The Communication Triangle: A Picture of Communication for Churches and Ministries

The Communication Triangle: A Picture of Communication for Churches and Ministries

How the Communication Triangle can help you focus your messaging strategy for your church or ministry. The result: More disciples, more unity, less “competition.”

By: Jason Bowman | Branding Church Branding Communications & Marketing featured Ministry Branding

What Is the Communication Triangle?

(Below is a lightly edited transcription of the above video, a conversation between ArtSpeak Creative founders Kirk Hadden and Jason Bowman.)

Kirk: Today, we want to show you a picture of communication. One that’s been helpful for us in our conversations about communication. Whether that’s a branding project, website project, any given campaign, or graphic at all, you can illustrate the challenges of any communication problem with what’s called a Communication Triangle. 

We’re borrowing a lot of that Communication Triangle language from Phil Bowdle and his book Rethink Communications. It’s a great book, specifically about church communication

But these principles apply to any communication context.

Communication Triangle Part One: Who Are You?

Part 1: Who Are You?

We’ll have to start with one leg of the triangle: That’s you!

In any context, there’s a “them:” 

  • You and your spouse
  • You as a church and your audience
  • You as a business and your customers. 

There’s you, and there’s them in any communication context. Now, the reality is, in between “you” and “them” are going to be some obstacles.

The Communication Triangle is a Picture of Empathy

Jason: We’ve talked about that in the past. How do you navigate those obstacles in communication, regardless of who we are or who we’re trying to communicate to. 

We recommend empathy

  • Am I doing my best to consider what they know?
  • What do they value?
  • What is their perspective? 

By putting myself in their shoes, that’s going to help shorten the gap between them and us.

Part 2: Who Is “Them”?

Kirk: As we understand this leg of the communication triangle, you, who are you? What are your distinguishing characteristics? You do have to understand who it is that you’re talking to, and you need to understand some things about them so that you can cross that gap. 

Empathy comes into play when we talk about the next leg of the communication triangle. Because if we’re going to move up from here, there’s a set of things that you want. This is why your organization exists. This is what you want in life. Again, wherever “you” we’re talking about. This is your vision. 

Now, your audience’s reality has a different set of things that they want and hope for. 

These are their psychographics. These are the things that keep them up at night, the things that they hope will happen this year, next year. These are their desires. 

Hopefully, if you have something to say to this audience at all, those two circles overlap. There is an area in between what you want for them and what they want, too.

The Shared Win or Win-Win is your message to your audience

The Win-Win Is Your Message 

Jason: That’s the win-win. That is your message. This conversation applies everywhere you want to lead people.

What are their hopes, dreams, and fears? What do they want? Come alongside that. 

Because you can get up there and you can talk about what you want. You can get to what you love. But that doesn’t mean that it’s going to add value to your audience. 

Finding the area of overlap is critical for determining the win-win. So I recommend building your message, whether it’s a: 

  • sermon
  • keynote
  • social media post
  • love note to your spouse(!)

Build it on the “win-win” — what they already value.

Step 3: Understand the Obstacles

The communication triangle helps people overcome their obstacles when it comes to messaging strategy.

Kirk: So from here, to keep this short and simple, you’ve got this communication triangle. Understand who you are, what is it that you want. Understand who you’re talking to. Understand what they want. 

Now the third element here is the obstacles in between. 

What do they think about you right now? 

Do they even know you exist and if they do, do they like you? That might be an obstacle. 

Secondly, what’s in between you and your vision. There might be some obstacles there that you need to be aware of. There might be some challenges that your organization faces to move forward. That might play into your messaging. 

Finally, there are some obstacles in between them and what they want in life. And this is an obstacle for them, it’s an obstacle to you, but it’s also the opportunity. 

This is where your message can come alongside them and say, “You want this; we can help you get there.” And now you have something to talk about.

Are You Willing to Build this Foundation?

Jason: The foundation that you built, which is your willingness to:

  • Plan ahead
  • Think through all of those obstacles
  • Empathizing by putting yourself in their shoes

Because the truth is, they might not even know that they want “the good thing” that you are bringing to your city, community, and culture. 

The Communication Triangle: A Picture of Communication for Churches and Ministries
Download: The Communication Triangle

Download: The Communication Triangle

Get Started Building Your Messaging Strategy Foundation with the Communication Triangle.

If you are trying to do deep, spiritual, life-changing work in people’s lives, your message is critical. It has the power to revolutionize lives now and for eternity.

Additional Tools to Apply the Communication Triangle in Your Context

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If you’re reading this, it’s probably because God entrusted you with a message that changes lives and motivates you. We love that, and we’d love to get alongside it!

Fill out the form below and tell us where your organization’s greatest challenge is. We’ll schedule a call with you.