You need a team of communicators to get all the work done you need in any size of church. Some may be paid staff, some volunteers, or they might be all volunteers. Whenever I mention volunteers in my seminars there is a gasp and the spoken or unspoken fear expressed, “What if I can’t get them to do what I want them to do? What if volunteers create materials that are not appropriate or up to the quality we want for the church?”
These are valid concerns and I’ve found that almost all of them can be answered if you divide your church communication team of staff and volunteers into two production levels.
The Two Production Levels of Effective Church Communications are:
- The PR Communication Production Level
- The Ministry Communication Production Level
It is important to understand these two levels in terms of:
- The communications produced in each one
- Who does the communications in each one
- The guidelines and standards for each one
Important reminder of the need for multichannel communications
Before we look at each level in detail, it is very important to keep in mind that the communications produced need to be produced in both print and digital formats. In this column, I talk about this a lot, but it serves us well to always remind ourselves that we live in a time of multichannel communications, of both/and, not either/or and to reach all of the people in our congregations we need communications in all media formats.
This is another reason why it is so important to have a communication TEAM. Each person on the team will have his or her favored communication methods, often divided along the lines of whether they prefer print or digital media. Following that media preference that person is most likely the most skilled and comfortable working with that media channel. To reach all of the church and to have a harmonious communication team, it makes sense to have a variety of people who prefer and are good at the different media channels.
With this foundation in mind, here are some suggestions on how to divide the communication tasks in the church:
PR Communication Production Level
- Communications produced— Overall pieces that represent the church or ministry area, such as the logo, stationery, business cards, primary bulletin, newsletter, major outreach pieces and major ministry brochures; the primary church website and social media. In the case of a ministry within the church, the primary pieces and the pieces that interface with the church communications program overall would also be included
- Communications producer— Usually a staff person, whose job may or may not have other responsibilities. The larger the church, the more it is recommended that the church hire someone specifically to create and oversee communications. This could also be done by a volunteer who has the time and commitment to work closely with the church staff, or who is in charge of a ministry communications program within the church.
In addition to being the primary producer of communications, this person should also be in charge of training staff or volunteers in the various ministry areas of the church so they can create the volume of materials that are needed to complete the communications needed. My website, http://www.effectivechurchcom.com has many resources that will help you do this.
- Communications standards (much more flexible)—You do not need the same standards of design or perfection for a one-time postcard to remind the guys of the men’s breakfast that you do for the four color, outreach brochure for the church.
If you are too hard on volunteers, they’ll quit. People do improve in communication creation skills with time, training, and encouragement and the ministry communication staff person needs to decide what is really important in standards and what picky personal preference is. Train to bring up to important standards and let the personal preference issues slide.
Remember, the Lord put us into a body in the church, in part so our gifts can help and build up each other. The Two Production Levels of Effective Church Communication gives you a way to practically live out this biblical reality and can enable your church to create all the communications needed to help your community come to know Jesus and your congregation to grow to mature disciples.