After overcoming a lifelong drug addiction, I came to God and started a church with my wife. It’s called the River City Recovery Ministries in Cambridge, Minn., and includes a church called The Fish House and homes for recovering addicts. I currently serve as the senior pastor and executive director. We do a lot of ministry to addicts and their families and saw 400% growth during the first year.
Over the years, I have learned how to preach, teach and lead people out of their issues, but I was not prepared to effectively communicate the message of what we do to the community and the people we serve. Over the past six years the ministry has been “playing catch up” and we were missing the mark on how to get the message out. I had no idea who to turn to for help, but that all changed about a month ago when I filled out a scholarship application for a conference called MinistryCOM.
At first, I thought nothing of it, but when I was selected to receive the scholarship I was overjoyed. I felt like a bush-league baseball player being sent to spring training to learn the craft from the professionals. I was expecting to gain maybe one thing, but I was not prepared to receive as much as I did.
I walked away from the MinistryCOM conference empowered, encouraged and a now better communicator, who has the tools and contacts to make a difference in the way we present the message graphically, visually and effectively to the people we serve and the community.
Here are just a few highlights:
Each one of the speakers presented a message that dealt with many different aspects of church communications, between leaders, members and the community. The one keynote speaker that really hit home was Pastor Jim Johnson, senior pastor of Preston Trail Community Church in Frisco, Texas, who brought us a message about the importance of connecting with a the culture in a way that does not offend. He said that “Paul critiqued the culture, not to condemn, but to connect with it.” He went on to say that we need to understand the culture so the church can communicate to the community in a powerful way. He said that the best way to understand and connect is to find three types of people:
- A Culture Champion: Someone who knows what is going on in the culture.
- A Social Media Champion: Someone who is really going to get right in the middle of social media, like Twitter and Facebook.
- A Message Champion: Someone to be your communications director.
The Breakout Sessions
The breakout session were amazing, and I walked out each session with more than I walked in with. We were given information, resources and tools that can be used right away. We were taught how to prioritize communication so it is unified, effective and cost saving. The most amazing thing is that not one person sold anything, they gave it all away.
One speaker in particular, James Dalman of the Branding Shed, gave me enough tools to save our ministry over $1,500 per year in Internet communications costs alone. Dalman suggested we use WordPress to cut costs because it’s free, powerful, easy to use and easy to learn.
When I got on the plane to head home I was armed with so many useful tools and contacts that I know in just a few months The Fish House will be communicating a message that will have a far reaching impact. I also met someone who is going to donate their services to help bring all of this together for our ministry.
A 2011 conference hasn’t been announced yet, but if it is anyone who feels they are lacking in the area communication would greatly benefit from attending. The leaders and presenters need be congratulated on how professional they presented and treated us. They rocked God’s flock.