3 Listening Practices for Church Communicators

There should be a constant tension: a communicator enjoys talking and pushing information, but an effective communicator must listen more than they talk.

See, to truly engage with an audience, it has to be a conversation. And there’s nothing worse than a one-sided conversation! The struggle often comes when a communicator feels they’re being paid to push communications, and there’s limited time for that; so how can anyone actually have time to listen? A good conversation requires talkers and listeners.

Here are 3 ways you should listen better:

1. When something’s added to your calendar. A good church communication process starts with a solid communication calendar. That easy place where all ministries can add their events in advance. In fact, they should add their events as soon as they start considering the planning of them. When there’s an addition, you need to plan a brief meeting with the leadership to listen to their goals, vision, and expectations. What exactly would the “win” be? This isn’t the time to caution them or tell them what you can’t do for them. Instead, encourage them to do better ministry as you advocate for their audience. Ask them how you can help them.

2. Any time you’re near your community or congregation. Often, we have so many responsibilities during our services or special events that it’s hard to slow down for listening. But it should be a privilege to have your audience near you. Take the opportunity to ask questions and listen for their answers. Do they have ongoing concerns? Questions? Looking for anything you’re not delivering? You may be able to solve them instantly or you may have to research an answer. Since you need to constantly have them in your mind as you plan ministry events, this is your time to soak in who they are, what they’re looking for, and how they feel a disconnect. Often you’ll hear themes that can be solved at a higher level.

3. After a ministry event. When something is fresh in everyone’s mind, like right after an event, you need to ask questions. How can we do better next time? Did we meet your expectations? What response did everyone feel? Take excellent notes and file them in a place that allows you to plan better next time. Bring them out during the initial planning meeting and remind everyone of specific issues. You’ll be valued for that information! Don’t be quick to defend yourself or your team; listen, have empathy, and clarify. Listen for questions directed at you before you start explaining.

Your communication role is to promote engagement (within leadership, your congregation, and your community) and to understand all your audiences well enough so that you can quickly make decisions when the time requires it. Today, listen more. Listen better.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald is a Bible Teacher, speaker, best-selling author of Be Known For Something, and communication strategist for BeKnownForSomething.com and the Florida Baptist Convention. He empowers churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites, and social media. His book is available at BeKnownBook.com and amazon.com.

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In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
 
— Russ Wright
 
"While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
 
— Ken
 
Thank you for this article! I'm the pastor of a small church. My gifting is in teaching and we are known for aiding Christians in becoming Biblically literate. Visitor's often comment on God's presence being very real in our services. But we just don't seem to be growing. I have some soul-searching, etc. to do and this article provides some solid ground from which to proceed. Thank you again.
 
— Jonathan Schultheis
 

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