By Jonathan Howe
Church communications is a burgeoning field. And the position of church communications director/manager/coordinator has become ubiquitous in many large churches. But it’s not just the large churches that are looking to fill this role. Mid-size and small churches are realizing the importance of having a singular person responsible for their church’s communications and social media.
So what should a church look for when finding a full-time, part-time, or volunteer communications coordinator? These seven qualities should be evident in that person:
- An understanding of the church. This may seem obvious, but I’ve seen churches hire people unfamiliar with church dynamics or even outsource their communications work to generic companies. Subtlety is lost, language gets obfuscated, and the message just doesn’t come out correctly. Having someone who knows church life is always preferred.
- Grammar knowledge. Typos will invariably still happen, but hiring someone who knows grammar and understands how to write well will raise the level of everything your church produces online and in print.
- A desire to constantly learn. Social media is a fast-paced world. Effective communications directors will be on the cutting edge of what’s next in the digital space. They will have a desire to stay informed and to constantly move your church forward with its communications.
- An eye for design. Most churches don’t have the funds to have everything professionally designed. Smaller projects will require in-house design and direction. Having at least a basic knowledge of what constitutes good design is necessary.
- An ability to adapt. Church life is ever changing—especially in churches that are growing quickly. The ability to adapt when new initiatives are started is critical. You can’t keep doing what you’ve always done and expect to be effective with your church communications.
- Social savvy. As the importance and usage of social media increase, so does the importance of knowing what constitutes effective social media content. Each channel has different features, different audiences, and prefers different content. Having the necessary savvy to navigate each channel is invaluable.
- A passion for the lost. This quality has little to do with the actual duties of a communications coordinator. But if you’re going to hire someone to serve at a church, that person needs to be invested and passionate about the mission of the church. Kingdom work—no matter the job title—is a calling. Don’t bring someone on the team who doesn’t have that calling.
What would you add to this list? What other qualities have you seen in church communications coordinators that make them effective?
Must have heart for the Vision of the leadership
True. Can’t be sending out a different message.
This is a role that comes with many headaches. You could add one more quality that this person needs; thick skin. They need to understand that no matter how good they are at getting the message out, no matter how many venues they use to communicate, there will always be some who will openly criticize them because they did not know what was happening at the church.
Great point. Thick skin is needed for any job with a public face.
Thanks for this Jonathan. One challenge is to be able to stay on top of the training needed in a rapidly changing technology world. Expect to be intermediate level skill in everything from Photoshop to Drupal or WordPress, or whatever your CMS is, as well as to be able to write and think as you undertstand documents in Indesign and html. I find the hardest thing is less to keep up with the technology, and more difficult to know which ones you need to keep up with.
Another challenge is having skills appropriate to the denomination/worship. Those of us in the liturgical church have some very different needs than the megachurch.
Great point. Context of your church really changes what you need to know and specialize in.
thanks for these. I am my church’s communication director and trust me I am not sure I would have taken it if I realized most of this. I don’t have all these qualities but I am seeing ways to improve them. We are a small church so even though I don’t have quite the skills you mentioned, I at least, try to see those who can help me in the areas I am weak. any places, you suggest – classes (webinars or resources) I can go to further my abilities?>
There’s a Church Communications group on Facebook that is super helpful. Also, sign up for the updates from LifeWaySocial.com. Chris provides a great weekly update for all things social.
Which “Church Communications group on Facebook” group are you familiar? Looks like several with wide range of members. Thanks.
There is a great podcast, Pro Church with Brady Shearer. Beyond listening to the podcast, Brady directs listeners to great resources.
Great insights here, brother!
I would take #1 just a bit further (or perhaps create a #1.5)… You are so right in highlighting the necessity of an understanding of general church life, but the best church communications coordinators I know also have a deep understanding of their specific church’s culture. To be most effective, local church culture should definitely influence communications. If there is a disconnect here, church communications can fall flat or feel less than genuine.
Thanks for this article… peace.