Church communications is not for the faint of heart. If you’re new to the club, welcome! It’s a great club. Speaking from experience, being a church communicator is one of the most rewarding and diverse jobs out there, but it is also one of the most challenging and misunderstood. This is a job that has a far-reaching impact, but also tends to hover behind the scenes. Every day is different and the position at each church varies slightly. However, there are some universal truths that I wish I would’ve known on my first day on the job.The best news is, you’re not alone. Even though the position can feel overwhelming, there are people who have walked these steps before you and are here to support you and encourage you along the way (check out this great church communicator community on Facebook). Here are a few pieces of well-meaning advice for you, the new church communicator.
Whether you are new to the church or just new to the position, relationships are going to be the fuel you need to keep going. It’s easy to get caught up in the to-do lists and tasks at hand and forget to make time for relationships. Let me encourage you now to make it a priority. If you work to establish quality relationships from the beginning, down the road if (when) things get bumpy, you will have people in your corner supporting you, encouraging you, and speaking truth to you when you need it.
Not to mention, Scripture is filled with verses about the importance of relationships including Ephesians 4:2-3. “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
Set Expectations and Establish Boundaries
You have a lot on your plate as a church communicator, and oftentimes tasks take time. However, the rest of the staff may not understand this if they don’t come from a communications background. Work to set expectations and establish boundaries from the beginning. It can be a balancing act, but it’s worth it! The last thing you want is to be inundated with last-minute requests. This can cause you to compromise quality and affect the reputation of your department.
Some easy ways to do this include:
- Creating a communications request form (pro tip: host this on your church website and integrate it with your church management software)
- Meeting regularly with your staff to maintain relationships
- Keeping a close eye on the church calendar so there aren’t any surprises
Study Your Target Audience
The questions you should constantly be asking yourself are:
- Who am I trying to reach?
- What do they need to know?
- What is the most effective way to reach them?
Being new to the job, it’s a wise idea to take some time and get to know the people with whom you are trying to communicate. Study the demographics of your church congregation, your community, and your online followers. Once you know who they are and what their communication preferences are, you will be able to create better and more effective content designed to reach them.
Stick To Your Branding
I cannot emphasize this enough, if you want to communicate clearly and effectively, you must stick to your branding. If your church doesn’t have consistent or up-to-date branding, consider making this your first big task to tackle. According to the Business Dictionary, branding is “the process involved in creating a unique name and image for a product in the consumers' mind…”
In the case of churches, your church is the “product” and your brand is the “unique name and image.” In the most basic sense, it’s how your community will recognize your church.
Once your branding is established, make sure that you stick to it with each piece of content that you create.
Make Your Mark But Avoid Changing Too Much Too Soon
Next, as a new church communicator, you will probably be tempted to jump in and start improving processes and policies. While this zeal will serve you well in getting the job done, be wary about changing too much too soon. Take some time as you first enter the job to learn what’s working and what’s not. Approach change with wisdom and maturity. Plus, don’t be afraid to ask those around you about potential changes before jumping right in.
Take Time for Yourself
Lastly, I can not stress how important it is to take time for yourself. This job can be demanding, and if you don’t prioritize rest, burn-out will happen, it’s just a question of when. Working in a church is an amazing way to serve the Lord, but it can also feel all-consuming. Don’t be afraid to use those vacation days and take a Sabbath each week.