Communications

4 Things They Don’t Tell You When Joining a Church Staff, but You Should Know Anyway

It’s been over three years now since I left corporate life to go work at a church. When I look back there are number of things that I knew were going to be different, and yet, there are some things that surprised me. Here are four things that I’d wish I knew before joining a church staff.

1. It’s so easy to go on autopilot.

Here’s the thing. The Sunday to Sunday cycle can be an easy thing to overlook. When you get in that cycle, it saves you from coming up with new ideas or approaches. The routine can be like comfort food. It seems good, but over the long haul it will hurt you. If all you’re doing each Sunday is putting the tape in and hitting play, then you you’re going to have issues.

Think of it this way, when someone hears and sees the same thing day in and day out, it begins to lose its effectiveness over time. In short, people stop paying attention.

In order to prevent this, think about setting aside once a quarter to do some deep thinking about what’s really working and what can be better. (more…)

How to Find Your Blog’s Niche

The is the second part of series I’m writing on how you can start blogging. If you want to catch up, here’s the first post in the series.

We all want to think our blog is special. We want to think that what we’re writing is a cut above the rest and deserves everyone’s attention. Of course, getting that audience can be bit difficult, especially if you just relying on Google for people to find you.

Think about it, if you typed the term “blog” in Google you might be overwhelmed by the results. If you tried to narrow your results to specific blog category and typed in “vegetarian food blog”, you still might be surprised by the large amount of results. In other words, there are a lot of blogs out there. So how do you stand out?

The surprising answer to that question is that you stand out by going narrow. More specifically, you have to find your “niche”. A “niche” is a topic that your blog will revolve around. It’s what makes your blog different. The more narrow and unique the niche, the better chance you have of success. (more…)

Finding the “Why” of Your Blog

I remember when I first started blogging. The first 90 days were a blur. I was creating a lot of content and hoping that someone, somewhere, would like connect with what I wrote.

What I didn’t realize was that before you press the publish button on your first blog post, there’s some homework you need to do first. In fact, I think it’s the first think you need to establish before you start blogging.

You need to figure out “why” are you blogging.

The “Why” of Blogging

Okay, so why do we need to establish “why” your blogging? Can’t you just write a few blog posts and figure it out along the way?

Well yes, you can. However, that will only get so far. Eventually like most beginning bloggers you’ll start to question your abilities when you don’t see web traffic you want, or no one shares your content on Facebook. You see, the “why” is the driving force that you’ll need to come to back on days when you don’t feel like blogging, or you’re not sure if your cut out for it. (more…)

The Two Sides of Content Creation

I hate writing tutorials. Why? Well, first I’m horrible at explaining how to do something on technical level. I always assume the reader has prior knowledge that they don’t have, and I figure that if people get lost, they’ll just google it.

Trust me, they don’t google it.

However, if you ask me to write about the future of the church and how technology plays into that, I’m all there.

In other words, I’m an abstract thinker. But, I know that doesn’t work for everyone.

Which is why I admire Katie Allred.

Katie is one of the best people I know at instructing others. She understands what reader needs to know, and what reader doesn’t realize they don’t know. (Plus, she’s a professor at the University of Florida.)

In other words, Katie is a concrete thinker.

Now, I don’t believe that one is superior to the other. But, I do believe that some of us don’t understand which one we are. It’s taken me over three years of writing blog posts to realize, what suits me best.

When you don’t know who you are, you try to mimic popular social media personalities and bloggers, and then you end up looking like a copy of an original.

Abstract or concrete, it really doesn’t matter. Just figure out which one you are and stick with it.

Why Podcasts Matter

I write a blog, do a weekly podcast and I’ve tried my hand at vlogging. If you told me I could only do one for the rest of my life. The answer would be easy.

My podcast.

Why? One reason is that it’s the easiest for me in terms of content. There’s always something to talk about. Plus, talking about a subject is much easier then writing about it.

But that’s not why I would choose podcasting. I would choose podcasting because there something intimate about audio. I’ve listened to enough podcasts to know that over time those people behind the microphone can become a comfort for a lot of people. There’s something about a familiar voice talking to you while you go about doing life’s work.

Now I have no idea if I have that effect on people, but I know they do on me. Here’s a quick list of podcasts that I’m currently listening to:

Each of these podcasts bring me some joy throughout the week. Every episode is like hanging out with friends that you haven’t seen all week. I don’t think I’m the only person who feels that way.

It’s why I love podcasts, and I think they’re here to stay.

Determining the Priority

One of my favorite books from last year was Essentialism by Greg McKeown. I loved this quote:

The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years. Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities.

In short, the author is pointing out that priorities (the plural of priority) is a fairly new invention. Sure, you can claim to have multiple priorities, but in reality you only have one priority. Only one thing can be the foremost thought in your mind. You may want multiple priorities to matter to you, but you can really only focus on one.

Your church’s communication channels are no different. You can claim that you have multiple ministries and events of equal importance, but you can’t give them all priority. When you do try to give them all priority, nothing will have priority and therefore nothing will be communicated.

Declaring something as a priority is hard, because you’re saying that something else (a person, ministry, event, etc…) is not. However, that’s why your in charge of communications. To make the hard calls and decide what is the priority.

Your Only Competition

When I was first starting out as a creative director in the corporate world, I was really competitive. I spent a good portion of my time sizing up our competition, identifying what I though were their design weaknesses and then creating plans to surpass them. 

This competition was my daily fuel. That was until my mentor sat me down, and gave me this one piece of advice.

Your only competition is yourself. You need treat this like a game of golf. You’re the only one keeping score, and your goal is to get a little bit better each day. Stop comparing yourself to those around you.

To this day, those worlds still ring true to me and I’ve learned to apply them not only to myself, but my church’s social media as well. 

This is hard to do, because of the things that the world does is tell you that you’re not complete, and your effort is not enough. In fact, I’ve become more resolute to the idea that the world’s ultimate goal is to rob you of contentment. More specifically, contentment in Christ. 

That’s why it’s difficult to not want to compare your church’s social media with the church down the street or even across the globe. Yes, their graphics look cooler, they have more “Likes”, and everyone in their photos looks like a model from an H&M ad. 

But that’s what the world does. It sows little seeds of doubt and discontentment in our hearts, and before you know it we trying to be something that we’re not. We end up with angry and fustrated that our attempts to be cool or relevant haven’t connected with our audience. 

When I have those moments, I have to remind myself that my soul will never be satisfied by being cooler than the church down the street. My contentment will be in being who God created me to be, and my church doing the same.

Will I push my church to get better? You bet. But I’ll do that in context of knowing who we are and what were designed to do. I’ll focus on helping us get a little bit better every single day. Knowing that my goal isn’t to be better than the church down the street, but be better for our audience and those who were trying to reach.

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