Adapting to Change

Bryan Haley

Communicators quickly adapt to changing methods, learn new ways of communicating, and constantly utilize new technologies and tools. So how do you remain nimble enough to quickly adapt? We’re talking about adapting to change in today’s episode.

Show Notes

Summary

The role of church communicator is ever-changing. Communicators are quickly learning new ways of communicating all the time. So how do you remain nimble enough to quickly adapt? We’re talking about adapting to change in today’s episode.

Today's guest

Mindy Lawyer | Email Mindy
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Transcript

Jeanette:

Have you noticed that church communications is seemingly always changing? Especially in light of the pandemic, communicators have had to quickly adapt to changing methods, learn new ways of communicating, utilizing new technologies and tools, et cetera, et cetera. So how do you remain nimble enough to quickly adapt to changing needs and tools? When is it most important to adapt? And when should you remain steady? We're talking about adapting to change on today's episode.

Bryan:

Hey, church communicator. Welcome to the Church Juice podcast. I'm Bryan Haley, the producer of Church Juice, and I'm joined as always by my awesome cohost, Jeanette Yates. We're here energizing church communications.

Jeanette:

That's right, we are Bryan. Today I'm so excited to welcome, I feel like my new best friend already, Mindy Lawyer. She is the volunteer Jack of all trades, also known as the executive assistant at Bowling Green First Church of the Nazarene. Hi, Mindy.

Mindy:

Hello, Bryan and Jeanette. Nice to be here. Thank you for inviting me.

Bryan:

Welcome to the show. Why don't you take just a minute here, introduce yourself, introduce your church, your role and tell us what you love about Kentucky.

Mindy:

I'll give you a little bit of a backstory. My background is 15 years executive assistant. I worked for some pretty large companies, corporations, Fortune 500. When COVID hit, my job was also affected. I was commuting to Nashville every day. That's about an hour and a half drive every day. Just so you know. The traffic, it's horrible. My position was affected. Unfortunately, I felt the need to still use my skillsets. At the time, we did not have an administrative person at our church to do the social media, to do the communications. I felt that that was my calling to throw myself into that position and do what I needed to do to help our community, help our church, help our congregation. Like you said, we are Bowling Green First Church of the Nazarene. We are located, like I said, an hour from Nashville. All the Corvettes in the world are built right here in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

Jeanette:

Wow!

Bryan:

And there's even a museum.

Mindy:

It is a museum. Yes. A little fun fact about Bowling Green. We have a lot of Corvettes in Bowling Green. Before COVID hit, we had a congregation of about 125 average, 130. We are inching back up to that each week. Gradually, we're getting more and more. We're averaging around 80, 85 now. But my role at Bowling Green for the last, what, 16 months now, has been anything administrative. Just a volunteer role, social media, communications, technology, Jack of all trades.

Bryan:

That's really great.

Jeanette:

Well, I love that. I think whether you started working or volunteering at your church during the pandemic like you did, or whether you have been working at a church for years, I think everybody can pretty much just call themselves a Jack of all trades that is doing communications, because it's not just one thing or one skill set, for sure. You've talked about how you adapted. Your position was messed up during the pandemic. You adapted by volunteering at your church and bringing your skillset to them, which I think is wonderful. I'm sure your church was very thankful. But what are some ways that you and your church has needed to adapt over the year? So you came in. How much weight did that put on you as the volunteer communicator? What ways did your church need to adapt over the last year? And how did that affect you?

Mindy:

That's a great question. Fortunately, our church went through a pretty large remodel about seven years ago. We had the technology in place. No one knew how to use it. We had the cameras on the wall. We had the technology in place. My husband is also our worship leader. And that was on his list to figure out. It was at the bottom of the list. We had other things to work on before the pandemic. Obviously, when the pandemic hit, it got moved to the very top of the list. We had a crash course in technology. We actually had a young lady in our congregation who did Facebook Live on her phone every Sunday prior to the pandemic. We already had an online presence, but we had a lot of hearing-impaired individuals. They requested lyrics online. We felt like this is an opportunity for us to just, we need to know how to do this immediately.

Mindy:

So we reached out to several churches in our community who were very skilled in this. They came. We ordered pieces from Best Buy. We borrowed from this church. We borrowed from this church. And we got the connection pieces available to make it happen. It was stressful, I will say. A lot of things went on behind the scenes that, a lot of glitches, learning to launch Facebook, how to use the [ATEM 00:10:46]. We were able to pivot and make it happen and just being able to learn and not get frustrated and just pivot and be open to learning new opportunities, whether it's YouTube, Facebook, your ATEM, just being able to learn those opportunities. There's going to be setbacks. Just use that as a learning opportunity and move on.

