First things first...
Before I even launch into this post, allow me to be totally candid: I’m not writing this because I consider myself to be the Jedi Master of Church Communications. In fact, totally the opposite. Even after over a decade of experience and a bachelors degree in Broadcast Journalism/Digital Communication, I haven’t achieved Yoda-level status at this stuff. Some days I feel more like the exhausted Luke Skywalker on Dagobah who can’t even summon up enough strength in The Force to yank his spaceship out of a swamp. What a loser.
In all seriousness, though, I appreciate what I’ve gleaned from those with more experience in this field. Sometimes there’s nothing better than bouncing ideas and questions off of leaders who are 10 and 20 years down the road in your line of work. This is particularly true when you’re in ministry. So, if you’re just starting out on this exciting journey of Church Comms, I invite you to tag along as my Padawan learner for a minute and — although you are temporarily on the council of my blog — I do not yet grant you the rank of Master. [Ok, enough with the Star Wars references. Let’s do this.]
Here are a few attributes and qualities I believe are necessary to be an effective Jedi, er, I mean, Communications Master...Minister:
#1. An unparalleled ability to multitask, meet tight deadlines, and work well under pressure.
You would think these would be no-brainers, right? Man, I can’t tell you how many newbies fail to realize that, oftentimes, — especially at smaller churches — you’re going to be responsible for literally everything digital and print. Most small churches either have limited comms staff or none at all. Why? They can’t afford to pay them or there’s just no one else with the knowledge base or the willingness to volunteer. That’s not necessarily a slam on small churches, it’s just reality. (It’s also why ministries like 6.14 exist.) Whatever you do, don’t freak out. There’s no need to panic.
You might be the only one juggling website management/design, social media management, weekly on-screen worship media, graphic design, print media, video production, sermon audio editing, etc. etc. The list is endless. And there will be specific things that have to be done and completed by specific times. If you’re lucky — like me — you may have one or two folks who are good at things you utterly detest (like audio and video production/editing.) So together, you make a great team. At my church, I handle everything web/social/design/print while my buddy Mike handles everything audio/video. I completely loathed the audio/video editing courses I took in college and Mike is leagues better than I could ever hope to be in that field.
Either way, you will often feel the pressure of cranking out that perfect sermon series graphic design template by Sunday or crafting those flawless Christmas invitational cards that meet the pastor’s approval. This pressure is normal. Expect it. Adjust to it. Thrive in it. Manage your workload like a pro. Use task management apps on your smartphone or tablet. Do your best to tackle your responsibilities like a champ. But yes, there will be nights when you’ll be neck-deep in Adobe Illustrator or Affinity Designer until 3:00AM.
Bonus point/thought: If you’re not willing to pull those 3:00AM-ers, you might need to ask yourself: How much do I really care about the Church (capital “C”) and my calling to Church Communications as a ministry? (That’s free. No charge.)
#2. An innate understanding of the church's brand.
It’s one thing to have a grasp on your church’s weekly announcements, promotions, and social media posts. It’s a completely different thing to come to a full understanding of and an intimate awareness of your church’s brand. (Throwback: I discussed a few points about branding last February.) In case you’re utterly clueless here, your brand is the overall ambiance of your church. To be acquainted with this, you’re going to have to experience the tone and feel of your church for an extended period of time. This can take some work — and may include attending more than just Sunday and Wednesday services — but eventually you should excel at developing content that reflects the true identity of the church. Here’s one way to think of it: If your church was a person, the brand would be your church’s personality and character. I discuss this more in-depth in this episode of Rescuing Churches.
#3. No concern for the spotlight or recognition.
If you're signing up for this whole Church Comms gig because you’re hoping to one day be applauded as the Picasso of your field, then you might as well quit while you’re ahead. First of all, this is ministry. It’s about the Gospel. It ain’t about you. Check your motives. Keep the big picture in mind.
