My official unofficial title is, “The Accidental Director of Communications.” Working in the church world was absolutely not what I had planned when I signed $30,000 in promissory notes for a graduate degree in something that had nothing to do with church or marketing. I don’t have a public affairs background, graphic design training or theological anything. Regardless—long story short—here I am, in my ninth year of working for the church.
Given my lack of “professional training,” I spent the first two years of my church communication career with a prevailing sense of “I must be doing this wrong.” The work was tough, and when I began to implement what seemed like basic best practices, things got ugly:
- Yes, that’s what I said: You cannot have a separate logo for your ministry.
- No, we can’t mention your event ‘just real quick’ from the platform this week.
- Oh my gosh, NO, you can’t display your homemade, bedazzled poster in the lobby. And by the way, I threw away that clip-art-and-comic-sans masterpiece of a flier you snuck onto the counter last week.
People were not happy with me. So again: “I must be doing this wrong.”
Now, I was incredibly fortunate to have the full confidence of church leadership. They trusted me implicitly, which should’ve given me a sense of empowerment, right? Well, instead, I developed what a friend of mine calls Fraud Demons. “I don’t know what I’m doing, they’re going to figure that out, and I’m going to disappoint everyone I know. Including Jesus.”
Over time, I found helpful blogs. I created a Twitter list of communication and marketing experts—both church people and normal people. I read a whole bunch of books. Know what happened next? In addition to feeling like I was doing it wrong, I began to feel completely overwhelmed by information and a growing fix-it list.
Have you been there? Are you there now? Are you, like me, filling a role that was not even in the same room as your radar? Or, even if you have some communication-related education and training, have you discovered that church world only barely resembles those marketing case studies?
Boy do I have good news for you: You’re probably doing it wrong—at least some of it. And so are the rest of us. Not one of us has it all figured out, but all of us have something figured out. The best thing we can do is admit where we’re falling down, ask questions, seek advice and talk to one another. Share stories. Commiserate a bit. Laugh about tough lessons learned.
If you’re new to this gig, I want you to know that you’re doing just fine. You have a lot to learn, and I’m quite sure you could teach me a thing or two. Don’t listen to the Fraud Demons. Don’t assume you’re wrong just because people are getting frustrated. Shake free of the idea that you should have it all figured out by now. Surround yourself with people who can help you take your best next step. Pray. Take a deep breath. And get back to work.
That whole “share stories, commiserate, laugh, ask questions” thing? It’s happening live. A group of us who’ve been at this for a while will be spending time with 50 of you—talking a little theory, offering gobs of practical wisdom, and learning from one another. It’s called the Certification Lab, and it’s going to be awesome. You should probably be there.