Bryan:

Learning is obviously a big part of your role in leading communications and trying to figure things out as you go, I'm sure, but also staying on top of changing technology and all the trends. Over the last year, things have changed obviously, pretty dramatically. But we also realize, especially, I can imagine that you can relate to this as a volunteer, that time is limited, right? How do you carve out time to learn ways that you want to communicate to your church or with your church? What does that look like for you?

Mindy:

That's a great question. Fortunately, I have a 15 year old. He knows his technology a little bit. But we have several teenagers in our church as well. We relied on them as well. But for me, it was important to stay on top of outreach, communication, what's happening in our community. The ways that I learned was attending a webinar each week. That was my goal, is to attend, whether it's through Church Juice, Thom Rainer. There's so many resources online. And that was my goal, every week to attend a webinar. Maybe there was two webinars I attended. But that was my goal. If it was something that I felt our church needed to know, I disseminated it to our board, to our staff, to our children's leader, to our youth leader.

Mindy:

And so, the community, I felt like, in the very beginning, we all probably felt like we were on an island by ourselves. Attending these webinars, I quickly realized that I wasn't on an island by myself. That there was a community. I hate saying this, but we were in the same boat. We heard that cliche a lot. But there was a community out there. I attended the webinars as much as I could. I learned so much from those.

Bryan:

Well, and you also mentioned earlier that you guys talked with or borrowed from other churches. What kind of community did that lean to for your physical community? Is that still existing? What does that look like?

Mindy:

It is! It's amazing. My husband, like I said, he was fairly new in the worship leader role. When he reached out to this other church, he has been now been able to do a mentorship with that worship leader. He met with him a month ago, as a matter of fact. So just being able to network with other churches in our community, that's in our neighborhood, a mile away. We're going to do some partnership with those churches down the road. Let's do a partnership food truck festival. Let's just partner together. We don't have to be this church here, this church there. We can be a partner. We have met some really fantastic people in Bowling Green through this process. Unfortunately, through this process. It's opened up quite a few doors to being able to network.

Jeanette:

Well, that's amazing. I just love that y'all are planning ahead for ways that y'all can collaborate to serve your community. That's wonderful. But you mentioned learning a lot and getting a lot of information. As we all remember, things last year were just changing at a rapid pace. With that learning and changing comes a lot of trying things that maybe don't always work, so trial and error. I wonder if you have an example of, so we can all know that we're all in the same boat, Mindy, did you have anything that you tried or your church tried that didn't work? And what did you learn from that?

Mindy:

Fortunately, we have a really great team at Bowling Green First Church of the Nazarene. We worked really, really well together. And we still do, obviously. The technology is just a bear. We're still learning. Things aren't always going to go well and just being able to stay positive. I really can't pinpoint a certain issue that we had and how we learned. There was many issues, in general, I will say, we had some issues with. One thing that we learned immediately, that we realized immediately, is that we needed high-speed internet. We had internet. We didn't have high-speed internet. We needed that for uploads and downloads. Once we were able to get high-speed internet, then we were able to go live. Well, that happened to be Easter Sunday. Everybody in the world's bandwidth was sucked out.

Mindy:

So just when you think you have high-speed internet, you have everything worked out, the ATEM's working right, the Facebook, we're Facebook Live, we go and we look at the recording and it's dragging. We're like, "What did we do wrong?" And then we reach out to your community and everybody else's services were dragging. And we're like, "Oh, okay, this is Easter. That's why." So you're going to get frustrated. You're going to feel like a failure at times. But every opportunity is a learning opportunity.

Mindy:

We have a great staff. We have a great pastor. We're all learning as we go. Everything that we have touched in the past 16 months has practically been new. Change the technology, advances, we're all learning. They've all been incredibly supportive. Even our congregation who watches online, they've been exceptionally gracious to us and having grace towards us. We worked out a lot of issues, just being able to be positive through it and pivot through changes and continue to learn. My goodness, we are still learning.

Bryan:

Absolutely. On that note, can you name one thing, something that you've learned through the pandemic as a communicator, I should say?

Mindy:

Just being able to pivot on change. We have a staff member who actually works at the Health Department. I reached out to her quite a few times for CDC guidelines. This is what our local state governments just said, but tell me what this really means. And just being able to communicate a strategy that is relatable to our congregation and be clear and concise. I've heard a saying that a real communication specialist, that it takes 16 times to communicate something to your organization for them to understand it thoroughly. You feel like you're repeating yourself, repeating yourself, but communication is key and just being consistent.

