Moving church to an online platform has led churches to consider creating or modifying their communications teams, roles and strategies. It's now more important than ever before to be able to communicate well with your congregation and community, and there is no better way to do so than to ensure your communications director and team are working together to further your mission.
To help you as you discern what is best for your church and your communications team, I spoke with a few panelists to discuss the importance of strategic communications and the intersection of social media and ministry. The panelists included:
—Ryan Wakefield, co-founder, Church Marketing University
—Haley Veturis, director of digital engagement, Bayside Church.
—Jeremiah Bartlett, communications director, Southside Church.
—Aaron Mamuyac, pastor of discipleship, outreach and connections, Sunlight Community Church.
Social Media and Digital Media Strategies and Management
Social media is the mouth of your church and the house on the street. Social media is the house we want people to come in to. It's the space we want people to gather, engage and get connected in the virtual world. It's also where people are already spending their time, making it easier to connect with them.
Theology is an important aspect of engaging with others via social media. Although it is easy to have volunteers engage with others online and answer questions, leaders must remember that their audience is full of real people with real-life situations. Especially during COVID-19, it's important to have someone whose job is to fully engage with others online, to be able to pray for them, answer them with theologically sound answers and really care for them. The people in these roles are the voice of their church, and there's a larger weight to this position that should be thoughtfully considered.
A practical strategy would be to equip volunteers and staff members with the ability to do this. Church leaders can provide opportunities for teaching theology and guiding principles that may need to be addressed in situations online.
Create a job description. It's common for leaders to simplify some of their communications roles to posting on social media. However, it's important to take time to examine what you're really looking for and write out a job description. This will ensure you have a clearer idea of the responsibilities needed for the role you're looking to fill.
Focus on your mission and purpose. As you are managing your communications team, it's important to remember that those staff members' purpose is to amplify engagement, inspire others to follow Jesus and connect them with the life and mission of the church. Be sure to hire people naturally gifted at outreach and connection if they'll be speaking with your community.
Don't hesitate to ask for help. Reach out to other communications leaders for advice, ideas and help. It's always good to bounce ideas off of one another when it comes to navigating such uncharted territory.
5 Ways Communications Teams Can Generate Visitors
—Create a 10-question survey to learn what influences visitors to come to your church.
—Leverage the people who already love your church by equipping them to invite people to church and share their faith.
—Use your church website to display everything your team creates, and be sure it is constantly drawing visitors to your church.
—Utilize Facebook ads, campaigns and other online strategies to share about your church and attract visitors.
—Find out what's making a big difference for your church and make sure you're putting a good amount of time into it.
Crisis Management and Social Media
This is a balancing act of grace and truth. A good way to have a strong foundation for crisis management is by already having systems and plans in place that establish how you're going to communicate in sensitive times. This ensures consistency and eliminates the initial element of surprise for those on the front lines.
Pray and communicate as much as possible. It's always important to discern how to address challenging situations by taking time to pray before responding. Once you have a clear vision of how to move forward, speak with your leaders to ensure everyone is on the same page before responding to the situation.
Executive leaders should consider bringing their communications leaders into tough conversations. The communications team sees the day-to-day conversations and reactions, so they will have a valuable opinion to bring to the table. They're also the first point of contact that people have with your church, so they should be a part of the conversation when it comes to crisis management.
App Options for Communications Teams
Church Online Platform: Stream your church service live.
YouTube: Post videos of your church service, worship sessions or other video resources.
Facebook: Use Facebook to connect with your audience and stream your church service.
Instagram Live: Use Instagram Live to connect with your audience and stream your church service.
Subsplash: Texting, email and other digital communication tools for you to connect with your audience.
ClickSend: Texting app to communicate with the church community.
We recently partnered with Church Marketing University to create The Ultimate Guide to Church Communication & Marketing Job Descriptions if you're interested in digging deeper into church communications roles.
Holly Tate is the vice president of business development at Vanderbloemen, which serves teams with a greater purpose by aligning their people solutions for growth: hiring, compensation, succession and culture. Through its retained executive search and consulting services, Vanderbloemen serves churches, schools, nonprofits, family offices and Christian businesses in all parts of the United States and internationally.
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