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Getting Started In Church Communications – Now What?

This post is part of a mulit-part series giving pointers to those who are starting out in church communications.

You’ve taken the plunge and landed a job as a church communications professional. What should you do now? Where should you begin? Which is more important: redesigning the website, overhauling the bulletin, creating a social media strategy, or writing a communications manual for the church staff?

The road ahead, while exciting, can feel a bit overwhelming.

Relationships

The most important thing to do is begin building relationships with other staff members. Before they will trust you and your vision for the church’s communication strategy, they need to know that you are there to serve them. Help them to know that you’re their biggest fan. Spend the first few months attending their events and gatherings. Buy fellow staffers lunch and ask them about their vision for their ministry area. You will not only find out what makes their heart beat, but you might also discover ways to communicate their priorities that you hadn’t previously considered.

Another key relationship to cultivate, and one that is often forgotten, is that of your direct report and of your senior pastor (if they aren’t the same person). Your primary job as chief communicator is to help the leader of the organization communicate his/her vision and priorities. This includes communicating this vision to the staff and to the congregation.

Processes

Once you’ve spent plenty of time learning about your fellow laborers and what’s important to them, you can start thinking through processes. A few questions to ask yourself:

  • How will people submit bulletin requests to you? (I love Phil Bowdle’s solution)
  • How will you decide who gets platform announcements?
  • How are you going to keep it all organized? Are you going to use Basecamp or Google Docs?
  • Are you responsible for your church’s IT? If so, how are you going to handle support requests?
  • If you have a communications budget, how are you going to spend it?
  • Are you the maintainer of equipment (copiers, printers, etc)…how are you going to approach that? Are there any vendor relationships you need to cultivate? What is your process going to be for that? Trust me, you don’t want to be just another client to vendors!

Specifics

After you get your process in place, you can begin the specifics that I mentioned above, such as overhauling the website. Based on what you learned about vision and strategy above, and using the proceses you’ve put in place, this part should be somewhat natural.

Here is a random (abridged) list of things to think through:

  • Internal Communications
  • What methods are you going to use to communicate the vision, the story, and announcements to your congregation?
  • Bulletins
  • Videos
  • Brochures
  • Web site
  • Social media
  • External Communications
  • How are you going to communicate about the church to the community?
  • Advertising/marketing
  • Phone Book (do these things still exist?)
  • Social media (again)
  • Web site
  • Organizational Communication
  • How are you going to communicate internal organizational details?
  • Communicating what you’re going to communicate
  • (I love what Cleve does here to accomplish this)
  • Helping the church leaders communicate to the staff

Ultimately, every journey into church communications is unique. However, let me encourage you: your job is bigger than you think! What you do matters. A lot. You have the responsibility to [help] communicate the life-changing truth of God in a way that is clear and understandable. You get to be the primary connection point between someone and an event where they might take the first step in a new eternal direction.

If you are feeling a little overwhelmed, that’s a good thing! In a world where communication is central in everything, you should be feeling the weightiness of your calling. Embrace it! And know that you’re not out there alone. I’m praying for you and God is there to guide your steps (Proverbs 3:6 )!

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