Second, church communicators have a unique role in that they are typically support staff. This means that most folks in the church will be utterly oblivious to how much work you actually do because nearly all of it takes place behind the scenes at your laptop or tablet. In fact, some people may assume you hardly work at all because they never see it with their own eyes. But, that’s because they’re not at home with you as you burn the midnight oil creating and perfecting everything that will be posted to your church’s digital platforms and everything that will magically appear on the screens from week-to-week in the worship services. (Not to mention all of the other side projects you’re likely juggling.) This isn’t their fault and it’s not because they don’t care. It’s just because you aren’t in the spotlight. Your work is, but you aren’t. It’s a weird dynamic.
This means you probably won’t get a whole lot of credit for your work. You need to be able to handle this without taking it personal. Also, most of the people in your church — including the lead pastor and your fellow staff members — may never really understand the difficulty of what you do. That’s ok. If they’re not tech-savvy or knowledgeable about such things, then let it be.
#4. A talent and love for the art of storytelling.
Storytelling matters, even if you’re at a small church. (I discussed this in-depth in a previous episode of Rescuing Churches.) It increases connectivity and promotes engagement. People need to see the positive things that are happening within your flock. There are many ways you can go about doing this, but the ultimate goal remains the same: Communicate the truth, goodness, wonder, beauty, and splendor of God and the Gospel in ways that impact and influence people to their very core or even in ways that motivate them to take a particular action (like, say, invite their friends, family, and coworkers to church?)
#5. A willingness to coach when necessary.
There will be times when you have to train another creative individual to handle a particular digital or communications responsibility. Maybe it’s something that needs to be taken off of your plate. Maybe you need to expand your team. Maybe there are other creatives who can’t or won’t do it correctly or who won’t do it within the established vision and brand of the church. And depending on the size of your church, you could be building a team of multiple individuals. Whatever the case, it’s your responsibility as the Communications Minister/Director to coach, instruct, and develop these creatives and to help them not only adjust to their roles, but to ensure that they understand how their roles fit within the overarching mission of the church.
There’s about a million other qualities that a good comms director must possess. I’ve only expanded on five of them here. We didn’t even get into basic requirements like creativity, a sharp eye for design, leadership, loyalty, patience, written and oral communication skills, etc. The list could go on forever.
Drop your thoughts in the comment thread and let me know what you think is required to make it as a Church Comms Director!
Does great design really matter in church communications?
Yeah, I absolutely think it does.
Now don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of things that are more important than an eye-catching sermon graphic. I mean, let’s face it: The sermon itself is pretty important, right? I think most pastors would agree. If the message content is not impactful, engaging, challenging, or inspiring, then even the most well-designed visual art won’t make a difference. Nobody will give a flying rip about the amazing font selection and color combinations if the pastor isn’t on point and if the message — the very Word of God — fails to stir or move us in some way. Furthermore, the graphics are only meant to enhance the sermon, not distract from it or supersede it in some way.
Did you hear me, designers? This isn’t a contest between your graphic and the pastor or his message. Don’t get all competitive. You’d be treading into the territory of distracting folks from Jesus. And that’s not cool.
With that in mind, professional design still matters and shouldn’t be dismissed outright. People need something tangible to which they can relate; something with which their senses can interact. Great graphics can bring visual organization to the overall service and exceptional sermon graphics can provide congregational engagement beyond what might normally happen, even beyond what you would’ve expected. And this isn’t just true for the megachurches. Within the last decade, churches of every size and denomination have come to realize the importance and effectiveness of good design.
So let’s look at a few rules and some elements you should consider when crafting those sermon series graphics:
First: Contemplate Your Ultimate Goal.
This is where you actually need to communicate with your pastor — preferably face-to-face — and ask him some detailed questions about the theme and title of his series. As you begin to learn more, you’ll come to a better understanding of what he has in mind, which will then, hopefully, lead to some inspiration. Here are a few questions I usually ask before ever whipping out my MacBook and diving into Affinity Designer, Photoshop, Canva, or anything else:
Second: Brainstorming Sessions Are Your Friend.
