by Kenny Conley
A while back, I had lunch with one of the children’s pastors on my team. He was a little frustrated about communication. We utilize a volunteer blog where we upload videos, curriculum and small group materials for all of our volunteers to prepare for their Sunday responsibilities. We communicate to our volunteers using Constant Contact every week giving them the information they need. We also maintain a ministry blog for parents, keeping them up to date with everything they need to know. We use Constant Contact to message parents every week, pointing them to the fresh content on the blog.
My children’s pastor was frustrated because he spends a lot of time developing the content, but it seemed that people just aren’t getting it. Email reports show an open rate of the volunteer emails of less than 50 percent. The parent emails open rate is less than 25 percent. This is certainly a problem worth getting frustrated by. He suggested dropping the email service and going to just mass text messaging services.
What we’re experiencing at our church isn’t very different from what others experience as well. Effective communication is one of the most important tools in a leaders tool chest. In today’s media rich and diverse platform environment, we must understand that to communicate effectively, we’re going to have to be a little more creative and work a lot harder. Email is declining. A 20 percent open rate actually isn’t bad according to industry standards. If we want to hit 70 to 80 percent, we need to expand our methods. How are we leveraging text communication which has a 90 percent-plus open rate? How are we leveraging Facebook where the average person spends about an hour each day?
Email communication is great and we’re going to continue to leverage that tool as many volunteers and parents prefer that method. However, completely depending on email is foolish. I’d be neglecting the majority of my potential audience with a tool that is becoming less relevant every year.
Chances are, you have great content. It’s likely that your issue is a delivery problem. You’re a leader and you have things to say. Your voice is significant. Be sure that the people you lead are able to hear you. Don’t expect them to conform to your method to listen, but reach out to them right where they are.
Take stock of your communication tools and resources. What’s missing? What isn’t working? Take measurements and make the appropriate changes. Understand that what worked last year may not this year just as what works now may not a year from now. Pay attention to this one area and you’ll lead better without having to change a word you say.
Kenny Conley, a 15-year veteran of children’s ministry, currently serves as the next generation pastor at Gateway Church in Austin, Texas. His passion to see the next generation come to know and follow Christ propels him to constantly rethink how the church approaches ministry to kids and their families. Kenny loves to network and collaborate with ministry leaders around the world to push ministry to new levels. He lives in Texas with his wife, Sara, and their children, Titus and Genevieve.