February 29, 2012

Communication is mission: Connection

Several years ago, knitting ministries were more novel than ubiquitous.

I thought the ministry would make an interesting story, so I spent time with a few churches that had knitting groups and wrote a feature for the diocesan newspaper. The article included a how-to-guide for starting a knitting ministry, prayers for blessing the shawls and a link to step-by-step shawl instructions on the diocesan website.

You never know when something you write will spark, but for some reason, this article did. Within six months, half of the congregations in the diocese had launched a knitting ministry. In the years since, the churches have placed this ministry into their local contexts: some river churches knit for barge workers, suburban churches create baby blankets and urban groups work on scarves for the homeless.

Communication is mission. It is about connecting people to each other, about sharing experiences and good ideas and providing tools and encouragement to launch similar, effective ministries.

When the economy started slipping a couple of years ago, we tried to figure out what we could do with communications to support churches and individuals. Our diocesan website receives about 8,000 unique visitors a month. The electronic newsletter – e-Connections – lands in the e-mail inboxes of about 6,000 people. We realized we had a wonderful forum for trying to connect people with jobs.

We established a job network blog. We invited individuals to submit a brief resume along with contact information. And we invited employers and others to post job openings. A few churches picked up the baton and began job networking support groups, helping people with job-hunting skills as well as offering pastoral support. At least three people found jobs through the diocesan network.   

Communication is mission.

When we subvert communication to an administration-only function, we lose sight of its true purpose. Sure, lots of a communicator’s time is spent updating calendars and typing in announcements, but if we allow communication to live into its potential, then it becomes a powerful tool for building community and creating connections that can transform lives.

I hope other people connected with jobs through this network. But even if just three people found employment with this tool, then I consider those changed lives a rousing success.

Communication is mission.

What are your stories? How is the ministry of communication making a difference in your communities?