Nothing beats a roundtable discussion at the local coffeeshop with your fellow Church Comms staff. Round up some of your creative digital media folks and bounce your design ideas off of them. It’s even better if you’ve got two or three drafts of graphics for the sermon series. Even if these guys and gals aren’t design savvy, they might notice something that slipped right past you or they might have a genius idea that you missed by a mile. Gathering several creative and diverse thinkers into a group and putting them into one room will almost always result in an outbreak of innovative ideas, productive discussions, unique strategies, and an ultimate game plan for the sermon series.
Side note: Don’t intentionally exclude the pastor from these little gatherings. Always let him know that he’s welcome to be there and to chime in with thoughts and ideas.
Third: Don't Forget About Your Audience.
These people are important too. I mean, they’re the ones who will be stuck staring at your design for 30 to 45 minutes every Sunday morning, right? Before you get too deep into your design, think about the demographics of your congregation for a typical worship service. Of course, you can’t predict visitors who may randomly show up on any given Sunday. But if you’ve been established in your position on staff for a while, you should be well-acquainted with the type of people who attend on a regular basis. Are they mostly traditional? Contemporary? Is there a blend? What are the age demographics and family structures like? Do you have a lot of youth and/or millennials and young people? All of this will — and should — factor into your design. A 65-year-old blue-collar congregant likely won’t engage with an edgy sermon series graphic and title the same way that a 30-something millennial would. (No offense to any edgy and hip 65-year-old dudes out there.)
If your church is blended, then aim for a design that will bring engagement across the board. This goes for everything from font selection to colors to graphics, visuals, and photos — the whole nine yards. For example, traditional congregations tend to be more comfortable with serif fonts like Times New Roman, Georgia, Baskerville, etc., whereas contemporary audiences won’t bat an eye at artistic fonts that match the theme of the design. In fact, they prefer them.
I’ve really only skimmed the surface here. Obviously I don’t have the time or space to teach a graphic design course on my blog. I could rant for days about all of the techie and artsy stuff that goes into this process. And maybe I’ll write a follow-up at some point or discuss some in-depth design methodologies on an episode of Rescuing Churches. But, for now, I’ll just say this: The pastor’s sermon series is both a representation of and a reflection on the church. Paired with the graphics and visuals you design, it has the opportunity to impact people in a unique and powerful way far beyond what could typically be accomplished through words alone. Never take this opportunity for granted.
I’m sure I left something out. What are your thoughts on sermon series graphic design? How do you go about acquiring info from your pastor before beginning your design? Leave a comment below or send me a message and we might even discuss it on an episode of Rescuing Churches.
Need help with sermon graphic design and digital media at your church? Stuck on a project and can't seem to move forward? Book me for a coaching session.
Pastors have been through a lot this year. And I’d be willing to bet that back in January, most never would’ve anticipated a “pandemic” that would impact church attendance, contribute to church decline, force them to grapple with livestream technology, and even cause their own congregants to question the importance of church like COVID-19 did. And yet, here we are, with 2021 just three months away and some churches still meeting only online. Indeed, the need for community engagement has never been greater. And, to be clear, I’m not talking about digital engagement — although that’s an equally high priority as I’ve mentioned in several previous blog posts. In fact, digital engagement became even more necessary and critical because of COVID’s effects on attendance. I’m referring here though to physical engagement in the local community surrounding your church. This more closely aligns with your church’s brand, which I discuss in-depth in this post and in this episode of Rescuing Churches.
If you’ve regathered for in-person worship — and many churches have — then it’s time to start thinking about your town, your city, your surrounding neighborhoods, their demographics, the kind of people who live and work there, and the traits that make them unique. These are the people you’re trying to reach in a post-COVID world where the very notion of attending church either conjures up emotions of hesitancy or indifference in many people, including former loyal attendees.
Here are a few simple ways to start making your church an integral part of the local community, rather than expecting the local community to come running to your church begging to become an integral part of your fellowship.
