I’ll Never Know Enough: The Church Communicator Struggle

I’ll Never Know Enough: The Church Communicator Struggle

July 30, 2018 by

When it comes to church communications, I spend a good bit of time on the struggle bus.

It doesn’t matter that I’ve been doing some sort of church comm work for 12 years or that I’ve published a book on the topic. It makes no difference that I’m a part of the Center for Church Communication team or that I teach at conferences. It doesn’t even help when other people tell me I’m good at what I do or that I have an “important voice” in the conversation.

Despite all that, I still—more days than not—feel like I’m no good at this stuff.

I don’t think I’m the only person who feels this way. I mean, I don’t see very many of y’all being quite as transparent with your personal demons, but I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this. I read between the lines of your Facebook posts, and I’ve talked with some of you one-on-one at conferences. I notice the dark circles under your eyes. Your weary posture. Your heavy sighs. Some of that is run-of-the-mill frustration and fatigue, I realize. But some of it, I just know it, is I’ll-never-know-enough-itis.

Not only are some of you physically exhausted, but you’re also psychologically whooped. And a lot of it, I’m afraid, is self-imposed. I’ll say more about that in a moment.

Encouragement Is Lacking

Ironically, when it comes to my version of I’ll-never-know-enough-itis, listening to podcasts, scrolling through Facebook Groups, and joining yet another email list sometimes seems to make the problem worse. Rather than being all, “Yippy! Here’s an answer to my question!” or “Neat! Here’s some new things for me to learn!” I go all, “Well, holy hell, why didn’t I think of that?” and “Oh great. Here’s another list of things I didn’t even know I didn’t know how to do.”

There’s no shortage of places to learn how-tos and what-should-I-dos. I currently run one of those places, for crying out loud. What I think we need a bit more of—and, again, I don’t think this is just me—what I think we need a bit more of is encouragement. I know I can never get enough of that stuff.

Listen, I know a little bit of Kelley goes a long way, and this could be just self-indulgent drivel. But I don’t think it is. I just can’t believe I’m the only person in our tribe who feels this way. And while I struggle with anxiety (like, clinically), I don’t think that explains my entire melancholia as it relates to church communication. But how about I stop prattling on about me and my hot-mess-ness. Let’s talk about you instead.

You Do Not Suck at Your Job

If you feel like you suck at your job, I want you to knock it off right now. Because you don’t. You do not suck at your job.

Say it out loud: “I do not suck at my job.” (I’m probably old enough to be your mom—or at least your bossy older sister—so you should for-sure do what I’m telling you to do.) Say it again, this time a little louder: “I do not suck at my job.”

You’re right: I don’t know you. I have no idea if you made four mistakes in last week’s bulletin or if your website is terribly outdated or if you’re still emailing a PDF newsletter through Hotmail, OK? What I do know is you’re reading this post on a blog that’s all about church communication, which means you clearly have some give-a-damn. It is impossible to simultaneously care about your job and suck at it.

So there’s that.

I suppose it’s important to understand that simply deciding you don’t suck at your job may not pull you totally out of a funk, but it will at least help you move forward. Listen, self-criticism is painfully deflating and particularly de-motivating. And, not to get all Jesus-y on you, but there’s this, too: Our enemy will feed that nonsense. He doesn’t want you to think you’re good at what you do. He wants you to give up. Don’t listen to that guy.

5 Steps to Recovery

Here are some other suggestions for treating the symptoms of I’ll-never-know-enough-itis:

1. Accept that you’ll never know it all.

You already know so many things. So many! So maybe what you actually need to do is cut yourself some slack. Despite how it looks, not one single church communicator is actually knowledgeable and adept at every single part of their job. Not one. How could we be? There’s always some new thing to figure out. (Thanks a lot, IGTV.) So, yeah: No one knows everything, and you can’t either. Let that be freeing to you.

2. When you’re feeling particularly blergh, take a break from the church comm Facebook Groups.

Those church communication Facebook groups are phenomenal places to find resources, to get questions answered, and to crowdsource for ideas. But sometimes they are not especially good spots to receive encouragement. If you’re looking for honest feedback about something you’ve put together, by all means, head to one of those groups. If what you’re really hoping for—if what you want because you’re feeling inadequate—is an atta girl or atta boy, proceed with caution. I love me some online community, and I think these groups are fantastic places for us to gather and grow. At the same time, there are so many opinions and so many voices that Facebook groups aren’t always the best place to receive validation.

Wait until you’re out of your funk, and then go learn some things.

Plus, there are a lot of smart, next-level, been-doing-this-forever folks in there, and if you’re feeling three inches tall, it doesn’t help to stand next to a giant.

3. Connect with your tribe in person.

Find other communicators in your community or attend a couple of conferences. You’ll always walk away knowing something new. But, more importantly, you’ll likely help someone else in some way—which means you actually know more about something than someone else does. High-five!

4. Remind yourself this feeling won’t last forever.

Just like the flu, I’ll-never-know-enough-itis will eventually go away. Sometimes you’re proud of what you’ve accomplished, right? You’ll get back to that place again.

5. Get help.

If you’re actually not sure if you can claw your way out, ask for a rope. Talk with your supervisor about how you’re feeling. Also, be honest with yourself: Is this really only job-related, or are you in a tough season all around? Should you talk to a therapist? (Seriously, friend: Don’t shrug this off. If you need to talk to someone right now, call 800-273-8255. If you’d rather message someone, text HOME to 741471.)

Church Communication Is Hard

Church communication is a tough role—and it’s only made more difficult if you’re beating yourself up all the time. So be encouraged: You do know enough. There’s always more to learn. But you can never know it all.

What a relief.

More:

Who doesn’t need more encouragement? Check out You Got This: A Pep Talk for Church Communicators by Kelley Hartnett for more you-can-do-it spirit.

Need a pep talk?

Post By:

Kelley Hartnett


Kelley Hartnett spent more than a decade working in established churches and helping to launch new ones. She recently launched Tall Tree Collective, which helps nonprofits craft messages that inspire people to get behind their cause. Kelley formerly served as the membership director for our Courageous Storytellers Membership Site and is the author of You've Got This: A Pep Talk for Church Communicators.
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2 Responses to “I’ll Never Know Enough: The Church Communicator Struggle”

  • Shelly
    August 6, 2018

    Whoa, THANK YOU. I’m only 3 months into this previously non-existent communications coordinator position, and I feel some definite overwhelm. There seems to be so much pent-up energy from our members (which is great! they care! there really IS a need for this role here!) but I feel so behind and ill-equipped to meet all of the [perceived] demands. So I desperately needed to hear what’s in this article: that it’s OK to stop and breathe, and that I’m not the only one. Not because I’ll use this story/concept as an excuse, but that I’ll lean on it as an affirmation. So thanks. And YOU? YOU keep up the good work, too.


    • Kelley
      August 6, 2018

      Shelly, thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment. Congratulations on your new role.(You sound perfect for this work.) Take good care of yourself, and the rest will follow.



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