I get the fantastic privilege at our family’s church of hosting our live stream.
I also get to help build a communications team – this team eventually will lead our church in multiple areas of communications, but for this post, I’ll stay laser focused on hosting the Sunday morning livestream.
While livestream hosting could certainly be simply welcoming people, and keeping the convo rolling – that’s really just a small piece of it.
It’s so much more.
It’s knowing who is online and why.
Are they church members sick or traveling?
Are they online previewing to see if they might make an in-person visit?
Studies show that people “attend” an online church service — or otherwise engage with a church online — 5-6 times before visiting a church in person.
Your online presence is a big front door.
As an online hosts you get to know people — I’ve heard churches refer to people online as their online congregation.
And while nothing can compare to the in person experience, I do want the people online with me each week to know they are a valuable and integral part of our church. And I want them to know they have a real, in-person, online host, not a chatbot.
A host that cares for them.
For myself — and for any new host who comes on board — I go to great lengths to set up our livestream host tools.
Copy and paste ready prayer prompts for a host.
Names of people being recognized — for baptism or child dedication.
I even have a copy and paste ready host sign off note.
I have a spreadsheet of how many people each week are on each of our streaming platforms.
Why? People need Jesus and we have platforms available to us to share the gospel.
But then there’s production.
And I know just enough about production to know that I don’t know enough about production.
I know what a stream key is.
I know the difference between a link and an embed code.
I know the difference between real live and simulated live.
I know what an encoder is. And why we need one.
I know just enough.
But not enough.
We have a rock solid producer. She’s amazing!
But then there’s the hardware.
And the last two weeks our computer has died.
Shut down. Restart. Blue screen of death. No power. Done. Died. Dead.
No post service video editing. No app updates. No YouTube updates. No sermon clips.
No engaging with our people online.
No sharing the gospel outside the four walls of our church.
And yes, there is absolutely no substitute for the in-person experience.
As a leader, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d let people down.
I’d left my team unequipped.
The live-stream hosst: what do I do when the stream stops?
The post-service video editor: There is no video to edit. How can I help? What can I do?
I felt — in a small way — responsible for letting our viewers down.
I know it wasn’t my fault.
Believe me. I know this.
Logic tells me it’s not me.
But my heart hurts.
As a leader, when people are hurting, you take that hit.
Let’s be real— communications can be challenging. So how did I get here and why, despite the challenges, do I love it?
It goes back to my first loves – first impressions and next steps.
I love first impressions (or guest services). I’ve spent countless hours and personal funds on conferences, classes, and books on the subject.
I love next steps. Everyone is always growing. Daily, you’re becoming more like Christ or more like the world.
I love the process. I love to see people go from first time guest to leading a ministry. The Christian growth process never ceases to amaze me.
So there I was serving as a Next Steps Director at a local church and as part of that I was the Master Admin of our church management software.
This glorious tool that helped me see where people were. Sort of like the domino’s pizza tracker, but for people. From first time guest to serving. From serving to leading. From first time guest to small group. I ran weekly reports, personally followed up with people, met people for coffee, and did whatever I could to make sure people connected.
Then I began to hear stories and saw a theme. How did you hear about us?
Through Facebook. Through an internet search.
So I took a step back to look through their lens. And I began to see connections between the database and our website.
Parts of our database were publicly accessible. We could lock them down or use this to our advantage.
Because I had a background in marketing and design, I began to work closely with our marketing and graphic design team, and with our website volunteer.
I remember posting online one day that I was putting more thought into our website colors and fonts and I wasn’t sure what that made me. My friend replied, “that makes you a church communicator.”
Around the same time, I took my kids to a restaurant for lunch. It was the type of restaurant that has booths on one side and counter seating on the other.
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that every person at the counter was on their phone. Every one.
What content are they consuming? What are they looking at? And how do we get our church – and the Word of God in front of them?
I began to see the Internet as a mission field. I sought out books on church communications, joined Facebook groups, studied other church structures and cultures, and attended conferences. Usually – but not always – on my own time and my own dime.
