Since the start of the church closure in March 2020, I have started telling pastors that even though outreach like assignments, educationand children’s ministry are all important, during the pandemic it was the communication and media team who kept your church in business. If there’s been a positive remote result from the virus, it’s because church leaders are finally realizing their online congregation matters, and the role of the church communications director communicating and connecting with that congregation is more important than ever.
As a result, churches around the world have rethought their communication strategy, and in particular the primary role of ‘communication director’. Our team at Cooke Media Group has been deeply involved in these conversations, so I asked our lead strategist, Dawn Nicole Baldwin, to share a bit about how she sees this transition happening and what church leaders need to consider:
Dawn: “Communication” has not always been seen as important in most churches. In fact, there was a time when this was not considered at all – church secretaries updated newsletters and even websites in their spare time using whatever clip art they could find.
As departments evolved, most created a Communications Director posts and builds departments with supporting roles as needed. But these roles were still primarily designed to meet the needs of ministries and were generally not allowed to say “no” to requests. A drive-thru mentality became standard operating procedure, with many department heads filling out some sort of order form, listing all the ways they wanted to promote their event. (Would you like fries with that?)
This inevitably led to ministries competing for the attention of the congregation, and “success” was determined by how many people showed up for an event.
COVID-19 changed all that. Without live events, many departments were forced to reconsider their endgame, and the role of communications changed again to become more strategic than ever. People still need to feel connected and belong, even if you don’t meet in person. They need to know how the vision of the church may have adjusted to meet immediate needs and what role they have to play in all of this moving forward.
It’s not just about deciding who will get the logos and what the next graphic in the sermon series should look like. It’s about communicating the vision and keeping people connected.
Ultimately, the senior/lead pastor is responsible for communicating that vision, but they are usually not involved in the inner workings of all the different tools and channels available to achieve it. Or how it fits in with everything going on at church. Or how the process of assimilation is communicated along the way to ensure people don’t fall through the cracks (or slip out the back door).
A communications department is typically responsible for social, digital, and print media touchpoints to reach your congregation, the community at large, as well as staff. That’s a lot to put on one person’s plate, especially if that same person is also responsible for running it all. You need someone who isn’t drowning in the daily grind to help you communicate where the ship is heading.
So if you think your church may have outgrown its previous communications structure, here are some key characteristics to consider for an excellent communications director in the future:
Key Characteristics of a Church Communications Manager
1. Strategic Thinker
Able to see the big picture, a church communications director is usually part of the leadership team or works closely with senior management.
2. Team builder
Even if your church is in a hiring freeze, these skills are invaluable as they include building volunteer teams. You will only progress based on who is leading your efforts, so aim high.
Your church’s communications director should work with various ministry leaders as well as creative types. So knowing how to understand WHAT needs to be communicated and HOW to translate it creatively requires a spirit of collaboration (and the ability to speak the languages of strategic thinkers and creatives fluently).
And this is very important to understand: creative technical skills like graphic design or video are useful, but much lower on the priority list because they can be outsourced if needed.
It may be time for you to move your role as church communications director from a “technical” position to a “leadership” position, as it is difficult (if not impossible) for creative or technical expertise to overcome a lack of vision.
If you would like to speak to someone about what this could mean for your church, please contact us here.
This article on the role of a church communications director originally appeared hereand is used with permission.