For any organization, big or small, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is the employees learning to communicate with one another. Most problems that occur within a church staff happen because people aren’t communicating well, the ball gets dropped on a big project, or someone is left waiting on a piece of work they were expecting to receive.
I’ve had the opportunity to work for multiple organizations with larger staffs, and two of those have been churches with multiple sites. Communication at places like these can be extra difficult because not only do you need to learn to communicate well with the people you work with, but those coworkers also happen to be at a different location from you, typically miles away. It takes careful attention and a lot of hard work to ensure problems don’t arise because of lack of communication.
Fortunately, there are some easy practices and convenient tools to help you in your attempt to communicate with your staff. Not every church will communicate the same way using the same tools. It will be important for your staff to talk together to figure out what works best in your church’s situation.
Clear Delineation of Duties
This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how often, in larger church staffs especially, the lines get blurred between who is supposed to be doing what. In my current congregation, I am the director of worship arts, which mostly means I pick out and lead the music for our contemporary worship service. However, because I have quite a bit of experience with videography and social media, I get pulled into a lot of those projects. This could cause trouble if we didn’t have clear expectations about who is responsible for what.
While delineating duties seems like an easy step, it is vital in ensuring that your staff functions properly. If your church’s secretary is supposed to create and produce the worship bulletins each week, ensure that he or she knows that and has all the necessary tools and information to get the job done.
Regular Staff Meetings
Having regular meetings is an especially helpful way for me to stay organized and keep communication open with other staff members. We have a larger staff of about thirty people (not counting our preschool staff) and we try to all get together every other week or so, just to make sure we are all on the same page.
In addition to our all-staff meeting, we have meetings with smaller groups of people. One of those meetings that I’m involved in is with our preaching team, which includes all the pastors and worship leaders for both our traditional and contemporary services. We get together every other week so we can plan services far in advance. My church’s staff also has other teams, like our faith formation team, outreach team, and many others, that meet regularly to ensure everyone stays on track and accomplishes the church’s goals.
Your church may not need all the same meetings mine does, because each church has different goals and needs.
Church360º Unite Groups
While I love meeting with people in person, it’s not always possible for everyone to be in the same place to work on the same thing at the same time. There are a lot of projects and things to prepare for in a church, and a majority of the time, you have your own part to play in getting all the work done. That’s where online tools like Church360º Unite become super handy.
With Church360º Unite, you can create an unlimited number of groups. These groups can be used to plan events, have discussions, share files, and do much more. For example, if you are a youth director and you have a team of volunteers, you can create a group for your youth ministry. That group can be open to the public to view, while certain pages can be kept accessible to only certain people you give permission to. You could have a discussion page for all of your youth and volunteers to log into, where they can participate in discussions and share struggles without that information being open to the public. You could also have an administration page that is accessible to only your staff and volunteers. On this page, you could share files between teachers and have discussions, or even plan out your next youth event. The ways to use the Church360º Unite groups are endless.
Microsoft Office 365
Another tool our staff uses a lot is the Microsoft Office 365 suite. While we use this suite for the typical tools many people do, such as for email and document sharing, we also utilize the Teams application quite a bit. We use Teams to plan out our worship schedule and services.
First, we create a channel for each Sunday, where we can begin collaborating on the services. Within each channel, we have five different columns: Pastors, Worship, Faith Formation, Discipleship, and Communication. In our Pastors column, our pastors add their sermon notes, discuss different directions they could take the Scripture passages, and upload their sermon slides for those of us creating the presentation. In our Worship column, our musicians collaborate by listing the music they plan to use for that service, that way I (as the music leader for our contemporary services) can see what our traditional worship leader is planning to use for music, and I can possibly draw inspiration from that music or perhaps even use the same music. In our Faith Formation column, our youth and family workers can post ideas for Bible studies and the children’s message. Our Discipleship column is mainly used to plan out ideas for our small groups. Lastly, the Communications team uploads graphics and announcements into their column for the rest of us to access.
We tend to use Teams as a hub for content and information within our staff. We can have discussions on there about upcoming events, series, and studies. We also use Teams to share documents and graphics between our multiple sites.
Slack is another great tool to assist with communication between large staffs and different sites. Slack is a communications platform that allows you to create private and group messages. You can also use it to share files with others and have video conferences. One of my favorite features in Slack is the ability to search through messages. I could create a group message for our contemporary worship team and share a video of a song we’re planning to do, as well as the chord chart, and months down the road when we decide to do that song again, I could search for it and pull that information back up when I need it.
One of the best ways I’ve seen Slack used is for planning an upcoming event. When we planned out the Lutheran Communicators Digital Conference, we used Slack to communicate with the groups of people involved in putting the conference together. While we were in different locations, some in St. Louis and some in Ann Arbor, it was easy to have discussions and bounce ideas off each other. As I was creating graphics for the conference, I could upload iterations to the Slack group to get the other people’s opinions. We also used the Slack channel as a place to discuss who the speakers were going to be, what they would be presenting, and how we would broadcast from their different locations.
Try New Things
Technology changes extremely rapidly these days. You may have a software solution that works pretty well for your staff, but as you explore new products, you may find that there is a tool that fits your needs much better. It can be tempting to stick with what you know, but you might miss out on something far better. Don’t be afraid to give something a shot. A lot of times, I’ll download some new type of software and play around with it for a few weeks before I mention it to anyone else. Your staff’s needs may change just as rapidly as software does too. Exploring what’s out there and how you could utilize it will keep your staff moving forward, all on the same page.
Are there some new software solutions you’ve been trying out? Share them in the comments below so other people can check them out too!
Join the conversation with Andrew as we live-chat with him about communicating with church coworkers!
Thursday, June 21 at 11:30 a.m. (CDT) on Facebook