I asked Dan Wathen, our Executive Producer at Cooke Media Group 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:
27 years. Thats how long it took me to realize there’s actual value and importance in being a church media director. Wow, thats a long time! I remember telling myself, “I’m doing this to buy some time and gain experience until I can make my big move to LA.” Truthfully, I was even embarrassed at times to tell people what I really did with the church because no one ever seemed to get it. So I eventually came to the point in my life where I said, “Enough is enough, it’s time to move to Los Angeles and break into “mainstream media.” Well, I experienced some of what Hollywood had to offer and now I’m have to share 4 little secrets I have now come to understand:
1. You didn’t end up in that church job by accident, God has a plan in mind. There just might be a reason God has you working in a church. You might think you stumbled into this job but I encourage you to start changing your perspective. It’s possible that God has you there to not only perfect your craft but bring together an amazing team and create some outstanding projects. Not enough people realize that creating media for a church can be a lifelong and very fulfilling career.
2. The grass probably isn’t greener on the “mainstream” side. There is a myth out there that in the real world you get to spend weeks or months on a commercial spot or TV project with a vast budget. But the truth is you will probably have less time to finish projects in Hollywood than you do at the church. Deadlines exist no matter where you are, and budgets are strict everywhere, so learn to thrive in that context. Some of my best projects have come out of tight turnarounds when I thought there was no way I could pull it off. Recently I sat on a plane next to a producer for a long running popular show on HGTV. I asked her about the size of her crew and she replied that it was just her and a local camera operator hired in each city. So don’t buy into the myth that your media team is too small to pull off quality programming.
3. There is a shortage of QUALITY church and ministry communication and media directors. I travel to churches all over this country and see the real need for quality producers, directors, and editors who can orchestrate a great team. You can OWN this niche if you put as much time into it as you would that feature film you’re so desperately hoping to produce.
4. Take pride in what you do. There is no shame in being a media director for a church or non-profit – period. You can be a small fish in a big pond as Hollywood director, or the big fish in a smaller pond at your church. Own it and become great! When I see what communications and media teams are doing at churches like Prestonwood in Dallas, Lakewood in Houston, Hillsong in Sydney, or others we work with, I can see that the possibilities are endless!
And oh by the way. Please don’t take 27 years to figure this out. There’s no time like the present, so take advantage of where you happen to be in life TODAY!