As the deacons are preparing for next month's deacon’s retreat I recall stories of deacon’s retreats in the past. I have heard many stories of early deacon’s retreats held in Natural Bridge, and the joke was that the “new” deacons were always assigned the room directly adjacent to the railroad tracks resulting in several jolting interruptions during the night. I remember Williamsburg deacon retreats and dinner at the Seafarer and ordering coffee and the waiter holding the coffee pitcher over his head to pour into a cup on the table.
But there is another deacon retreat from which there is one line that I hear repeated often. I’m not sure the location of the retreat, and I don’t know that year’s active deacons. I don’t know if there was an outside leader or if it was an in house retreat. But Jesse Green was the interim pastor, and he made this statement: almost every issue that a church faces can be traced back to poor communication.
I hear this line repeated from time to time, and I think it has never ceased to be as true as when Jesse said it. Communication is important. In marriages, in families, in businesses, in schools, and in churches. I am aware of a church in Goochland who instead of hiring a new secretary re-named and adjusted that position into Communications Coordinator.
May Memorial spends a great deal of time on communication.
1. Weekly Newsletter. This is the primary method of communication within the church family. Many churches, even larger churches, only send a monthly newsletter. May Memorial’s is sent every Monday by email. There is also a list in the church office for those who do not have access to email and a paper copy is sent through the USPS. Included in the newsletter is:
· Prayer list
· Upcoming events
· Previous Sunday’s offering total, including special gifts
· Pastor’s column (almost weekly)
· Thursday night menu
· Youth activities
· Children’s activities
· Music news
· Worship theme for the upcoming Sunday
· Business meeting announcements
· Business meeting minutes
· New members
· Thank You Notes
· Bible Study Information
· Special Services
· Team updates
2. Sunday Bulletins. Every Sunday a bulletin is printed that not only includes the order of worship for the day, but announcements. Because of time constraints all of these announcements are not spoken in worship. But the bulletin always includes:
· Calendar for the week
· Deacons of the Month
· Who gave that day’s flowers
· Offering total from previous Sunday
· Menu for Thursday night
· Guest/Meal card
· Youth Activities
· Children’s Activites
· Music news
· Missions news/announcements
3. Through the week various emails are sent on an “as-need” basis to the church, and often these announcements are also sent on a robo-call. These announcements include:
· Hospital admissions
· Urgent health crisis of a member
(When sending information about hospital admissions, surgeries, and health concerns consideration is given to respect a person’s privacy and not to offer private details. While John Smith may want the church to pray for him, he may not want the church to know the private details of his condition. Also, I would never want to give incorrect information about a health condition. The purpose of the emails is to call our church to prayer.)
· Death of church members and death of church member’s immediate family
· Occasional reminders from the pastor or from the church office
· Weather Closings and other calendar changes
4. Church Website. The website is updated in the church office, and we work hard to keep information current. You will find many things on the website, including:
· Each week’s bulletin
· Each week’s newsletter
· Previous sermons
· The Church calendar
· Weather Closings
· Staff, phone numbers, weekly schedule, address, email addresses, etc.
I would offer several requests from you:
1. If you read through this list and you know of a way that we can communicate more effectively please let us know. Is there information you need to know and cannot find? Are you not getting emails? Robo-Calls? Please call the church office and we will make sure you are on the list.
2. Just because you didn’t hear it doesn’t mean it wasn’t announced. Take time to read the newsletters, the bulletins, and the emails. And again, going back to number 1, if you are not receiving the newsletter or emails let the church office know.
3. If there is something you need more information about or clarifications please call me or come to the church. My door is always open, and if I do not have the information you need I will help you find it.
4. If you are gifted in the area of communications and technology this could be a great way for you to serve God in the church.