Rethink Communication; How the Church Communication playbook has changed.

With Phil Bowdle

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Church Marketing Ideas Transcript: Phil Bowdle with Adam McLaughlin

Adam: Hey Phil, thank you so much for hanging out with me today. I really appreciate it,

Phil Bowdle: Adam. Thanks for having me, man.

Adam: So how long ago was it that you wrote rethink communication?

Phil Bowdle: I started starting the project. It’s been in my mind for a while. It’s been a bucket list kind of a thing for a number of years, but really it was around May or June of 2018 where I really started putting pen to paper and start, start the project. And so it really was a, probably was a project that should have taken a year and kind of crammed it into about four, four and a half months. So some intensive writing and a lot of late nights and early mornings and stuff. But yeah, so happened then and released in January of 2019.

Adam: So we were chatting a little bit before we started about how conversational or how practical your book is. It seems like you went into the process intending for it to be really practical and not philosophical. So why was that important to you?

Phil Bowdle: Well there I had a couple of goals going into it. One was just knowing that I’ve never met a ministry leader that just has so much time on their hands of just wanting to sit down for a week and reading super dense books, you know, especially communication leaders and ministry leaders that I’m trying to serve through this. So my, my heart and desire for this was that it was broken up and designed and organized in a way that would feel like it was that I was advocating for the person that I was trying to have read it. Sure. On that level. But a huge part of the conversation part is that when I was writing it, my heart for it was like I had the end in mind that I wanted was I wanted to be able to picture a senior pastor, a communications leader, and a student pastor and ministry leaders sitting down at a Starbucks.

Phil Bowdle: Um, around a really good cup of some kind of good coffee shop you know, a good coffee shop and sitting down and being able to have a conversation about it. And so that changed the lens of how I wrote everything. Cause I believe communication isn’t somebody’s job. It’s everybody’s job. Right? So everybody has a role to play. So I needed, I needed to kind of write it in a way that it connected with the senior pastor, but also was a bridge for that senior pastor to communication leaders to help them rethink communication. So that shaped everything about how it came together.

Adam: And there’s what I, what I’d really love to chat about is that before we can even understand that we need to rethink our communications, there’s three major shifts that have happened between engagement and our audience and attention and attendance I should say.

Adam: So let’s dig into attendance and talk about what has changed because before we can apply the strategies in the book and talk about announcements or talk about bulletins or talk about how, and when we choose to do certain things that traditionally we’ve already done. We have to understand that we’re not still talking about the landscape of the eighties or the nineties or, or even, you know, just a few years ago, like things are changing. So talk to me a little bit about how attendance has changed.

Phil Bowdle: Yeah. I grew up in the church and, and what you would typically expect. My, my dad being a senior pastor and watching and being there every Sunday, whether I was sick or not you know, I was going to be there and you could usually expect that people that called their church home, you can usually expect that they would be there as well.

Phil Bowdle: So, you know, the old playbook was we could build our communication around an assumption that people were attending usually every week or maybe at worst every other week, but there was consistent engagement for that. And that worked really well and the way for communication because the playbook for communication was built around that and it was built around communicating when people showed up to your building. So we had two strategies. We had what was announced on the stage and what was happening on the bolt in the bulletin, what was handed out. And usually, those were merged because most, most times it was the communication was whoever was getting up and literally reading the bulletin during the services of that and just, you know, blending those in so that, that was the old playbook then challenge that we have now is that we can no longer assume that people are attending every week.

Phil Bowdle: Cause we’re all learning in the church that you know, like I, I give the example in the book about 10 years ago when I got started here at Westridge and started building our communications department. And what I was [inaudible] from our research and study here was people weren’t attending every week. They were attending every two to three weeks. And I remember at that time thinking, wow, this is challenging. This is, things are changing, you know? Right. Fast forward the last couple of years, what we’re finding and for the average attender, and that’s across for us, you know, 10 to 12,000 people that would call our church home. The average person isn’t coming every once every two to three weeks. They’re coming more like every four to six weeks. Wow. So for us, part of the foundation of rethinking communication is the challenging question of saying what would change for all of us in the church if we knew we had eight to 10 times a year to communicate with somebody in person.

