A Communication Strategy Sounds Fancier Than It Really Is

Now that some of you have made plans to get together with your neighboring priests, you might be asking what a communication strategy would look like. It’s simpler than you think and most of us do it naturally.

For those parishes already well into planning, this doesn’t really apply. Although, we would still encourage some communication of updates either in a newsletter or in the bulletin that could also be shared on your website.

For those just starting out, here are 4 recommended communication strategies. They’re just recommendations, not the Gospel truth so trust your pastoral judgement.

1. Announce it at Mass and/or put something in the bulletin.

You might say something like….

The rural pastoral planning has shifted a bit again recently and a new proposal has been made. It seems to have traction, but maybe we’re missing something. None of this will move forward until parish leaders (probably parish councils) have had a chance to see the proposal.

How serious are we about the above statement? We are very serious. Appropriate communication with stakeholders has several benefits.

  1. It creates better understanding and squashes rumors.
  2. It creates trust.
  3. It builds stronger relationships
  4. It creates opportunities for healthy dialogue.

Add more detail if you feel it’s appropriate.

You could offer more detail, but be sure this does not set off unnecessary explosions down the road at a neighboring parish. Before you start talking about other parishes publicly, check in with the neighboring pastor and make sure you’re on the same page.

2. Bring It Up at Your Next Parish Council Meeting

If you don’t see any changes happening in the next 6 months, you shouldn’t feel the urgency to get into too much detail with the entire parish. Perhaps at your next council meeting you can share the details. Again, check in with the neighboring pastor before you start talking about his parish. Also, ask for discretion from your parish council members if necessary.

3. Bring All the Parish Councils Together

We’ve also seen it work out to bring several parish councils together at once. It takes a bit of coordination, but you already begin to see the fruit of collaboration happen when you put your best leaders from each parish in a room together. These have been the most edifying experiences and a clear demonstration of the Holy Spirit uniting us One Church.

4. Have a Town Hall

Some pastors have chosen to hold a town hall. They’ve announced it at Mass and they’ve advertised in the bulletin. Sometimes they invite Fr. Lorig to do a presentation and sometimes they feel comfortable doing it themselves.

Bottom Line and Then What?

What we are seeing in different parishes is that when nothing is communicated or communication is delayed, the people eventually hear rumors and the rumors are almost never accurate. The false rumors turn into suspicion, distrust, and sometimes outright anger. Then we’ve got our work cut out for us.

Once all the pastors have appropriately communicated with their parishes and depending on the urgency of planning, pastors and leadership teams can begin prayerfully discerning the choice of  3 people from each parish to be part of a planning group.

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