It’s been crazy. Aggravating at times. Tears have flowed both from joy and sadness. It’s sometimes lonely, yet I’ve made my best friends.
A few weeks ago someone walked by the computer at church and stopped, “I didn’t even know you were there.”
It’s okay. Most people don’t.
On social media, we’re reaching thousands some weeks. Hundreds other weeks, but that’s the nature of communications.
I see heat maps, click rates, open rates, reach and share data, and other back end metrics.
And I know we’re doing more than marketing our events. We’re sharing the gospel and helping people connect with our church. We’re helping people take a step from an internet search to an in person connection.
Other times there are a few follow up conversations.
My most recent coaching call caused me not only to pause, but to slam the brakes.
With every sentence, it was like peeling back layers.
There were so many layers.
One thing that struck out was their desire to remain anonymous. The exact quote was, “I don’t want my pastor or church to look bad. I don’t want my pastor to feel guilty.”
Friend, don’t try to be a hero. You’re not. Jesus is. You’re not.
Your pastor should feel guilty for not seeing this. What kind of rock is he living under?
Okay – you definitely need some support and I think this is an important story to share, so let’s think about how I can help you.
There are a few different Facebook groups that allow people to post anonymously.
But won’t someone know who I am?
Yes, usually an admin or moderator.
Oh – I don’t think I want anyone to know.
But YOU need to know you’re not alone. Even if you feel alone in your own church, there are communities of people who can walk you through this. Need I remind you, that you contacted me through one of those communities?
And then the ask: Can you post anonymously on my behalf?
I’m not sure that’s wise.
Because this isn’t my story. We’re very similar, and I’ve walked this path. But this one is not my story.
But also – I don’t want to help you through this alone. Quite frankly, I need help, so give me a minute to think [pray]. And so in a few Facebook groups, I shared their story.
The response was overwhelming supportive.
But let’s rewind: “I don’t want my pastor or church to look bad. I don’t want my pastor to feel guilty.”
I thought back to something a friend posted a few months ago:
We must do a better job serving our teams and staff. I have another week of creatives telling me they are leaving their church position because of the leadership they are under. They are overworked, underappreciated and not heard or understood. They LOVE the church and want to keep serving the church but are burnt out.
Sadly I have a list of similar stories and one I have experienced myself.
This is not a expose to bring down but to bring a pain point that church staff does not feel like they have the ability to bring to their leaders.
What do you think we, as The Church, could do better to change this pattern? 👇👇
So – what can we do better to change this pattern? (I’ve addressed all of this in my previous post, but if you’re still not doing it, read it again.)
When scheduling volunteers – do not schedule people every week. Even your highest capacity leaders should not serve every week.
Promote teams from your platform during service. Don’t promote serving in general. Spend some time promoting specific teams. It’s VBS season. When was the last time you purposely gave a shout to your kids’ ministry?
Honor some of your volunteers during service. This one is personally a tough one for me. I don’t want to be recognized for something I’m supposed to be doing. Jesus has already died for me. My service is out of obedience to Him, not for recognition from my church. But – I do know this is a driving motivator for some people. It shouldn’t be, but it is. I’ve started a Volunteer of the Week social media post at my church. It’s helping to bring awareness to teams.
Give your highest capacity volunteers a church email. If you’re using a free email client or GSuite for non-profits, this won’t cost you a thing, but will give them some credibility in your church.
Put your highest capacity volunteers on your website. You may have a Children’s Director listed on your staff page, but if you’ve got service coaches or volunteer ministry assistant leaders, list them on an appropriate page. Again, this won’t cost you a thing, but can go a long way in helping a volunteer feel like what they’re doing matters.
Schedule a dinner with a volunteer in your ministry. Get to know them outside of church.
Don’t stack the schedule. Some volunteers (and even some staff members) can’t take the thought of another church event. Time away may be more valuable than time in.
