle should be evaluated by asking “What is its audience?”, “What is its mission?”, and “Is it effective?” Ask both members and persons beyond the church for their input when making these evaluations.

Related Resources


About Author

Ann A. Michel has served on the staff of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership since early 2005. She currently serves as a Senior Consultant and is co-editor of Leading Ideas e-newsletter. She also teaches at Wesley Theological Seminary in the areas of stewardship and leadership. She is the co-author with Lovett H. Weems Jr. of Generosity, Stewardship, and Abundance: A Transformational Guide to Church Finance (Rowman & Littlefield, 2021) available at Cokesbury and Amazon. She is also the author of Synergy: A Leadership Guide for Church Staff and Volunteers (Abingdon, 2017), available at Cokesbury and Amazon.

Cover of Discovering God's Future for Your Church showing a blank wooden signpostLewis Center video tool kit resource
Discovering God’s Future for Your Church

Discovering God’s Future for Your Church is a turn-key tool kit to help your congregation discern and implement God’s vision for its future. The resource guides your church in discovering clues to your vision in your history and culture, your current congregational strengths and weaknesses, and the needs of your surrounding community. The tool kit features videos, leader’s guides, discussion exercises, planning tools, handouts, diagrams, worksheets, and more. Learn more and watch an introductory video now.