Phil Bowdle: That changes not only everything about how we communicate, that changes how we do church, right? It changes how we, the lens that you gave and how we are going to disciple people. And you know, a lot of people are freaking out about that because their win for the church’s attendance. And I don’t believe that that was the one that Jesus called us to. He said go and make disciples. Go and go and proclaim the message to all nations. And the cool thing is we’ve been given all kinds of new tools to be able to do that. So that doesn’t devalue the gathering. I think it just means that that’s where people are. How do we engage them where they are so that we can keep them connected and hopefully that leads to attendance. But at the end of the day, what else I hope it leads to is as people engage with our church, that it leads to this cycle shift that it leads to helping people make their next step with Jesus.

Phil Bowdle: So to understand that to make those changes it knowing that we may have eight to 10 times a year to communicate with somebody, it means that we have to change some things about how we’re communicating. Because a lot of people are still stuck wondering, have we announced it last Sunday? And it seemed like nobody showed up and nobody knew about it. And I don’t know why we told them, you know, it’s like, well, it’s, it’s time to rethink that because the, what worked before is not gonna work anymore. And the old playbook is certainly going to not work anymore. So it’s time to rethink it.

Adam: So two schools of thought on attendance and, and I think I’m gonna figure out where you fall before I even finished the question. But one school of thought is we need to figure out a way to get people to attend more often. Like we have to increase their attendance and the other school of thought is we need to embrace the fact that this is the reality of the culture that we live in and find ways to focus our energy on reaching them where they are. Where do you fall on that spectrum?

Phil Bowdle: Hard and tough question. I think where I’d go is, I just say, I think the way that people engage with anything now has become de-centralized. I used all of it and not just the church. That’s just the reality and that’s the lens that people are viewing their lives in. When I go on, like last night I’m checking out Apple AirPods the new ones. And you know, thinking, okay, it might be time to check those out. I want to check them out. So what do I do? I go on and I see, Hmm, is it available online? Can I get it faster online or is it available in stores? Just right there? I’m already trained to think I’m engaging with best buy. I’m engaging with them to see if they’re the best place to get this and, and to solve a problem that I have, but I’m just accessing it in two different ways.

Phil Bowdle: And both of them, both experiences are vital. If I go to the store, I’m probably not going to go and I have a bad experience. I’m probably not going to go into the website again. Right? I’ve had a bad experience, not with just the building. I had a bad experience with best buy. There’s two different interactions of that. So we’re at say is I think, you know, attendance matters because I think that’s a rhythm and a gift that God has given us in the life of believers to say that that matters when we gathered together in matters. But to say that where you can, you can disciple and connect with people online does not matter that I don’t, I don’t believe that’s true. I think they work together. And so, you know, for, for us as a, as a church, we have to, like for example, we use church online, do church online.

Phil Bowdle: We have a live stream and we don’t promote the mass out of it because our goal isn’t that somebody sees that as their destination. We stay, we want that to be a source of connection. And we want them to say, Hey, if you’re going to only be here eight to 10 times a year, no matter what we do right now we’re praying that that changes. But if that’s where you are right now, we’re going to say, Hey, while you’re at the ball field or while you’re at the Lake or where you’re traveling, would you, would you stay connected with us and join us online during that time? Well, we just went amazed by just giving that as an option for people and investing in it and making it a good experience so that people will stay connected with us. And what we found is, wow, God can use that live stream, just like you can use somebody showing up in the seats, right?

Phil Bowdle: And sometimes what we’re finding is people are having more connection and engagement and conversation in a digital space than they are in a physical space. So, you know, for us, they have to be, it’s a both, you know, and they have to work together without us viewing. We don’t have to undervalue what digital can be to try to attempt to overvalue what attendance can be. They both matter, right?

Adam: And, and we really do have to take this perspective that we can’t put it in the bulletin once or we can’t mention it from stage once or we can’t just simply, you know, have a poster in the foyer and hope that everybody sees it on their way past. And even a lot of series that we’re hearing about might only be four to six weeks. So somebody may only be seeing one message in your series.

Adam: Exactly. So really thinking about, you know, if this series is of higher importance, how do we or is central to the core of the church, how do we think through some ideas on getting it exposed in more ways to more people who may not physically be in the building?

