After being a part of the Meadowbrook Church of Christ in Jackson, Mississippi, for four years, I was asked to join the staff as the Children’s Minister in 2010 and just recently made the transition to Connections Minister. Previous career adventures include all things communication. I served a 10-year tour as a full-time college professor, spent four years as the public relations professional for a non-profit, and still run my own communication consulting business.
Recently, I was discussing my new ministry position with one of my elders. As Connections Minister, I will be coordinating small groups, organizing visitor and new member efforts, and serving as the communication hub for the ministry leaders. My elder asked me if I would use my professional communication skills more as Connections Minister. This struck me as such an interesting question, and I laughed as I tried to imagine NOT using my professional communication skills. I simply can’t separate myself from my field of expertise. Though I have spent only six years as an official paid minister, I have 20+ years of communications experience under my belt, travelling from coast to coast, consulting with businesses and industries to equip people with improved communication skills. So the importance of successful communication is written on my heart like John 3:16. I often joke that I’m the communication evangelist. No matter what job I’m doing for what organization, my communication skills will be front and center as part of my job and my identity as a human being. And I’m sure you can tell – I unapologetically think everyone should feel the same.
As church leaders, we do not have the luxury of being lazy communicators. It would be a certain death. We cannot be timid or incompetent about inviting others into God’s work through our churches. Successful communication for substantive information requires much more than an announcement and a bulletin insert. So where do we start? It doesn’t matter. Just start.
If you need some motivation, I will give you a daunting statistic. People only listen accurately 25% of the time. Sigh. The amount of time we spend on what to say to the church versus how they will hear it seems way out of proportion to me. We labor over what to say but rarely contemplate how people will perceive the message, and even more rarely provide a space for response or questions when dealing with new, possibly controversial information. In my post next month, I will explore some ideas for providing a space for substantive response and feedback.
Communication is decidedly difficult, even within a single organization like a church. So just prioritize one project or idea you would like to permeate the church, and start there. Next, look around your congregation to see who is already working in the communication field. Chances are, this person is already leading and communicating with volunteers effectively, and is a natural network-builder. This is your go-to person for counsel to lead your communication campaign. This person knows your church family, is deeply invested, and has the skills you need. I’m confidently guessing this person is your communication evangelist saying, “Here am I, Lord; send me.”