“Who are you when you’re hungry?”
I love this Snickers tagline––partially because it’s funny, but mostly because it’s totally true. We all act differently when we’re a little hangry (so hungry we get a little angry). Actually, I think we all change with many of our emotions. Whether you get giggly when you’re sleepy, snarky when you’re really tired, or become Superman after a cup of coffee, we all have multiple sides to our personality.
Just like we show these many sides to adapt and cope with new situations, a high performance church communications team needs to have many different skillsets to successfully navigate the many different areas of the job. Just like you need your superhero caffeine strength to power through a sleepy morning, your church needs a super-powered communications team. You need a talented designer at the helm. You’ll also need the perfect wordsmith, a kind listener, a ministry “cheerleader,”…and so on.
While you may not be able to take on each and every one of these roles yourself, your communications team needs all of these skills to thrive:
Skills Every Church Communications Team Should Have
Your church needs to look as beautiful and welcoming as it can: and this includes the photos, videos, icons, logos, and content layouts. We understand that an expert, full-time graphic designer isn’t in the budget for some churches, but you should at least have the help of someone who's willing to learn more from occasional input from a seasoned pro. You want your church to be excellent, and excellence in your graphic work is a great place to start. The person who claims ownership of this skill set should be a life-long learner. As the campus grows, so will your graphic design needs.
Your “business” is about people and their journeys. You can't just tell people that––you need to show them that. A strong communications team needs someone who can listen to the journey of one of your members, capture that in memorable words, and grab the attention of visitors both new and old. This person needs to understand the power of experience and personal stories in your faith, and bring that to the forefront of your work. (Hint: oftentimes, you can find this skill in candidates who aren’t just “writers,” but poets, novelists, journalists, and the like.)
SociableWhen work is stressful or you’re feeling generally blue, you probably turn to a good listener. Maybe that’s a best friend who just lets you speak your mind, or a family member with a calming presence. You want someone who's a listener.
Your church communications team needs this role, too. You need someone who understands how important listening and “feeling the room” is. These people make wonderful social media managers, as they can tap into the feelings of your social network and translate those conversations into real ministry movement within your church. This person is usually the one with the “magic” touch for recruiting volunteers or motivating projects along.
There’s no room for a bossypants in a constructive, loving church staff. But you do need a person who can take charge with compassion––someone who understands that structure and deadlines help move things forward and keep everyone on-task. This person needs to go about this in a non-threatening, kind way in order to keep the respect and trust of everyone around.
Not everyone has to be up-to-speed on the latest iPhone features as soon as the press release is out. But you do need someone who's always looking to advance the way your church operates online and in modern technology. While software, search engines, and our minds get smarter, so should you––and so should your church leadership team.
Some people work well with a very detailed planner, painstakingly clean notes, and numbered lists. But others keep it all up in their heads, trusting they remember what needs to be done that day. The latter may still be an awesome member of your communications team, but the former will be the one to keep everyone in line. You need a process-oriented, operational mind. An experienced "planner" who can help you see what's missing in your VBS planning, registration forms, new giving campaigns, and all other projects from start to finish.
Last (but not least), you need someone to carry the pom-poms for your church––someone who fully buys into the mission of the church, and wants to make every task push further into that. When your team gets bogged down with everyday tasks or to-do lists, someone needs to be around to remind you of why you do this: to bring Jesus and His love to more people who need to know to Him.
Building Your Dream Team
If you’re on a small team (or rocking the job solo), you might have just read this list and thought, “Sheeze, we can’t be all that! What if our church doesn’t have all of these roles filled?” Have no fear. All of these skillsets are a hypothetical dream team––the pinnacle of communications. It’s ok if it takes you some time to get there.
You don't need someone who exemplifies each of these things individually; rather, they might be distributed among your staff in different ways. Your co-worker might be a sociable church cheerleader who’s also very organized, and your strengths might be in adopting technology, storytelling, delegating tasks, and dabbling in graphic design. If you’re hiring or looking to grow, you can think through which skills work well together, and you can look for candidates who fill in the holes and complement your current strengths. We love this article from Mark Clement on the skills every communications director needs, but we also believe these strengths can come from the different personalities on your team.