“Hey, I know this is last minute, but is there anyway we can…promote this event that’s tomorrow, design this graphic I need by the end of the day, schedule a social media post right now, etc.?”
As a church communicator, how often do you receive requests like these, and have to decide to stop what you’re doing to comply, and potentially compromise quality, or refuse, and possibly stifle ministry? For many of us, this is too often a reality.
What are we supposed to do in this circumstance?
How do we balance both our desire to be partners in ministry, and our need to create high quality, branded content?
Here are a few good church management practices to help you keep ministry and procedure in balance.
Set clear expectations and boundaries, and communicate these effectively to your staff.
This may not be revolutionary, but your Executive Pastor, Student Minister, and Missions Assistant probably don’t come from a communications background. They have no idea how long it takes to:
- create a graphic
- schedule out a week’s (or a month’s) worth of social media posts
- update the church website
- maintain branding (if they even know what branding is)
However, you do. Here are three steps to help them understand the basics of these time constraints.
- Create a Communications Request Form with clearly stated expectations.
- Make these request forms available through a locked page on your church website and as a hard copy.
- While a mass email is easier, these one-on-one conversations speak volumes. Not only do they help people see your desire to partner in ministry, but they also create firm boundaries.
- As you look two months out, contact any ministry area that has an event coming up, and ask what they need. Being proactive will help smooth the transition away from last-minute requests.
Partner with your staff in ministry. Show them how detailed communication can boost their ministry’s reach and effectiveness.
Have you ever seen a church website or promotion that just missed the mark? For example:
- The target audience was off
- The design was cluttered and unreadable
- A page on your church website was full of broken and outdated links
These examples of haphazard communication scream poor church management. On the other hand, excellent communication can not only promote a church, but can also encourage visitors to take steps forward with a positive outlook.
As we pursue excellent church management skills, our goal should be to partner in ministry so the Gospel will spread and our church will stand out.
Here are some best practices.
- Do you know what the goals of each ministry area are?
- If you don’t know their end game, you’re missing out on opportunities to help creatively offer solutions. Sit down with each area and have these conversations; they’ll go a long way.
- Get out of your office!
- Too often it’s easy to sit behind your computer screen and never experience the events you work hard to promote. Attend a children’s Wednesday night event or sit in on a mission trip meeting. When you create personal ties, your communication efforts will become more pointed and effective.
- Give them examples of the differences between well planned versus disorganized communication (As a bonus, use examples from their own ministry areas!).
Don’t let your desire for appealing content and design, harden your heart to the work God is doing throughout your church.
Last minute requests will come up. You have the opportunity to show grace and maintain branding. This is where relationship becomes so important.
Use these three measures when making your decision on how to proceed.
- Has this person/ministry area tried to meet your deadlines, or have they consistently ignored your requests?
- Show patience as ministry areas learn how your system works.
- Give them a chance to correct their behavior before fully putting your foot down.
- When was the last time you looked at the church calendar to see what was coming up?
- Have you had actual in-person conversations with your staff to see what they were excited about in their areas?
- Make sure you are quick to build relationships, and slow to always say “no”.
- Have you ever…?
- published the wrong date for an event
- noticed a blatant typo after the booklet went to print
- failed to update the church website after a Sunday morning
While you should strive for excellence, you should also accept grace and give it in return. When we do this, we truly become partners in the spread of the Gospel.
So, don’t allow procedure to get pushed to the wayside causing ministry to suffer due to unappealing communication. At the same time, don’t lose sight of ministry for the sake of procedure, and become a stumbling block to the spread of the Gospel and awareness of the church.
It’s not an easy balancing act, but the next time those last minute requests pop up, examine your part. It is possible for ministry and procedure to compliment each other instead of competing against each other, but it’s your job to find the balance!