Phil Bowdle: Yeah, I mean I think if you have a message that you believe in you have to care about how you communicate it and you have to understand where, not, where you want people to be. You have to understand where they are. Right. so yeah, you can’t count on just communicating one move week and assuming that people hear it, just cause you said it doesn’t mean people heard it. And I give the example of the inflight and announcements. I can’t remember the last time I took my headphones out to put the book down, put the iPad down just because somebody said, all right, we need your attention.

Phil Bowdle: How you put the seatbelt on, here’s how you do this stuff. Like, no, they didn’t capture it and keep my attention. And so that’s, they didn’t advocate for me in that process. But when I go to Southwest, every once in a while, there’s somebody that gets it that’s brilliant, that capture it, that earns and captures my attention and leverages that to get their message across. So I think for us in the church, whether it’s a series, whether it’s an event, whether it’s a next step that we want people to take you know, we have to know where people are. We have to capture and keep their attention and earn it and earn it instead of assuming we already have it. And then leverage that. You know, because that’s where ministry gets fun. Like that’s where we can really have fun of connecting with people online and service.

Phil Bowdle: Having some fun ways to be able to connect with people on that. But the other thing that’s on my heart though is that at the end of the day, it’s not, I, I can’t find the scripture where Jesus just says, Hey, make sure that you just get really good event attendance for your church. So we do have to remember at the end of the day, we want to, we want to be communicating what, what God wants for people, not what we want from people.

Adam: Yeah. And that’s an important shift to get over. Like I don’t know that it’s even up for discussion, right? So this is what it is and how are we going to adapt to take the message to where people are. And so it reminded me when you, you mentioned Southwest last time I was on a flight the flight attendant came on and said somebody dropped their phone.

Adam: We have it up at the front. Is this anybody’s phone? Now that we have your attention, we’d like to tell you about all the rules and know nobody had lost their phone. They just needed to grab that attention. And that created some level of engagement, which is the next thing that has shifted is engagement. And I think this rolls really nicely into, maybe you could talk about how engagement has changed, you know, sign up forms for potlucks are not cutting it anymore because engagement and the way we engage has changed. Tell us a little bit about that.

Phil Bowdle: Well, jumping back to the attendance days, the reason that people attended more frequently is Sunday was more sacred and that was more central to the engagement of somebody in the church is that happened physically inside the walls of the church. Engagement because we know that people are attending differently means that doesn’t mean that we have to just accept that.

Phil Bowdle: It just means we have to engage them differently. And so the old playbook would say you can engage somebody when they step inside the walls of your church. When they knock on the front doors of your church, you open the door and you engage them. The new playbook. The new reality for us is the best opportunities we have in the church aren’t to engage people or not inside the walls of the church. They’re actually outside the walls of the church. They start there cause some before somebody knocks on the front door of your address, your physical address, they’re checking you out. They’re looking through the window on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram on your website. That’s how they’re engaging with you before you may even know that they’re there. And so it just puts the ministry of communication and such importance for us because we have to advocate for those people.

Phil Bowdle: And we have to know that if they have a bad experience when they’re looking through the window or checking us out before, we probably have not earned the right to engage with them in person and disciple them and connect with them in that way. And so it just means our, our engagement, we have to have a physical and a digital approach to this. We have to look at it as a both/and, and they have to work together in concert with each other. They’re not, they can’t be in isolation or two whole separate experiences. They have to work together. Just like best buy. Did, you know, they, they know you may access this, just buy online and never stepped foot in our doors. Or you may be using this as a bridge to connect with us inside the walls of that store.

Phil Bowdle: So I think the church, it can look the same. Our mission doesn’t change. Our message doesn’t change, but how we deliver that message and engage with people can change and can flow just like the disciples did. So I think for us it looks no different.

Adam: So communication online can seem to look very different than communication in person. You know the fact that we’re having a face to face conversation is completely different than if we tried to have a conversation like this through email, back and forth. Right? Absolutely. And, but the cool thing is this still is digital, right? This still is online. This still is face to face. And so what I’ve found is sometimes it takes a shift in mindset to create consistency between what we’re engaging in person and what we’re engaging digitally and not see those as two separate worlds that we have a foot in each one.

Adam: So what are some of the ways we can create consistency with our message? Like your example of best buy, if you had a poor experience online, probably not going into the store or if somebody was rude to you at the store, you’re probably not going to go buy something from their website. So what are some of the ways we can create consistency between our in-person and our online experience?

