After decades working in Christian media, I’ve noticed a lifecycle that happens in a significant number of churches and ministries when it comes to media. It’s serious, and I’ve seen it happen again and again, often leading to disaster. In fact, when a pastor or leader doesn’t start a media ministry with experienced advice and counsel (which is usually what happens), this unfolds in virtually every case. Here’s the timeline:
On Friday I received another email from a friend who was let go from a major nonprofit organization who had slashed their communication department. I had to put that email in the growing folder I’d received over the last year from others in similar situations. It seems that whenever a church, ministry, or nonprofit gets into financial difficulty, the first department to eliminate is communications. After all, do we really need that social media person or the video people? Surely we can trim our web staff, right?
I asked Dan Wathen, our Executive Producer at Cooke Pictures to write a post about church and ministry communication directors. Before Dan worked with us, he directed a national Christian television program, and then was in charge of communications and media at a large church in South Texas. When I found him, he had come to Hollywood where he was working in feature film distribution. So he’s worked both sides of the media fence. That’s why for everyone who feels “stuck” as a church communications or media director, this post may just be for you:
Whenever I visit local churches, most of the time I’m faced with a frustrated local media producer who’s at his or her wits end. They’re usually good producers, often with extensive experience, plus a real calling to use media to take the gospel to the culture. But in nearly every case, he or she is either burned out, upset, or ready to quit. Ninety percent of the time, I get the same response – “The pastor just doesn’t have a vision for media – especially television.” It also comes in numerous other laments, such as “Every time I try something new, the pastor hates it.” Or the tried and true:
If you work on the communications or media team at a church, ministry, or nonprofit, your job is to share the story of your organizations to the local community and sometimes the world. While a pastor or leader may speak to the local congregation or supporters, your job is to take that message and share it on a much bigger platform. To do that well, here’s a list of critical things you and your team need to know:
Too many people use media randomly, with no real strategic vision. Perhaps a friend recommended local TV, or a board member suggested billboards, or a church youth director likes social media. All these platforms and others are important, but they question is: Why? While I could write many books on the subject, here’s a short list of what differentiates some of the major media platforms:
One of the great things I get to do in my career is work with pastors and leaders who are remarkably savvy when it comes to using media to share their story. Jack Graham from PowerPoint Media Ministries is a great example. As a result, today his programs are sharing the gospel throughout the world and reaching millions of people. In most cases, leaders like Jack are experienced, committed visionaries who understand the value and the power of the media. But I also have the opportunity to spend time with less experienced pastors and ministry leaders who feel just as called to use media in a meaningful way, but have serious questions like:
Hat tip to Chandra Hope, a Creative Director at Cooke Pictures for bringing this important video to my attention. If you’re a professional communicator, then you know how serious this issue really is today. I hope you’ll share this post and let’s go out there and make a positive difference! Take a look: