For those who work on remote teams, virtual meetings were commonplace prior to the spring of 2020. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, they, and more specifically the platform Zoom, have now become a conduit for connection across nearly every sector of life. As those who serve in congregations, many of us have leveraged this technology in more than one ministry area: Bible study, board and staff meetings, visits with homebound and hospitalized members, even worship for some.
Though not new, the opportunities for people to serve in technology-related roles have greatly expanded in many congregations. Joining the ranks of service mainstays in the church, technology teams are now just about as prevalent in the regular functioning of a congregation as the altar guild, trustees, and board of education.
About a year ago, we were experiencing one of the biggest disruptions to collective life in decades. Although the calendars of some were wiped clean, others’ lives ramped up to an exhausting pace. Church workers and communicators fell into the latter category. Leading in unfamiliar territory quickly became the norm and tools that were once supplemental shifted to our primary conduit for connection.
Throw out the phrase “bullet journal” in conversation, and you’ll likely get a variety of responses: everything from “Oh, I’m not ‘arsty’ enough for that,” to “This is the single greatest tool I’ve found for organizing my life,” and a lot of reactions in between. While some take a more elaborate approach to bullet journaling, others use their notebook or journal to simplify.
I recently reread Kem Meyer’s book, Less Chaos. Less Noise. As I did, Meyer’s words hit me right between the eyes, as they often do. This time, however, it wasn’t about written communication. What got me was her writing on people skills.
About six weeks into my DCE internship, I was planning to leave town on my day off for the first time. There was an event taking place at the church while I would be gone, and though I had carried out my responsibilities and left the day’s tasks in more-than-capable hands, I felt anxious, almost guilty, about leaving.
One of my greatest struggles working in a communications role for a church is finding the balance between executing existing plans or ideas and finding space for creativity and exploring new possibilities. Church communicators function within a certain tension of straightforward (relatively speaking) administrative tasks and an ever-changing communications landscape that requires awareness, innovation, and a certain amount of “let’s try this and see how it goes!” (See this post on agile failing for a little encouragement.) There are things that simply need to be done, but we can find ourselves so stuck in the maintenance of things that we forget to explore new possibilities.
Happy 149th birthday, Concordia Publishing House! Of course, there’s a bunch of excitement about the big one-five-zero happening a year from now (and rightfully so!), but you only turn 149 once. Whatever the number, birthdays are a great time to remember, reflect, and celebrate—so here we go!
Ben Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!”
Although I’m one who loves a well thought out plan, I have a lot of growing to do when it comes to having a solid grasp on this. So, I’ve been reading, listening to podcasts, and trying to soak up any wisdom I can from those who do this sort of thing well. One recurring theme I’ve encountered is that of planning rhythms.
Stories are some of the most powerful tools in a church communicator’s belt. They have the power to engage us in something beyond ourselves and pass life-giving faith from one generation to another.