Phil Bowdle: Yeah, what I’d say is you have to start with your, your mission, your message and clarity around that so that you have a target to know are you hitting this in person, are you hitting this digitally? And you know, the roles that both play on that. So you know, our, our mission maybe like we believe as a church that we believe everybody should be in a small group. Not because we just want our numbers to go up for attendance and engagement in small groups.

Phil Bowdle: We believe that God’s wired them for community. And the discipleship happens best in circles, not in rows. So our, that’s our mission. We want everybody to know that this is, this is our value and this is God’s value online. We want to make it really practical and easy for somebody to take a next step and find that it’s not, you know, that may not be their destination, that’s their direction. They’re going to use it online to be that direction. And we need to make sure that when they get there, when they get to the store when I get to the small group, that they have the experience that we promised on that. So it’s really if you don’t know, if you don’t have clarity about the win that you’re trying to accomplish, both for you and for the person you’re trying to reach, you risk the chance that you’re going to be off message.

Phil Bowdle: And that what you’re selling is not what people aren’t getting. On that or when they get there, they have a different experience than what they expected. So I think it all just goes back to clarity and that, that allows you, once you know what your message is, it allows you to change how you’re delivering that message or how you’re connecting with people. So yeah, again, it starts with clarity.

Adam: So the next piece of the puzzle, the third section of the pie is attention. And we know that there are so many more advertising messages coming at us and that now doesn’t even factor in the fact that you probably don’t count status posts from your friends on social media as advertising messages. So there’s that many more messages coming at us. How can we, or what do we need to rethink or what do we need to shift in our perspective on attention in our church communication?

Phil Bowdle: Well, the old playbook would assume that if somebody was physically with you, that you had their attention. I can tell you from growing up in like thinking about my early days in school, just because I was in the room doesn’t mean I was paying attention. So that I don’t think we ever could really trust them that necessarily. But I think now, you know, think about the information age, think about all the things that we have at the touch, like with a touch from our phone in our pocket to things that we can access now at a moment’s notice that before would’ve taken days, months or years to access. I mean, the amount of information that we all have access to is insane, right? So, you know, it’s not only it’s changing rewiring our brains in some level. What I, what I burdened for is it’s really changing how each and every single one of us are our view, like the filter that we’re using for, for the information that we give.

Phil Bowdle: So there’s not much trust and the information we get. So we kind of create, like we’ve had to build some coping mechanisms, honestly, because you know, you have I think it’s around 10,000 branded messages a day that we all see that’s not church messages, that’s just messages. And so what do we do? Well? Like what do we all do? Well, he probably looks like what I do last night when I’m watching this is us. Well, I’ve recorded it on my own convenience because I can’t have the attention of the show when it was broadcasting live. So I’m going to get it on my own convenience. I’m going to do it because I’m going to [inaudible] fast forward through all the advertisements. I didn’t watch one advertisement the whole time because it’s like, I don’t need that. I don’t want that. I don’t need to be marketed to right now.

Phil Bowdle: I want to be engaged, with the show. You know, for me, like for my computer, I put ad blocks on, I put all these things because it’s like, it’s too much. And so it’s too much in culture. But when you look at it in the lens of the church I think we have to advocate now for the person that has been there since day one and it’s been there. We have to advocate for the person that we have not yet reached. And so when that person that has come into your church for the first time after checking you out online or whatever their path is, or the neighbor that you’re bringing for the first time, that has gone through a lot or whatever, we have to know that the reality for them as they’re going to be guarded, they’re going to be assuming that whatever communication is happening to them is, is within an agenda of what, not what we want for them, but what we want from them.

Phil Bowdle: Right. And so with that in mind, I think because, because I’m already as guarded and filtered out and not paying attention, we have to know that our goal was attention. As we have to capture. We have to capture it and keep it. We have to earn it and we have seconds. We don’t have minutes. We have seconds to capture. And keep this attention. I’m just like the inflight announcements. I mean, if somebody doesn’t, if they didn’t mention that little line there to help grab your attention on the, on saying, Hey, we have somebody whose phone where everybody freaking out like, Oh, like make me laugh for, I mean, I’ve been there where they like were they free their flight attendants up to say, Hey, if you want to rap or rap the flat announcements, if you want to do whatever like you be creative, you’d be [inaudible].

