What’s your name?
Where do you serve, what is your title, and how long have you served there?
I’ve served at Lebanon Christian Church in Lebanon, IN, for 13 years. When I started, I job-shared the administrative responsibilities but took on most of the communications-related tasks. I’m now the Communications Administrator, still parttime, and a team of one.
How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t go to church?
I usually just say that I do the website and social media for the church…it’s complicated to get into much more than that. What I really do is help our various ministries determine a unified, cooperative communication strategy for our church and community.
What were some of the things that you experienced that shaped the way you approach your work?
That’s a tough question. I’m a self-taught designer (and still limping my way through with hacks and cheats) and self-taught as far as promotions and marketing. Budget cuts and time constraints have changed the way we communicate at the church, as well as changing trends. I used to spend 10-12 hours a month creating a newsletter that was mailed to every family in the database. I’ve only done a whole-church mailing once in the last 12 months, and that was our Covid plan. I spend much more time now tailoring the messages to targeted groups and, of course, using social media to communicate. I’ve learned over the years that few people want to know everything that is going on, but will take the time to learn about what impacts them and their family directly.
What’s the one thing you wish people knew about your job?
I wish they understood how frustrating it is to hear “I didn’t know anything about that.” I wish I had a great comeback to let them know that ball is in their court, because the information there.
What is the one tool for your job that you can’t live without, and why?
Other than my laptop, which is a given, it’s probably the community of communications people across the globe that help me get better. I learn so much through groups like this! We share ideas and best practices. Open-source stock photography is a lifesaver. Online tools such as Canva are so helpful. All of these things are possible because of a community that is here to encourage and help one another. I guess a community isn’t a “tool”, so that’s a cheat answer. Sorry!
What is the biggest mistake that you see churches making when it comes to communications and marketing?
I fall into a trap of believing that my job is about publicity rather than ministry, and I see that too often in churches. When each pastor or ministry leader wants their programs or events at the forefront, it’s easy to get into full-on publicity mode. But my job can be more of a ministry, if I make it a priority. Changes for Covid have helped me in this aspect, as I’ve been able to step back and develop more of a strategy for ministry and less of a reactive mode to our church calendar. I pray this is a lesson I remember moving forward.
Who is someone that you look up to in the church communications world?
Obviously Katie & Kenny for their leadership. Locally, the crew at Fishhook, Michelle Schrier, and Jon Ellegood have been mentors, whether they know it or not. And years ago, our intern Casey Fulgenzi pushed me out of my comfort zone with his ideas and suggestions.
The church communications community is lucky to have such approachable and sensible people like you, Rebecca! It is inspiring to know that no matter what your experiences are, you still keep on learning new things on your own or with the help of people in church communications.
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