Ginger Larson Hall is a career communication advisor and an experienced member of the Less Chaos. Less Noise. team. Recently, she wrote an article for small churches on the 95 Network hub. It’s too good not to share again with you here.
You’ve got a lot on your plate as a Senior Pastor. It’s hard to see how you can make any more space when there aren’t enough hours in the day. But do you believe you should be driving all points of communications as the senior leader?
You might have a problem if you are...
managing content for the bulletin
designing and updating the newsletter
saying yes to any request for a verbal announcement
making changes to the website
managing your church's social media
designing ministry logos
proofing print pieces
tracking down information from all ministry volunteers for events
designing announcement slides
writing promotional copy for billboards and ads
You may be a gifted platform communicator, but that doesn’t mean you’re the best communicator in all channels. When all things run through you, you’re lowering your personal impact and diminishing the overall health and reach of your church messaging.
As a senior leader or pastor, your job is more about releasing control, not holding it. In fact, the more you give away, the more you’ll gain (and the more oxygen your church will have to grow).
If you’re looking for help making that shift and are serious about cultivating communications church-wide, move through the following stages to move your energy away from tactical management and towards directional leadership.
"The more you give away, the more you’ll gain (and the more oxygen your church will have to grow)."
STAGE 1: START WITH YOU
Self-examine your leadership. Ask yourself a few soul-searching questions: Do I have a monopoly mindset? Do I need to own the “board”? Do I need to have my hands on everything that happens in our church? If you’re not ready to let go and empower others, the rest of this list won’t make a difference. But, if you are ready, just know it will take time and there will be some give and take.
The give: things may not be perfect or exactly the way you would do them.
The take: you're given more time away from project management and with the community you’re leading.
Identify one or two things you’re passionate about and uniquely gifted to do. Ask: What do you need to do in order to be your best you? Some pastors are gifted and passionate about developing a creative sermon series. Some are not – and that’s ok. Pinpoint your top priorities and passions and spend energy there. Be willing to let go and share the rest.
Your fingerprint will still be on communications, but your fingers won’t be wrapped around it. Delegating is really about better stewardship – sharing the joy of giving and wisely growing other people’s abilities.
STAGE 2: BUILD SYSTEMS AND STRUCTURE
Find a “guardian” (and I’m not talking about the Holy Spirit or your spouse). Get a strong executive admin beside you. Download your priorities and objectives and share your calendar. This person’s goal is to save you from you – hold you to deadlines, keep you informed, and take off the items on your plate that keep you from being the best you (i.e., writing church bulletin content).
Set up simple systems. Set up a system so that communication requests come through your “guardian” (or someone they delegate). Together with your executive admin, develop the route for how opportunities and events make it to your church congregation through various channels (bulletin, announcements, social). Decide what needs your approval and what doesn’t. Identify things that you:
initiate (messages, capital campaign, events affecting 80% or more of your people)
check on (worship elements like song selections, committee reports)
see at the end and want to be aware of (men’s or women’s event)
don’t need to see (changes in the signage at the preschool)
Mine for diamonds. Curate a team of skilled volunteers without broadcasting an ad in your bulletin. Observe the people in your congregation who have a great Facebook page (and have natural discretion) or someone who has a stellar Instagram account. Develop those people who find joy in it, and don’t view it as a burden. For more great insight on how to discover, invest and cultivate strong volunteers for the long haul, check out Simply Strategic Volunteers.
STAGE 3: WALK IT OUT AND RECALIBRATE
Stay in the guardrails. Don’t sabotage your system (and ultimately your growth) by entertaining requests outside your established system. “I know I’m supposed to talk to John about a verbal announcement for our 5k race, but I thought I’d talk with you first,” says your long-time member and friend. Redirect them to your guardian. Empower your staff and volunteers by helping people understand the importance of following the system.
Own the vision. As much time as you invest in sermon preparation, spend the equivalent on crafting how to talk about your vision. What are the unique talking points for your church vision? What are the guiding principles? What are your brand values? Drill down into what makes your church unique. The best way to do that is to build a brand cue card as a messaging compass. Free Tool: Brand Cue Card
Be the key communicator of vision. You’re the pastor and the CCV – the Chief Communicator of Vision. Don’t get distracted and dragged down in the day-to-day stuff that you can entrust to a volunteer. It will handicap you. Instead, spend the time on the 30,000-foot view and how to connect that vision with your audience. Make it contagious. Give it handles that your elders, staff, volunteers and guests can pick up and run with.
Remember, it will take time to build your team, retrain your brain and let go. Give yourself some grace. Focus on progress, not perfection.
We supplied the Brand Cue Card template here, and it’s one of our most effective tools in setting a firm foundation for communications – for churches, non-profits and other organizations. We also know how some DIY projects go. Consider signing up for a 3x3 with us – three calls in three months to jumpstart your communications and get the clarity you need at the heart of your mission. And, if you’re not sure, no problem. We’ll give you a free 30 minute consult.