What’s your name?
Where do you serve, what is your title, and how long have you served there?
After 45+ years in the Christian communication field, I’m basically retired. I spent 17 years as Director of Communications for Lutheran Church-Canada, shepherding the synod into online communication in the late ‘90s. I also spent 9 years as director of The Salvation Army’s Office of Media Ministries (OMM)in Dallas beginning in 1983. We were tasked with creating teaching, training, and outreach video productions. I’ve also freelanced with my own companies three times with both church and non-church clients.
How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t go to church?
My job has always focussed on “sowing seed” described by Jesus in the parable of the sower. All communicators are sowing seed directed at an audience some of whom will reject the message and others embrace it.
What were some of the things that you experienced that shaped the way you approach your work?
Creative people like me tend to — as Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock once described it — “jump on a horse and ride off in all directions.” I had to learn to organize and structure my creativity or nothing would get done! My education in Radio and Television Arts at Toronto’s Ryerson University taught me how to harness ideas, give them structure, and organize to achieve a specific goal,
What’s the one thing you wish people knew about your job?
Christian communication is at the same time fulfilling and frustrating. You enjoy the successes knowing they are part of a bigger Plan and Purpose.
What is the one tool for your job that you can’t live without, and why?
List-making. I learned early in my career to itemize steps in projects and list them. Crossing something of a list is a satisfying activity!
What is the biggest mistake that you see churches making when it comes to communications and marketing?
The church has two audiences: internal and external each with its own vocabularies. It’s important to speak the language of your audience avoiding church-speak jargon when communicating with those for whom the church is possibly an archaic curiosity.
Who is someone that you look up to in the church communications world?
I’m a great believer in research so I appreciate the work of organizations like Barna and Pew. If we’re going to communicate the Great News of the Gospel we need to understand those to whom we are speaking, Jesus talked fish to a fisherman, seed to farmers, and water to someone thirsty,
Every church communicator in our community will surely learn a thing or two from you, Ian. Creativity & organization is a combination that is truly necessary for communication work and we couldn’t agree more. Thank you for your wise words!
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