Jeanette:

I know people that do the worship leading. They talk about just about the time they're getting tired of singing the song is when the congregation finally knows what it is and can sing along with them. I think it's kind of the same thing. You feel like, as a church communicator, this has been everywhere for so long. How can people not know about it? And that's about the time that they see it. You've talked about this a little bit. We've talked about how the pandemic caused church communication to change somewhat. But how do you think your church communications has changed permanently? What are some things that changed during the pandemic that maybe you're going to carry on with, now that things are starting to get back to normal?

Mindy:

We already had a one-call system in place. We do weekly announcements each week. I do it through the telephone system. Luckily, that piece was already in place. We utilize Facebook a lot more now. That will continue to stay from here on out. Our web page, before it was just announcements and what our church small groups we offer and that such a thing. Now we're uploading our sermons and our messages to our web page. We will continue to do that. YouTube, we haven't dabbled too much into YouTube, but we will be learning to do more about that as well. And apps, that's going to be my next project, is being able to make changes on announcements, and it goes to the app, and it goes to the website. I want to be able to do that.

Mindy:

Just about everyone has a smartphone. They want to be able to get announcements right away. That would be great. So just technology. And I continue to do webinars, just being able to stay in the know of things. But I would say Facebook and our website will continue to stay, for sure.

Jeanette:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Awesome.

Bryan:

All right. What is one piece of advice that you'd like to give to a church leader, or a communicator, or a volunteer that's listening to this episode today?

Mindy:

My advice would be as rough around the edges as it may be, continue to stay positive. Whatever news you have to share, be positive about it.

Bryan:

Can you give an example of something that you guys have had to share, maybe that was negative news, but you were able to spend it in a positive way?

Mindy:

Of course, when we had to shut down. Our worship team, basically, were the only ones that were in our facility. We were doing online for several months. Having to tell everyone we were going to be online only, that was hard. That was really, really hard. That was probably the hardest thing our pastor has ever had to do as well. And just being able to do a positive spin and say, "But we're online." We also made audio CDs for those who don't have internet or those who do not have Facebook or YouTube or webpage. We would provide audio CDs for those who have CD players. We delivered those each week. We wanted everyone to have the message each week.

Jeanette:

I love what you just said, which is that you were using these new technologies. You were using it like, "Hey, we're not going to be able to meet in person, but we're going to be online." But that you also made those CDs, because you were still able to use a technology. It's not the most current. But it is a technology to get them the message. I think that just speaks so much to knowing your audience and knowing your community and knowing your members. That just makes my heart sing, because I think that it is tempting to always go for that latest technology and all that kind of stuff, but you have to know what's going to best serve your community. That's awesome.

Mindy:

No. Don't be afraid to go digital. We're scared of change. We don't like change. But change is good sometimes. We have learned a lot in the last 16 months.

Bryan:

Absolutely.

Jeanette:

Well, Mindy, thank you so much for joining us today. If someone wants to reach out and carry on this conversation with you or ask you more questions... I know myself, I have a lot of questions about how you use your skillset as an administrative assistant in the church space, so I'm going to dig deeper into that. How can somebody get in touch with you if they want to contact you?

Mindy:

Sure. My email is [email protected]

Jeanette:

And you're also active in the Church Juice Facebook group, aren't you?

Mindy:

Yes.

Jeanette:

We can find you there, too.

Mindy:

Absolutely. I rely on you guys a lot.

Bryan:

That's great. All right. Thank you again, Mindy. We really appreciated the conversation. I think a lot of our listeners will gain some good nuggets from today. So thank you.

Mindy:

Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.

Bryan:

Of course. Well, we love being able to talk with church communicators from across the globe. We believe every church and every communicator story is unique and it's valuable. So this week we'll be continuing today's discussion in the Church Juice's insiders Facebook group, what we were just talking about. You can join the group as well as get today's show notes by going to churchjuice.com/podcasts.

Jeanette:

Church Juice's podcast is a listener supported production of ReFrame Ministries, a family of programs designed to help you see your whole life reframed by God's gospel story. Church Juice is produced by Brian Haley, with post-production by audio engineer, Nate Morris in Grand Rapids, Michigan. For more information about Church Juice, visit churchjuice.com. For more information on ReFrame Ministries and our family of programs, visit reframeministries.org.