Information is like water -- it will always find a way to spread
Keep Your Communication Channels Open!

“He said, she said, they said, and now we have a conflict!”

“I don’t remember what we fought about, but I do remember how I felt when you yelled at me.”

“When I hid the ‘send’ key, I didn’t expect this reaction!”

“Now that we are in the parking lot, let me tell you what I really think…”

Information, like water, tends to follow the laws of entropy -- it wants to expand as far as it can reach. And with electronic communication and social media, news can carry fast! But also like water, information can be channeled. Congregations that have a good communications policy and plan provide healthy channels for their communication. They can direct the flow and regulate the volume.

If you don't provide clear channels of communication, both to and from the leadership, informal channels will develop and the unintended flow will cause erosion of trust.

Many congregations have developed poor communication habits. This is often results from a history of leader misconduct, church splits, or sometimes just a doozy of a conflict. This results in blockages, which create overflow and drought. Imagine a irrigated garden where sluice gates have been installed in strange locations, and they open and close at random. Some parts of the garden become waterlogged, while other parts wither. Congregations with this phenomenon keep secrets when transparency is needed, and leak secrets when confidentiality is needed. 

With so many ways to mis-communicate and mis-understand in our congregations, we need to develop healthy communication habits and norms. 

Find out more in this article about creating healthy communication channels, including:

  • Guiding documents
  • Regular Communication Tools
  • Communications from the board
  • Communications to the board
  • Assessments of the Ministry

About the Author

  • Rev. Renee Ruchotzke (ruh-HUT-skee) has served as a Congregational Life Consultant in the Central East Region since September of 2010. She serves congregation in Northeast Ohio and Western New York. She is part of the LeaderLab Design team providing Leadership Development resources and other trainings to congregations.

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