1. Get your foot in the door at local rehab centers.
Pastors and church leaders: I’ve personally seen and experienced the fruit that can come from this effort as I’ve watched my dad build local connections. If your town or city has any faith-based drug/alcohol/relational rehabs, you should not only be well-acquainted with their names and locations, but with the leaders who work there. These places are full of men and women who have battled addictions, abuse, neglect and other difficult circumstances. Ask to be on the chapel speaker rotation and begin forming relationships. Many of these folks are desperately craving the eternal hope, comfort, peace, and salvation that Jesus alone provides. And they could be right around the corner or within a few minutes of your church.
Does it matter that some of them won’t be able to physically attend your church? No. That’s not why you’re there. Don’t go in with a recruitment mindset. You’re there to represent Christ and His Church. Let Him do the rest of the work and trust Him for what it will look like.
2. Open your church’s gymnasium and property up to local youth athletic, homeschool, and/or park sports leagues.
You might be shocked at how many basketball, soccer, football, or baseball kids leagues are in or around your neighboring community. And some of them might be without a place to practice during the week. Whether it’s a homeschool co-op league or a park league, your church can host these teams — free of charge — and slowly begin to build meaningful relationships with parents and coaches. Be sure to occasionally provide snacks and drinks for the kids. Side note: Yes, you’ll probably get burned a few times. Coaches will forget to clean up, trash will be left out, field lights will be left on, keys will wander off, and doors will be left unlocked. But don’t let these issues dissuade you from continuing to work with and love on these people. Who knows? After a few months, some of them may start asking about what you guys do inside that churchy building on Sundays.
Big shoutout here to parents who are volunteering to run the concessions stand at their child's sporting events. Whether your kid plays on the team or marches in the band, this is a phenomenal opportunity to build relationships with other parents, school faculty, and to represent Christ in and to your local community.
3. Free Community Car Wash
Church car washes are nothing new. For decades they’ve been used as a means to raise money for everything from the upcoming Honduras missions trip to fixing that leaky corner of the sanctuary ceiling. But a free church car wash is something else entirely. Round up some happy teens and/or students from your youth and/or college ministries and organize the event on a Saturday when most of them are off work and free from classes. Make sure they dress appropriately and modestly (church logo t-shirts if possible). If you make roadside signs, be sure to emphasize the “free” aspect of the car wash. If a driver happens to ask what church you’re with and where you’re located, be ready to hand them a little invite card. Otherwise, you’re just there to love on the community without expecting anything in return.
4. Network the nursing homes and assisted living centers.
This is a great way to not only bless and minister to the elderly who are lonely and in need of prayer and company, but to gradually build authentic and long-lasting relationships with nurses, staff, and even the family members of the residents. If you’re a pastor, you might be able to speak one evening or even bring in some of your singers and musicians to minister through song. And you never know how it could connect your church to someone in that nursing home. The next time you pray over the elderly lady in room 301 who has terminal cancer, her daughter might inquire about your church and confess that she hasn’t darkened the doors of a church in ages. Or the doctor who felt blessed by your worship singers may want to know when he can hear some more of that great praise music.
5. Fall festivals, Easter egg hunts, and community cookouts
There are plenty of seasonal events that your church can host for the local community and surrounding neighborhoods. Provide all of the food and fun — from bounce houses to face-painting to games, prizes, and giveaways — all free of charge. There’s nothing parents like more than being able to take their kids somewhere that’s both fun and free (especially if there’s a meal involved for their kids.) A few ideas for giveaways:
6. Emergency food distribution after a natural disaster.
I live on the Alabama Gulf Coast and hurricane season can be intense here. Just recently, Hurricane Sally impacted several homes, businesses, and churches in and around our area, leaving many of them without power for a long time. If your church is located in an area prone to natural disasters, then you have an opportunity (and I would argue a responsibility) to not only care for your own sheep, but for the surrounding community as well. So after the storm has blown through and you’ve checked on and cared for your own congregants, mobilize a team that can network with local Emergency Management Officials, food distribution centers, and other nonprofits to help get groceries and supplies to those in need. Start with the neighborhood(s) closest to your church’s physical location so that they know you’re there and that you care.
