What’s your name?
Where do you serve, what is your title, and how long have you served there?
Berea Baptist Church Mooresville, NC
I am officially called the Ministry and Administrative Assistant, and I have served there for four years. Berea Baptist Church has been serving the community in the same location since 1880. When I was hired, I was supposed to be the secretary. Still, it quickly became much more as the church discovered that I was studying communications – public relations, advertising, and marketing and almost ready to graduate.
How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t go to church?
I wear many hats at the church. I am the pastor’s wife, the church pianist, the Kids Min director, and the Ministry and Administrative Assistant. I make it a priority to make sure everyone has the information they need to minister to the church members and visitors; sometimes that’s kids’ curriculum, sometimes that’s activity flyers, and sometimes that’s being the voice on the end of the phone or making the announcements on Sunday.
What were some of the things that you experienced that shaped the way you approach your work?
Being a pastor’s wife, whether that pastor is the Worship Pastor, the Family Ministries Pastor, or the Senior Pastor (my husband has done all of these) shaped who I am, not just as a career, but fundamentally. During my freshman year of college, I had no idea what I wanted to do for a career. I had a professor tell me he wanted me in Communications. I laughed it off. He offered to help me get work-study and follow a Comms path. I declined. Twenty years later, after my husband’s military term, after my husband graduated from seminary, after serving two churches with him, I realized God’s hand had always been leading me into Communications. By His grace, I had learned photography, videography, graphic design, journalism, and public relations to various degrees. Those skills were all the skills the churches we served were lacking.
What’s the one thing you wish people knew about your job?
I wish people realized that even if I can do something quickly, it is not the ideal situation for anyone. Quickly means errors. Quickly means cutting corners. Quickly means I might have to bench something else that also needs my attention. I think every Communications person feels this in some way – that there just isn’t enough lead time, there just aren’t enough discussions, and there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I think it’s how we’re wired. We literally are COMMUNICATIONS professionals. We long for communication, and we truly need that communication from pastors, staff, department heads, but I think we need to help them learn good communication skills. I think, sometimes, we need to learn to respectfully and humbly say, “no.”
What is the one tool for your job that you can’t live without, and why?
I cannot live without Canva Pro. I used to say I couldn’t live without Adobe Creative Suite. I got so spoiled by Adobe in college (they provided it free of charge while we were students.) When my church could no longer afford the Adobe package price, I truly felt lost. Through the Church Communications group, I learned about Canva. Now, I can honestly say that I use it five days a week or more. I use it personally and professionally. I have even helped my sons utilize it for high school and college projects. Canva offers so much, and they continue to add more all the time. With Canva, I can, to some degree, edit photos, remove backgrounds, create animations, videos, flyers, postcards – you get the idea! It’s the creative person’s go-to for whatever needs to be done.
What is the biggest mistake that you see churches making when it comes to communications and marketing?
As a pastor’s wife, I think we all sometimes forget that we are a ministry first. It is so easy to get caught up in the unfairness of life – the pastors don’t include me in meetings, the members dump everything on me at the last minute, or no one appreciates how many hours I work. Those are valid concerns, but especially in 2020, what the world needs is peace. We are communicators, and I think we have the ability to lead the charge in communicating peace and the love of God, and that starts with our own personal daily testimony. Dr. Joe Crider, now serving as Dean of the School of Church Music and Worship Professor of Church Music and Worship at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, always told my husband and me “more grace.” Whatever the problem, no one was ever hurt by extending someone more grace.
Who is someone that you look up to in the church communications world?
Honestly, Katie Allred. Before joining the Church Communications group, I felt alone in the world of church communications. I am an “Office of One.” Everything I did, everything I tried, for at least the first year of my job, was from my own head. Finding this group meant finding my tribe. It meant finding resources that I didn’t know existed. It meant finding answers to questions that I didn’t even know to ask. It wasn’t just a breath of fresh air; when I found this group and Katie, I found a lifeline when I was sinking fast. Katie has let me ask her direct questions and has always been so honest and forthcoming with information. I believe she truly wants the best for all of us and for our churches.
We loved hearing your journey in church communications, Stephanie. Your insights about the life of a communicator are the reality for all of us – voicing them out is brave and helpful! Everyone can surely learn things from you. Keep sharing your light!
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