Enabling parish communication

Communications without budget or paid staff time is a massive challenge. It usually requires some sacrificial volunteering. People doing this go by a variety of titles, from social media manager to parish magazine editor. We call them all ’Communication Enablers’ because, well that’s what they do.

Those who serve as Communications Enablers have a missional opportunity to help reconcile people who’ve had no contact with church to God through what they write and create. God’s view on what we should say, how often we should speak, and where we should post is rarely wholly in tune with that of your favourite social platform. That causes a tension. One solution is to apply a test of the wisdom of a contribution – because Wisdom is a sure and truthful voice.

View the video for answers…

  • Who is a parish communications enabler?
  • Why is it a missional opportunity?
  • Do I have to keep posting the whole time?
  • What should be the formula for what to say?
  • Have I got a role in drawing people towards Christ?
  • Being a faithful disciple as well as a communicator…

Transcript

Hi, I’ve been invited to make some videos about doing church communication without much money or paid staff. I’m Ian Wyllie and I’ve been doing this for a few years now. At the moment I’m based in the parishes of Ampfield, Chilworth and North Baddesley and we form one benefice.

I’m going to start by talking about some principles. It seems right to do that. If you are way ahead of me be assured that the next few videos will get quite a lot more technical and will dig deep into one particular subject.

In different parts of the Diocese and in different parts of England I’ve found that communications enablers get called different things – magazine editor, parish comms rep, social media manager, communications volunteer. So there are lots of different names for people who do this.

What matters I think is not what you’re called but what you do, and why. Being a communications enabler is a missional opportunity. It’s a chance to get to speak every day in what we write, vlog and post, to people who aren’t in the orbit of your church yet. To draw them towards the light of Christ. I think that’s an amazing opportunity, and privilege.

Here’s my first principle: Speak when you have something to say – otherwise be silent. There’s this massive compulsion at the moment to keep posting, to keep vlogging to keep doing. We are, in the sight of God, human beings, not human doings as has often been observed. I think it’s really wise to speak when you have things to say and not when you don’t. For me the guide as to what we say and what we don’t is Wisdom. And For illustration of where I get my guidance from in large part it’s the first eight chapters of Proverbs, which is such a rich text on the nature of Wisdom and the role of Wisdom as a creative force in scripture.

My second principle I think is that we should be reconcilers as communications enablers. We should recognise that we are part of the ministry team’s ministry of reconciliation that what we write and post has the capability to reconcile people to God or indeed to drive them apart, and for my part I hope that what I write turns out to draw people towards the ‘order of salvation’ and not drive them away.

The third principle: I think it’s really important to be kind to yourself, and to be a good disciple yourself. It’s very easy to get driven up the wall by things to do when you are a volunteer. I can assure you that even in paid communications teams there is always a list longer than your arm of things that ‘we could do’. So as a volunteer recognise that it is not all going to get done. Sometimes you can enable other people to help you but a lot of the time you can’t so focus on your own discipleship because it’s very easy to get get burnt out doing this stuff and God does not want you, or me, to end up burnt out. I think that also goes a little bit for networking. There’s this massive profusion of communications and PR networking events at the moment. Some of them are Christian and some of them not, I’d encourage you to try a few out and then only to feel obliged to do the things which build you up, and which are actually helpful to your work.

Finally. Next week I think I am going to talk about A Church Near You and the way it’s developing from where I sit as a parish communicator, and how parishes that are part of a group, part of a benefice can make best use of the resource as it is now.

So thanks very much, it’s been fun, I’m Ian Wyllie

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