For this week's sit down with a church communicator, we had the opportunity to speak with 2 members of the same staff: the communications director and the creative team manager. As we all know, church communications is bigger than any one person, so hopefully this gives you some insight into different perspectives from people on the same team.
Have you ever wished you could sit down with another church communicator and just ask them about their day? What tools do they use, what struggles do they face, how do they keep inspiration fresh?
If this is you, then I think you'll enjoy our newest mini-series coming right here to the blog. We've sat down with several church communicators to do just this: ask them about their role, their job, and their impact. Each week we will share another interview with you.
So, pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy this sit down with a fellow church communicator.
Meet Aaron and Matt, the Communications Director and Creative Team Manager at High Desert Church!
High Desert Church is a large (approximately 12,000 active participants), multi-site church in California. The core purpose of each of these communities is "to prepare every generation to change their worlds for Christ."
Because of their size, and multiple locations, it's extremely important for their communications team to be organized, purposeful, and on mission. Together, Aaron, Matt, and their team work to make this vision a reality.
Here's an insight into their approach to church communications:
The Sit DownEkklesia 360: What’s your favorite part about working in church communications?
Aaron: Using my skills to be able to serve God’s Church and kingdom. Its such a privilege to work at a church and play a role in communicating clearly to our people and those attending our church for the first time.
Matt: My favorite part of working in church communications is playing the role of translator. When I was in college, I watched a missionary kid who grew up in Nigeria talk to a young lady that grew up in Orange County. I was captivated by the fact that I could see the conversation not going well. So, I unpacked what was going on with them. What I realized was that the missionary kid was speaking a different language. Not literally–it was English! But the gal from Orange County couldn’t understand what he was saying because she didn’t understand the context hew as coming from. I did, and was able to take his message and communicate it to her in a way she could understand. It didn’t take long for me to recognize this need in the Church as well. We get the opportunity to help take the life changing news of the Gospel and communicate it in a way that our culture understands.
Ekklesia 360: What’s your biggest challenge as a church communicator?
Aaron: Making sure that we’re creating an inclusive culture; so that if you’ve never been to our church or call it your home church, you hear a clear united message.
Matt: I find that many in pastoral ministry don’t really understand the role of church communications. We are often viewed to be the “make something pretty/trendy” team or the cold hearted brand police. Because there isn’t a higher level understanding of the importance of consistent communication, many become frustrated with the idea of yielding to structure.
Ekklesia 360: What’s your favorite online tool that you use in your day-to-day?
Aaron: Do project management tools count? (Definitely!!) I’m an administrative nerd and love using Asana. It’s really allowed me and my team to remain organized and serve our ministry staff well.
Matt: It probably sounds strange to consider it a “tool”, but I would say Facebook. The ability to reach out and connect with thousands of other church communicators is unbelievable. Often when we are starting a new project or initiative, it means no one on our staff team has any experience with it. Being able to reach out to those who do have some experience is incredibly valuable.
Ekklesia 360: What is your process for updating/maintaining your church website?
Aaron: Honestly, we’re still figuring out the best process, but I think we’ve figured out something that works well for us. Members of our Communications team are involved in weekly meetings with our staff. This allows us to hear about events and changes in advance, we’ve really seen that that is key to maintaining accurate information.
Matt: Usually it’s just the Comm team identifying that something needs to go online.
Ekklesia 360: Do you hear any pushback from your members about online giving?
Aaron: I don’t think that I’ve ever heard any pushback from any of our members. I think and hope that our members find it a beneficial tool.
Matt: We haven’t heard any comments one way or another.
Ekklesia 360: How does your ChMS help your staff?
Aaron: Our ChMS allows us to communicate through email with all of our members and regular attenders. It allows us to check baptism and membership status. We also use it for event registration.
Matt: It equips our staff to answer questions more accurately, and it allows us our congregation to find the information they need.
Ekklesia 360: What type of goals do you have for your church this year?
Aaron: When it comes to communications one of my goals is to help our digital presence both online and through social media.
Matt: Manage our projects more effectively so we help our ministries avoid chaos and grow in our willingness to proactively serve our ministry teams.
Ekklesia 360: Is there any additional training or resource you wish you had?
Aaron: I don’t think so, but I think that its always valuable to find conferences that will help you be a better communicator. That, and keeping up with trends will help lead you to finding resources to help you.
Matt: I think having some sort of project management training would be helpful. We’ve learned a lot over the years, but some foundational concepts around workflows and processes would help us a lot.
Ekklesia 360: What advice do you have for a new church communicator?
Aaron: I probably sounds like a broken record, but make sure that when you’re communicating its inclusive and has a clear call to action. It can sometimes be easier to speak to one part of an audience over another, but we have to try to find a way to reach both sides.
Matt: I think it is critical that you understand that no one will listen to you blindly. You may have exceptional comm instincts, but regardless of how “right” you are, the behavior of others who don’t know as much will determine your ability to succeed. And that’s ok. Recognize that your role is to shape culture, not just to enforce policies. I’m also a huge advocate for focusing on long term wins. Sometimes you need to lose this weekend’s decision in order to win next year’s weekend.
Ekklesia 360: What impact are you hoping to have on your church?
Aaron: I truly hope that I will help contribute to our churches purpose: Preparing every generation to change their worlds for Christ. The thought that I could contribute to that purpose is such a privilege.
Matt: More than anything, I hope we are able to connect people to the events, programs, and ministries that can help them grow in their walk with Christ.
The Take Away
Now that you've heard from Aaron and Matt, hopefully you are feeling inspired, encouraged, and ready to continue the work that's been set before you.
If you're looking for even more information on how to survive the crazy world of church communications, check out our church communicator's survival guide here.