Ultimately, the overarching goal here is for your church to create successful methodologies for interacting with your specific and unique local community. Remember: your community is special and one-of-a-kind. Some of your attempts at engagement will be trial and error. They will be hit and miss. It will be a learning process. What works for a neighborhood in rural small town Georgia may not (and likely won’t) work for a suburb in California. And when something doesn’t work, it’s ok to toss that event idea out the window and move on to the next one. But don’t stop trying. Don’t stop engaging. You’re in that community for a reason. You have a purpose there. And you can engage if you’ll be proactive about it now, even in a post-COVID world; even in a world of social distancing and masks.
I’m sure I left something out. What ideas do you have? How is your church physically engaging and re-engaging with the local community? What’s been successful for you in a post-COVID world? What hasn’t? If you aren't engaging at all, why is that the case? Leave a comment below or send me a message and we might even discuss it on an upcoming episode of Rescuing Churches.
Need help with all this digital and social media stuff? Not sure how to implement marketing and community relations as a church? Stuck on a project and can’t move forward? Book me for a coaching session.
When Jesus was walking the earth over 2,000 years ago — teaching and preaching to the masses — there was no need to improve upon His sermons or His delivery methodologies. In fact, He knew one of the best ways to connect with the people was to be among them. He didn’t stay cooped up in the Temple or the synagogues like an old fuddy-duddy. The Pharisees were great at that. But, not Jesus. He went to where the people were so that they could hear what He had to say. And, more often than not, they hung on His every word.
Not a lot has changed since then. A great sermon is still a great sermon. What has changed is our attention spans and how we broadcast the sermon beyond the physical walls of the church building. It’s not uncommon for a pastor to struggle with holding congregational attention for a full 30 minutes on a Sunday morning. My dad is a pastor. Believe me, it happens. And it’s not necessarily because his message content sucks or his illustrations aren’t engaging, relevant, and funny. It’s just because modern human nature in 2020 is such that we are easily distracted by the most absurd and altogether ridiculous things like our iPhones, our growling stomachs, or the lady on the adjoining pew who brought her pampered Chihuahua into the service.
Anyway, this is why we often feel that we require visual stimuli in order to engage with the message. That’s where digital media enhancement comes in. Of course, once we’ve heard this great sermon, we’re supposed to share it with our friends, family, and co-workers, right? In Jesus’ day, that meant verbally telling someone about it. And you can still do that today. But, thanks to social media, we can broadcast sermons to hundreds of thousands of people every week — including friends who live thousands of miles away — and share them with a much larger audience.
Here are some tools and ideas you should consider implementing to both enhance your pastor’s sermons while seeking to increase audience reach:
#1. On-Screen Sermon Graphic Design
If your church has the hardware and software means to project on-screen visuals, you should be doing it. PERIOD. This is 2020 folks. Time to stop living like neanderthals relying on cave paintings and smoke signals.
I know some of you are thinking: “Well, we just don’t really have anyone in our church with a talent for graphic design.” That may be true. But this excuse doesn’t fly in 2020 either. Have you ever heard of the Internet? There’s this fairly new website out there called Google. It’s a search engine. And if you search for “free worship backgrounds,” you’d be surprised at how many resources are available. Same goes for sermon graphics and social media graphics. Check out CreationSwap and Church Motion Graphics for starters.
#2. Social Media Graphics & Posts During The Week
And speaking of social media, you should be keeping your pastor’s sermon theme fresh across your platforms throughout the week via quotes, graphics, engagement questions, videos, etc — whatever you have the means to do. This way, the sermon doesn’t die between one Sunday and the next Sunday. This approach is particularly helpful when your pastor is preaching through a long series. Perhaps he’s going to take several months to exegete the book of 1st Timothy. This is going to feel like an eternity, but it doesn’t have to if you keep things fresh and engaging across the church’s social platforms.
Use design programs like Canva, Affinity Designer, InDesign, etc. to create social media graphics that feature a compelling quote by your pastor from the message. Maybe even use a hi-res photo of him teaching on stage as the graphic. Ask your Page followers what they thought about Sunday’s message. I bet you’d be surprised at the feedback you’ll get in the comment threads.
