Disregard is an ugly habit––and it sneaks into the workplace in unsuspecting ways. Even in strong church leadership teams, not being considerate of each others’ time is all too common. With many events and member groups to tend to, campaigns to manage, and a church to run, it’s easier than you might think to disrespect the workload and role of others on staff. While it’s unintentional, church communicators often receive the short end of this stressful stick.
Church communicators (like designers and media workers in businesses) are often the last stop between planning an idea or event and letting the community take part in it. It’s your job as a communicator to help the church see and engage with the events and ministries available to them. You’re not in this role for the big paychecks. You’re doing this because you’re invested in the mission of your church, and you want to use your communication skills to further that mission.
Because of this motivation, you might take on more than you can really handle in a week’s work, or feel conflicted if you do say “no.” You can’t push back on the mission of the church because you’re truly committed to it. But to avoid burnout or unknowingly setting expectations that you can’t achieve––you need (drumroll, please) an internal request form.
The Bigger Picture
This is about more than reducing paperwork. An internal request form is a simple document that allows you to organize your job. No matter the details your specific form will contain, it can be broken down into 4 general steps:
- You communicate (usually by asking questions) all of the possible ways your role could help a staff member or volunteer.
- They give you all of the information (answer your questions) you need about the event/announcement.
- You decide what the project/request needs in order to be effectively communicated.
- You organize and prioritize (and possibly delegate) the work into your schedule.
Ultimately, you're in charge of maintaining the brand of your church. Having an internal request form will help you be consistent as you communicate with others.Interested in more than just internal request forms for your go-to church communicator tools? Read this eBook to learn about SEVEN tools real church communicators use!
Your Creativity Audit
Begin building your unique request form by performing an audit of all of the things you offer as a communicator. This way, you’ve taken stock of the types of “packages” and products you can create when a request comes in. Segment these into communications packages. For example, a high-priority event that needs full communications coverage might need a pulpit announcement, inclusion in the newsletter, social media posts, presence on the website, and event registration. Whereas a recurring, low-priority reminder may need only inclusion in the newsletter or master calendar and a few social media posts per month. Creating these possible packages, whatever they end up looking like for your specific church, will dictate how you communicate back to anyone who submits a request.
Next, compile other pieces you’ll need to execute your role. An editing checklist, writing style guide, and design style guide will ensure your consistency in the future. Details like grammar/spelling specifics, identity assets, and color details will all be in one helpful place. Look for future posts about these helpful tools later.
Use It or Lose It
With all of these options in front of you, you can begin working with the rest of your communications team to develop your actual request form. This ensures that you work together to think how others will use the request form.
Now, you can:
Set timing expectations (i.e., how far in advance something needs to be requested).
Ask the requester to think through details like images, renting a space, getting volunteers, social media promotion, etc. in one place.
Determine how budget plays into these requests (this is probably not a question for the requester, but for you as you plan your response).
There are multiple ways to lay out this form with public or internal access. Wufoo, SurveyMonkey, and Google Forms are all wonderful tools to use here, as you can embed them on your website if you’d like to allow your congregation to request communications, as well. Crosspoint Community Church and West Ridge Church both utilize internal request forms, and serve as great examples:
As your church communications needs change, you can update this form along the way. But setting this process and sticking to it allows you to budget your time, increase your efficiency, and set a standard of respectful collaboration between you and the rest of your church. It doesn’t have to feel like “them” and “us.” Everyone can now see what you can afford to do (both in time and in budget).
Bonus: Here’s where you’ll open up those 5 new hours per week. By simplifying the process for church communications, streamlining how you receive requests, and getting all of the information you need up front, you’ll save hours in emails, alone. But you’ll also be able to better plan your workload––leading to a more manageable, productive work environment.