Finding a church that shares the same vision as you may take some time. It can be a challenging, time-consuming experience that usually takes a lot of patience and persistence, especially looking for a church that would surely appreciate the skills you can bring to the table.
Toby Cato shares his predicaments in our Facebook group about his struggles with his church regarding the work he does. He asked for advice from our members, and they responded with their own experiences and opinions.
“Personally struggling this morning and just need some input from others that might get where I’m coming from. Today I met with my church’s leadership and was advised that I would have no input in a bulletin being sent out (for context, I’m the Communications Director) after I expressed that moving from a new InDesign template to a homemade Word template bothered me. That expanded to saying that content that goes out from our church doesn’t need to go through me first. That expanded to being told that I don’t actually manage anyone, that my standards are too high for a small Church, and that not everything needs to look professional. Before I make a drastic decision, are there Churches out there that actually take things this seriously, or is this a personal problem of mine? I have very high standards. I consider professionalism a necessity. I, admittedly, prefer a business style over a normal small Church “take what you can get” style. Will I be able to find Churches compatible with my way of thinking, or is my thought process just not right for a Church environment?”
“There are plenty of churches that can use you! I’m a creative director…and the graphic designer…..and the social media manager…and also do motion graphics…. Honey!!! Trust me… Churches all over this nation can use your gift and calling for excellence. When God has placed that gift inside you, don’t ever let anyone “dumb it down” or make you feel inadequate for wanting excellence and MORE for HIS kingdom and glory. Don’t let it bother your spirit… Let it motivate and encourage you to believe and KNOW that God has something so much bigger in store for you. I’m sorry you’re experiencing this. I do understand. Praying that God gives you peace about it.” Sylvia Mitchell
“It depends on the size of church you’re looking at. Most small and midsize don’t budget appropriately for design software (and won’t ever). I am totally with you on a professional look, but sometimes we have to find another way. I’m surely in the minority here, but I find that Word can be very capable (albeit as complicated to fully learn as an actual design program). I work for a midsize with no software budget and have come to use a hybrid of Word and other freeware like Canva and paint.net. Once you get used to it, it can work out alright. On the emotions of that conversation though, you should go to your minister privately and be honest – they have you there for a reason, you are valuable, and you don’t want to have barriers between you and them – you want the communication to flow, whether in writing, graphics, or speaking among staff. Everyone is super charged right now; they likely didn’t realize quite how they came across.” Bradley Duckstein
“You are SOOOO me! I worked under one pastor who didn’t understand what I did… and then another who was media-savvy to the point it was an impediment. (Both are now gone.) By surviving the 180 degree swing… I’ve gone from a step-child in the staff meeting… to someone with a voice. I am a perfectionist. Some battles I win, some I don’t. I try to remind myself, I am a tool for ministers to use and God is using my skills to reach others. My perfectionism and professionalism and mindset that is more business world than church world all came from the path He laid for me… and I’m to try to use that within the church right now. It’s taken great patience to educate all ministers about quality, branding, messaging… keep praying.” Hookie Stephanie Trotter Walker
“As a first step, it may help to clarify what exactly is expected of you. I would request this in writing from the main person who actually calls the shots, or if you have a person you report directly to, ask that person. Then pray over it. If they are asking you to serve in the capacity you know God has called you to serve, and God directs you to stay and serve in love, then stay. My husband and I almost left during a very toxic season in our church, and he was the pastor. I did communications like you. But a very wise mentor told us to be still and not move in hurt. He told us that what we sow into our current ministry will follow us into our new ministry. Almost 5 years later, I’m so thankful we stayed. We have seen many miracles, but the most amazing are when God does ‘heart surgery’ and you watch people’s characters transform in front of you. But there are also times to leave. If the doctrinal teaching is in direct error on key principals it is time to put in some super serious prayer on direction. If it’s personal preference or some people just not understanding that God truly does expect excellence, ask God for clear direction and then wait patiently and in love until He answers. The furnace can be very painful, but it’s the place where we come out pure gold. Much love to you and your family.” Esther Lott
“This sounds like a case where churches used to depend almost completely on the senior pastor, and they had to do a variety of roles. That’s not the case anymore for most churches. The pastor and senior leadership should be able to recognize your commitment, skills and excellence in all things. It’s not so much about a brand for the church, but that you care and value the congregation and potential new people in a way that they deserve our best in all things. Early in my church career I questioned whether I should be putting so much work/effort/time into my designs. The senior pastor told me something “we honour God with our excellence” and that has stayed with me, always leading me in all my work. But that’s my experience, and I’ve been lucky to have a team that appreciates my expertise, and values my vision and direction.” Daryl Holliday
“I am currently the worship and communications director and I have felt your pain before. If they gave you the position, they need to trust you. And for something like the bulletin (sometimes churches main part of communication) for you to not have input, tells me something is desperately off. The way I see it, they gave you the position so what your vision for the ministry (in this case communications) should trump anyone else’s input. That doesn’t mean you don’t want/need others input but you should be trusted with making those decisions.” Bobby Taylor
“I don’t think there is anything wrong with taking this seriously. I have always worked with an attitude of we need to do the best we can, or we don’t do it at all. Unfortunately I think there are many people out there that don’t feel that way, and like the “what can we get away with” style. The church is just like any other business. Not everyone agrees, it is. There are operations, income, spending, directors – you will find some who are aligned with your style, and some who are not. In a position where you have to follow the direction from elsewhere, then it may be what you have to do until you make the decision best for you. You will absolutely be able to find people with the same philosophy on this. Don’t give up! There has to be a voice in there to keep raising the message of what is right, and what it means to work with excellence. Many blessings for you in this situation, it is not easy. I wish you the best as you seek the right answers for you!” Joli Blaquiere Robinson
“Not sure I have a lot more to add than what’s been stated. Like you I hold a high standard for quality. Not so high that it feels inaccessible or unrelatable but we don’t have a whole lot of channels of communication – website, FB, email, bulletin – so they should all be done incredibly well. PLUS I believe “one church. one message.” you need consistency across messaging. I am a communications director. I’m incredibly lucky to work for a pastor who understands brand and the power of consistency. And his support of me requires that every piece of communication goes through me even if someone else is responsible for the actual product. So it does exist. Stick to what you believe and perhaps make a compelling case for a communications strategy that can take into account their desire for more participation. Good luck!” Mary Brogdon Wessel
“I think churches can strive for professionalism and excellence no matter the size. How that looks will differ from church to church. A church with a large congregation and budget will look different than a small congregation with a little budget. So the question is what is excellence for a particular church. The other question is can you work within that vision of excellence. If you can, great. If not, it may be time to prayerfully consider if it is time to move on.” Marcus Paden
“It all depends on if the church wants to grow or stay in the small church mentality. The church I work at decided that they didn’t want to stay a small church and they wanted to grow and create more disciples. They realized that the best way to grow is to have a strong media presence and someone on the communications team on staff. So that’s why I do get the final decision and the professionalism of what we do because we value growth.” Starr Stackhouse
“Hmmm. I feel like I can understand both sides here. I tend toward high standards myself. But in an environment that requires collaboration, I remind myself to look at what’s possible within our resources, and what is realistic, then shoot for somewhere between the two. It’s often a negotiation for me. If you really need to meet the high standards, you may not be aligned with the needs (priorities) of that specific church. And that’s okay! It’s good to figure that out sooner than later. and no, not all churches are like that.” Alicia Brown
Every church has different types of leadership, and each of them presents varied visions for the congregation. It is best to find a church that honors the gift that God has given you as a church communicator, and pray on it that you get to honor their vision and mission as well.