If your church has the means to shoot quality videography packages, you could shoot or livestream a short midweek interview with your pastor asking him to challenge the congregation with something from Sunday’s message. Post these videos to your Facebook, Instagram, and/or YouTube channels and encourage folks to share them with friends. Make sure that something in the video encourages or prompts discussion. When it comes to social media engagement, video is king. Don’t believe me? Take a look at these stats from Wyzowl.com:
Takeaway? Video holds our attention longer, is more engaging, and more preferred by the majority of people online. If you can use the medium of digital video to help your people connect with the sermon throughout the week — even if it’s just a simple bumper video — this is where you’ll see a difference.
#4. Sermon Audio and Podcasts
Of course, no church website is complete without a sermon audio page and corresponding podcast. Just because video rules and reigns across social media doesn’t mean audio-only mediums are to be abandoned. In fact, here are some mind-blowing stats to consider from Edison Research and Triton Digital via their annual study known as The Infinite Dial:
For all you podcast junkies out there — and you know who you are — these numbers should inspire you to churn out the best quality sermon audio possible with your church’s technology. Podcast popularity has nearly tripled over the last ten years. Remember that podcasts are popular because they’re convenient and portable. People listen to them from their smartphones, iPods, and tablets while they’re doing other activities like working out, washing the dishes, or picking their kids up from school. If your sermon audio is available across popular podcast platforms like Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, TuneIn, and others, you’ll have a much better chance of increasing your online reach and expanding your audience. And you’ll be getting the Gospel out there as well, which is the ultimate end goal anyway.
#5. Your Church App
If your church doesn’t have a smartphone app, it’s worth looking into acquiring one. After all, there’s over 2.7 billion smartphone users in the world. If your church has an official app sitting in those app stores across iOS and Android devices, that’s a lot of potential audience reach. There’s also about 1.35 billion tablet users in the world, a number which has nearly doubled over the last six years. Make sure that your app offers some things that can’t be found on your website so that folks have an incentive to install the app on their device. Weekly sermon notes, videos, short blogs from the pastor, etc. are all great ideas that will keep people coming back to your app on a regular basis for content. Of course, make sure they can do all the standard things like tithe, listen to sermons, and sign up for events as well.
I'm sure I left something out. What ideas do you have? How are you digitally enhancing your pastor’s sermons and increasing online reach for sermon content? What's been successful for you? What hasn’t? Leave some comments below or send me a message and we may discuss it on an upcoming episode of Rescuing Churches.
Need help with all of this digital and social media? Stuck on a project and can't move forward? Book me for a coaching session.
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In case you haven’t noticed, 2020 has been a rather, well, freaking insane year. Between political upheaval, riots in the streets, something called COVID-19, increased racial and religious tension, Australian bush fires, earthquakes in Turkey, locust swarms in India, the sudden death of Kobe & Gigi Bryant, the postponement of the Olympics, pepperoni shortages, and those pesky murder hornet rumors, I’m thinking Christ’s return is probably happening any day now. (Read your Bible. It might be tomorrow.) Oh and, by the way, we’re only in August.
But, don’t worry. I’m not going to launch into a sermon. That’s my dad’s domain. I only point these cultural things out to say that church leaders — including communicators — have been faced with a whole new set of challenges, many of which we’ve never encountered. And frankly, it’s left a lot of us wondering: Is what I do even important anymore? Does social media and all the marketing and branding that goes with it really matter right now in the midst of a national pandemic? Do people even care?
The answer to each of these questions, as far as I’m concerned, is unequivocally and overwhelmingly yes.
COVID-19 Proved Social Media Managers To Be Indispensable.
I get it. We’re not nurses, doctors, EMTs, policemen, firemen, or even elementary teachers (unless you’re bi-vocational, in which case I tip my hat to you, Superman.) But, generally speaking, we are not on the frontlines battling against killer viruses or falling into life-threatening situations. In fact, most of our friends and family members enjoy joking about how nice it must be to get paid to play around on Facebook and Instagram all day. Am I right?