Have a no fear policy. Volunteers and staff should feel like they can approach their Pastoral staff (supervisors/bosses) without fear of being fired or told they need to press in and trust Jesus. A high capacity volunteer or church staff member already knows that yet, burnout is real.
Listen, but don’t let go. A high capacity volunteer may need a few days off, but not out of the ministry permanently. The arm doesn’t always need amputated. Sometimes it just needs put in a sling or a cast and given time to heal.
Share your own story. Too many people are on the edge of burnout in silence and feel alone. Hearing your story could help someone who needs to hear it.
Enforce Sundays off. Entire Sundays. Social Media posts can be pre-scheduled. Other volunteers can be trained. Enforce Sundays off. Be mean about it.
Invest in your weakest teams. Healthy teams grow. People sign up to serve. People show up to serve. If you’ve got an unhealthy team, everyone has to work together to help it grow. Think about a hospital. The healthiest patients, need the least care. The most unhealthy, need life support. If you don’t invest in an unhealthy team’s growth, it will die.
Help me peel back some layers. How do you think churches can do better?
I’m looking at the perspective of this picture. Someone has climbed – presumably a long way up. It may be hot, it may be dry. To find relief from those conditions, the option is to jump. Jump into cool, refreshing water.
Would you do it? People do all the time. I’ve watched cliff divers when I’ve been on vacation. I don’t know if I could do it. What’s below the surface? Jagged rocks? Nope. I’m not that brave.
But a few weeks ago, I did it.
And the next day I was filled with fear. Terror. Gut-wrenching pain.
I cried. I sobbed.I couldn’t breathe.I couldn’t form words.
Had a made the biggest mistake of my life?
God said, “I got this.”
And He did.
I used to stress over composing weekly emails to over 1,000 people.
Now I’m copying and pasting HTML code for emails that reach over 7,000.
I ran social media pages that reached into the low thousands, with connected groups made up of hundreds of people.
I open my social media feeds now and see over 20,000 people in a group and many thousands following our page.
I used to get excited over social media notifications. Now I’ve turned them off. There are so many, I can’t do my job.
My written or simple Google Doc to-do list has become a collaborative task list in Asana, where I’m learning how to do a kanban board. (Can I edit an existing project or tasks and move them to a board or do I need to start over? Help!)
I dreamed of ways to impact a small geographical area. Now I realize I’m impacting the world.
I wished for a window office. Yesterday I spent all day working outside.
God instructs us to stay faithful in the small things and He will bless that. He keeps His promises.
I remind myself to stay humble. It’s not about me. It’s about Jesus. Getting people to a relationship with Him is the most important thing I will ever do. Ever.
It’s taken sacrifice. I’ve given up comfort and security and I’ve invested both my own time and money.
People have graciously allowed margin for error. I’ve surrounded myself with people who give grace and forgiveness, and who believe in me. When I fail, I’m going to fail fast, fail up, and fail cheap.
I’ve owned my mistakes. I’ve apologized. I won’t make the same mistake twice.
I’m staying connected to my local church and will serve her in whichever way best serves the leadership. She’s the bride of Christ. I need these people in my life.
I’ve learned this: every time God calls us TO something, He also calls us to leave something. It happens every day. You leave your house to go to work. You leave work to go home. You leave. You go.
I’m resurrecting the blog! Why? Because I genuinely like writing. I’m not necessarily super good at it. I change tenses, will occasionally have a typo, and write conversationally, rather than formally.
But a podcast reminded me to quit listening to “the jerk.”
“The jerk” is the voice in my head saying, “don’t do it.”
Will I only get one – or maybe a handful of readers? Probably yes.
Is it all stuff you could read somewhere else or that you’ve heard before? Also, probably yes.
But it’s my blog. I like writing, and so I am.
When we left off, I had written about what burnout might look like. It doesn’t always look like a moral failure or something earth-shatteringly dramatic. Sometimes it looks normal until…BAM!
Didn’t see that coming!
