“I just wish I had a seat at the leadership table.” This is the cry of countless church communicators that I’ve heard since entering the field in 2003.
In my early years, as church communications was just starting to be recognized for its value – and only by the most forward-thinking churches – a church communicator shared with me her deep desire to have a seat at her church’s senior leadership table. “They (the senior leaders) come out of meetings,” she said, “and might think to share a thing or two with me about upcoming events, but in reality they have missed so many details that could impact the effectiveness of our communication.” She continued, “If only I could just listen in. If only I could hear it all first hand. There would be fewer last minute scrambles and we’d just communicate better.” Then came the statement that truly captured her situation.
“Playing investigative reporter is no way for me to do my best work.”
I have quoted her many times throughout the years. (and Lisa, if you’re reading this, thank you!)
As you consider your own situation as a church communicator, maybe you’re in Lisa’s shoes – you don’t yet have a seat at the leadership table and you find yourself more in the dark on things than you’d like. How do you change that? I’ll leave that for another day, instead I want to talk about who you’re allowing at your leadership table.
Who are the designers, programmers, social media coordinators, photographers, writers who you are keeping in tactical seats, when perhaps they could be of greater strategic value than you’re making room for today? Considering your own team (assuming you have one…and if you don’t, that’s another post for another day) … considering you have a team, are you making room for them at your leadership table or are you just handing out tactical assignments? Are you harnessing their collective brainpower to develop better campaigns, concepts, and designs? Are you pulling them together, in person or online, for creative and personal development time, and community? Are you making the most of and pouring into their whole person, not just drawing on them for what they can do for you?
Making it Practical
Sometimes it’s hard to develop a whole plan for something like I’m suggesting above, so we don’t ever move on the idea. Rather than a complicated plan you have to commit to, just do a pilot you and your team can try out. Pick one campaign, one sermon series, one project and pull your team together to work on it. Don’t start with Easter or Christmas… just pick a manageable project and pull your team together for some group work. Maybe it’s a new approach to Groups promotion, or ideas for branding a series.
Let them know in advance how much you appreciate their design or photography work or whatever they do, and that you’d like to invite them for Pizza and Planning around a specific communication opportunity. (Yes, buy them pizza or dessert. Make it fun.)
Just as you may desire more input at a bigger table, your team may feel the same way. Create seats at your table. You might find you have fewer last minute scrambles and communicate better.