The best brands in the world speak with one unified and identifiable voice. The key communication messages are clear and memorable. Every message is consistent across all communication platforms (Website, Twitter, Newsletters, Etc.).
Why should a church “stay on message”? First, by “staying on message”, you allow every word an opportunity to educate, motivate and generate kingdom action. It is crucial that a memorable message be repeated. Repetition allows the message to generate steam and become a movement. Secondly, your audience is very clear on what you aim to accomplish and how it benefits them individually.
To aid your efforts in identifying and articulate your key communication messages, here is a list of principles.
Fundamental Principles of Staying on Message
Developed by Lissa Reidel
- Use language that resonates with meaning. People will complete the message with layers of their own experience.
- Aim for clarity, brevity, and precision. A busy executive or mother with only minutes to spare can glean what they needs to know.
- Polish and cut as if you were a jeweler. Every sentence will reveal new, intriguing facets to the audience.
- Cut through the clutter to produce soundbites that acquire a vibrant identity when they are heard agan and again.
- Edit out modifying phrases, adverbs and extraneous conversational text and what remains is the distillation, the essence. Eliminate distracting references and the text will have impact. Less is more.
Which principle is most helpful to you? How do you narrow down and refine your messages?
If vision is a picture of what could be, and mission is what you do to achieve vision, then values act as the foundation of both. They are living, breathing words that shape culture and action. Culture is what most of the people are doing; most of the time.
Craig Groeschel states, “Healthy cultures never happen by accident. They are created.” The main source that shapes your culture is your values. Do you have values?
How do you identify your values?
- What values has God put within us?
- What do we passionately enjoy and love?
- What breaks our hearts?
- What is intrinsically true of our leaders and organization?
- Ideally no more than 5
- Remembering and applying values is critical
- Describe values in short life-giving statements
- Must be articulated in clear and compelling statements
- Hire and fire based on values
- Drives day-to-day decision making
- Regularly communicate to leaders and followers
At the end of the day, you will create a culture within your organization. Will you create a healthy or unhealthy culture? You have the operate to intentionally shape your culture in a healthy way. Lead on.
How do you shape culture within your organization?
We have all seen great tag lines. The great ones stick in our mind and create positive emotions. On the flip side, we have all seen really bad tag lines. They annoy and aggravate us.
So how do you create a great tag line for your church? Keep this one rule in mind – LESS IS MORE.
The tag line is much more than 4-5 words which you plaster on coffee mugs or bulletin covers. These words are living words guiding your culture. The words are used internally as a beacon of distinctive culture and externally as a positive and inviting message.
If you are not, this is why should.
Never before have we possessed the opportunity to use the internet for good. Think, strategize and capitalize.
I am inspired by people who forward think. I firmly believe people should envision and plan for the future. Let’s face it you will be somebody and be somewhere in 3, 5, 10 years. Why not be intentional?
However I recognize looking forward can create a sense of anxiety. Life is hectic. Our days are full of phone calls, text messages, emails, status updates and meetings. It is difficult to keep the future in mind. Thus creating a sense of tension.
My thought. Do not take each day, one day at a time. Take each day, one chunk at time. Breakdown your day in chunks.
Tell yourself, I am going to be the best spouse, parent, employee, leader and friend from the time I awake to lunch. Then lunch to dinner. Then dinner to bed. It is amazing what you can accomplish in chunks of time that will benefit your future.
Try it. It works.
How do you think about the future while living in the present?
What you communicate is what people expect to experience. If you cannot deliver on what you communicated, you lost the trust of your audience. Below you will find 9 questions to help guide your conversation when building an internal and external communications plan. Spend adequate time answering each question before creating any communication strategy.
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Why does it matter?
- What makes you different?
- Who is your audience?
- What does your audience value?
- How do you spread the word?
- How do people engage with you?
- What do they experience?
- How do you earn their trust?
What question would you add to list when creating a communication strategy?
I had the pleasure to interview Ron Edmanson. Ron is the Senior Pastor of Grace Community Church and a church leader, he is passionate about planting churches, helping established churches thrive, and assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. His specialty is organizational leadership, so in addition to his role as a pastor, he consults with churches and ministry leaders. Follow Ron here – http://www.ronedmondson.com/ and https://twitter.com/ronedmondson
My question to Ron – “What are the five most important questions a senior leader should ask about his church? Below you will find thought provoking questions to ask about your church and ministry.
1. How do we balance grace and truth?
Ron and his team spend a lot of energy and time creating a culture of high invitation and challenge.
This refers to the atmosphere and degree of welcoming a church or an individual message provides. Do people enjoy being there? Do they want to come back? Is it inviting? Is a message fun to listen to? Is it encouraging and helpful?