I saw some warning signs with my son this summer and then one night…BAM!
He collapsed due to fatigue and dehydration, passed out for 5-8 minutes and we were on our way to the ER.
He’s fine now, and we were able to squeeze in a few fun things (would you like to go to the hospital via ambulance or via ferry boat on a sunny day?)
Within 24-hours of him collapsing and being taken to the ER, he was back on stage.
So today, I’m not going to give you all of the warning signs of burnout. When I tell you “how” to recognize it, the first thing I’ll do is tell you to surround yourself with people who will speak truth into your life.
My youngest son sometimes says, “Mom, put down your phone and talk to your family.” So, I do.
My youngest daughter sits in the front seat next to me in the car and when I’m tempted to check my phone at while at a red light, she stops me.
I’ve ceded control of my phone while in the car to whoever is riding with me.
Those may seem like small, minor things. But to our family, they make a big difference.
We’ve been operating in this mode for a few months – I’ve seen a difference.
Let me stop here and say that I have read – and I believe – that balance is a myth. I’m either growing or dying. Healthy things grow. Inactivity is stagnation. Stagnant things are dying.
However, I do believe in sabbath rest.
So, here are the ways I get there – and I’m able to do it on my busiest days when my “to-do” list seems endless:
Surround yourself with the right people. I’ve already told you about my two youngest children. They are rock stars. My husband is awesome and so are my two oldest children. They tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear.
Set some hardline boundaries. I have about a 36 hour window each week that I absolutely will not work (at my primary job).
Limit the side hustles for a season. If you’re truly on the brink of burnout, limit the side hustles. Focus only on your primary job for awhile. Another tactic: don’t accept any side hustles without first talking to your boss about how it may impact your work. If you’re not rested or your family is suffering, your work suffers. So if your side hustles mean you’re not truly resting and investing in your family, they’ll eventually impact your work. Limit them if needed.
Look at hours, not days. If the thought of an entire day off seems like too much, take hours at a time.
Compartmentalize your duties. There are aspects of my job that I don’t love. It’s why it’s called, ‘work’ and it’s why they pay me. I do those things during office hours only. There are other aspects of my job that I love. They are genuinely fun. Sometimes more fun than whatever sport my fantastic family is watching on t.v.. I’ll do those things at home. For fun.
Add rest to your “to-do” list. Just yesterday, I added ‘read a book,’ and ‘take a nap’ to my to-do list.
Use YouVersion. I’m in a YouVersion devotional with a few friends. Do this regularly to make sure you stay in God’s word.
Make friends outside of church. Some of my best friends do not attend our church. Some of them work for other churches, some have other careers.
Is it your church or your job? Before I started working at our church, I told my boss that my family had to be “all in.” We visited and they loved it from the start. My husband said, “THAT was a breath of fresh air.” My kids loved it, too. I know that even if I didn’t work there, our family would attend there and I’d likely serve the church by doing exactly what I’m doing now. If it’s only a job to you, I’ll be blunt: consider looking for another job.
Remember the words of Romans 8:28. God works all things for good. Not some things. All things. Even crazy schedules and long to-do lists.
If you’re anything like me, the to-do list can grow out of control sometimes. It’s a challenge to keep it under control. But I also know God has called me to this crazy thing called “ministry” and I cannot imagine doing anything other than what I do.
It’s a weird cycle. I’m not defined by what I do – I know that first and foremost I’m a child of God. Don’t miss that. But I also know how God has designed me and wired me. I know my purpose.
I also know I’m in it for the long-haul, not the short-term so I have to find ways and times to rest, invest in my own relationship with God, and stay healthy, without falling into laziness or making excuses for things not getting done.
Hopefully this has helped you – even a little bit – if you’re struggling with boundaries or burn-out, send me a message. I’d love to talk to you.
For now, I’m preparing for next week and beyond.
New content coming each week: process, progress, assimilation, sustainability, forms, church management software, family, and whatever else comes to mind.
