What Makes a Great Church Communications Director?
Whether you’re a church of 50 or 5,000, your church has communications needs.
They start off simple (hopefully) but of course, they grow and become more and more complex. Eventually, you start looking for a Communications Director.
This position, which was non-existent 50 years ago, is an important catch-all for a church’s needs in the areas of marketing, graphic design, website development, flyers, and much more.
Also, the job description of a coms director is one of the few church positions that they teach you very little about in seminary. So coms directors are rarely seminary trained and pastors usually don’t know what a coms director does.
That’s all to say, it’s a difficult position to fill well.
I’ve worked with many communications directors, both hired from the outside and appointed internally, and there’s some key things I think church leaders need to look for when getting ready to hire.
There’s the obvious competencies that she or he needs to have. They should have knowledge and comfort using technology, have creative tendencies and be pretty good at project management.
But these are just the competencies this person should have; they aren’t the gifts that make her a great communications director. Gifts have more to do with her ability to bring the skills of marketing and communication into the niche world of church and all its complexities.
So here it is, the complimentary qualities of a great church communications director.
Innovative & Responsible
It seems that every day a new technology is being pushed on the church. It promises to make everything better and more efficient. Emailing, writing sermons, graphic design, everything will be way better and easier. But often these technologies are half-baked, confusing, and end up causing more frustration than success.
People who are into technology and communications often pride themselves on being early adopters, meaning people who are quick to embrace and use a brand new technology. In the church, this can be a problem.
Because every time you adopt a new system or technology, that decision has far reaching implications; the most of important of which is how it will affect the dozens (or hundreds) of people who will be forced to adopt it as well.
So I think a good church communications director knows how to balance the impulse to innovate with the knowledge of what constant unrestrained innovation (i.e. change) can do to a group of volunteer leaders.
Good coms directors know they need to try out new systems, but they also need to test them before forcing them on a group of unsuspecting volunteers.
Creative & Humble
Most coms directors are chosen first for their creative gifts. But creativity can be a liability if the person creating isn’t also humble. A communications director’s first responsibility is to create something the church leadership loves and fits within its the vision, mission and values.
So definitely find a coms director who is creative, but make sure she or he is humble enough to create something that doesn’t fit just their own stylistic preferences but considers how things fit the culture of their church.
Strategic & Flexible
Pastors are typically visionary leaders, which is great. But visionary leaders are not typically detail people and so for a project manager like a coms director, this can be frustrating.
I’ve worked with TONS of pastors, most of the them wonderful leaders. But to get a strategic plan of action out of them so I can execute the project, that’s always tough.
I’ve found that I need to be the strategic thinker on the team. I need to get out of the visionary leader what they want, ask hard questions and try and get them to hold to a direction.
But then when, (not if) they change their mind, I need to be flexible. It’s easy to get frustrated when visionary leaders change their mind. A good coms director can go with the flow and adjust.
At the end of the day…
…you need to find someone who can balance the gifts of a high functioning communications director with the heart and church experience of a pastor.
Bring these two people together into one role and your church communications will likely get on the right track in no time.
Founder and Lead Catalyst for Clearpath.Church. Josh is ordained in the Reformed Church in America and is passionate about helping small churches find their voice. Josh lives with his family in San Luis Obispo on the Central Coast of California.