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.
Before computers became integrated with our lives, the big office complaint was about paper. A good deal of our communication and information storage involved paper. How to store that information, share that information, and avoid being buried in that information was a daily challenge.
I know—it still is.
While we might deal with less paper than previous generations, we’re bombarded with more information and communication than ever before. We have a completely different kind of clutter and the same need. How do we keep it all straight?
Perhaps you’ve heard this story before: a congregation invests a great deal of money in a new church management software, rolls it out to pastors, secretaries, and other users. Everything goes perfectly smoothly. The software is ready to help leaders collect information on the congregation’s attendance, finances, and everything else they want to know.
In a perfect world, our churches would have all the financial means to employ ginormous staffs who can serve both the people in our congregations and the communities around us. We’d have people hired to teach Bible studies geared specifically to certain age groups. We’d have communications experts who could craft social media posts to reach all the people in our communities to draw them to our churches. We’d have it all. But as we all know, the world isn’t perfect, and our churches can’t always afford to hire people to fill each role we need to do the ministry God has called us to do. That doesn’t mean, however, that God doesn’t provide exactly what we need to accomplish what He wants with what we’ve got.
When it comes to logos, branding, and name recognition, it seems the world understands why it’s so important for their favorite pair of shoes or beverage to have these things, but not why their church home should.
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!
When you saw the title of this post, what went through your mind?
- I’m already too busy.
- What would I write about?
- Who would read it?
- I have no idea where to start.
- You’ve got to be kidding!
You’re not alone. Those are all common responses. Many of us have the experience of the forgotten blog somewhere in the internet, so some of us feel timid or even aghast at the idea of starting one for a church.
All the same, you should absolutely have a church blog.
If you’re a church worker, you never have a shortage of ways to stay busy. It seems like as soon as you finish your Sunday services, you’re already running out of time to get everything ready for next week’s services, especially when you add up the countless meetings and tasks on your to-do list. If you want to keep your sanity and have any kind of family life outside of the church walls, it’s important to find ways to save time and be efficient. One of the best ways to keep yourself from drowning in your work is to pass some of it off.
Read any number of books on church organization and evangelism, and you’ll hear some common goals. Visitors should feel at home. They should be comfortable finding their way around. They should feel like they’re welcome and that their presence is valued in the community. They should feel safe.
Those are all good things, at least objectively, but it’s hardly a list that your elders couldn’t have written themselves. More interesting are the competing ways we’re advised to achieve these same goals. Visitors should be singled out and welcomed the moment they walk in the door or they should be allowed to worship in anonymity and peace. We should follow up at their house later in the day, or send them a letter next week, or maybe just leave them alone and hope our distance conveys enough respect for their privacy that they come back. It’s a mess.
In my last post I touched on how I ditched a well-thought-out communication request form for more personal interactions with our ministry leaders. I think this idea of relationship building goes even deeper than with the leaders; it applies to each volunteer too.
Our goal as church staff members, called or not, is always to be personal and to connect. But sometimes a volunteer not seeing the bigger mission of the church can drive a wedge between what the volunteer wants to do with a specific ministry and what should be done. As a communicator, I know for me anyway that this wedge can create unnecessary friction. We want to help the congregation and pastors achieve our church goals, to do our job, and to make everyone happy. We all know that is easier said than done! Am I right?