When it comes to community engagement and outreach; or to strengthening your congregation; or to communications strategy, there’s one rule of thumb that crosses all boundaries and is always a good idea: Know your audience.
Knowing your audience is the first step in any good communications audit. Knowing your audience helps us as we make plans for evangelism, or for local outreach. But knowing your audience is easier said than done.
Luckily, there are some helpful tools available to church leaders to help us get to know those audiences from a demographic standpoint.
The Episcopal Church has recently released Studying Your Congregation and Community. This tool takes data from annual parochial reports from Episcopal churches for the past 11 years and offers it in easy-to-read charts, helping you identify trends in membership, attendance and more.
Earlier this year, the Public Religion Research Instituted launched the American Values Atlas, an online database that shows how Americans feel about important social issues on a geographic basis.
Of course, data is just part of the “getting to know you” stage when it comes to targeting your audience. The next – and perhaps most important – step is engaging with your community. Sharing stories, listening and being present. But that’s another blog post!
–Emily Cherry, Communications Director