Being a church leader is time-consuming, and our responsibilities do not end when we leave the church building. We must be able to coordinate efficient communication strategies amongst our staff members when we are apart. Otherwise, information overload is inevitable.
One group member, Rachel Evelyn Woolard, asked about this on our Facebook group:
“How do you guys handle internal church communications and work/life balance boundaries?
“Our staff has grown a lot in the past year, and it was easy to handle text messages and emails sent on days off when it was just three of us in the office day-to-day. But with a variety of additional part-time and full-time staff in the office at various points throughout the week, we are struggling to get in a groove of how to prioritize and disseminate information… We have just integrated Slack into our workflow to hopefully cut down on the number of unnecessary texts and allow people to put their messages on ‘do not disturb,’ but how do you train your staff on ‘this is urgent vs. this can wait’ or ‘this person doesn’t need to be included on this message chain vs. this person needs to know’? Are there any practical books to read or schools of thought I can implement?”
Here are the comments:
“Slack is great! Ask everyone to only communicate through that for 2-3 weeks unless it’s an emergency … Make sure to show everyone those features such as ‘do not disturb’ as well as making sure their phones are set to get notifications. Go ahead and make some preset threads and channels for people. We started with #staffcommunication (send our staff meeting agenda, etc) and then with #random (like hey I’m in this show tonight you all are invited or look at this article) and then one called #dailydevotion where we can post spiritual encouragements to the team. I also have a channel for #webdevelopment with just the 3 ppl working on that project.” – Kim DeLaney Arthur
“We made Slack for work and text for personal. We created groups or conversations in Slack and added only the people for whom the topic is relevant. Examples: Sunday Worship, Communications, Children’s Ministry. We also reminded people of their own personal responsibility for their own boundaries. If you don’t want to get messages after 5 p.m. and your job does not require it, then shut off notifications or ignore the messages. Exceptions: texts or phone calls can be made in the case of an emergency or something extremely urgent such as ‘it’s Sunday morning and the worship songs or announcements are missing.’” – Nichole Perreault
“My other job uses Slack and that seems to help. I see a message/email from the church and just don’t address it if I’m not working. If it’s an emergency, I can opt into handling it. Otherwise, it can wait.” – Rebecca Wyatt Thomas
“We use texting for only last-minute important things and have a Facebook messenger group chat for fun conversations and little reminders. Email is where most of the business happens.” – Starr Stackhouse
“Discuss at a staff meeting? Explain that including extra people on messages is a strain. Ask everyone to be respectful of this. We are a staff of 9. We all text each other when needed, but only to those who need to be included. Sometimes we have to ask a question of someone on their day off, but we try to be respectful, and it works.” – Julie Morgan
“Slack is what we have used and it’s a lifesaver! I turn on ‘do not disturb’ when I’m not working and Slack notifies them if they try to contact me when ‘do not disturb’ is on. It’s been really great because we all have different work schedules and it’s helped all of us have better boundaries and communicate easier when we are working.” – Janelle Guerra
“Slack really helps (to) keep the right people in the right loops. The most important factor, however, is boundaries, as stated above. Remind staff to respect time off for other staff members for questions that can wait. Because if everyone is in every conversation and every conversation is an emergency, people will start checking out and not responding to the things they need to respond to. It’s too much.” – Dawn Morris Kuhl
“Slack will help once you get used to it. Personally, I just set really firm boundaries and tell people when my sabbath is. If they text me on the sabbath, I don’t answer, and they usually figure out that it’s my day off.” – Kate Grasso
In order to maintain a healthy balance between work and personal time, try using a service like Slack. It looks like a lot of our church communicators love it, and it really does cultivate efficient communication habits. Otherwise, just respect your fellow staff members and their time, and ask them to respect yours as well. Time management is a critical skill and it can be easy to get bogged down in too many things. Hopefully this conversation can help you get organized!