At Church Marketing Sucks, we love Local Labs. You might have a couple questions:
What are they? They are groups of church communicators in a specific area who get together to sharpen one another’s skills.
How can I get involved? Visit our growing list of Local Labs to find one near you (if we’re missing your Local Lab, let us know).
To talk a bit more about Local Labs, we asked Lisa Bauer to join us. She is the director of marketing and communications at First Christian Church in Springfield, Ohio, and she is passionate about connecting communicators locally. Here’s what she had to say about Local Labs:
CMS: Thanks for taking the time to join us, Lisa. I guess the first topic should be a bit about how you are involved in connecting communicators in local groups.
Lisa: I am currently leading a group called the Miami Valley Ministry Communicators (MVMC). We’re in southwest Ohio and meet on a bi-monthly basis to support, connect and boost each other in our quest to bring others to know and love Christ. My primary role in the group is to bring in local professionals to speak on a variety of relevant topics, coordinate the host church for each meeting, and align communications with our network and local media groups.
As our group continues to grow, we will begin to form more structured leadership roles and “give the ministry away” to those who are willing to play a key role in its development.
CMS: Sounds pretty organized already. Far ahead of where most people are. Why are you so passionate about your goal?
Lisa: I’m not an expert in social networking, but I feel a deep responsibility to connect people to one another when they share common goals, values and visions… especially when it relates to enhancing the kingdom through church marketing and communications!
God designed us for relationship, not only with Him, but with each other. I am personally hungry for connection, encouragement and professional enrichment. I learn best by example… seeing how others do things and solve the same challenges. When I started in ministry three years ago, I was craving professional networks to show me how to tackle my new position as director of communications. I started looking around for others in the same position. When I couldn’t find a local group, I decided to form one and recruit as many people as possible. But God knew I needed a role model, so He brought me Evan McBroom of Fishhook, who leads a local roundtable group in Indianapolis. Evan graciously took me under his wing as my mentor and literally fueled my passion with solid ideas and organization tips.
It’s been a little more than a year since MVMC got moving. The group has grown from two interested people in the immediate Springfield community to a network of 45 members from Cincinnati, greater Dayton and Columbus. Now I feel even more compelled to help others establish groups in their local areas! I know Terrell Sanders and the group at MinistryCOM share this same passion and vision.
Right now, MinistryCOM is one of the only ways for church communicators to convene on an annual basis with some of the most creative minds in ministry. I personally cannot wait until MinistryCOM ’09 in Chicago next September! But sometimes I think, “if I could have Terrell and MinCOM in a bottle, I would be jazzed and ready for ministry every day!” Life takes over and deadlines crowd our schedules, so it is not always practical (or cost effective) to travel to conferences. Big talent resides right in our own backyard. It’s just a matter of finding it and sharing the wealth with our group. Terrell understands that and is working to coordinate local groups through MinistryCOM.
CMS: That’s great. You mentioned social networking. What benefits have you seen from meeting locally versus online collaboration?
Lisa: Kem Meyer, communications director at Granger Community Church, put it best in her breakout session at Innovate ’08 by saying, “Technology has revolutionized community… but social media does not replace face-to-face communication–it enhances it.”
Online collaboration is wonderful and brings us together quickly over great distances. With e-mail, IM, FB, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, the Church Marketing Lab, etc. we have a host of social groups to connect with 24-7. But the real power of connection is when people can be together in the same room. Studies show that effective communications has less to do with what you say, than how you actually say it because of nuances such as tone of voice and non-verbal expressions/gestures.
Another important element to our local group is that we meet at host churches and conclude each meeting with a tour. This allows us to see first-hand how other churches engage their ministries. Of course, I’ll be the first to admit that we communicators love to collect samples of other church materials! And perhaps even more overlooked, is the benefit of just getting out of the office and changing your perspective. There’s no better way to feel accepted than over coffee and bagels with people who truly dig you as a creative professional and want to see you succeed.
CMS: Thanks so much, Lisa. We hope everyone can find as much success in their local area as you have. Keep in touch with us, and stay around the Church Marketing Lab so we can keep up to date with your story.