How to Structure a Communications Team for Your Church

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Moving church to an online platform has led many churches to consider creating or modifying a "communication director" role on their team. Many churches are developing strategic communication plans for the very first time or fine-tuning their systems and processes.

It is more important now than ever before to communicate well with your congregation and community, but with so many channels and messages during such an uncertain time, it can be difficult to know exactly what the communication director's responsibilities should include.

To help you as you discern what is best for your church, and what this role can look like for you, I spoke with a few panelists to discuss strategic communications and the role of a communication director. The panelists included:

—Ryan Wakefield, co-founder, Church Marketing University.

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—Haley Veturis, director of digital engagement, Bayside Church.

—Jeremiah Bartlett, communications director, Southside Church.

—Aaron Mamuyac, pastor of discipleship, outreach and connections, Sunlight Community Church.

Knowing that each church differs in its size, outreach, goals and values, the responsibilities for the church communications team will look different across the board. During COVID-19, many churches have seen the importance of having a solid church communications team. From communicating plans to their church community to engaging their online audience, communications teams have played an important role in staying connected during a time that can feel isolating.

As churches closed their doors and moved online, they've had to take the leap to digital worship services, virtual small groups, online giving and many other changes. So now communication leaders are determining what this looks like moving forward. Overall, communications teams are vital to making this transition as they communicate updates, information and changes to their church community.

The Structure of Communications Teams

Due to the onset of COVID-19, for the communications team, job descriptions have shifted, new systems and processes have been implemented, and there is a need to outsource for tasks to be completed.

Responsibilities can often include, but are not limited to social media posting and monitoring, unique media creation, platform management, community engagement (serving as an online host to engage people throughout the day), content creation, photography, videography and much more. Depending on the church, some of these tasks are managed by staff members and some by volunteers.

It is important that your communication leaders ensure all messages are consistent with your church's brand to deliver your church's vision successfully, especially in a virtual setting.

If it is fiscally possible, try to invest in your communications team with individuals who possess varied communication skill sets.

One church mentioned they added a new team member to handle media requests and communications. This person will be able to focus all their energy on serving those who reach out to you, especially in times of high demand. This is an example of structuring appropriately and using staff members' strengths to serve your congregation well.

When Hiring Effective Communications Leaders

Take time to pray and figure out exactly what you envision for this role. Ask yourself, what can I give away? List all the things you do that could fall under a communications director role and delegate those tasks to this person.

Hire someone who is flexible and teachable. Communication strategies change constantly, so be sure whoever you hire is willing to adapt to new trends.

You might also consider hiring someone who is not a specialist in church communications. Ideally, this person will be knowledgeable in another field, such as building teams and systems. It is crucial to have multiple skill sets available so team members can grow while learning from one another. Developing others will ensure you have a pipeline of people who can manage the critical responsibilities of your communications team.

Tips for Training Resources to Equip Volunteers and Staff

Training for social media success is a long-term journey of constant learning. It's continually changing, so be sure to read content from top social media platforms on a regular basis.

Have an adequate volunteer training process. Ensure you have a repeatable and teachable process for bringing volunteers into your communications tasks. This is extremely important for creating consistency across your volunteers' efforts.

Promote that communications volunteers are needed at your church. When most people hear "volunteer," they think of Sunday school or greeters. Be sure to let your congregation know the tasks you're looking for help with and see if anyone is interested.

Design an intern program for high school and college students who are interested in communications careers. This movement will invest in future church leaders as well as provide you with willing and able hands looking to grow and learn.

Holly Tate is the vice president of business development at Vanderbloemen, which serves teams with a greater purpose by aligning their people solutions for growth: hiring, compensation, succession and culture. Through its retained executive search and consulting services, Vanderbloemen serves churches, schools, nonprofits, family offices and Christian businesses in all parts of the United States and internationally.

To view the discussion, visit vanderbloemen.com.

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