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Part one of a two part series on Church Communication Professionals.
In the world of church communications, it is important for us to learn from each other and share what works and what doesn't. With that in mind, I wanted to interview Emilie Finke, an amazing church communicator who is in charge of Social Media & Women's Ministry at The Point in Knoxville, Tennessee, and give us all a chance to learn from her ministry.
Please take a moment to introduce yourself and share a bit about your background that led you to your current position.
My name’s Emilie and I like people and need Jesus. Those qualities can lead a person to about a million different occupations, but somehow I found myself at Concordia Texas. I studied DCE ministry there, never truly nailing down a specific career path. I tried a lot of things, still liked people and needed Jesus, and hoped God would work out the details.
What is your position and where do you serve?
God worked out the details by leading me to The Point. The Point is a six-year old church plant in a movie theater in a mall in Knoxville, TN dedicated to connecting the disconnected to a growing and reproducing relationship with Christ. They’re outside-the-box thinkers, cool with experimenting, and down to learn from failures. The leadership also trusts its staff - giving us opportunities to learn and grow in areas of ministry we never even thought to pursue previously.
That’s why I graduated with a degree in youth ministry but have since dipped my toes in everything from women’s ministry, to college ministry, to now worship leading, and through it all, some communications, most notably social media coordinating.
What do you like most about working in church communication?
I love that we’re not really trying to sell anything, which gives us more freedom to have fun and be creative.
As far as social media goes, a lot of people who go to our church/like our pages have not known Jesus very long. “Church culture” isn’t necessarily a given. I get to create original, engaging content to provide hope and light where they weren’t expecting it. I get to remind people of Jesus and love and forgiveness on the daily, and I get to be creative (and sometimes even punny) while doing it. I get to remind them that they’ve got a church family. We’re in this together. I think having an authentic voice and consistent presence really helps relay that without being cheesy.
I honestly really love the combination of art, writing, creativity, and relaying a message of life, hope, and togetherness that church communications specifically provides.
We’re not trying to be particularly hip or trendy or sell a product. We’re just letting people know, “Hey, you’re loved by Jesus and He’s really great and He’s in control.” And double points if we’re trendy and hilarious while doing it.
In 3 words or less, how would you describe the way you work?
What does an average week look like for you?
We all wear a few different hats on staff here so it makes for very interesting weeks! Mondays are spent mostly in meetings, gathering together as a staff and getting ready for the week ahead. Tuesdays I work outside the office to study and have more creative luck (I work about 219,033% better in coffee shops than any other location.)
Wednesdays and Thursdays are in the office, writing Bible studies, creating social media content, editing videos, getting ready for band rehearsal, meetings, etc. etc. etc. Every day is different and no week is quite like the other. It keeps me on my toes!
Favorite to-do list manager or project management process:
I am the most frazzled and least organized.
As a staff, we use Planning Center and Producteev best and most. They really are great - any flaws in effectiveness are completely my user-error. (iPhone reminders, a physical planner, and people in my corner reminding me of things I need to do tend to help as well.)
Share a story of success:
There was a period last year when I was really on the verge of not caring about social media anymore. I was cranking out what I thought were great posts, but engagement was super low.
About that time, I posted a really dumb joke on Instagram. (Okay fine, fine, I’ll tell you the joke, calm down: “What do you call a camel with no humps? ‘Humphrey.’” Happy Hump Day, everybody.) A popular local Instagram page regrammed it, a random lady saw it, and “thepointknox” name rang a bell. She reached out to her friend, a member of ours, who confirmed that it was indeed her church. She thought that perhaps a church like this (ie. one that’s down with corny camel jokes) could be one her teenagers may actually go to. A dumb joke on Instagram spurred a family to go back to church.
That weekend, I ran into a different new person at church on Sunday. I asked how she’d heard about The Point and she too said that she’d been scrolling through some local church’s Instagram pages and decided to check ours out.
Small things - but these stories give me joy and purpose when it seems like a silly, unnecessary job!
Share a story of a lesson learned:
Facebook advertising works! We took a leap last year and poured the majority of our budget for a 5K into the Facebook/Instagram campaign. It was the highest attendance we’d ever had for a race.
What are the top 1-3 goals for communication at your church?
Everything we do is done with the goal of connecting disconnected people to a growing and reproducing relationship with Christ. So the number one goal is to use social media as a platform for relationship - relationship with us, the church, and ultimately Christ. With that in mind, we make sure our posts have the same heart and feel of The Point and are always “disconnected” friendly. Scroll through our feed and you’ll find very little flowery religious lingo but a whole lot of hope, grace, and puns.
How do you know when you’ve succeeded?
It’s easy on a day-to-day basis to feel like you’ve succeeded or failed based on likes, comments, and shares. I don’t know if that’s healthy, but it’s reality. Beyond that, if people are getting connected to Jesus, church, and events, we’re probably doing something right!
What's one thing that surprised you about church communications?
The biggest surprise for me about church communications was that I could do it at all. Granted, I do not do it alone and a whole lot of people do it a whole lot better than I do, but it was exciting to come into a new role with no experience and see where time, effort, and a whole lotta Google can get you!
As it turns out, I really enjoy putting together engaging images and creative content.