Phil Bowdle: And, and make it unique, be authentic to you and, and your, you know, the message is the message isn’t changing, but how you deliver that can change so that you can earn somebody’s attention. That’s what we do in the church. That’s what you do. I didn’t do that. Don’t assume that you have somebody who’s a potential just because you have their eyeballs, because that’s, that’s not true anymore. But w but what we do have is when we can be authentic to our message when we can earn their attention we have greater ways to engage with them than ever before. But we just have to know that you have to earn it. You, you don’t already have it. And so that changes a lot about how the average church communicates for sure of, of the messages we deliver.

Adam: Yeah. And I want to jump into that a little bit because one of the important parts of the book is to realize that everything communicates right, not just what we say in the microphone from the stage communicates everything about the signage, your parking lot, getting in the front door, how you checking your kids, everything communicates, all of those things are sending a message.

Adam: And we could be concerned that we’re overwhelming people with too many communication messages. But the reality is if you find that consistency that you talked about in your engagement, then it all seems to happen together. It all feels part of the puzzle until something sticks out like a sore thumb. And so just dig in a little bit more about helping us realize that everything communicates.

Phil Bowdle: Yeah. I mean the, I believe in of communication used to be viewed as just what, just as a promotional marketing thing for what you wanted from people. Now communication is at the heart of everything that we do. So again, using the best buy example, if I go there and I have and they don’t greet me or connect with me or I go there and the sign is just all wrong and where I wanted to get those you know, headphones that said that was over here, but it really was somewhere else that communicates just as much as, as the product or, or anything like that is communication, right?

Phil Bowdle: So everything plays a role into that because it’s all, there’s a message at the end of that communication. There’s a purpose behind it. There’s a next step. So I think for us in the church, part of why I wanted to write it in a way that it wasn’t just for the common leader, but it was really for a staff, for a whole leadership team or whatever, is that we have to know communication isn’t somebody’s job, it’s everybody’s job. And we all have a role to play. And if they all, if the ministry is if the communications team or a leader or a person or volunteer is communicating something and differently than what the ministry is communicating, or they S they make a promise that somebody else doesn’t deliver on or whatever, if they’re not in sync, then we’ve missed our opportunity to communicate our message.

Phil Bowdle: So at the heart of it, if we know the message, we’re communicating and we know the methods, we’re using the, Oh, I have to be in sync on that so that we’re advocating for the person we’re trying to reach because everything, everything they do from beginning to end communicates.

Adam: Yeah. And I love that it communication isn’t somebody’s job, it’s everybody’s job. And so how can we create that consistent experience where, you know, the kid’s pastor thinks he or she is doing what’s best and the youth guy he is,

Phil Bowdle: It’s always the kids’ pastor, right?

Adam: And listen, I’m not saying, but what I am saying is so, you know, everybody can individually think they’re doing what’s best and still not be creating cohesive communications across somebody’s experience at your church. So how do we get all on the same page? Yeah, great question.

Phil Bowdle: I think it is always the kids’ pastor. It seems like we’re lucky with a great one here and everything. But, so the cool thing about God’s mysterious plan is that he’s got, he’s wired all of us differently and he’s given all of us a plan and a purpose and a calling. And he said the church is his plan a and there’s no plan B. So with that in mind, I think he, he’s counting, he’s counting on the people that he’s called on the mission. He’s called to work together. It’s called all of us. He said, I’m giving you tools and talents and skills. I’ve given, so I’m given that kids pastor a really compelling message and a heart for those kids and a mission. He may in his, in his plan, he may have not given him the gift of communication or he may have, or that kid’s pastor may have thought, Oh, I’m really, really, I think, I think God gave me a gift of graphic design, but everybody else around them knows that would not be the gift that I think we would, we would recognize there.

Phil Bowdle: So what’s cool about it is if we can look at communication that the people in communication, not just as a marketing team or a service department of just helping this, the ministry just execute what they want. But if we can view them as a ministry, as a partnership with the ministry, the ministry of kids with administrative communication, the beautiful thing that happens, you can complement each other and you, you’re not counting on the kid’s pastor to be the marketing expert. You’re counting on the kid’s pastor to be the ministry expert for kids. And you’re counting on the communications people to say, how do I leverage your heart for what you’re trying to do? And how do I leverage that on Facebook or our website? Or how do I take the tools that I’ve got with the tools that you’ve got and partner together and then make something happen?

