It’s 2010, and media is a huge part of the way we do church. With so many media venues, there is no way that one person has the knowledge or expertise to handle it all. Putting together a church media department is a necessary part of ministering effectively. How do you do it?
There is no easy answer. When it comes to media, the options are legion. How to put together a church media department depends on the size of the church, the nature of the worship, the budget, the involvement of the congregation, and a host of other issues. It depends even more on what types of media the church will be using. There are a lot of things that fall under the broad category of “media”—podcasting, blogs, email updates, electronic newsletters, web polls, PowerPoint sermons, lights, bulletin designs, flyers, advertisements, music recording, computer maintenance and repair, data projectors, music slides, CD duplication, Internet accounts, telephones, welcome videos, special event videos, sound quality, sermon recording, Twitter account, Facebook account, sermons on YouTube…the list goes on and on.
Media works itself into every facet of church life. Bringing some cohesiveness to it all seems like a fool’s errand. This post is not meant to answer all the questions, but rather to give some guiding structure in forming a church media department.
A church media department can begin with a single person—someone who is gifted with organizational abilities and familiar with technology. It doesn’t have to be a pastor or a full-time staff member. It doesn’t need to be a media guru with a high-tech background. It simply needs to be someone who volunteers for the position, is recognized by the church leadership, and who is assigned the task of bringing order to the church’s media. This person should take the following four steps in putting together a church media department.
1. Figure out what you have.
As a preliminary step, figure out what you have to work with. What types of media is the church using right now. What resources are available? How is the church using media? Is there any equipment, finances, or materials the church has that fit into the category of “media?” First, figure what you have to work with.
2. Figure out what you want.
The second step involves determining where you want the media department to go. Perhaps you can sketch a vision for the church media department, making sure that it fits in with and advances the mission of the church. Are there new areas that you want to go with media? Are there opportunities ahead? Write down a list of goals. Think as broadly as possible about the church media department. Whether you want to televise services, revamp the church website, eliminate costly hymnals, or simply spruce up the church bulletin, it’s important to know where you want to take the church’s media.
3. Figure out who you need.
Once you know what you have and where you want to go, it’s time to figure out the people you will need for the task. The church media department should not be a solo operation, no matter how qualified you may be. Instead, you should recruit willing and skilful volunteers to fill the various roles. Recruiting volunteers is one of the most difficult parts of church ministry, so you can expect to face some challenge at this juncture. The challenge comes both from finding qualified people and finding willing qualified people. Formulate a list of the ideal positions that you would like to have, and then look around to see who could fill those roles. It’s not about titles; it’s about fulfilling important tasks. If no one is qualified, then you have a new task of training people for these positions. If no one is willing, then you have a prayer request (and in the meantime, may need to adjust your expectations for the media department).
4. Figure out how to continue.
By the time you have determined your resources, your vision for the future, and the personnel to fill those positions, you are ready to sail. From here on, the task doesn’t get any easier. Media always changes, challenges will arise, volunteers sometimes quit, equipment regularly fails, and there is always the pursuit of improving and growing the church’s use of media..
Although there are no formulaic steps for putting together a church media department, there is always a path ahead. Following these four general guidelines will not solve all your media challenges. Hopefully, it will provide a matrix for you to enhance your church’s media ministry.