Karina Lopez has been in the trenches of church communication for the past five years. She spent two years as the web communications and media associate at Rivertown Community Church and before that three years as the media and music intern at Eastside Baptist Church. She’s been learning from experience and is now sharing that experience with CreativeCommunications.co. We sat down with Karina to learn even more.
What’s the one thing you wish you had known when you were getting started in church communication?
Karina Lopez: Don’t fall into the trap of letting everything be perceived as equally important. Doing that put me in a difficult position when it came to prioritizing projects and events for different areas. I sometimes had to be on the side of saying “no” and had to be OK with that. Even though sometimes I couldn’t say not flat out, I would work around it by offering different options and telling them what I could do.
What’s the biggest headache in church communication and how can newbies get over it (or get used to it)?
Karina: Biggest headache, in my opinion, is time or what seems to be the lack of it. Mondays always started with a “plenty of time” mentality but by the time Wednesday rolled around 48 hours suddenly felt like 48 minutes. Being pulled in different directions by a dozen different ministries can drive a newbie insane.
This lack of time mentality would drive me crazy week in and week out. So, naturally, I made it a priority to get over it and get used it by developing a personal action routine. You see, time is the currency of productivity and routine tends to bring order and less chaos. Mondays were my day to take the top 3 or 4 priorities of the week and punch them in the face (thanks to Jon Acuff for this new phrase in my life), with as little interruption as possible. Before the meeting invitation emails started filling my inbox, I made sure my time was utilized from the beginning. Then when things got unexpectedly crazy later in the week, I didn’t need to stress about getting the crucial things done.
What was your first great success as a church communicator? What made it work so well?
Karina: I would say my first great success was when I finally understood that my responsibility as the social media manager was to use it to deepen and strengthen relationships. Social media is a conversation and I was able to create inspiring content that started conversations and moved people in the direction of the vision of our church. Creating inspiring content was not easy and it took dedicated time and resources. (Tip: Your church already creates tons of great content; it just takes time to aggregate and curate the content so that it connects and inspires people through social media. You are a curator of content and don’t let anyone tell you differently.)
I successfully created a publishing schedule that helped me plan, produce and publish content that clearly articulated the vision of our church, growing our following and engagement from 400 to over 1,400 in about nine months. If we didn’t have a schedule, our content would have quickly become a monologue of information that was redundant and unnecessary.
What was your first great failure? What lessons did you learn?
Karina: My first major flop came when I started focusing too much on the tasks and not the people. I knew it was about people first and foremost, but I lost sight of that and instead got caught up in the tasks that I needed to get done. Ultimately, this led to a failed volunteer system. When leading our volunteer team for production and communications, I lost sight of this crucial thing—relationships. You have to have a system for utilizing volunteers. Keeping people connected to the team and connected to the vision is critical, otherwise, they sign up, go through training and end up disconnecting and getting lost in the shuffle. I found out quickly that communications ministry is 90 percent relationships and 10 percent tasks.
There’s a lot of pressure and expectations on a new communications person at a church. How do you handle the stress and pressure, especially for someone just learning the ropes?
Karina: The only way to handle the stress and pressure that comes with communications ministry is to maintain and set a healthy and sustainable pace. Managing church communication projects can be madness. You are constantly bombarded with new projects from ministry leaders and at the same time are working on church-wide communication programs and events. Things will stack up and if you let them they can have control over you. Balance your ministry life by setting a healthy and sustainable pace. Take care of yourself; guard your time, your heart and relationship with Jesus. Make it a ritual to unplug on a regular basis.