A Year Later: The Legacy of Andrew Pray

Today is a hard day. A day I’ve dreaded for months now. On November 21, 2012, a year ago today, my friend and our Worship Pastor at West Ridge Church was tragically struck by a bus while cycling in NW Atlanta.

I can truly say that Andrew was one-of-a-kind. He was the most steady, encouraging, joyful person I’ve ever been around. He was a gifted worship pastor, a loyal friend, and left a legacy for all who knew him (and even some that didn’t).

As I reflect on the incredible legacy of Andrew, there are four things that I’ll remember most that left a mark on me and inspire me in how I live my life.

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10 Things You Should Never Say To A Designer

Graphic design is hard work. Here are 10 statements to avoid when talking with a designer:

  1. This won’t take long.
  2. Give it a “wow-factor”
  3. Have you seen that Papyrus font? Let’s use that.
  4. Here’s a low-res picture I found on Google Images. Can you blow it up and put it on a banner?
  5. Make it pop.
  6. What this needs is drop shadows. Way more drop shadows.
  7. Just go make it creative.
  8. I don’t need the brochures until our event in two weeks. But the printer needs them tomorrow. So…
  9. There’s too much white space. Let’s add something.
  10. How’d you design that? Do you use Microsoft Publisher?

Got something to add to the list? Share it in the comments below:

2 Lessons From The Harlem Shake

In February 2013, the Harlem Shake officially took over social media feeds and computers everywhere as the greatest viral web sensation since Gangam Style.

On February 3rd, a Harlem Shake dance video, based off of a song by Baauer, started a firestorm of spin-off videos. Within 12 days, 40,000 new Harlem Shake videos had hit YouTube that were viewed over 175 million times. Since then, that number has grown.

Here’s my personal favorite so far, and one of the only appropriate ones I could find:

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Video Interview Link

I recently did a video interview with Tim Peters discussing the challenges of church communications, how to manage the daily madness of church communications and leading up in your organization. Check out the post here.

Tim is the creator of Sayge, a monthly church communications training resource that would be excellent for anyone looking to master the essentials of church communications.

Art Is In You

What is art?

Art makes us feel. Sad, happy, angry, joyful? Doesn’t matter. Art doesn’t make assumptions.

Art takes us somewhere we weren’t a moment ago, escaping us from a reality we didn’t know we were stuck in.

Art overflows from vulnerability that is scared to be revealed, but hides in us all.

Everyone can be an artist. Few are. Few push past the safety of the norm, of the unseen, of the unfelt.

Deep inside you lives the artist waiting to be unleashed. Waiting to change the world. Waiting for permission to move. To feel. To take us somewhere.

Deep inside you is the heart of your creator, waiting patiently for your permission to create art through you.

Go. Create. Make us feel. Make us move. Art is in you.

The Hiding Spot For Creativity

Have you heard one of these phrases recently in a meeting?

  • Don’t have enough time
  • Costs too much
  • Don’t have the right equipment
  • Don’t know how to
  • Need more people

Me too. In fact, I’ve often been the one saying them.

You know what I’ve found though? Constraints have a way of fueling creativity, not limiting it. By defining the boundaries, you can focus attention on creativity within the boundaries. Sometimes the small budget, limited staff, short timeline or other constraints have forced me to look at an idea in a completely different way. Sometimes, by embracing the constraints, you end up with something far better than if you had no constraints at all.

I stumbled across this great video by the band Atomic Tom on YouTube. Back in October 2010, they had their instruments stolen. How did they respond? They improvised. They used what they had. They embraced the limitations. Check this out:

Next time you find yourself working against constraints, don’t push away. Lean in.

What limitation or constraint do you need to quit fighting this week & embrace? Creativity often hides in constraints.

Developing A Communications Plan

As Communications Director here at West Ridge Church, I oversee our internal and external communications through our web, video, print, design, social media, marketing, and sunday messaging/announcements. At a big church with tons of incredible things happening each week, that can be a lot to keep up with!

To help map out and plan what is being communicated through our various mediums each week, I use a Google doc spreadsheet called Communications Plan.

What Does It Cover?