Phil Bowdle: So it’s not rocket science, but it is, it is changed because the average church looks at their communications department as a service department. It’s a 15 minute oil change. It’s a, Hey, here’s what I want. Here’s what I want it, here’s what I want it to look like. And here’s, you know, here’s, here’s what I need this thing back. And you go execute that and make it look pretty, do whatever you want or whatever. But here’s what I want it. And w when we do that, we are, we are literally robbing the gifts, not only of the communications people around you, we’re robbing God’s gift of what that person could do for the ministry of the church. When we do that. So we have to be able to look at these as partnership opportunities, not just a service department.

Phil Bowdle: And, and be able to really leverage the gifts that God’s given everybody. And it takes a different level of humility to say we’re better together than we are alone. So it’s, it means change. It means some new rhythms and it means communication leaders leading the way and building relationships, not just building service requests and work orders. And I’m on that. So it takes change all across the board, but it matters because I think we have the greatest opportunities we’ve ever had to be able to leverage the message of the gospel. So it’s time for us to take hold of that. It’s time for us to work together.

Adam: So, I really appreciate the practicality of the book. And as you’re listening, you’re probably thinking, okay, those are high-level ideas about the changes in attendance and engagement and attention. And yes they are, but there are a very, very small portion of the book because then Phil digs right into the practical ways that these matter, different pieces of communications throughout your churches, communication strategy.

Adam: So, Phil, how about you give me I’ll fire you a communication point and you tell me how this works in a really practical sense. So one of my favorite, one of my favorite is announcements during church service. Okay. So how do I lead? Okay, how do I know? And that’s why I’m pushing the button. But how do we rethink what our announcements look like?

Phil Bowdle: Yeah. going back to attention, I think the average person walking inside the walls of your church or connecting with their church is not looking for hundreds of things to engage with. They are already overwhelmed. So we have to advocate for that person. We have to, we have to, with everything we say and communicate, we have to advocate for that person and simplify on that. And so I think for us as, as a when we’re thinking about announcements, we have to rethink communication announcements as not announcements, but as next steps.

Phil Bowdle: And you can’t. So for all of us, if I said, Hey, I want you to take a next step and I’ve got 10 minutes here and I want to give you the 15 next steps that I want you to take this week what are we all going to do? We are crippled and we don’t do any of them. All right? Like we don’t do, we don’t take any next step because we are so overwhelmed. What would change for us in the church if we said, Hey, at the end of the service we want to give you one next step, one opportunity to apply what you’ve heard today and, and encourage all of us as, as a body of believers, as a church, say one next step to become more fully devoted followers of Jesus. If we can do that, then if you give me one thing, now we’re talking now.

Phil Bowdle: So I believe for us on the church, we have to be rethinking that to know this is the attention that we have, these are the things we need to engage people with and we need to simplify and clarify that so that we can help people take their next step. Cause they’re not going to take everything. They’re going to take probably one to two things. So for us, what I encourage everybody to do and what we do is we try to say for every week of the year, what are the one to two key next steps that we want people to be able to take during the week. And when we do that, we, we don’t count on just the in-service announcement to be the only way we’re communicating, right. We take a chance in every service to share a next step if we have it. And we are, believe it or not, we have some weeks where we don’t have an announcement and church still happens and lives are still trying to use all this stuff.

Phil Bowdle: These are great weeks, you know, and it’s like, Hey, we just had a great experience. We’ll see you next week, you know? So we take every week of the year and take what are those one to two key next steps that are that we are encouraging people to take. We share those in service, but we also in a physical way when people are attending. But we also say the bandwidth that we have on, on our digital space for our website, for our email, for our social media, we can’t communicate 15 things. So we want to take this same one to two things and leverage telling stories and engaging people in fun ways on our digital platform and helping them take a next step there. Cause it takes for the average person about seven impressions for somebody to take a next step, whatever it is. So do the math.