I’ll be the first to agree that working full-time in the social media world can have its perks and even occasionally be fun. But it can also be, and often is, incredibly time-consuming, stressful, annoying, tedious, exhausting, and utterly maddening. Social media managers are much more than people who sit at their laptops sharing photos, commenting on threads, and laughing hysterically at stupid memes. We are copywriters, graphic designers, marketing strategists, digital strategists, brand developers, content creators, data analysts, demographic researchers, community gatekeepers and audience peacemakers. And, within the sphere of Church Communications, everything we do is meant to support the overall mission of the church, which hopefully includes reaching and ministering to the lost — even the lost on the Internet.
Now think back to March (I know, it was a nightmare): When your church had to shut down temporarily for COVID, where did the majority of your congregants flock for the sermon every week? Probably the church Facebook Page. Maybe you were even live-streaming a Sunday morning and evening service, a midweek service, and a Bible study or two in between. And if you’re the social media manager, you know that one of your major responsibilities is not only to ensure that the Livestream is up and functioning — working in tandem with your video production team — but to also respond to comments in the chat and engage with virtual viewers and visitors as often as possible. Why? Because they matter just as much as a person who walks into your church’s physical building. Moreover, good online engagement can result in an in-person visit.
Social Media Managers Are Responsible For First Impressions And Digital Ambiance.
About 1.73 billion people check Facebook every day and are considered to be daily active users. So the odds of a seeker running across your Page are pretty high, particularly at a time when many folks are itching to get plugged back into a local church. (Remember: people use Facebook as a search engine like Google.) Page managers know firsthand that they alone bear the burden of handling how the church will be perceived by the public via high-quality posts, photos, videos, graphics, etc. All of this digital content must reflect the real ambience of the church so that the correlation feels right when a visitor makes that transition from connecting with you online to showing up in person. Side note: Great church social media managers are keeping things positive, joyful, and hopeful on their platforms during these uncertain times.
Social Media Managers Are The “Digital Gatekeepers” of The Church.
This is one that I personally take very seriously. If you’re married to or live with a social media manager, then you probably know just how much time we spend on our devices. (Somewhere a wife is jabbing a husband in his ribcage.) But this is because — unlike other various forms of digital management — social media managers interact with their audience on a regular, usually daily, basis. It’s how we increase our audience size and our Page’s general public visibility. And it’s also just good ministry and communication methodology.
However, good church social media managers know that — beyond the marketing aspect — they also must faithfully protect the church’s digital territory. So when that disgruntled ex-member who despises the pastor fires off a profanity-laced comment on your latest live-stream video (not that this would ever happen, right?), you must immediately be on the receiving end of that notification, check it, delete it, and ban said user from the Page or at least hide the comment from public view and send the person a private message.
Obviously that’s an extreme example, but believe me, I could enthrall you with hours of stories from my own personal experience and those of fellow Church Comms leaders about the bizarre, silly, gross, and altogether ridiculous things that people post to church Facebook Pages. For some additional info on types of trolls and how to deal with them, check out this excellent blog post by my buddy and renowned Troll Slaying Extraordinaire Seth Muse: Types of Trolls and the Spells that Kill Them.
Culture Is Shaped And Influenced By Social Media.
This has definitely been the year for things to go viral, many of which have inspired some of the greatest memes ever to grace the Internet. Whether it was news stories, politics, tech humor, or silly commercials, people have paid attention as social media amplified these issues and topics to insane levels.
The same power of influence rests with church social media managers and their audience, which includes the church’s digital followers, the physical church family, and the surrounding local community as well. We’re called to influence those inside and outside of the Church for the sake of the Gospel and to encourage those in need of hope and help. That's ministry. That's being the hands and feet of Jesus in the digital sphere. And the need for this has never been greater as 2020 rolls on, leaving so much turmoil, chaos, anxiety, and unpredictability in its wake.
Church social media manager: You are indeed essential. What you do is important. Hang in there. And know that I’m rooting for you.