A few months ago I had a chance to record a video for the That Church Summit. I prepared my content and knew exactly what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it.
Unfortunately, the day came to record the video and I had a cold. A runny nose, scratchy throat, eyes watering cold. It also happened to be a cold day. A really cold day. And we were filming in a room that had the heat turned down. Something about bright lights, camera and recording equipment, and proper temperatures. Evidently recording equipment and heat aren’t necessarily friends.
If you happened to catch my video – I apologize. I’m much better at writing than I am at video delivery.
With that being said, I thought I’d give you the written version of my one and only That CC appearance.
My topic was The Administrative Role and Communications.
Some people are surprised to know that I’m our Lead Pastor’s Executive Assistant. Some of my counterparts at other churches have expressed surprise that I’m not the Communications Director. One person said he thought I was full-time in communications.
As the Executive Assistant, I get to play a strong role in helping our Pastor with our web site, social media, graphic design, and database management.
You may have a similar official title: administrative assistant, ministry assistant, or church secretary. And you may also have been handed the responsibility of maintaining the web site, handling social media, or graphic design.
Here’s a few things that have helped me in my position and I hope they will help you as well.
The first thing to remember is that everything communicates. Whether it’s creating a web site landing page, a postcard to promote an event, or the weekly bulletin, it’s form of communication in your church. You are communicating something to someone. Even answering your church phone is a form of church communication.
DON’T DO IT ALONE
Don’t try to be an expert at everything at first – or ever. One of my favorite venn diagrams is made of three circles. The circles are labeled: affinity, ability, and affirmation. Where those three meet is your sweet spot. For example: I’ve been told that I’m good with kids (affirmation). I know I have the ability to care for children (all four of mine are still living). I don’t particularly love serving in children’s ministry (no affinity).
When it comes to communications, I love (affinity) working with the database and creating social media content. I’ve been told I’m good at both (affirmation), and I have the skill to do what I need to do (ability). Our Lead Pastor is smart (totally hope he’s reading right now…) and allows me time to stay focused in these areas.
I’m blessed to have some very high capacity volunteers that serve our church in areas of web content and development, Sunday morning production, and photography.
As you venture into communication, you’re likely to have a lot of questions (I took classes for what I do and I still found myself using Google to look up “pixels to inches converter.” You might even be searching: “what are pixels.” Know this: that is okay. There is no such thing as a bad question. Ever.
Look at what other churches in your area are doing. Reach out to their administrative and communications departments and schedule a time to pick their brains over coffee.
Find a design you like and challenge yourself to copy it.
INVEST IN YOURSELF
You may need to set aside time for training and – let’s be real – this training may need to be on your own time and your own dime.
Give up the Starbucks. Take a few classes online or at a local community college, pay to join a premium Facebook group.
If your church has it in the budget, that’s fantastic. If not, you may need to make an investment.
You’re learning a new skill – you are worth it!
WHAT ARE YOU COMMUNICATING?
Remember that everything communicates rule?
What and how you communicate is very important.
Watch your first impressions team (Your guests are probably watching you online before coming for a first visit. Make sure you’re giving an accurate representation of who you are).
Be engaging with your community. Your online presence is more than event promotion. We partnered with a local coffee shop to give teachers free coffee on the first day of school. We frequently do give-aways for $10 gift cards for coffee or pizza.
Show people who you are; not just what you do. Give glimpses into the personal lives of staff members and volunteers.
Sometimes non-professional videos are better than professional videos. We’ve gotten some of our highest engagement when I’ve taken rough cell phone video of things happening in the office.
Develop a brand/style guide. Giving volunteers clear parameters of what’s expected when it comes to brand and style will help avoid any confusion.
Use a communications form for events and announcements. A form is a good way for ministry leaders to put all of their thoughts in one place. You can make sure submitted forms are available to your team. It saves the ministry leaders’ and your valuable time. Fifteen minutes to fill out a form takes less time than fifteen back-and-forth emails, sometimes over the course of fifteen days.
