Fifty dollars a month. That’s all a church in Seattle has decided to invest in communication.

Fifty dollars! (pause for dramatic effect…) A month!

The number may change from church to church, but I’ve heard it too many times.

No budget.

Three summers ago, my husband and I and our then 5 and 2 year olds decided to go on a 60-day road trip from Annapolis, MD to California and back. We visited many churches, and showed up at random small groups.

I was like a kid in a candy store. I can still remember my enthusiasm arriving at each church.

The spectrum of churches we visited was very wide. I started by checking their websites and social media profiles. Then parking lot signs and greeters. Kids ministry was next, shortly followed by main auditorium and kiosks and any other area available. Even restrooms.

I collected communication cards, connection cards, prayer cards, bulletins, brochures, first time visitors swag bags, and everything in between. You name it, anything printed was quickly consumed and packed away in my purse to study later.

So, what does someone like me do when the trip is over and they are full of excitement and ideas about church communication?

Yes! Meet with my pastor. But my meeting was unsuccessful, and it was because of me.

I failed to communicate with him.

(sad violin)

I found myself using vague arguments such as, “We need to be consistent.”

Or “If we could just have all the tasks in one place so I don’t waste my time trying to figure out who is doing what”? Or worse, “That’s what other churches are doing!”

I never made my point. He never got it.

So budget remained the same. And communication remained the same: an after-thought.

Even though I have a hard time understanding why leadership at some churches can’t see the benefit of strategic communication, whining about it has taken me nowhere.

I had to ask myself, have I taken steps to help leadership understand the reason why it’s important?

How showing the value of communication may lead to a budget.

Creative team, you don’t need a budget.

What you need is to engage with your leadership in a way that shows the value of communication. If they see the value, budget will follow.

1. Get in sync with the leadership: start by getting them on board with church communication.

2. Gather the best resources: join a church communication group and ask other church communicators for the most affordable and most reliable options for providers, services, resources, files, etc.

3. Give pastors what you can for free: you can create the whole strategy for communication without spending any money. You may not be able to execute it (for lack of funds) but you can plan and document it. Showing them something tangible is incomparably more effective than vague arguments.

4. Define stages in your strategy: show your pastor that your communication plan can be broken down in stages and execution can be done as the church grows so the budget is more digestible for them.

So, here is tip #1: it won’t happen overnight! You have to make your case.

Try it and share how it went in the comments below.