Friction … Friend or Foe in Church Communication?

Friction is the force resisting the relative motion of solid surfaces, fluid layers, and material elements sliding against each other.

Friction is an interesting topic when applied to church communications. A part of our role as leaders is to reduce friction to help people take steps in their spiritual lives. The reality of our task is that sometimes simple stuff slows people down in their spiritual development and our job is to remove that sort of friction. Our job in communications is to reduce as much friction as possible to make it as easy as possible for people to “make the right choice” and take steps towards Jesus. Here are simple areas where we need to reduce the friction in the communications process at your church …

  • Make Signing Up Easier // Every church I know has some sort of sign up process for the various ministries it runs. Even in a “simple church” there are teams and groups that need to be populated. What if your sign up process is slowing people down when as they try to into your ministries? What hoops do you make people jump through when they sign up for stuff? Are you leveraging technology to make it as streamlined as possible? Do you need to reduce the total pieces of information you are asking for to make it super simple for people to sign up?  What unnecessary steps do you need to remove to help people get connected to your church?
  • Slow Loading Website // This one is CRAZY SIMPLE … does your website take forever to load? Drop by this tool … and enter your website address. If the results say that your site isn’t faster than at least 30% of the websites tested … it’s too slow. Think about … people who are visiting your website are making decisions about your church … if your website takes forever to load than they are going to make a value judgement about you. Even if it’s at a subconscious level they will perceive your church as behind the times … and hard to interact with. Really … it matters.
  • Analysis Paralysis // I remember a time when churches used to “brag” about how many ministries they offer. “We have over 120 different sub-ministries ready to serve you.” Really ... people actually said that sort of stuff. It’s crazy talk. If you can’t articulate the best next step for your people after every weekend service in 10 words or less … it’s too complicated. The more “options” you give people the less people will choose. Really. It’s a fact. How are you defining the “next steps” for your people in a straight forward manner?

In another way … our role is add friction in our communication with our people … to slow them down and make then notice what we need them to notice. Sometimes people are floating through their day and not thinking about their best next step in their spiritual journey. Our role in that situation is to interrupt their flow and leverage friction to move them in the right direction. Here a few areas that you might consider adding some friction to your church communications …

  • MXC_registrationPhone People // Remember the phone? What if rather than just emailing or Facebooking people about your next ministry function you actually set up a system for calling people and inviting them to be a part of it? Over that last few months I’ve been leveraging the phone and getting some great results. We doubled our registration at an important parent’s meeting for our student ministry by calling the parents’ and taking their registrations over the phone. Check out this graphic that shows the registration for a middle school event we hosted a few weeks ago. There is a pronounced inflection point when we started phoning parent’s and asking them if their kids were coming.
  • Block Their Way // What if you literally got in the way of your people in the foyer. Most churches think through making the transition from the car to the seat as smooth as possible. But what if you flipped that script on it’s head and make a scene in the foyer. Recently we promoted a series called Cold Case Christianity by having a crime scene in all of our foyers … people have to literally step around a chalk drawing on the ground, police tape & lights. We wanted to interrupt people’s entrance as they came in. [I recently heard about an exclusive bar in NYC called “Please Don’t Tell” where you have to enter through a phone booth in a normal looking “hot dog shop” … talk about creating a hurdle for people to make it through! It goes without saying but there is a waiting list every time it’s open for people to get in.]
  • Invade Their Mail Box // I continue to be a big fan of sending stuff to people’s mail box … actual mail box … like the thing that the USPS delivers to. So much communication is digital that generally just bad news arrives in our mailboxes at home … bills & junk mail. Why not design a great piece from your church and mail it to people. (Bonus Idea: Our family ministry team mailed balls to their volunteers … really! Dropped them in the mail and they arrived with a big stamp on it that let their team know they have a ball with them on it. People LOVED it!)

What did I miss? What other areas do we need to reduce friction for our people? What are some areas that we need to leverage friction to get their attention?


  1. These are great ideas! We’re always looking for better ways to communicate but fear can get in the way – fear that we’ll upset people, fear that it won’t work, fear that we’ll look silly… Which is really funny because usually, when you try something new, it works really well. We don’t need more announcements, but that’s what we default to.

    1. Stafford!

      Thanks for dropping by.

      It’s so true … we fear people will notice what we’re doing! 🙂 Lately I’ve been repeating that if people are complaining about our communications … about the fact that we’re overdoing it … than we probably aren’t doing enough!

      Thanks so much. Have a great week.


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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.