Use your administrative tools to provide data and metrics. Ministry leaders love their ministry. Your children’s leaders love children’s events and think they are the most important things happening in the life of the church. Your men’s ministry leaders love men’s ministry events and think they are the most important things happening in the life of the church. Your women’s ministry leaders? Yes, them too! It’s what makes them good at and suited for what they do! With your administrative tools, you are in a unique position to provide the data that will help them best reach their target audience.
MAKE IT EASY
Structure everything you do from the outside in. Children’s check-in on Sunday morning should be easy. All event registrations should be viewed through the lens of someone who has never been to a church. Sure, it may take some extra work on your part, but it’s worth it when you begin to see those connections. Make sure your web site is clear and easy to navigate. Ask your counterparts at other churches to audit it for you every once in a while and be open to their suggestions.
THE MAIN EVENT
While all ministries and events are important, the most important thing you will do is set up your Lead Pastor for success. People may connect through another ministry or event, but all avenues lead to your main service – the auditorium or sanctuary – ‘the big room.’ Everything you do has to reflect your Pastor’s communication style.
If your Lead Pastor wears a three-piece suit, preaches from the King James Version, and your church is liturgical, your online presence should reflect that.
If your Lead Pastor is a little more relaxed, casual in his delivery, and inserts jokes into his sermons, your online presence should reflect that.
I have said it before, but it bears repeating: people are watching you online – your web site and social media channels – before visiting. Make sure your online communications accurately reflect what they will see and hear at your church.
SET UP EVERYONE ELSE FOR SUCCESS
In your administrative role, you are always setting up other people for success. This means that as your church grows, you may continue to fill an administrative role, while someone else steps into a more prominent communications role – or you may move into a more prominent communications role while someone else fills your current administrative role.
I want to stop here and ask you to read two verses:
Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. As you carefully observe the outcome of their lives, imitate their faith. – Hebrews 13:7 (CSB)
Obey your leaders[a] and submit to them, since they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account, so that they can do this with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you. – Hebrews 13:17 (CSB)
Our only call is to observe our spiritual leaders, imitate their faith, and obey them. Your Lead Pastor and your senior leadership team have a great weight on their shoulders as they lead the church. In an administrative role – even in some communications roles – you may not have the same authority of decision-making that falls on their shoulders. Your only call is to obey their instruction.
As you continue to balance your roles, make it easier for others to help you by:
Centralizing file access by using Google Drive or Dropbox.
Sharing passwords to stock photo or digital asset sites.
Saving documents as .pdf’s for easy printing (not everyone has access to or is familiar with Adobe software).
You are not just setting up the next person for success, you are setting up the next generation for success. Because you get to play a small part in building the Church (notice the capital ‘C’) for generations to come.
You are not just communicating to connect people to your church, you are communicating to connect people to a relationship with Jesus.
As we’ve established, I love helping people take their next steps. Just yesterday – even after oral surgery – I was able to help someone find a small group and an area of service. It was energizing – even during the time of day that the oral surgeon told me I’d be tired!
But even with that being said, my comfort zone still falls squarely behind a computer screen. When dealing with people, I prefer email or text.
Gratefully, our Lead Pastor sometimes understands how my brain is wired and has allowed me to serve in a capacity that helps people take their next steps. At our church, we call it the “What’s Next” desk. It’s in a perfect place – out of the way, not obstructing traffic flow, and in a place where guests can stop by just before leaving the building.
For some special events, we might ask guests to stop by What’s Next and find out about our church.
For our last major event, we relocated the What’s Next desk to another part of the lobby (it’s on wheels). It was still off to the side – visible, but not obnoxiously in the way.
For Christmas Eve, we’ve had a donation of some cool coffee mugs, filled with candy and other treats. We’ll ask people to stop by What’s Next, sign our digital guestbook, and then we’ll draw names for some give-aways.
This is where it gets interesting.
I asked our Director of Worship Ministries where he’d like the What’s Next desk on Christmas Eve? His answer: Centrally located in the lobby.
