The best leaders aren't just excellent influencers. They're not only servants and empathizers. They're not just amazing delegators, team-builders, and humble motivators.
They're also pressure-managers. They know how to operate and survive within the stress bubbles and chaos landscapes that occur within any leadership capacity. This trait is true of leaders at all levels, but particularly within the sphere of church ministry where pressure at various tiers is often a normal part of the weekly routine. Whether you're on the pastoral staff, the media & communications team, in the worship band, or just a volunteer, you should just naturally expect to encounter pressures and stresses. Don't be surprised by them. In fact, take the opportunity to learn from them.
So, as a Communications Minister, what are some of the pressures you might face? What might you be facing even now? Let's look at a few from my own personal experience and see what we can learn:
#1. Implementing new technology while being mindful of senior leadership approval and budget constraints.
Any Comms Minister worth his or her salt knows that digital modernization and alternations are key components of improvement. They're necessary. Let's just be real: You won't always be able to record your Sunday morning sermon audio to cassette tapes and CDs, right? I mean, eventually that technology will go the way of the dinosaur. Eventually there will be a demand for something different. You know, like those scary .mp3 files and podcasts that all the hip kids are raving about these days. Too many churches are still living by the "Well, this is how we've always done it" mantra and they're dying a slow death because of it.
But, at the same time, a great Comms Minister doesn't rush the process. Tech upgrades and installments cost money. They require time, effort, work, and careful planning. Sometimes they require pitches and persuasions. And any Comms Minister, particularly those at small churches, should have enormous respect for the senior staff, the budget, and its priorities. If your church has holes in the roof, cracks in the entryway floor, poorly paved parking lots, or bad paint in the nursery, then the last thing you need to worry about right now is whether or not you have a 2020 Apple iMac running ProPresenter 7 in the sanctuary. Meet with your senior pastor and/or board of elders and/or financial pastor and have a discussion about future upgrade possibilities, but don't go in with guns blazing. People are far more likely to get onboard with your ideas if you recognize, honor, and heed the more immediate and pressing needs of the church first.
#2. Leading a Church Comms change while keeping your eyes peeled for big issues.
No change will be perfect. Sometimes we get so excited that we've been given a green light to make a change — even a seemingly small one — that we fail to realize we're strolling right into a minefield. Before we know it, the entire thing has blown up in our face and we've offended a whole group of people we never dreamed or imagined would be bothered by something we assumed to be so small. Always know what you're changing, how you're changing it, why you're changing it, and clearly communicate those reasons to your church. And if/when they disagree about the change (some inevitably will), lovingly stick to your convictions while listening to their disagreements.
#3. Knowing the line between excellent Communications Management and the greater sake of the Gospel.
As a Comms Minister, part of your job is to maintain visual quality work on your church's website and social media platforms. Many of us place excessive pressure on ourselves in this area. You know good design, marketing, and branding when you see it. And you do your best to uphold those standards. But every so often you're asked to promote an outside event or ministry that doesn't meet such standards. The designer in you — who puts 40-plus hours a week into the digital and social media channels — doesn't want this cluttering up your picturesque landscape.
On the other hand, you know that the Gospel is far more important. Discipleship is more critical. And if promoting this event or ministry will advance those causes, then you have a responsibility to make it happen. You won't always have the time or resources to redesign and enhance every bit of content for every event or ministry with which your church forms partnerships. Learn to be ok with that.
#4. Making decisions that will inevitably be misinterpreted.
This goes for leadership in general, but as a Comms Minister you're going to run into folks who disagree with some of your decisions. Some of them may be church members. Some may even be fellow staff members or volunteers who you see on a regular basis. They don't understand why you did what you did the way you did. Oftentimes it's because they don't have all the information. They don't have the insider details you have or they can't see the big picture that you can. And honestly, they may not need to see it.
Don't fall victim to belief that you must give a detailed explanation to every single person who disagrees with your decision. This simply isn't true. Be as lovingly clear in your communications as possible and then accept the truth that there will always be people who still misjudge, misread, or misconstrue. It's all part of being a leader.
#5. Setting a healthy on-screen and off-screen schedule for yourself.
As Comms Minsters, it's hard to pull away from our screens. Even when we're not at our desks, we're often updating social media channels from our tablets or smartphones. Unfortunately, this can have detrimental effects on our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Not to mention the negative effects it can, and often does, have on our relationships with friends and family. Always know when to break away and be done for the day. If it helps to set a daily routine or task management schedule for yourself, then do it. Even if it's just a deadline for putting down your gadgets and gizmos by a certain time every night. Set that goal and stick to it.
I'm sure I left something out. What pressures have you experienced as a Communications Minister? What have you found to be helpful as you navigate those pressures? Leave a comment or shoot me an e-mail!
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