Improving Your Church Communications Efforts While Working Remotely
Working remotely can simultaneously be a blessing and a curse.
Many people love the flexibility of working from home and are actually able to be more productive. However, the opportunity to stay inside and wear sweatpants all day comes with its own set of challenges and frustrations.
Church communicators are not immune from these remote work challenges. No doubt, parts of your job have become more manageable, while others have become more complex. If you lead a creative team, that introduces another set of unique challenges.
So how do you make the most of your church communication efforts while working remotely? Here are some strategies to still communicate effectively even when not physically working from your church building.
Audit your online platforms
Working from home has probably given you a fresh perspective. It’s forced you to change a few things about how you work and communicate with your team. That’s perhaps a bit stressful, but it can also be an opportunity for growth.
Use this slightly different perspective to look at all of your church’s online platforms with fresh eyes. Pretend like you’re a potential visitor and scroll through your website or social media. What questions do you have? What things could be improved?
Audits like this are something you should be doing already, but working from home gives you a new reason to spend time diving deeper, especially since these digital platforms are even more critical than ever before.
Keep your website updated
A church website has always been an essential piece of the communications equation. By most measures, it’s the hub of your online communication efforts. Now that churches have fewer analog and physical means of communication, your website has increased relevance.
Focus your time regularly to ensure that your website is updated. Check that the information is accurate. Test to confirm that the site is functioning correctly. Back the site up, if you aren’t already doing so, in case something disastrous were to happen.
Your congregation is relying on your website (among other things) to stay up to date on the church. If you’re not physically in the church building, treat your website like your new virtual home base. Do what you can daily to care for and make sure that this property is maintained.
Use social media to build community
We’ve been discussing the power of social media to build online communities since long before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the new era of social distancing means that people rely on social media for the community that is increasingly lacking in their lives.
It’s essential to use social channels to share updates about your church. However, what people need now is human interaction—at least as much as they can get over a wifi connection.
Shift your social media content from information to more opportunities to engage. Ask questions. Record videos of staff and volunteers sharing messages of encouragement. Host live chats about relevant subjects. Form groups that can get people connected. Foster conversations between people at your church and town.
Stay in touch with your team
Just like everything else, internal communication was always important. It’s just even more important (and potentially difficult) when working remotely. That’s not to say that keeping on the same page with your team is impossible; it just takes intentionality and proper systems.
From a systems standpoint, know what channels you need to use for each kind of communication. There are so many virtual communication tools at your disposal. But they’re each useless if the person you’re trying to reach doesn’t get the message. Take the time to decide as a team when each of these messages is appropriate: email, phone call, video call, chat, and text message.
Once you have good systems in place, be intentional about staying connected to your team members. Don’t just wait until you need something from them to reach out. Ask how they’re doing. Check-in with them personally. See how you can help them. It will be good for them, for you, and the entire team culture.
Those personal touchpoints come more naturally when you’re physically in an office space together. They can still happen in a remote environment, but they take a bit of extra effort.
Don't neglect your own mental health
You’re no doubt working hard to make sure your church can still get its message out despite the challenges we’re all facing. But don’t neglect to take care of yourself amidst all of that work.
Take some time to focus on your mental health. Don’t allow yourself to burn out. Allowing yourself to rest and rejuvenate will keep you going for longer. You can’t do God’s work if you force yourself to the point where you quit or hate your job.
Find help when you need it. Be sure to take occasional breaks. It’s easier to overwork yourself when you’re not in the office. Remind yourself that these circumstances are still challenging. Keep doing your best and keep your head up.