Is Your Communications Team A Service Department Or A Ministry?

Have you ever had a ministry leader approach you with a big idea?

The conversation starts innocently enough with a need to promote an upcoming event or ministry, but quickly turns into talking about tactics like “We need t-shirts, a billboard, a new logo, business cards, and pens!”

The rhythm most churches are in for promoting an event is:

  1. A ministry leader or pastor tells the communications team what they want, how they want it, where they want it shared, and when they need it by.
  2. The communications leader or team takes this work order and attempts to complete the project exactly as requested.

Most conversations about promoting a ministry focus on the “what” before identifying the “why”.

When this happens, the communications team turns into a service department instead of a ministry.

This model is broken. What’s missing is that we need ministry leaders and communication leaders to partner together to more effectively communicate to the church.

Yes, we desperately need the vision, direction and expertise of the ministry leader to capture what they’re trying to accomplish through an event and to better understand the audience they’re trying to reach. However, we also need communication leaders to use their gifts to clarify that vision and effectively communicate it to your church.

How can a communications team partner with ministries instead of becoming a service department?

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10 Free Or Cheap Ideas To Promote Christmas At Your Church

Christmas is coming! That fact means you’re probably reacting in one of two ways.

1) You’re rushing to find your favorite Christmas album or playlist to get in the Christmas spirit, or 2) You’re already getting anxiety over how stressful the Christmas season will be.

No matter how you feel, we can all agree that Christmas provides a great opportunity for the church to connect and engage our congregations and communities.

What’s it going to take to reach more people at your church this year at Christmas?
It takes a plan.

Unfortunately, the typical church I talk with doesn’t start thinking about their Christmas plans until they get back in the office after Thanksgiving. That leaves little time to strategically communicate how people can worship with you at Christmas.

Think about it this way for promoting Christmas this year at your church….You can have it fast, cheap or great, but you can only pick two.

Some of the most successful promotional efforts I’ve executed with my church have been on less than $500. You can get further with a strategic plan on little or no budget than others might get with thousands.

Here are a few cheap or free ideas that you could use this year to promote Christmas. Continue Reading »

Dear Senior Pastor

Dear Senior Pastor,

I’ll cut to the chase, because I know your time is short you’ve got a lot on your plate. If you’d be willing to give me a few minutes, I’d love to share my heart with you about what I see as one of the problems we need to solve in the church. I want to get a position on your radar, if you haven’t been able to address it already.

Before I get any further, I want to express to you how much I appreciate what you do. My dad was a Senior Pastor for 30+ years, and I saw first hand the challenges and tole that ministry can take. I’m in ministry today because of people like you faithfully serving the mission of Jesus Christ. Thank you for what you do.

At the end of the day, I know that you want to see lives changed and people reached for the Gospel. We have the greatest message to communicate in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You’d think that with all the new methods we have to communicate now, that it would be easier than ever to communicate that message, right? Unfortunately, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

The church doesn’t have a message problem. We have a communications problem.

Since it’s easier than ever for anyone to communicate their message, there is more noise than ever. It’s becoming harder and harder for your message to get noticed in a noisy world.

Everything we do as a church communicates.

Every sermon, announcement, sign, handout, website, event or social media post communicates something. Everything we communicate has potential to add to or take away from your ability to communicate your message as a church. If you’re like the typical church that I speak to, you’re probably discontent with the engagement or response you’re getting and want to be more effective in reaching people in your congregation and community.

So what can you do about this communications problem?

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Should Your Church Be On Snapchat?

Should your church be on Snapchat?
My answer is different today than it was a few months ago.

I’m usually an early adopter when it comes to new technology or social media platforms. Like many people, when I started hearing about Snapchat, I quickly downloaded the app to check it out.

I quickly discovered two things about Snapchat:
1) The interface is terrible. 2) I feel old.

I spent 20 minutes just trying to figure out how to use Snapchat. But here’s what was making me feel so old. The younger guys on my creative team LOVE Snapchat. They’re on it far more than any other social media platform. And to be honest, I just didn’t understand why! I didn’t see what purpose this could serve for me or our church.

How is it that a platform like Snapchat has over 150 million people using it each day? How is it that this has become the platform of choice for millennials?

Being the stubborn man that I am, I decided to fight through the initial resistance and try to figure it out. I needed to understand what it is about Snapchat that is resonating with so many people. And perhaps, I just wanted to feel young again…

So after using Snapchat actively for a week, my opinion dramatically changed about the use and potential of this platform. I truly believe Snapchat is a game changer for social media and it could be a game changer for your church.

Here’s what makes Snapchat different

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The 4 Questions Every Great Story Answers

Many years ago, before I was a creative arts pastor, I got my start in creative ministry as “the video guy.” At the time, that meant that I mostly creating highlight videos from camps or mission trips. Honestly, it didn’t take a whole lot of skill to do what I was doing. I would just film moments that were happening on the trips, edit out the bad stuff, keep the good stuff, throw some music under the footage and call it a day.

