Knowing your church’s voice and then sharing that voice confidently online can feel scary and difficult. Maybe you find yourself asking questions like:
- How do we know what our voice is or what it should be?
- Why do we need a voice?
- Where do we start?
- Why does this even matter?
Let me share a quick but essential story with you. A few years ago, I hosted a two-day strategic communication workshop with the leadership team from a local church. On one day, I asked the group to write down five positive adjectives they wanted their church to be known for and five negative adjectives they did not want their church to be known for. I then asked them to gather in groups and “audit” their social media presence and website. Specifically, they were to look at their posts, engagement, and overall online communication. Was it lining up with the five positive or negative adjectives? To their shock and surprise, everything they were communicating online fell into the category of what they did not want to be known for, the negative adjectives.
This is why knowing your voice for communicating online is so important. If you don’t know your voice, you’re most likely communicating a message you never intended to convey.
What is voice? Voice is the personality behind your church, best described through adjectives. Every church has a voice, a personality, whether they realize it or not. Every time you communicate through a social media post, church bulletin, website page, connection card, etc., you display a specific personality, a specific voice, and your audience is building a particular impression based on that voice. This is why it’s vitally important that there is clarity around your church’s voice.
Think about it before you communicate. Do you want your voice to be:
- Formal or casual?
- Informative or persuasive?
- Enthusiastic or matter-of-fact?
- Conservative or lively?
Here are some specific steps and questions to think through to discover your voice:
- Who are you talking to? Take some time to think through the membership of your church. Who is your audience? Who are the people attending and actively engaged in your church? Suppose your church consists primarily of young families. Your voice and personality will differ from the church whose audience is predominantly empty-nesters. Also, know the makeup of your city and your community. Who resides there? What are their interests? What keeps them up at night? What do they care about? For your church to have a clear, confident voice, you have to know who you are communicating to.
- What do you want your church to be known for? Think through your values. Your church’s values are the core beliefs that guide your church in everything you do. Values help you determine what’s important and ultimately help you create that unique voice.
- How are you different? How is your church different from all the other churches? What makes you stand out? Is it your core ministry? Is it your audience? Is it your offerings? Is it your community involvement? What do you offer that other churches do not?
- Discover your adjectives. Once you know your audience, what you want to be known for, and what differentiates you, it’s time to find your adjectives. Take time to work through this step and the three previous steps with your team. Don’t rush it. Come up with a list of 10 adjectives you want to be known for, and then bring it down to five. Once you’ve decided on your five, work hard to ensure all communication exemplifies those five positive adjectives. Also, find your five negative adjectives, the things you don’t want to be known for. This is just as important.
I promise you that once you get clear on your voice, you’ll find that your online communication will connect with those specific people you have been called to reach in your city and community! It all begins with a clear voice!
Dr. Jen Benett is a Professor, Host of the She Impacts Culture Podcast, Author, and Speaker. Along with LaTan Roland Murphy, Laura Woodworth, and Misty Phillip, she is presenting the Pre-Conference Masterclass: Essentials of Church Communication at CFX 2022 in Dallas, October 24. You can visit her website at https://drjenbennett.com/.