How Will Church Communicators Change in 10 Years?

How Will Church Communicators Change in 10 Years?

July 29, 2014 by

Church Marketing Sucks has been around for 10 years.  I’ve been blessed to serve as chairman of the board for several of those years and love the growth and value Church Marketing Sucks continues to bring.  This month a series celebrated those 10 years, sharing insights and highlights of how far things have come.  But what about the years ahead?  Here are some thoughts on the shape of things to come.

I’ll lay out three shifts that will need to occur for church communicators. But before we do, let’s look at how church communicators are viewed today.

Four Common Views of Church Communicators

In general, there are four commonly held views regarding the role of a church communicator.

1. Production Shop

Church communicators are only considered doers. They are given requests orders and asked to fulfill them. While they are capable of completing large quantities of tasks, the overall strategic input is low. They can’t challenge or provide alternative solutions because they are merely a support ministry. In many ways, they are no different from custodians. Church leaders like having church communicators in this role because it’s like they have their own private Kinkos.

Church communication is still seen as a support ministry rather than a driver for how ministry is done. –Chuck Scoggins

2. Gate Keepers

Church communicators are considered barriers to ministry. They are the “no” person on staff. The ability to say no allows the communicator to be more strategic, but lack of leadership support leads to low ministry alignment. Ministries would rather do their own thing than go through the communication team. This creates issues because the communication team is trying to maintain control over what gets communicated.

3. Communication Consultant

Church communicators are seen as helpful but not as ministry partners. The consultant has proven their value to make strategic decisions. They are not a part of making them but come alongside afterwards with steps to make the decision a reality. Ministry alignment is hit or miss. Some ministry leaders feel like the consultant tells them what to do, and they resent this relationship.

4. Ministry Leader or Pastor

Church communicators are seen as ministry allies. They care about the overall vision of the church and, because they are included in the decision process, they are able to shape where the church is headed. These leaders also understand the why behind a choice and seek solutions that move the church forward. Due to this, there is high ministry alignment, and the church communicator is better able to serve the church.

We need more “architect” leaders who can write the plan and call the plays.  –Kem Meyer

Gaining a Seat At the Table

Church communications is at a pivotal point in the local church.  A lot of pastors and/or church communicators need a Jerry Maguire moment—a moment of clarity and insight that produces a manifesto that changes how communication leaders show up to work.  Church communicators need to become part of the leadership team and see their role as the fourth one listed above, as a pastoral or ministry leader position.

Why? Cultural shifts are demanding these changes, and I believe churches need to respond.

1. The Online Marketplace

Just like Paul who entered the open marketplace to proclaim good news through cultural means, church communicators are often the voice of the church in the “market.” They help communicate for the church on their website and social media channels. While a church might have a weekly attendance of 500 people, their online presence can reach thousands each week. These are people that would never come into contact with the church if not for the church communicator’s efforts. This means church communicators will need to be pastoral and ministry-focused in their outreach.

2. Ministry Results

One of the challenges church communicators have is connecting their work back to ministry results.  I believe we are moving into an era where churches will have a much clearer grasp of their communication impact, and its ability to attract, engage and develop their communities.  Church communicators will provide this type of real-time feedback to guide the leadership in the needs of their community.  They will be able to get real-time data about who is online, what they are doing, ministry workflows and where/if people are getting stuck.  We are close to a new era of providing powerful tools for churches so they have a much clearer picture of what is happening within their community. Church communicators will have front row seats to these events.

3. The Always-On People Require a Shepherd

There is also a growing need to adapt how the church cares for people online. God has placed these people before your church. These days, more of a person’s life is shared online.

  • 84% of teens post their interests online, such as movies, music or books they like (Pew Research).
  • 67% of millennials agreed that they would continue to be ambient broadcasters who disclose a great deal of personal information in order to stay connected (Pew Research).
  • 4.6 million people share info about their love life on Facebook (Online Education).

Social networking site use by age group.

Churches need to adapt to these ministry opportunities. By gaining a deeper understanding of who they are, church communicators can shepherd people throughout the week to meet the needs of their community. Communicators will focus on the 24/7 discipleship opportunities that online tools and communication provide.

Half of the team’s function should be to support ministry activity, and the other half should be creating ways to reach and engage more people within the target. –Anthony Miller

Everything is in place for church communicators to step into their role as ministry leader or pastor and to start addressing these cultural shifts. Church communicators already:

  • Interact with every ministry.
  • Have relationships with volunteers.
  • Communicate the mission, vision and values of the church online.
  • Connect with church members through social media.
  • Have actionable insight from analytics.

The one aspect that is missing is a seat at the table, but that will change. Over the next 10 years church communicators will gain a seat at the leadership table. They will bridge the gap and overcome non-ministry perceptions. They won’t be pegged as production shops, gatekeepers or outside consultants.

In two weeks my company, Monk Development, is gathering church communicators to discuss this topic and more at the Conclave Sessions. You should consider joining us. If you can’t make it, we’ve created a resource bundle to help you gain valuable skills to move into the role of ministry leader:

What do you think? Where will church communicators be in 10 years?

Post By:

Drew Goodmanson

Drew Goodmanson serves as CEO of MonkDev, creators of Ekklesia 360, co-founded Kaleo Church where he served as pastor for more than eight years and coached five new church plants in San Diego. Drew also served as the president of the board at the Center for Church Communication, and has spoken at numerous national conferences, written for several magazines and appeared on shows such as CBS Sunday Morning and NPR’s All Things Considered, discussing organizational leadership and the intersection of culture and technology.
Read more posts by | Want to write for us?

5 Responses to “How Will Church Communicators Change in 10 Years?”

  • Vince
    July 30, 2014

    nailed it Drew!

     | Permalink
  • Alrighty! This just became a must-read post that I’m going to broadcast!

     | Permalink
  • Drew Goodmanson
    July 31, 2014

    Thanks Vince and Meredith! It’s exciting times for church com people.

     | Permalink
  • Clark Moore
    August 2, 2014

    Great article. As an episcopal outreach effort we find so much of what you said to be true. Thanks.

     | Permalink
  • Bob Ierien
    July 27, 2015

    I think that more is missing than the “seat at the table,” specifically, the theological and ethical training that some traditions require to be considered a pastoral or ministry leader. I also wonder whether this is realistic for smaller congregations who can’t afford a paid communications person. In those cases, it often lands on the pastor’s desk to do, and winds up taking a back seat to other important ministry (preaching, teaching, pastoral care, funerals, etc.)

     | Permalink

Featured, Philosophy, Think Ahead