Playbook: Ministry Communications Audit

Are you a Communications leader in your church or organization? Is it your role to help your church and its ministries communicate effectively? If so, there’s a meeting that I want to get on your radar. It’s what I call a Communications Audit.

A Communications Audit is a meeting to touch base with a ministry area, evaluate how things are going with their communications, plan for the season ahead, and update them on key communications information. Here’s what the meetings look like for me:

Meeting Agenda:

(Pre-Meeting) Schedule & Communicate Expectations

This meeting will be infinitely more effective if you and the ministry you’re meeting with come prepared. Around 1-2 weeks before the meeting, coordinate the time/place where you will meet and set the expectations for what you’d like to accomplish. I ask the ministry team I’m meeting with to come prepared with the following:

  • Dates: What are the dates for your key events this year?
    Bring milestone and key timeline dates for things like registrations/deadlines
  • Website: Are there any updates/changes needed for your online presence on our website?
  • On-Ramps: What are the key on-ramps for engagement with your ministry this year?
  • Evaluate: What is working, not working, missing, and confusing in communication with your ministry?

Evaluate

Evaluating what’s working, not working, missing and confusing is a great way to kickoff this meeting. This gives you as a communications leader an opportunity to hear from them about their communications – what’s working (so that you can optimize it), what’s not working (so you can fix it), what’s missing (so you can add it), and what’s confusing (so you can clarify it). It’s crucial here throughout this process that you act as a partner, not a marketer. The ministry leader you’re meeting with brings passion and knowledge in their ministry area that is crucial to help people connect in that ministry. You as a communications leader also bring passion and knowledge in the area of communications. If you can partner together to evaluate the effectiveness of the communications in their ministry, it can be a catalyst to see improvement.

At this point, we also pull up our website and talk through their online presence. I have our google analytics ready before the meeting so I can give them a sense of what exposure their page is getting. Then, we talk through anything that may need to be changed or updated.

Plan

Next, have them walk through their key events and programs over the next season. Most likely, they won’t have every detail on each event ready, and that’s ok. The important thing here is to get these events marked down in your communications plan. This gets these events on your radar, so that you can be on the lookout for projects that are coming up. I’ve found that this can be the most beneficial part of the meeting for me and the ministry, because it gets them thinking well in advance on what type of timeline and milestones they have in place.

At this point, I also discuss with them their key on-ramps for engaging people in their ministry area. This is crucial for me to know, because it’s impossible to try to communicate to a church-wide audience every single thing that each ministry has going on each week. By understanding their ministry on-ramps, I can help give them more priority when they come up – knowing that when we get people engaged in that on-ramp event/program, they’ll be exposed to the rest of the ministry. For example, our women’s ministry does small groups and bible studies almost year-around. They also do a big worship event twice a year called The Real You. Those Real You events are their on-ramps, where they expose people to the ministry opportunities throughout the year. While I can’t consistently communicate their weekly gatherings to a church-wide audience each week, I CAN emphasize their on-ramp events, knowing that it will help that audience be exposed to their ministry area opportunities throughout the year.

Communicate

Now that you’ve heard from the ministry team, I take a few minutes to go over what I’ve heard from them, and share some communication processes that are crucial to help setup our communications team for success:

  • Where Can We Help?: Before and during the meeting, take note of areas that you feel like you and your team can support them in with their communications. Let them know they’ve been heard, and share with them some next steps that you have in place.
  • Communication Requests: Remind them of timelines for communication requests and where to submit them. (Here’s a full write-up on how I handle communication requests.)
  • Stories: I am always preaching to our ministry leaders that we want each and every staff person to be a storyteller. When they experience stories of life change in their ministry, we ask them to share the story with us on our Communication Request page. We’re able to share these stories through things like video, social media and blogs.
  • Bandwidth: Take this opportunity to share with the ministry leaders what type of margin your team has for projects and communication requests each week. It’s helpful for them to understand that depending on the size and demands of your team, it may impact the time/budget it takes to accomplish their needs.

Follow Up

After the meeting is over, the real work begins. Within the next 24-48 hours, follow up with the people that were in the meeting:

  • Thank them for their time.
  • Encourage them about their ministry.
  • Share how you’re excited to partner with them and support the communication of their ministry.
  • List the next steps that they are responsible for and what you and your team are responsible for; give due-dates.

I’ve found that these ministry communication audits can lead to some major improvements in the communications of each ministry and the process in how things get communicated. But honestly, the thing that I’m most thankful for is the opportunity to sit down with a ministry, build a relationship with their team, and hear the heart and passion they have for their ministry. Ministry is hard work, and there is no room for silos. We’re all on the same team, with different roles and skills. What they do – matters. What you do as communication leaders, MATTERS!

Have any questions or feedback? Please leave a comment below! 

  • Caleb Warren

    Spot on. This is exactly what our Communications Department will be doing the next two days. We have two afternoons completely full of meetings scheduled with each ministry of the church. This was super helpful to read through and get ideas for the next couple of days. Great post. Thanks!

    • Thanks, Caleb! Hope your meetings go well.

  • Caitlin Padanyi

    This is a great idea! What frequency of these meetings do you find most effective?

    • Hey Caitlin! I typically do this once a year. But depending on how your church plans and schedules, doing this every 6 months may be a good option as well.

  • Susan Ward

    I just love this. Thanks for taking the time to write this down. It’s perfect to pass along!

  • LindsaySterchi

    This is a great resource! One of my goals this year as the Communications Director is to meet with each ministry leader in order to evaluate communication within their ministry, and also how we can help them communicate their vision to the church. This is a great model for those meetings, so thank you!

    • You’re welcome, Lindsay! Let me know how your meetings go. Would love to hear what your takeaways are!

  • Liz McCafferty

    Phil, Do you happen to have any share-able resources in regards to how you then store all the communication requests? Do you use excel, software program, web program, etc to insert all the requests and log them in so you can market them?
    Thanks! Would love to know more about that process. Coming into a new church and need some ideas!

  • Linnea

    Oh my gosh. Is this too cheesy to say this is an answer to our prayers? I guess not…since we work in ministry! At our church, we’re just realizing the importance of a communications strategy. The communication forms you have are AWESOME. Thanks for the post!

    • So thankful to hear this was helpful to you and your church!

  • Ashley Charles

    So, as the appointed “Communications Person” in our church (I was appointed this role about a year after I came on to the staff, where I was just initially the Graphic Designer) I am wondering with this model of “audit” is the said ministry person you are “auditing” in charge of his/her own website page? I am finding myself ultimately more and more begging to get information from ministry leaders to keep their pages up to date.

    • Hey Ashley! Good question. Ultimately, you’re auditing in general what is working, not working, missing or confusing. It’s a way to audit from your perspective and the ministries perspective how you can improve things. If you’re consistently not getting information, this is your chance to communicate with them how you can help make their ministry more effective if you’re able to get the information from them in a timely manner.