In response to the recent poll I sent out, here is what one person said in the comments section:
New to this role, unpaid volunteer for a small church. It all feels overwhelming.
That comment, totally touched my heart and I wanted to share a few things in response. Though helping people in this situation is one of the goals of the ECC Ministry, I hope the following advice is helpful.
Being overwhelmed is a totally appropriate response
You are tasked with making clear the words of eternal life to your congregation and community. Heaven will be different; the eternal destinies of people will be altered by your work. With that reality in mind, here are some things to do that might help.
The first thing to do
When (in 1 Samuel 30) David was under intense pressure and "greatly distressed" the passage goes on to say that he "encouraged himself in the Lord his God [KJV] found strength in the Lord his God. [NIV]" You can do the same. No matter what your tasks; no matter how little training or preparation you have for the job, the Lord is there to help you. Trust him and pray for every aspect of your work.
James 1:5 says that God will give you wisdom when you ask for it. Ask continuously and He will give insight and direction.
The first things NOT to do
Don't overly worry about how things look or your social media wizardry. People do not respond to the messages of your church because of your graphic design brilliance or the wit of your tweets. Of course we want things to look as good as they can and we want to use every channel possible, but don't focus on secondary issues at first.
Three things that are vitally important in all your communications
If your communications have these three characteristics, you'll be effective in communicating the needed messages of your church. The 3 vital characteristics are
Explain what you are talking about so ANYONE new to the church will understand (and many who have been coming a long time, but never learned what's going on). Don't use cute names, acknyomns, abreviations that only people who have attended the church for many years understand. Tell people precisely what is happening and why they should bother to be involved or care. Don't publish a picture ANYWHERE (social media or print publication) without a caption. You are in a unique and wonderful place just starting out in communications in that things people may have taken totally for granted that others understand, you can spot them more easily. Speak up; ask; clarify for the sake of your audience.
The most deadly assumption you can make in church communications is "oh everyone knows." They don't. They don't know what time a group regularly meets. They don't know that childcare is always provided or never provided, they don't know that you have to be a church member to volunteer for certain jobs, they don't know how long youth group, or the mission committee or any other group meets.
YOU MUST provide all these connecting details in your communications and if you don't have room to put them in, be sure you have a link to your website that gives them in detail.
You can have the most stunning image, brilliant text, and fascinating slogan, but if people are unclear about the date or time and can't easily find out more, they won't attend.
There is a saying that "the devil is in the details." I would propose a more accurate statement would be that "the devil is in our communications when we leave out details."
These vital, connecting details may be hard to track down—they may be one of the most frustrating parts of your job, but they are extremely important.
Without this last characteristic—many vital communication tasks are either undone or only partly successful. This primarily has to do with your website and the fact that you must work EXTREMELY HARD to keep it updated. Your website is the anchor of your church communications and to emphasize some of the points above, it really doesn't matter how it looks (again, yes it's nice, but not the most critical thing)—what matters is that when people come to it, visitors and members that they find the COMPLETE information they want; that it is CLEAR and that it is CURRENT.
If you do that—you will be a rock star communicator because very few church websites are as current as they should be. Finding programs listed that are months or years old, no details on events happening this week, or in a short amount of time, no links to where to find out more—again, looks matter little if these details aren't there. If they are there people will attend the events and either come to know Jesus as Savior or grow in their relationship to him. That is what makes you an effective church communicator.
This is just a start, but I trust a useful one
There is so much to learn as a church communicator, but it is wonderful, exciting, and never boring work! The Effective Church Communications ministry is here to help and our Church Communicator's Training School has an ever-growing list of courses that will help you.
Know that though I can't see your face—I am praying for you and all the church communicators involved with ECC that the Lord will give you strength, wisdom, and joy as you do your work to share the words of eternal life.