Also, could you position it so that people can’t get behind it?
I’m pretty sure he hasn’t thought that through.
Or has he?
Because if people can’t get behind it…
and I’m a person…
then logic tells me that I cannot be behind it.
I came home and whined to my kids.
“People are trying to convince me that I’m a people person.”
I should also remind them that I pay their car insurance and their cell phone bills.
Would that make me a people person?
I do love helping people take their next steps.
As I pray, God is revealing that He’s using some special people (there’s that word again!) to help me take mine.
Our area is facing a major hurricane in a few days. Stores are sold out of bottled water, bread, and canned goods.
Yet, as my daughter pointed out, there was plenty of dry shampoo.
People who would normally survive on coffee and Coca-Cola are buying enough bottled water to feed a small church plant, but they are not buying dry shampoo.
So, our only assumption is that they are using all that bottled water to wash their hair.
I’ve seen churches put their church management software to good use during times like these.
If you’re tracking gifts, talents, or abilities, and you have customized your options as needed, you could potentially run a report on all people who have the ability to board windows or use chainsaws.
I’ve seen churches use their forms feature to give people a way to communicate needs. I’ve seen them use their needs feature to organize help.
Today, though, I want to talk about what we should expect from the local church during this time.
If you’re a church member, or even if you haven’t been to church in years, you may have expectations of the church.
They should be a shelter.
They should provide food.
They should provide water.
That’s not the role of the church.
The role of the church is to connect you to Jesus.
While, many churches have great facilities to shelter people, there are just as many with no kitchens, no showers, and facilities that would make sheltering less than ideal.
What churches should do is offer prayer. They should offer to tell you about a God who will sustain you. And, if able, directions to the nearest official county shelters.
County officials are paid to monitor weather and road conditions.
Hospital employees get paid to treat your medical conditions.
Church employees get paid to help you know Jesus – and make sure there’s soap and toilet paper in the bathrooms. But mostly to help you know Jesus.
Churches should use their social media channels to provide ways for you to connect with Jesus and provide quick links to official news sources.
I have a friend who works for our city government. I’ve been told that their priorities for power restoration are official shelters, hospitals, and police and fire stations. Churches aren’t on that list.
It’s important to realize that church employees also have homes (despite popular belief, we don’t live at the church), and that they may not have power or ability to communicate.
But it’s also important to realize that church employees are probably losing sleep. Because it’s more than a job – it’s a calling. A calling to serve and love people.
Your local church may look different during a disaster. Church leaders may not be able to navigate flooded roads. Downed power lines may make it impossible to print a bulletin or follow normal communication channels. A few years ago, a hurricane hit our region and several churches were closed the following Sunday morning. The churches that were open operated with “skeleton crews” and limited resources, but it didn’t stop them from sharing The Gospel.
We’ll weather this storm. The effects won’t last forever.
God is steady and unchanging.
And the church will do what it takes to give you what you need. You need Jesus.
“You’re not hanging on a cross.” I have a friend who says that to me any time I decide to whine or complain. She reminds me that I’m not hanging on a cross and that somebody did hang on a cross. For me.
I’ve used her exact words with other people. Life sucks sometimes. Get over it. You’re not hanging on a cross.
Earlier this week, I called a friend of mine who lives in another state. It had been way too long since our last phone conversation. She reminded me of a lesson she and her husband (an Executive Pastor) learned several years ago: there’s a difference between being called to ministry and working for a ministry.
Today was a day I was grateful for these friends. And my family.
Ministry isn’t easy.
You’ll lose sleep, cry more than you thought possible, and sacrifice times with your family. Times like nights, weekends, holidays, major holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, sporting events, and Sunday afternoons.
You’ll have minor wins – like finding a way for your church to get some free custom printed mugs.
You’ll have setbacks – like forgetting to save three hours worth of work on a major graphic design project. (Ask me how I know?)
