If anything good has come out of the COVID-19 church shutdown, it’s the awareness that communication and media are more important to a church than many pastors realized. While missions, outreach, education, and other ministries are important, as churches experienced the lockdown, they quickly discovered that without a communications or media team, churches around the world would have been in serious trouble.
And now, pastors and church leaders are starting to build stronger communication teams, and many are asking where to start. So I asked 5 highly respected and experienced communication and media leaders for their recommendations. Who would be the first 3 people you’d hire to begin a strong communications or media team?
Here’s their answers:
From Ben Field – Head of Film & Television, Hillsong Church:
The first 3 team members in order I’d hire are a:
1) Communications Director – Having a dedicated person planted in the vision and skilled in the ability to communicate the heart and soul of the church is a number one priority to any executive team or senior pastor. When you have someone leading and directing your communications from within, the rest will flow from there.
2) Graphic Designer – Great design can be outsourced, but when you have someone who isn’t just outworking a detailed brief, but catches the spirit of what’s being communicated and owns it, you’ll see the design of what’s being communicated have a unique fingerprint of what’s authentic to the expression of the church.
3) Videographer/Editor – In today’s world one of the most effective forms of communicating internally and externally is video. With platforms like Christian Television, YouTube, InstagramTV etc, the modern day church has an incredible opportunity to reach people far outside the church walls. Hiring a Videographer/Editor that has skills across the areas of production and editing will set you up for the immediate needs and help grow a wider team of volunteers to take on more substantial projects over time.
From Bryan Bailey – Director of Media at Prestonwood Church:
When hiring the first three people, I approach it from an “investment” mentality. It’s easy to get caught up in immediate needs and try to hire someone to fill the front of house audio or social media position. Instead, my first three hires are, “The Mastermind,” “The Tech Swiss Army Knife,” and “The Mobilizer.” The Mastermind has the vision, sets the wheels in motion, and has the experience to know how to get things done. The Tech Swiss Army Knife is a doer – this person makes the events happen and becomes the central hub for all future volunteers, staff, and contractors from a tech perspective. The Mobilizer recruits, trains, and pastors volunteers for live productions, events, and even communications needs. All three of these positions need to have hands-on skills, but they are easily supplemented with volunteers and contractors until you can afford to increase the team as-needed.
From Ogden Bass – Pastor of Production and Technical Services at Faithful Central Bible Church:
If I were looking to build a media or communications team at a small church, the first three people I would hire would be:
1) The Communications and/or Media Director – I would always start with the head, this person will set the tone and direction for the department. This person should have a deep working knowledge of each position that needs to be filled within their department and should also be able to do at least some basic operations in each of the areas to move the vision of the pastor/church forward.
2) The second person I would hire would be a person who is a doer, and can flawlessly execute the needs of the communications/media director. Preferably a person that has an advanced and specialized understanding of the technical aspects that are required to get the job done correctly, (maybe an engineer type.) But also multifaceted with the ability to work on the creative aspects of the ministry.
3) The third person I would hire is an admin or assistant. A person who wants to work in the area of communication or media, but needs a little more experience. This person can make sure while the Director and engineer are getting things done, nothing falls through the cracks, and they will be excited to help with sharing ideas and working on creative tasks.
Finally, I would find, use, and empower dedicated volunteers who have skill sets to fill in any holes that may be outstanding. Finding and keeping great volunteers will save the church from unnecessarily spending financial resources, as well as give its members a chance to be involved.
From Nils Smith – Chief Strategist Social Media + Innovation at Dunham + Company:
When building out a communications team, I would hire the following 3 people in this order. First, a Communications Director who is a strategic thinker, highly detailed and ideally a copywriter. Other than the lead pastor, they will be the primary voice of the church internally and externally. Second, I would hire a videographer/video editor. Having the ability to capture and distribute great videos is key today for ministry engagement, promotion and communication within the life of every church. The third position I would hire is a graphic designer ideally with the ability to manage your website. From print design, social media, service slides, sermon series graphics, etc., graphic design needs are everywhere in the life of the church. While many of these needs can be managed by volunteers and contractors as you build, this is the order that I would prioritize when building your Communications staff team.
From Dawn Nicole Baldwin – Lead Strategist for Cooke Media Group:
First, I recommend starting with a strategy-minded Communications Director who has a heart to invest in others. The team will only go as far as whomever is leading it, so starting with someone who can see the bigger picture will go a long way in communicating the pastor’s vision and building the team.
The second and third hires really depend on the gifting of the first, but bringing on a photographer/videographer and a social media person will help. A picture is worth a thousand words, and video is even more compelling. So it’s important to capture the heartbeat of the church on an ongoing basis. Social media is the lifeblood for connecting and keeping people, so having someone who can create a strategy as well as keep up with content is essential.