Helping churches thrive from Sunday to Sunday.™

Last week I was pretentious enough to label something “McClellan’s Law of Church Communication” while trying to make a point about a tension that exists in most of our churches:

That point seemed to resonate with a lot of people in the church communications world, and for his part, Steven Murray improved upon it:

One leader asked me how we ought to balance promotion and story, as well as how we ought to say no to certain promotion requests so that we have room to tell the stories that need telling. For me, the ideal is a scenario in which we attach story to the backend of any promotion plan we create ? if we’re planning to heavily promote a women’s retreat for a couple weeks, we need to go ahead and plan to tell a story the weekend after. On top of that, we would have margin to tell additional stories as they arise. Again, that’s the ideal, not something I’ve already mastered and implemented in my own work.

Of course, story should always?be a?part of your promotion, not an?alternative to it, but that’s another post for another day. I think what I’m getting at here and what drives me to figure this out at my church is the idea of payoff.?The last thing I want is to continuously promote events as life-changing and impactful without ever paying off those claims. Why? Because I don’t want people to fill in the blanks with this kind of conclusion:

They made a big deal out of that event on the front end, but I didn’t hear anything after the fact about it went. Maybe it was a dud. You know, just another overhyped event that couldn’t deliver on the promises made by the Communications team.?

Only a few cynical people (like me) may think that way, but still, I don’t want anyone at my church to be left?wondering?about how God is moving in our midst. Instead, I want us to find and maintain the right balance of inviting people into the life of our community (promoting the next thing) and sharing the ways people are experiencing God in our community (telling the story of what happened at the last thing). I think somewhere in that balance lies the fulfillment of our collective calling as church communicators, and that’s why I’m working toward it.

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2 replies on “The Next Thing vs. The Last Thing”

Great drawing and great points in this post Scott!

I’ve always found that storytelling as a promotional tool is most effective. This is especially effective for recurring or yearly events. “Here is an amazing story about last year’s womens retreat…oh, and by the way, here is how you can sign up for this year’s retreat.”

This can work, though, even if the event has never happened before. By telling the story of what could happen…”What if you and 5 of your best friends were to join us at this year’s men’s retreat? What if your friendships deepened? What if you could get practical strategies for being a better husband, father, and business leader? Do you see what could happen? Here’s how you can register…”

I think storytelling is one of the biggest missing pieces in church communications. Way to nail it Scott!

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