Gateway's Practical Weakness

In my last post, I talked about Gateway’s greatest strength as expressed by life group members in a survey completed last fall.  Today, I want to talk about a practical weakness that was mentioned by many of you.

Fifty-six of you mentioned “poor communication” as a weakness. Additionally, nineteen of you said “communication is the one thing that must change” at Gateway Church.

Our God is a communicating God, and He has communicated clearly to us in the Bible. So God values good communication, and we value it at Gateway. And we want to continue improving the way we communicate to you. One of the ways we’ve shown our value of communication — which you may not be aware of — is we’ve beefed up our communications team.

A little over a year ago we had zero full time staff in our communications department — which tells you we didn’t actually have a communications department. The first thing we did was shift Jared McBride’s role. We moved him full time into communications because he had a desire to serve you in this way, and because you were giving us feedback — even back then — that we needed to improve our communication.

This year, we brought on a part-time admin who helps Jared. And we’ve recently created a new position, which we’re currently trying to fill, on the communications team to help our communication become even better. So we’re making some necessary changes  even as to how we use our staff so that we improve this weakness you have pointed out to us.

But there’s something about communication I have to bring up. And it’s the fact that communication isn’t only sent; it must be received. Communication is a two way street. And often what can be easy to do in this area is — to use an illustration Jesus gave us — is to see the “speck in our brother’s eye while ignoring the plank in our own.”

Now as a staff, we’re continuing to work on our sending of communication, but can I ask a favor of you? Can you work hard at receiving our communication?

Here's what I mean — and I don’t want this to feel like I’m deflecting your criticism — I’m not. I’ve already said we’re beefing up our communications department with more staff and are working on how we communicate, but I can’t ignore these other factors either.

For instance, our weekly email has 1,670 people who receive it, so we communicate to over 1,600 of you via email each week. We send out announcements, event updates, ways to sign up for things, inform you about stuff happening at Gateway and so on to nearly 1,700 people each week.

But of those 1,670 people who are sent the email, only 460 of you actually open it — that’s 30%. So 70% of you get information from us sent to you, but you don’t open it. So, could I ask you to help us improve our communication by reading our email? And, of course, not everyone has signed up to receive our weekly email. So, if you haven’t, could you? Go to our website gatewayepc.org to sign up.  

What about Facebook? Our church Facebook page has 2,196 followers. Of the 2,196 of you who follow us — who can see what we post — of our recent posts we have roughly 32 interactions.  These interaction being a “like,” a “love,” a “haha.” (I’m not on Facebook so this all sounds silly to me.) We get about 3 comments and 10 shares per post. So of the nearly 2,200 of you we communicate to on Facebook, only 45 of you or so give us any indication that you receive what we share. The average video we post is watched for 10-15 seconds and then you move on. Don’t you love that we can know all of this about you? Kind of scary, right? 10-15 seconds, and then, you move on. How do you expect to know what we’re communicating in a video if we only have your attention for 10-15 seconds? Is there is anyway you can work harder at receiving the info we communicate to you via Facebook?

We have info on our app, we have pre-service slides that only a few of you are here early enough to view. A special email is sent to Life Group leaders nearly every week. We have a website. And we have announcements during the worship service.

Now worship service announcements are like prime real estate for most churches. We try to reserve our announcements for the most important things going on at Gateway. But it’s so easy to tune out during the announcements. I know I do it from time to time and I’m sure, if you’re honest, you do, too.  

Now, I don’t say all of this as an excuse on our part. We’re working hard to improve our communication, but, and you know this, communication works both ways. So open the email each week. Pay attention during the announcements. Show up five minutes early to watch the pre-service slides. Like us on Facebook and interact with our posts. Stop by the What’s Next Wall. Download the app on your phone or tablet. Go to our website. And if all else fails, call the church office.

We want to communicate with you. We’re not trying to keep secrets — I promise. Let’s all make it a goal to improve our communication in 2018.