If I’m planting a church, this is the basic to do list I’m using to get started:
- Answer a few questions: Why am I planting this church? Who has God called me to reach? What are the foundations of this church? How am I going to sustain my family (and other business-related questions)? What community am I planting in?
- Gather a core of people to help me.
- Raise funds, raise funds, and raise some more funds through core, sponsor churches, denomination affiliations, etc.
- Start discipleship and stewardship of the core.
- Name the church.
- Ask questions in the community to find out needs and spiritual positioning.
- Find a place to meet (even if it’s my home at first).
- Website and social media presence
- Handouts with the vision/something in the hands of the core
- Design a logo.
- Invite people by social media, word of mouth, invite cards, etc.
- Organize children’s programming.
- Purchase sound equipment, chairs, computer, presentation software, signs, etc.
- Have volunteers for children and worship and set-up.
- Meet weekly or with preview services, etc.
- Follow-up processes
I know this is over simplified and not necessarily in order, but I’ve been a part of enough campus and church launches to know it’s pretty accurate.
Of these 16 bullet points, ten of them have something to do with community engagement, communication, multimedia, or could use some major assistance in those areas.
So, I ask the Church, why is a communications position so far down the list of needs?
Why do we put hiring (vs. volunteers, part time, etc.) a worship leader or children’s minister ABOVE our ability to communicate to our community and congregation well?
When I look at the creative folks I admire, they are ministers first and professionals second. Most of them came from other areas of ministry at some point in their journey and their ability to communicate the gospel and build relationships is second to none.
Let’s stop viewing this role as a “professional” position and see these communication experts as the important ministers they are who are vital to the growth of your ministry.
So, you know that these things are important and you have enough self-awareness to realize that either you, as a lead pastor, don’t have the time or talent to do it all yourself or you don’t have budget to hire someone fully dedicated to communications. I hear you loud and clear.
Have you considered these possibilities?
Dual purpose position
We’re multi-talented folks; what if you hired a family pastor who is excellent at both building relationships and creating communication processes like The Fields Church in Mattoon, IL did (Evan Courtney, Family Life Pastor | Communications Director)?
Part time position
Have you thought about allowing a three-quarter-time external communications strategist to have side business to make up the rest of their income like I’ve heard a lot of churches doing lately including The Chapel doing this for Cleve?
What if the first volunteer core person on your launch team was a local web designer/jack-of-all trades who has a heart for church planting? Cleve served in this role with a church plant in Nashville several years ago until our move to Chicago – just a loyal rock star volunteer who knew his stuff.
One fulltime guy
Instead of saying you can’t afford a team, hire one jack-of-all-trades like previous comm director Chuck Scoggins who can do it all from social media to design to video.
What if you paid a talented mom with side career in communications a few contract dollars a month to take this burden off you and join you in ministry? Or bring in a small church communications business to walk with you in this journey and can do so for far less than the cost of an employee.
Instead of hiring someone with a lot of experience, hire an eager, teachable communications expert right out of school and pay them $20k less than you would have to pay someone with 10 years experience like The Fellowship in Nashville did in hiring Laura Bennett at 22 years old.
There are dozens of ways with every size budget to make communications a priority for EVERY church. Don’t wait until you have 20 people on staff and a couple thousand people in weekend attendance to realize this is the missing piece like most churches.
I know that new and existing churches care about being relevant, creatively communicating the Good News, and reaching out to their communities, so put your resources and energy where your heart is. Be an example and do things with excellence.