  • SERVICE PLAN
    • Date, Series, Topic, Announcements & Next Steps, Videos, Calendar, Worship Guide, Announcement Loop, Email
    • The focus of the Sunday Plan tab for us is to keep track of what’s being communicated during a service. For churches, Sundays (or weekends) are the biggest opportunity we have to share what God is doing in and through the church. It’s vital to be strategic about how you use that time and not try to communicate too many things. This Service Plan helps me map out what the key next steps are each week and how/where they are being communicated.
  • PROJECTS
    • Start Date, Finish Date, Priority, Project, Project Type, Key Dates/Milestones, Elements, People, Notes
    • This is where I keep a running list of current and future projects. As I hear about something in a meeting, or know a big event is coming, this helps keep me on track so I can build timelines and project milestones to get things done and not fall behind.
  • SOCIAL MEDIA
    • Date, Day, Announcements & Next Steps, Calendar, Notes & Instructions, Spots for: Facebook Posts, Twitter Posts
    • We have a point person for Facebook & Twitter. I put notes and instructions for each week on things that need to be communicated through social media. Beyond that, they have a lot of freedom to promote, engage and encourage our church through social media. We use this document to write and plan the posts, and then they get scheduled with HootSuite.
  • WEBSITE
    • Date, Series, Announcements & Next Steps, Sunday Videos, Calendar, Banners, Home Blocks, Blog
    • This helps me map out what is going where on the website, and build a plan for designing graphics/content that will be on the site.

Tips & Ideas

  • Before each week begins, I look through and update this doc to map out priorities for the week and delegate projects/tasks.
  • Each week, we try to focus on one to two key next steps. Those next steps are usually things that apply to the majority of the church. The next steps are what we focus on for stage announcements, are represented on our home page of the website, promoted on social media, and are on the worship guide. It’s important that those next steps are represented during that week in each of your communication mediums so that people who were not there on Sunday still know what’s going on.
  • As I get Communication Requests from ministries (blog post coming on this later), I map out how we’re going to be promoting that ministry/event here in all the various mediums. Then, I communicate back to the ministry team on the communications plan is for the ministry/event.
  • This year, I started meeting with each ministry area to map out their big events, on-ramps to ministry, and project needs. That info is then mapped out on this Communications Plan for the year.
  • Just because you plan it one way doesn’t mean you can’t deviate from it. Become a customer advocate here and use the filter of what’s best for the person sitting in the seat looking to engage with your church. Talking for 15 minutes at the end of the service isn’t going to help anybody engage and take their next step.

Free Resource

If you don’t already have something like this, I’ve made a blank template available for download. Feel free to use it and adjust it to your needs.

What’s your method for mapping out a communications plan? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Download Communications Plan Template

Free Resource

Download

My Start As A Hesitant Blogger

Do you have something in your life that you know you need to do, but have been pushing off for way too long? For me, that thing has been blogging.

For years, I’ve been building a list of blog ideas on a range of topics. To be honest, it’s just taken me a long time to process why I’m even doing this and who this blog is for. Here’s where I’ve landed.

Who is this blog for?

  • Church Communication Leaders leading the charge for church communications
  • Social Media Strategists trying to be more strategic with their church social media presence
  • Pastors & Church Staff looking for practical resources and ideas to effectively communicate to the church
  • Young Leaders looking to leave their mark on the world for a purpose that matters
  • Church Planters looking for practical resources to get started and build volunteer/staff teams in communications/media/video
  • Me – To clarify my own thinking and ideas

Here’s a few things you need to know:

  • I don’t have it all figured out. Not even close. I hope this blog can be a place where you can learn from the mistakes I’ve made and some successes along the way. I’d love to learn from you as well through your comments and tweets.
  • Writing is not my strength. Grammar and spelling experts, go easy on me. Feel free to email me edits if you’d like!
  • There are a lot of great blogs out there that talk about big picture communication strategy. I’ll cover some of that, but my focus is going to be on practical ideas and resources you can use now.
  • I truly believe there is no greater time to live. For communicators, there has never been so many tools and resources at hand to share the Gospel. We have a tremendous opportunity to leverage communications and make a difference.

So here goes nothing. I’m jumping in with both feet, and hope you’ll join me.

If you’d like to stay connected here, you can subscribe by RSS, email or connect on twitter. I truly hope this will be a practical resource for you. Let’s begin!

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