What’s your name?
Where do you serve, what is your title, and how long have you served there?
I have served as the Director of Communications at Houston’s First Baptist Church since 2006.
How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t go to church?
A university might have different campuses, colleges, departments, athletic teams, student organizations, and more — and each one has something they want people to know about, or that people want to know about them. At the same time, current and potential students all have unique backgrounds, interests, and goals — and each one is seeking different information regarding what the university offers and what it’s all about. My job is to help connect those dots between the university’s messages and the students’ needs. However, I don’t work at a university — I work at a church.
What were some of the things that you experienced that shaped the way you approach your work?
My first job was with Accenture (a global management consulting firm), followed by MD Anderson Cancer Center (the top-ranked cancer center in the nation). So, for the first 12 years of my professional life, I marinated in excellence and world-class processes. During that time, I visited Houston’s First as a young single guy who had always been hesitant of megachurches. I eventually joined and grew to love the place. So, my real-world exposure to how top organizations can function combined with an awareness of what it’s like to be new and filled with questions inform how I approach our messaging and how I strive to operate behind the scenes.
What’s the one thing you wish people knew about your job?
Communications at a church (perhaps regardless of size) is much more than just publicizing dates and details about Bible studies and potluck dinners. I could spend a solid 40-hour week (or more) and never touch anything related to events going on here or even think about content for our regular publications. (BTW – we have not had a potluck dinner to promote throughout my tenure here!)
What is the one tool for your job that you can’t live without, and why?
Google Drive! I access it every single day — for working documents to share with others, as a dumping ground for thoughts, like a filing cabinet for account codes I can never remember, and more. (You cannot spell Google Drive without G-O-D. But, you can’t spell it without D-E-V-I-L either, so never mind.)
What is the biggest mistake that you see churches making when it comes to communications and marketing?
I am troubled when I hear church communicators speak in absolutes when it comes to how we should communicate. “The bulletin is dead!” “You have to have an app!” “Churches must do this!” “You must do that!” There are so many new communicators (and new churches) out there who are hungry for wisdom and guidance. These absolutes could be misleading for them. Jesus’ global Church is too broad and too diverse for any one solution to be right for each church when it comes to how to communicate. Yes, learn from others and listen — but always prayerfully seek what is right for the people God has placed in your church or in the community you’re trying to reach with the Gospel.
Who is someone that you look up to in the church communications world?
I almost asked Kem Meyer into my heart several years ago. I heard her at a conference my first year in this role, had the opportunity to be in one of her coaching cohorts, and brought her to Houston to lead a seminar for church communicators in the area. Kem has been a consistent voice of reason and leads by asking great questions. We are not as in touch as we used to be, but I continue to be challenged and encouraged by the wisdom she shares online. (If she’s reading this, “Hey, Kem! You’re hearty!” #insidejoke)
It is so great to hear stories of a career journey from experience. Thank you, Steven, for letting us hear your beautiful stories and insights – you are an eye-opener! Please continue to be a guide to all our newer church communicators.
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