Over the last several months I have learned a great deal about Church communications and the importance of strategic thinking and process in maintaining a consistent and mission-focused voice for our churches.
As a person who loves data, routine, and schedules, the idea of developing a plan with a repeatable process is very appealing to me. It just makes sense. However, as I begin to bring this plan to my staff, I must try to remember that it will not be the process that brings people to the Church, it will be the relationships created with people that demonstrate our love for each other and for Christ that will attract people to us.
Ultimately, God is in control here, not me. It is his plan and his purpose that prevails in all things. Yes, communications plans are important, but when I am not showing grace when implementing it, then it becomes a hindrance to the purpose of the plan in the first place.
What do I mean by this?
As a Communications Director my main goal is to convey the mission of our church and how we are working toward it to both our congregation and to the world around us. I do this, in part, by sharing stories, activity notices, and strive to connect others to share their own stories through social media. I am actively asking members, staff, and our online community to share, to comment, to connect. I have a ‘process’ for this- a form, with a deadline, and criteria.
So what happens if someone doesn’t follow the process?
How do I respond when someone doesn’t follow ‘my’ plan? Well, I could get angry or let my pride get in the way. I could send a short email with the form link and be done with it. Or, wanting to be a ‘People Pleaser,’ I can completely ignore the process I am working to implement and say, “Oh sure, I will stay up late, work extra hours, and create that graphic, send that email, post that event..no problem.” But I don’t think either of these bring about positive results.
So what is the answer?
I think the answer is grace. When I get a request that is ‘out of process’, I sit back and try to figure out what is really needed. Is what the person asking me to do 1)necessary 2)practical 3)going to hinder another announcement’s effectiveness 4)can I accomodate this request in another way? Once I answer these questions, I am ready to respond. Sometimes this means I send the link to the form and tell them that, once submitted, I can add to the calendar. Other times, I come up with a different strategy that will be more effective for their purpose and share this strategy with them (along with a link to the form.) And every now and then, I work a little later, make that graphic, and post that event.
Why? Because grace.
The same grace that God gave me and continues to give me when I haven’t stuck to his plan, when I run in and say, “God, I know it’s last minute but I am in trouble here….Help!” — That same grace that some of these very people I work with show me over and over again- when I send out the email with the wrong date, or forget to check the link on the sign up post. The same grace the #chsocm and #churchcomm communities have shown me when I ask the ‘rookie’ questions. (I do finally know what ROI is, thank you.)
The biggest thing I want to communicate as a Church Communications director is grace. I do this by making sure I am putting the people around me ahead of my process.
In the end, when we share grace with those with whom we work, that pours out into our interactions with our congregations and our communities. It is what will distinguish us from the rest of the world and, hopefully, it will be what attracts others to us.
Not the promo, not the process…the people of grace.