Featured Member Of The Week: Kelli Ruffatto

What’s your name?

Kelli Ruffatto

Where do you serve, what is your title and how long have you served there?

I serve at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Charleston, WV. I’ve been the communications director there since November, 2016. I am also the communications and marketing manager for Peace Officer Ministries, a non-profit that primarily helps train chaplains in law enforcement culture.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t go to church?

Have you ever tried to put socks on an octopus or juggle cats while being blasted with a fire hose? Ha! Seriously, I would probably say something more like this: If I don’t get in the way too much, God uses me and the gifts he’s given me in His mission to seek and save the lost. It’s His great Love Story that I get to help communicate. You wanna come be a part of it? I’ll help you.

What were some of the things that you experienced that shaped the way you approach your work?

Learning more about the doctrines of the Lutheran church, specifically the doctrine of vocation has significantly impacted how I view all work, not just my own. Martin
Luther wrote: “What else is all our work to God— whether in the fields, in the garden, in the city, in the house, in war, or in government—but just such a child’s performance, by which He wants to give His gifts in the fields, at home, and everywhere else? These are the masks of God, behind which He wants to remain concealed and do all things.”

What’s the one thing you wish people knew about your job?

It is a dream job. It is my vocation. I take it very seriously. I may not always do what you want, how you want me to do it, or how “consumer marketers” or “church growth” strategists might deem is the “right way,” but in the end, God makes the calls, brings the people in, blesses the ministry… or He doesn’t. You gotta relax and trust God’s promises in anything you do or you’ll kill yourself trying to be good enough.

What is the one tool for your job that you can’t live without and why?

From a tactical standpoint, I find professional facebook groups to be invaluable to me. (This is, of course, in addition to scripture. I hope that goes without saying.)

What is the biggest mistake that you see churches making when it comes to communications and marketing?

Okay… here are four…

  1. Forgetting WHO is ultimately in charge of church growth and either under- or overemphasizing marketing.

  2. Not budgeting for communications/marketing

  3. Not including the communications person/people in the leadership/strategy team.

  4. Giving in to a “consumerism” mentality. It’s not about “what unbelievers want in a church,” it’s about what God requires.

Who is someone that you look up to in the church communications world?

There are several. Among those within my denomination, I’d say Seth Hinz and Peter Frank — both super-sharp guys who understand the intricacies of church communications and especially digital marketing as it relates to working within the framework of a sacramental church body. As far as big names go, I think Brady Shearer and his team are the benchmark, though I don’t always agree with the theology. Not to brownnose, but Katie and the folks running Church Communications really do a great job, and are approachable and forward-thinking. [See my comments on the essential tool.]

Your perception of things is quite unusual but are of great sense, Kelli. We are grateful to have known you better! Keep your influence and thinking as bright as possible for other church communicators to see.

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