January 30, 2019

Calling Kids to Communications

In my work with congregations, I frequently find faith communities challenged by “communications.” Roles such as weekly e-news writer, monthly newsletter editor, or managing platforms of e-mail distribution, website and Facebook, etc. go unfilled. Or, if the priest is young and tech savvy, s/he just does it all – in addition to everything else.

When I come across an active communications ministry, I ask lots of questions, hoping to pass on ideas to others. That’s just what I did when I met the talented and dedicated Communications Commission Chair for St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Christina Connelly.

What got my attention about St. Alban’s was a video on its website and Facebook home. The video features several church members sharing their journeys and their discoveries of a loving congregation and denomination. Their statements reveal both the diversity and similarity of where they’ve been, what they have found and what they love about St. Alban’s.

Christina explained that she used her work and acting experiences – not to mention her lighting equipment and editing knowledge – to produce the video. What a gift she is to her church! I asked Christina what other churches might do to step up their communications, particularly the use of social media. She shared three good ideas.

First, think young. Christina says communications offers a great opportunity for young people and adults to share in ministry.

“The new iPhone’s camera is professional grade. Many teens have one and know how to use it. Some produce podcasts and how-to videos. They have the knowledge, but don’t know the church needs it. The church needs it, but may not think to ask young people,” Christina observes. Sure, you need adult supervision and editorial sensibility, but how exciting to pair adults and people in their teens and 20’s to do God’s work together.

Second, think affordable. Don’t be intimidated by technology or assume you must invest thousands of dollars to create a studio. Smart phones, tablets and lap tops are plenty capable. When it comes to lighting and sound needs, Christina says many public libraries loan video and audio production equipment. Even purchasing lights, tripods, microphones, etc., is far less expensive than it used to be. Ask those Gen-Xers, Millennials and teens to help you shop!

Third, think story-telling. Ongoing calendar notices are important, but communications ministry should include the joy sharing what people love about their church. Christina says St. Alban’s video has strengthened sense of family, identity, and pride. Adults and kids love to tell and to hear stories.

Come to think of it, kids are a common thread in all three ideas. If you’d like to boost your communications ministry, consider getting young people involved.