I’ve had the neat opportunity to read a new book on church communication; “Outspoken: Conversations on Church Communication” is a collection of over 60 contributors on subjects concerning church communication. The book spans everything from design and leadership, to branding and creativity. I was honored to have the chance to read and review the book before it was released, and I have some thoughts on it:
I like the feeling of being full better than the chewing it takes to get there
I found the book to have quite a bit theory, and just nuggets of practical application. I’m a results driven, practical person. Show me something useful. I’ll admit, many churches need to go back to the drawing board of the how and why of communication, but to be honest, it was thoroughly frustrating to read from leaders that are communicating at a high level talk heady theory from the lofts of success. I’ve been on both sides of the ball – the smaller church in the bible belt that has decades of stigma and insider culture, and the large church plant that’s blown up and is growing faster than we can adapt. In both places, I’m looking for practical tools that can help me improve what we’re doing. Show me your implementation, tell me why it worked where you were, and let us use our judgement to best implement it where we are.
That being said, there were some solid pieces in the book. I’ll share a few below.
“…the solution lies in asking better questions. What do you want to say, not only in your content, but also in your context” – Mark Pierson
“Be a Datahead. Know the trends” – Michael Forsberg
Focus on measurable metrics for everything you can do. I cannot echo this loud enough. How can you know the effectiveness of what you’re doing if you’re not able to measure it? I’ll say this much: If you can’t measure it, don’t do it. Don’t roll it out until you have figured out how you’ll be able to evaluate it.
“…Find out the story that is driving the communication. For example, don’t simply announce that Vacation Bible School is next month and assume everyone understand the benefits. Instead, explain the positive impact that it will have on the lives of the children and volunteers…” – Curtis Simmons
Narrative Counts. People want a better story – tell them how they can enter into one.
There are a decent amount of practical nuggets that you can implement into your ministry immediately tucked into the book. Most of these came from people you’ve never heard of. There were some solid practical applications from some known names as well, like Tim Schraeder, Tony Morgan, and Kem Meyer as well.
The nice thing about this book is that every entry is about 500 words or less. It’s about the length of this blog post. That means that the contributions that are less than helpful, you can skip right over. And trust me, there are some in there that seem to be plugs for author’s book, or a rehashing of the speaker’s conference notes and chapter titles. (Mancini, I’m talking about you buddy.) Cruise past if you’re not feeling it.
I found the design section to be a phenomenal resource for both churches that are starting out, as well as churches that have full design staffs. This section was hands down the most realistic, practical and comprehensive portion of the book.
So, thank you, to those that wrote honestly and gave us some practicality. All in all, the book is a good format. At $10, it’s a great, honest resource that’s worth picking up.