Once I wrapped up a few highlight videos, the pastor I was working with shared that he needed some help in making some testimony videos. As the video guy, this is where I came in. However, there was one small issue… I knew how to hit record, make things look descent in the camera and make highlight videos, but I didn’t have the first clue about how to tell a story.

Nobody ever taught me anything about that. I never had anyone teach me about what makes some stories memorable and other stories forgotten.

What I had to learn and discover the hard way is that effective storytelling isn’t as simple as hitting the record button.
It’s more than just picking out the right camera, or buying the right editing software. It’s about tapping into the power of storytelling.

It took me awhile to learn that the effectiveness of your video is far more dependent on how you’re crafting the story than it is on what equipment you use or budget you have. If it was all about the budget and equipment, you would think films like Battleship (where they had an estimated $220 million budget) would have been the best movie of the year. Turns out, if the story isn’t compelling, it doesn’t matter how great the equipment or budget is.

That’s great news for many churches out there! Stories play a crucial role in our churches today, just as they have since the beginning of time. It was Jesus’ chosen method of teaching as He did throughout scripture with parables.

If we can become more effective as storytellers, we have an opportunity to create compelling videos that are effective for our churches. Continue Reading »

What I learned from my one month sabbatical

During the month of April, I did something I haven’t done since Middle School. I had a whole month off with no work responsibilities. I had a one month sabbatical.

Where I serve at West Ridge Church, we take staff health very seriously. So much so that our Pastors and Directors are given a 1 month sabbatical after serving for 5 years, and a 2 month sabbatical after 10 years. This paid time away is provided for spiritual refreshment and professional growth. It’s a reset button so desperately needed for a life in ministry.

So on April 1st, I removed my email and calendar from my phone and computer and kicked off a month like I had never experienced before. During the month, I:

  • Spent a weekend with my wife exploring Savannah, GA
  • Soaked up all the extra time with my 16 month old son, Ethan
  • Did a whole bunch of yard work…
  • Went to New York for the first time, attended the filming of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and saw the incredible sights of a city that energizes and inspires me
  • Spoke at a communications conference in San Antonio
  • Retreated to the mountains for a few days of quiet time, writing, and dreaming for the season ahead

I’ve walked away from this month feeling rested and energized for the season ahead of me. I’m so thankful for our Senior Pastor and Elders who have set a tone for staff healthiness.

If you’re a senior church leader, I think you should consider doing this for your staff. Here’s why:

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The Authenticity Generation

We have a “Millennial” problem in the church. Statistics and attendance are showing that Millennials are leaving or not connecting to the church at higher rates than ever before. Meanwhile, churches across the country are trying to find the best new tactics for reaching young people.

So what can churches do to reach this Millennial generation? Is it a new program or service? Is it adding some cool moving lights or starting new social media accounts? Maybe it’s just copying what the biggest church in town is doing?

Here’s the issue.

In an effort to reach Millennials, many churches violate the foundation that will make them effective. That foundation is authenticity.

Some call the young generation of 18-34 year olds “Millennials.” I just call them the authenticity generation. From an early age, this generation has been constantly bombarded by messages and marketing from businesses, organizations, politicians and churches.

Here’s the superpower that this generation was born with: they can sniff out whether you’re being authentic or not. They know when you’re just trying to sell something to them, get something from them, or be someone that they aren’t. This superpower is what draws them to certain organizations or people, and what turns them away from others. The current political landscape in 2016 is a testament to this power of authenticity.

So what does this mean for the church? Continue Reading »

Redefining Excellence

For my first five years working in creative ministry, I was obsessed with the idea and the destination of “excellence.” I always felt excellence was a value often forgotten or overlooked in the church world, and I tried to make it my mantra as a young creative to fix everything and bring it up to a level of excellence I could be proud of.

I still love and value excellence. I think it’s critical to effectively communicating the story of what God is doing in and through our churches.

However, as I look back at that first season of ministry, there was something missing. Now I realize that drive for excellence created a steady rhythm of being overwhelmed, frustrated and feeling like I never arrived anywhere.

Everywhere I would look, I would find things that need fixing, frustrated by things that I couldn’t control or speak into, and facing challenges with limited resources and staff. I was wasting sideways energy on so much that I couldn’t control, feeling like excellence was the destination that I’d never actually get to arrive at.

If I was going to survive and be effective in the call God placed on my life, a couple things needed to change. Continue Reading »

Top 5 Posts of 2013

On February 6, 2013, I began my journey as a hesitant blogger. Through this last year, I have learned a lot and have had a blast connecting with many of you! I’ve been blown away by the emails and stories from church communicators, pastors and more all over the country that are looking to communicate more effectively. I’ve got some big plans and resources that I can’t wait to share with you in 2014! So if you haven’t already, you can subscribe by emailRSS, or connect with me on Twitter or Facebook.

Looking back at 2013, here are the top 5 posts:

  1. Series Planning Process
  2. A Year Later: The Legacy of Andrew Pray
  3. Developing A Communications Plan
  4. 7 Reasons Why You’re Not Getting A Stage Announcement
  5. Social Media Strategy In 3 Words


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