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12 Lessons Learned From a Church Comm Rookie

Welp. I’ve officially been a part of the church communications community for one year.

Last September, I joined The Fellowship at Two Rivers team (formerly Two Rivers Baptist Church) in Nashville as the communications director. It’s been crazy, rewarding, frustrating, and fun. But more than anything, it’s been an incredible year of learning and experimenting.

Here are 12 lessons I’ve learned over the past year.

1. Own it.

The very first thing Kathy Chapman Sharp told me.

2. Practice makes perfect.

It amazes me to see how far my design has come in just a year.

3. Take time to look at what other churches are doing.

However, be the church God created you to be in the community He’s placed you in. Don’t try to be the cool church across town for the sake of being trendy.

4. Re-educate.

Re-education may take a while, but is beneficial in the long run.

Two Rivers was very traditional in the past. Transforming it into a church that engages culture and that tries to be salt and light means doing things differently (which means re-educating your folks about where and how to get information, among other things).

5. Can’t always get what you want.

The pastor and/or leadership want to own the final product just as much as you do. Sometimes this means sacrificing your first choice. Only present quality work and you have nothing to worry about.

6. You can’t be the sole communicator for every ministry.

Ministries and leaders have to be willing to be the catalyst for conversations, which is the best communication piece.

7. Nothing will be perfect.

There will be typos, printers will mess up, colors will be off, deadlines won’t be met, information will be missing, and on and on. Strive for excellence but remember the big picture—which is Christ.

My sister, Katie, helped me through my first big mistake as I sat in my car crying during my lunch break. I made her tell me again about her first big mistake at Purpose Driven. :)

8. Design by committee sucks.

But it happens. Try to minimize it and just deal with it.

9. Aim for integration, avoid disconnect.

In marketing, we called this Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). It goes beyond branding and color palettes. There needs to be consistency in message, identity and vision coming out of every Sunday morning, individual ministries, the web, videos, printed pieces, etc. (Dr. Izzo, you are a mean, arrogant, old man. But I will never forget the importance of IMC.)

10. Hit Refresh.

Take time to read blogs and books by people smarter than you. There’s a reason why they are where they are and why you are where you are.

11. Stay Organized.

Make things easier for you by creating project requests forms, a great organization system, and master and daily to-do lists.

12. Be Semi-Homemade.

I’m a one-woman-show. I don’t have time to create everything from scratch, get it printed, get it online, and on the calendars all in time. I’m constantly going to StuffIcanuse.com, vecteezy.com, creationswap.com, sxc.hu, etc. for things I can customize or to draw inspiration.

I realize that many of you learned these lessons years ago or may disagree with them completely—I may even disprove some of these points on my own in the next year. But that’s ok. I’m still learning and I still have many miles to go.

Oh yeah. And a great big hug and thanks to Katie and Cleve Persinger. The best mentors and friends ever! Seriously could not have made it professionally or mentally this past year with out y’all.

Laura BennettToday’s post was written by Laura Bennett. Just a year removed from school in the north Georgia mountains, Laura serves as Communications Director at The Fellowship of Two Rivers in Nashville. You can follow her on Twitter @laurabennett113.
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  1. Curtis Honeycutt (Reply) on September 13th, 2011

    This is great insight Laura…I am just starting as a graphic designer at my church. Thanks for letting me glean from your wisdom.

  2. Reba (Reply) on September 13th, 2011

    Great post Laura. I learned these the hard way as well. I worked in a church in California for 5 years and now work at a church here in Nashville, as well. It does get easier but the journey is sure interesting.

  3. Julie Hofmann Berry (Reply) on September 13th, 2011

    Thanks for sharing Laura! I was challenged and encouraged by this!

  4. Gwyneth (Reply) on September 15th, 2011

    Great post! I think you are right on as I learned and worked through most of those.

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