We always like to hear from the new board members of our nonprofit parent, the Center for Church Communication, and today we talk with Mark MacDonald. Mark has recently joined the board to help with the Certification Lab. He’s the director of communications for Community of Faith, a growing Houston-area church. He’s also senior church brand strategist for BeKnownforSomething, an international agency that helps churches and people intentionally become known for something that will create relevance in their community.
What’s your church working on right now that’s cool?
Mark MacDonald: After working with churches for years, I just accepted a communications position with a growing church in the Houston area. We’re evaluating every communication area and starting with a brand foundation. Tweaking the logo and determining the consistent design elements and positioning statement for the church. Then we’re implementing a complete communication strategy. It’ll be interesting to see how that’ll work with me directing it from within!
As you come on to the board one of your tasks is to oversee the new Certification Lab. What’s that about and why should someone attend?
Mark: As I work with many communication teams in churches, I’m amazed how people are overwhelmed with how to do their job. Everyone’s developing similar things, but feeling alone. This Certification Lab is all about bringing the experts (people who have been doing this for years) together so that communication people can learn from them. Stuff like creativity, leadership and communications. The byproduct will be the networking that can happen between everyone that gets together. We’re going to continue the discussion throughout the year. I wish I had it years ago!
You’re big on organizations being known for something. It seems like churches struggle with that—they’d rather be the general store than the specialty shop. What advice do you have for churches that don’t want to narrow their focus?
Mark: If you try to reach a large audience with a complex message, it’s almost impossible for people to remember it. Tell an audience one thing this week and almost everyone will remember it next week. More will remember one thing than two things (and three, four, etc.). Tell your audience the one thing you provide as a solution and people will remember it when asked “Why do you go to your church?” That causes growth. You’re recruiting a small group of people who remember a simple message so they can pass it along to others who need to know it. This is evangelism!
What’s the single greatest thing you think churches can do to communicate better?
Mark: Simplify. Stop inundating everyone with tons of messages. The church is awesome at giving a bunch of information and then wondering why no one reads it or remembers it.
What do you see in the future for church communication?
Mark: The congregation loves their church’s printed material! I think because it’s their “trusted” source. Most churches have someone who has developed a lock-tight process to ensure accuracy (think worship guide). The website doesn’t have these processes so it’s often not current and has mistakes. People return to the print materials. The church has to switch their processes to the “digital hub” of information (website)—and then convince everyone to trust it. They’ll soon give up their expensive print materials. And that opens up a better world of real-time information.
- Watch Mark talk about how the Certification Lab can help communicators who feel overwhelmed: