3 tips for effective parish communication
It’s common to under-communicate within a parish setting. This means that information is only distributed once or only in one way, which often results in a lack of connection with many community members. Instead, err on the side of over-communicating to reach the most community members and to ensure a high level of understanding among those who are reached.
The Catholic Leadership Institute suggests three critical practices of effective organizational communication: repetition, simple messages and multiple media.
These suggestions support an efficient work flow in which one simple message is repurposed in many ways to be shared verbally during Mass announcements, visually on church bulletin boards and in weekly bulletins and digitally on the parish website and social media accounts and in email newsletters. If your parish hosts a regular coffee hour or other gathering, consider setting up a special display board with materials and updates.
Different media may be better for reaching different audiences. Think about how parishioners, school parents, parish council members, parish staff and ministry leaders are most likely to receive information. Then, make sure your message is appearing in all of those media, multiple times.
Following the 2018 Diocesan Synod in Vermont, each parish formed an Action Plan Writing Team that, guided by the Catholic Leadership Institute, is working to assess the status of parish life and develop and implement a strategic plan to increase parish vibrancy into the future. The plans prioritize evangelization and communication as key components to increasing parish vibrancy.
Action Plan Writing Teams have been meeting for several months, and it is vital that other parishioners are informed of the important work that the members of these teams are doing to ensure the livelihood of Vermont’s Catholic communities.
If you’re not sure what your parish’s Action Plan Writing Team has been up to, ask for them to share updates in some of the ways mentioned here. Let them know your preferred way to receive information, thank them for their efforts and find out how you can get involved too. Even those who are not part of the Action Plan Writing Team have an important role to play in communicating the Gospel message to their communities and being living examples of Christ’s love in the world.
—Originally published in the Winter 2019 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.