Thursday, January 12, 2006

A Day of Dialogue

Today I participated in an all-day staff retreat to go over the upcoming ministry calendar and the next budget for 2006/2007. It was a long day. How well it was spent will be determined by the outcomes of our planning.

Throughout the day the most significant moments for me were those in which the dialogue moved beyond the details of event planning to those unlying priniciples which guide our decisions. Ive increasingly found myself dissatisified with anything not done with intention. If you are going to do something, then really do it. If you dont have the capacity to do something with significance, then focus your efforts on those things which you can.

As the media director at my church, Im continually presented with information in which to communicate to the masses. It is amazing how much of my communication theory background and formal education keeps coming back to my awareness. The entire communication process from them sender to the reciever is truly an amazing thing. Today, the act of communication has only been complicated in the last decade by the increasing number of channels in which one can use to communicate a message.

Several months ago I gave the staff a quick and broad picture of the various channels of communication available to transmit a message to others. Youve got print, video, television, email, websites, flyers, posters, billboards, direct-mail, press releases, t-shirts, buttons, pens, etc., (add others that come to your mind), and the king of them all word of mouth. Im not sure Ive ever seen any organization able to afford to transmit a message through every possible channel. Would it even be possible? In a non-profit organization I believe our best and most effective channel of communication is through the network of individuals which makes up our organization. The challange is to get that network of people to communicate the message you want transmitted to those who need to hear.

One strategy Ive encourage the staff to use is to intentionally communicate one message, through multiple channels, in a short duration of time. If we can communicate a message 3-5 different ways on a Sunday morning, then I believe that message will have a greater chance of successful transmission. Relying on only one avenue of communication is always a recipe for disappointment.

I do have all sort of ideas related to this issue, but I think those can be left for another day. Ive done quite a bit of thinking today already.