I often hear things like "we're the best-kept secret" and then "if more people understood all the good things we had to offer, we'd be turning people away."

That’s a communication problem. And since the overwhelming majority of churches don't turn people away on Sunday morning, we can assume one of two things:

1. The ministries aren’t interesting. This can be a community issue and not necessarily a ministry issue, if the people near you are so carnal that nothing offered spiritually will ever interest them. Or your ministries simply aren't created properly to your community.

2. The ministries aren’t communicated properly. If people don't hear to become interested, they'll never know. And they'll never come. What a sad situation.

Let's pretend it's the second. You're investing a lot into ministries to share the love of Christ. So how much are you willing to spend to get someone to hear and know your benefits?

Imagine if a restaurant invested $3,000 for ingredients and $2,000 into the salaries to make the food for one day, then hundreds of dollars for the location and infrastructure (land cost and building cost). Pretend it costs $6,000 per day (imagine for a year).

What promotional, communications or advertising cost would be justified? It's critical to get it right, or you waste everything. Some businesses say 10 percent of revenues. Some less, some more. You're a nonprofit, should that mean more? Or less?

Successful businesses know their communications investment is worth it. And they tweak messages and become as creative as possible to get the attention of their community. It's that important.

Meanwhile, local churches often rely heavily on unpaid word-of-mouth communications and resist spending enough so that their purchases, salaries and real estate become utilized and needed. And then they wonder why they're in decline or stagnation.

So what should a church do? What should a church pay for good communications? Here's what I think for an average, mid-range church:

1. Hire or assign a communication specialist. This person must be someone who is trusted by leadership, knows communications, loves your community and congregation, and wants to enable ministry. Cost: $12,000 (part-time) to $55,000 (full-time). Or more or less depending on what you're requiring. This person is critical. Don't skimp here if you have a great product. A trained volunteer may be able to do this, but it's difficult because most churches require so much.

2. Establish a solid brand. Needed: a professionally-designed unique logo, a strategic communication tagline (thread) and brand guidelines. Cost: $3,000 to $30,000. Check portfolios, deadlines and expectations before deciding on price. You get what you pay for.

3. Create a solid, responsive website that's easy to maintain. This allows communications (stage, print, social and email) to refer to it and lets someone validate what they're hearing. Cost: $7,000 to $30,000 depending on complexity. This can also be done for a recurring monthly fee with website providers. Just ensure you can customize and scale it easily.

These numbers are broad and ballparked. Can you afford them? We have the greatest story ever told — it's difficult to put a price on communicating it. Just do it with excellence. Please.