Having a dedicated communication person on a church staff is still a relatively new thing. But in our world of 24/7 news cycles, social media, streaming video and smart phones it is becoming more and more of a necessity – and not just for the biggest churches.
Even many medium and smaller churches are starting to recognize that they need someone manning this post at all times, even if it’s a volunteer or a part time position at first. The challenge is that by and large these are unchartered waters for churches and highly qualified applicants can be few and far between. So how do you find that right fit for your church?
I want to give you 5 tips that can point you in the right direction and help you find exactly who you are looking for, and the answer may be closer than you think.
- Use A Search Firm – If you are a larger church looking for a full time position, you need to know that you don’t have to figure this out all on your own. There are several great search firms that specialize in helping churches find staff. Because finding people with church AND communication experience is rare, the pool of candidates is pretty thin so you need to cast your net as big and wide as possible. These search firms know exactly how to do that and do it well. Yes, it costs some money, but it more than pays for itself when you realize the amount of time and energy you can save by letting them do all of the heavy lifting. The other huge benefit is that they pre-qualify all of the candidates so you don’t have to waste time on anyone who isn’t a highly probable match for your church. Personally I recommend the Vanderbloemen Search Group above all others. I know them personally (full disclosure they are a client of mine) and they do incredible work.
- Traditional Search – Whether you are looking for full or part time, it never hurts to put the word out and see what you may turn up. I would encourage you to do this inside your church (bulletin, website, video announcements, social media) and also in your community/city (newspapers ads, job listings online, social media, etc…). We recently went through this process with one of our clients in a mid-size city (a few hundred thousand) who was looking to fill a part time communication position and we received a surprising number of applicants. Most of them were young adults not too far out of college who were in a full time job that paid the bills but wanted something part-time that would provide a creative outlet for them. In the end we found a perfect fit for the position, but we had to wade through a good number unqualified people to get there.
- Evaluate Your Staff – Some of the most overlooked resources are the ones you already have on the payroll. Before you start searching the world over to fill that new position take a hard look at your current staff to see if there might be anyone who has the interest (and the skill set) to own your communications process. Who gets the big picture of what you’re trying to do as a church? Who has good relationships with all of your staff? Who has the unusual mix of administration and creativity? We just went through this process with a client and found an amazing fit already there on their team. He didn’t have any major experience as a communications person, but he had all the raw material (the questions above) and the rest can be taught. In fact we’re mentoring him right now. In a few days I’ll be putting up a new post about the things that every new communication director needs to do so stay tuned for that.
- Stay At Home Parent – If you’re church has a lot of young families in it then there’s a good chance many of them have at least one stay at home parent. This can be a great place to find someone who has a degree and/or experience in the communication field and they may have some free time they could spend helping you in this area.
- Student – One of the most untapped resources in all of the church world is our student ministries. These kids have grown up in this age of communication and many have some incredible skills. The challenge here is not so much finding someone with the skills, but finding someone that you can count on. BUT, if you find someone with that potential, set them up to succeed with all the support and mentoring they need and see what kind of asset they can become.
Check back in over the next couple of days to see my two companion posts on this topic. The first will be all about what skills you need to look for in these candidates, and the next one will be all about the things they need to be doing as a communication director.