This refers to the degree others are encouraged to grow in their walk with Christ. Are they challenged? Are they held accountable? Are personal disciplines encouraged? Are sins exposed? Are expectations strong?
The theory is that churches tend to fall into one of these four quadrants:
- Low Invitation / High Challenge – Produces a discouraged/burnout culture.
- Low Invitation / Low Challenge – Produces a bored culture.
- High Invitation / Low Challenge – Produces a cozy/chaplaincy culture.
- High Invitation / High Challenge – Produces a discipling culture.
If you put Jesus, the master disciple-maker in this diagram, we find He was both high invitation (people loved to be around Him) and yet He continually challenged them. He confronted them where their life needed to change.
2. What is the most effective way to make disciples?
This is a question every church wrestles with on a daily basis. Oftentimes it is neglected by the day-to-day operations of church. Making disciples means you are fully committed to the call and are intentional in your approach to help people become a disciple. Making disciples is a combination of spending time with people, connecting them in groups and challenging them with biblical teaching.
3. How do we encourage people to take ownership in their spiritual growth?
People still rely on the pastor/church leadership for their spiritual growth. Ultimately, it is the persons responsibility and call to grow spiritually in Christ. I spend a considerable amount of time from the stage reminding people of this fact.
4. What are the measures we can use to know we are achieving our mission?
Before becoming a pastor and church planter, I worked in the business world. In the business world, measureable results were paramount. I believe we, as a church should publish measures to ensure we are achieving our mission.
At Grace, we follow 10 Guiding Principles. We believe that if people are consistently practicing these principles, they are probably growing.
5. How do we encourage people to evangelize the lost?
We started Grace we never advertised our church. Instead the people of Grace were active in sharing their faith and inviting people to church. The people built our church. Now, we must be proactive in reminding people that they are the CHURCH and carry the responsibility of sharing their faith.
As a church leader, what do you believe are the most important questions to ask about your church?
Each organization must identify its audience, and honestly judge whether, in fact, lives are being changed.
Does your church or organization spend time, energy and resources in identifying and understanding your community and audience? It is imperative that leaders spend unhurried time in understanding the behavior and needs of their audience. By researching and understanding your audience, you receive clear insight into the real needs of your audience.
The real needs identified in research provides a clear blueprint on how to strategically and intentionally meet the needs of your community and audience. Here are four questions to ask when attempting to understand your audience.
- What are the demographics of our audience (age, sex, race, ethnicity, social, etc.)? Resource
- What does our audience value?
- Do our strengths, competencies and resources match the needs of these customers? If yes, in what way? If not, why not?
- How does our organization need to change based on research?
What questions would you add to the list in efforts to understanding audiences?
You have probably heard of taglines and slogans, but have you heard of a trueline? Marty Neumeier defines trueline as the one true thing you can say about your organization. The trueline must be credible and valuable to your audience. A trueline statement is the value you can deliver to users time and time again.
Southwest Airlines -
Trueline – “You can fly just about anywhere for less than it costs to drive.
Tagline – “You are now free to move about the country.”
Essentials to Great Truelines and Taglines:
- Focus on One Value Proposition
- Keep Clear, Concise and Compelling
- Do Not Use Commas or “Ands”
- Words Should Be Memorable
Let’s face it. Your audience and fans will not be perfectionist when memorizing and stating your mission, vision, values and trueline/tagline to others. However, if your fans have truly experienced the value proposition found in your trueline; they will inevitably have the capacity to state your trueline in some form or fashion to others.
What is your trueline? How did you find it?
Strategy is a very powerful practice. However, many organizations fail because a lack of execution. Without execution the organization has only an intention, not a plan.
A properly executed strategy increases the opportunities of creating a positive experience at each brand touch point. Your website, phone voicemail, business card, luncheon speech, etc. is a touch point. Touch points exist in every organization. The good news is that you can identify each touch point and ensure each is used to create a positive experience with your audience.
The best way to start choosing and influencing your touch points is by mapping your audiences journey from introduction to loyalty. How do people learn about you? Are your touch points communicating who you are?
Below is an exercise you can use when ensuring your strategy is being executed and producing a positive audience experience.
- List Out Every Touch Point - (Receptionist Greeting, Business Card, Web Site, Luncheon Speech, Etc.) I invite clients to be imaginative and think thoroughly when making a list of touch points. The list must be thorough.
- Evaluate Each Touch Point – Dissect, drill down and review each touch point. Does the touch point communicate the mission of your organization? Do you believe the touch point is generating the response you desire?
- Eliminate or Improve Touch Point – After you identify and evaluate touch points, you can decide what needs to improve or be dismissed.
Every brand is built by experiences. Create your experiences wisely.