Phil Bowdle: If you’re announcing 10 things, that 70 impressions that you would likely need to make to help somebody do that, that’s not gonna happen. Nobody has that much bandwidth. But if you say, okay, I’m going to announce this thing on a, on a Sunday and I’m going to tell a story about it on Monday afternoon on social media and I’m going to share that on the email. You can’t, you can only do that for so many things. So all that said, if we view announcements, that’s just a time to be an information dump. We’re going to miss, we’re not going to accomplish what we want, but if we can simplify, create some standards around what matches those one to two things each week so that we have a filter and standard for what we say yes to and no to then I think we have the opportunity to earn people’s attention and really effectively communicate those things.

Adam: Yeah. So your book covers all different touchpoints that people are going to experience in church and, and communications and how to practically apply each of those things. One more thing I just want to jump into is what is the, what is the benefit of telling a story rather than broadcasting information? So why would you tell a story about a family who has changed about your small group rather than broadcasting all the dates and times and locations and how to sign up for a small group. Talk to me a little bit about that shift in communication.

Phil Bowdle: Yeah. I mean, there’s a reason that movies are more engaging than, than instructional manual. All right. We see them, we see ourselves and we see ourselves in the stories. So I think when we can when we as a church can share stories of life change of how Jesus is still in the life change business when we can share stories that people see themselves in to know, Oh, this is a place for me.

Phil Bowdle: You know, I, I can see myself there and when we can actually tell practical, simple, non-sensational stories sometimes where somebody does overcome a barrier that other people have and they experience some kind of level of breakthrough, then I think what we would give the opportunity to is again, for people to see themselves in the story and enter into the story themselves. When we just blitz information, it just feels like that’s for somebody else or that’s the, or we don’t capture their attention. Even help people enter into that. I think the biggest mistake that churches make is for storytelling. They view the, the need for a story comes up when they hear of a, you know, a small group that met, you know, somebody in the hospital. Like they met the person in the hospital, they all sat around and prayed for that person.

Phil Bowdle: They were on their deathbed and then now they’re miraculously saved, which I believe still happens. I’m not saying that doesn’t still happen, some beautiful, awesome story, but it’s hard for people to relate to. They don’t see themselves in it. Sure. But when we can share the story of somebody that was said, Hey, like [inaudible] I was too busy to be in a small group. I thought it wasn’t worth my time. I didn’t really know. I thought you know, our kids are too busy right now and I didn’t want to just sit around in a circle and pray cause I don’t know the Bible super well, but my wife and I just decided that, Hey, we’re going to give it a shot and here’s what happened and here’s what life change we’ve experienced. When we tell a story like that, everybody’s like, Oh, that’s me.

Phil Bowdle: That’s me. Like I am too busy right now. That’s why I’m not doing this. Or, Oh, yeah, I thought, I thought if they can do that with their kids right now in that season of life, then maybe I can, like that’s the beauty of storytelling. It doesn’t have to be sensational. Sometimes it just has to be practical and authentic. But that’s the opportunity we have. And it doesn’t always have to be a video. Oh, sometimes it’s like a short, you know, social media posts that you’re, that creates some interest or it’s a story that you share in an offering setup or something like that. There’s a lot of opportunities to share stories. But as communication leaders, we need to be collecting those at all times and we need to lower the bar of saying it’s not the sensational that that could be a hallmark movie.

Phil Bowdle: It’s the practical of saying, Hey, how, who overcame this barrier that everybody else resonates with and how can we leverage that story to help other people engage in it? So that’s the power of story. It’s way better than information. Inspiration always wins.

Adam: Okay. Listeners, if you do not have rethink communication, this is not an option. So we’re not saying if you’d like to check out Phil’s book. No, no, no. If you do not own it, you need to go get it Phil. Where can anybody who doesn’t yet have rethink communication, track it down.

Phil Bowdle: Yeah. You can just get a And there’s links there for all the places that you can download or, or purchase that and then, or you can just Google it or go on Amazon and just search, rethink communication or my name Phil Bowdle and find it there.

Adam: And if somebody wants to connect with you and hang out with you on social media and on your blog, how do they track you down there?

Phil Bowdle: Yeah, just And if you get the book my phone numbers in the back so you can shoot me a text. A lot of people have of just asking a question or sharing something fun, you know that they’re there alone. [inaudible] So feel free to connect with me that way as well.

Adam: Cool. Phil, thank you so much for hanging out. I’m excited for what you’re doing for church communications everywhere and practically seeing it working at West Ridge. So thank you so much for hanging out today.

Phil Bowdle: Thanks so much, man. Appreciate it.