These tips guided communications, social media, and editorial strategies for us at Mars Hill Church for many years. Now I share them with you, in hopes that they can serve as a framework for your church’s communications strategy.
1. JESUS IS THE HERO, ALWAYS
Jesus is the hero of every story, not the church. Not you. Not the senior pastor. Since we donʼt do anything to merit our salvation, we canʼt be the authors of our story of salvation. Cite Scripture—Jesusʼ story—regularly. So, we do not tell this-is-what- God-is-teaching-me lately journal-like entries, i.e. we do not tell our story in which God played a part. We do tell about Godʼs story, in which we get the blessing to have a part.
2. DONʼT DO DISNEY
Do not trust a story that ends with a happily-ever-after “I gave my life to Jesus, and everythingʼs all better!” Let the lines be jagged. Let there be a minor key. Trust stories that include conviction, repentance, and dependence on Christ, where the prince may or may not come back but the King never left.
3. THE GOSPEL IS COMPELLING
Itʼs all about Jesus because the gospel is the most compelling thing ever, and so the only thing we ever need to talk about. Every story we publish should compel someone toward Christ. Picture someone at work saying to their friend, “Hey, did you just see that post they just put up and that graphic?” If you wouldnʼt repost or talk about a story to a friend, donʼt expect anyone else to.
4. POST FOR THE CHURCH, POST FOR CHRISTʼS BRIDE
Our whole church—especially our leaders—will be held responsible for what we put out on our channels. These arenʼt your personal websites, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. Give yourself time to discern the tone, and any time you have a hunch, ask someone to be a gauge. Thatʼs what the hunch is there for.
5. SHOW, DONʼT TELL
When we tell these stories of Jesus working in peoplesʼ lives at our church, all we need to do is produce “an orderly account” (Luke 1:3) of what happens, and the work of the Holy Spirit is evidenced in that simple narrative. We do not explain or describe the work of the Spirit.
6. DOUBLE CHECK YO SELF
Be consummate with your details. Donʼt let some aberrance distract someone so that the message or testimony can shine straight through. Strive to excel (1 Cor. 14:12). Double check names, spellings, and statistics. Donʼt use an out-of-focus shot. Be gracious, because you will be making those mistakes right along with everybody else.
7. DONʼT MAKE THEM DIZZY
Do you know why you tend to get motion sickness when sitting in the back of the car, and why you feel better if you switch to the front and can see the road? Because anytime there is a disconnect between movement the eye records and the momentum the inner ear registers, the brain gets upset (and this gets passed on to your stomach). If someone is watching a video testimony, let them hear the gospel and see the face (and therein heart) of the person proclaiming it. Donʼt filter and donʼt over process. Donʼt inject your own fallible interpretation into someoneʼs story. Let people sympathize, empathize, and ultimately rejoice directly with the hearts of these brothers and sisters who are being transformed.
8. KNOW YOUR PLACE
God doesn’t need our videos. He doesnʼt need our tweets. He doesnʼt need anything we do to convict people of sin and call them to him. Rather, in grace, he lets us participate, using those gifts and resources as tools to spread his gospel and our churchʼs mission to make disciples and plant churches.
9. KNOW YOUR ENEMY
You will run into pride, stress, and haters, among many other things. Repent, rest, and remember that God cannot be mocked (Gal. 6:7).
10. GOSPEL WORK IS HARD AND INCREDIBLY FUN
More than almost anyone else in the church, we get to be on the front lines to see just how far the ministry reaches and the impact itʼs having on people. Itʼs fantastically encouraging.
“And the Lord answered me: ʻWrite the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.ʼ”
– Habakkuk 2:2