You’ll make mistakes. And you’ll realize that there are some people who equate the church with Jesus in such a way that when the church makes a mistake they think Jesus makes mistakes.
Then you’ll lose more sleep, cry more, and find something else to sacrifice – all because Jesus is perfect. And your goal is to be more like Him.
I have a great job. I have an awesome boss. I get to be a part of helping people find and follow Jesus and I get paid to do it.
My workload is heavy right now and I’ve got stuff [still] on my to-do list from last weeklast month four months ago. Take my neurotic obsession with our church management software and website content and development, combine it with my goal of perfection, and the result is my current to-do list. Make that an ‘overdue’ list.
And, yet, Sunday comes.
Every. Single. Week.
And as much as I try to get ahead, I find myself printing bulletins later in the week.
So there I was today – bulletins not printed, trying to pull information and correct image sizes for some other communications assets – and I get a call. A sick kid. My cell phone rang. My daughter’s voice on the other end, “Mom…” A. Sick. Kid.
Give me credit. I didn’t cry. I didn’t scream. I didn’t throw anything. I did read Exodus 20:13.
I did email my boss.
People over process.
People. Over. Process.
We’ve been talking a lot this week about processes and what needs to change to meet the needs of a growing church.
I wrote: we need to work on changing some processes because I don’t ever – ever – want to have to choose between a sick kid and printing bulletins.
I called my husband, who fortunately had enough margin and flexibility in his schedule to work from home.
In ministry you’ll lose sleep, cry, and make sacrifices.
But you’ll also realize how blessed you are to have a family and friends.
And at the end of a difficult dayweek four months, you’ll be thankful that you’re not hanging on a cross, and that you’ve been called to ministry to help people know the one who already did: Jesus.
Most people around me have learned that by vocal inflection, that phrase can mean different things.
It really is fine.
It’s not fine, but we’ll deal with it [later].
It’s not that great, but good enough.
And I also remind people that God is working, even when we are not.
Nowhere in the Bible are we instructed to have a fully functioning web site or award-winning social media. If a ministry doesn’t get promoted, God will still continue to work in and through that ministry.
But the Bible does instruct us to share His story, to tell others of His greatness, to do our work with excellence – as if working for Him, and to use the gifts, talents, and abilities He gave us to serve, honor, glorify, and point others to Him. (That was one sentence, folks!)
So at the end of the day, even when it isn’t really fine, it is fine. Because we serve a God that is greater than anything that’s not fine.
But what about when it isn’t fine?
Last week, I edited a response form.
I realized after a few edits that it really needed to be archived and I needed to create a new form.
Because of my knowledge oflove forneurotic obsession with our church management software, our web site, and other communication channels, creating a form is no small task.
What’s the header image?
What are the automations?
Is it connected to a group or event?
Who gets notifications?
Who are the form managers?
Is this promoted anywhere?
Is it connected to a button on the web site?
Do we need a url redirect?
Is the information correct on announcement slides? In the bulletin?
So, after the form was created, checked, double checked, and linked to our web site, I sent the final product to one of our Elders.
He asked for one update to the web site and said the form was good to go.
Good. To. Go.
On Sundays I get to serve at our “What’s Next” desk. (Your church may call it “Next Steps.”) It’s a place where our guests can register for upcoming events, connect with a small group or ministry team leader, or find out more information about something they saw or read about.
We have three tablets which display quick links to our current response and sign up forms.
The Elder who I had worked with this week walked over and began scrolling through the forms.
It wasn’t there.
A simple setting in Church Community Builder: the box next to ‘display on list of forms’ had not been checked.
I apologized. I could not believe that I had overlooked that last step.
And he looked at me and said, “it’s fine.”
No. It’s not fine.
I asked him to send a text or email to remind me to make the correction.
I decided then and there to stop saying, “it’s fine” when it really isn’t.
It’s time to tackle issues, address problems, fix things that are broken, and work better, smarter, and harder today than we did yesterday.
The next time you hear me say, “it’s fine,” it really will be.