Growing up in a church, I never heard of a “communications minister”. In fact, it wasn’t until I started working with churches that I started to grasp the vastness and difficulties of the job. Depending on where you work, the communications minister can be a PR job, an audio/visual job, and even the person in charge of fixing the copier.
It’s a big job.
At the same time, there are some traits that are universal amongst successful communications ministers. These traits are something that take time to develop, and anyone can learn them with time and practice.
If you can master the traits below, you’ll not only find that your communications ministry will flourish, you’ll also have a better handle on the job itself—which, depending on where you work, can be a tricky thing.
Are you ready to learn what the five traits of a successful communications minister are? Okay, let’s dive in.
1. Buy into the vision of the church
It’s easy to form your own unique vision for your church’s communications. Your vision may be a very simplistic approach with a few messages or you may want to blast every channel you have with lots of content.
Either way, your vision for communications has to align with your church’s goals. For example, if your church’s goal is to have 10,000 people come to Christ in 2016, your communications strategy and vision have to align with those goals.
The problem is when our personal vision for our church’s communications differs from the church’s overall goals. When that happens, you become frustrated and often bitter because the two are at odds. This may not occur immediately, but over time you’ll get the sense that things aren’t right and the work that was once a joy has now become a chore.
If you don’t know what your church’s vision or goals are, now is a good time to sit down with your pastor or senior leadership and get a firm grasp of where they see things going and what they want the future to look like. This will not only help you align your work with the church, but also give you an idea of what the future of your job looks like.
2. Have a clear idea of what your church is communicating as a brand.
Most communications ministers can tell you what they’re communicating on a Sunday-to-Sunday basis. They may be promoting missions, small groups, etc. However, determining what you’re communicating as an overall brand is something entirely different.
In order to understand what the church is communicating a brand, the communications minister has to know the voice of the church. It’s the tone and the feel. Are you an upbeat, celebratory church like Hillsong, or are you more a somber, reflective brand like The Village Church?
When you understand the voice of church, you’ll know what graphics should look and feel like. You’ll have a keen sense of what social media posts feel like and when you’re “off-brand”.
I’ll add that this is one area that is difficult without clear leadership from the pastors and senior leadership. Now keep in mind that this is not always explicitly spelled out, but it is reflected in what is celebrated, preached, and promoted.
3. Have a keen sense of what technologies may disrupt your current communications channels.
In 2006, I used a Motorola Q as my daily phone and I felt like I had the future in my hand. I could email, text, and see my calendar all from a single device. Then one year later, the iPhone appeared and everything changed.
When most of us saw the iPhone, we saw a new cell phone with a lot of possibilities, but not all of us were thinking of how the iPhone would impact our church communications (e.g. responsive websites). I think now, we could all say that it’s had a huge impact on how we manage our church’s communications.
It’s not your job to be a futurist and predict what the next thing will be down the road. But, it is your job to be aware of what is developing that could disrupt the way your church communicates. For example, when rumors started that Google was going to penalize websites that were not mobile friendly, it’s the communications minister’s job to figure out how to avoid the fallout.
Now, you don’t need to go out and read the latest issue of Wired from cover to cover, but there are some websites that can help you stay on top of trends without taking too much of your time. If you’re interested you should check out:
4. Learn to use the phrase “I don’t know.”
If you want to be comfortable with the future and your church’s communications, you need to be willing to say “I don’t know” a lot. The future will depend on you trying new channels (e.g. Snapchat) with idea that “you don’t know” what the immediate benefit will be.
I’ll admit at some point, you may feel like an imposter with all of these new channels appearing and people asking you what you think. But, trust me, even the experts are secretly thinking that they don’t know either.
By admitting that “you don’t know” you’re identifying an area that you can research and grow in, which always leads to better outcomes. For me, “I don’t know” nearly as much as I would like to about Facebook and Instagram ideas.
5. Understand your role as a supporting player.
Do you remember that cool brochure you did for missions? Or the brand new website you had built? Or maybe the new logo you created for the Student Minister? You can probably list your greatest successes as a communications minister.
However, if you poll the average church member, they have no clue what you’ve done. For them, majority of what you do is not at the forefront of their mind. It’s not because they don’t care about you or what you do, it’s that at the end of the day, church communications is not at the front and center of the church.
You often hear leadership experts tout the benefits of “servant leadership”, the idea that real leaders serve those around them. Church communications is exactly about servant leadership. It’s your job to serve ministries and the church as a whole.
Sometimes that means you’ll never get credit for the work you do. Nor will people truly understand the difficulty of the job. Of course, that won’t matter because that’s not why you took the job. Right?
A church communications minister is very different from other ministerial positions, given how special the knowledge is that is required to do the job. However, it’s a growing field that is constantly changing with each piece of technology or social media startup. Either way it’s a blessing to serve and communicate for the church.