Church Communications resources and tips from Justin Dean

Should You Outsource Creative Work?

Most church creative and tech teams are primarily built around the creative production needs of the Sunday morning (for some, the weekend) worship experiences. However, week-in and week-out, we find ourselves in a battle between the urgent and important that disrupt the flow of getting the main services ready in a timely and efficient manner.

I?m blessed with a talented and dedicated team. But over the years, I?ve seen the toll it takes on my team when they?re constantly getting hit with urgent requests for a t-shirt design, promo video, or AV set up for an event. While at the same time, important big projects (redesigning the church?s website) or events (Easter), instead of being fun, become a source of dread because of the long hours involved in completing them on top of producing for the weekly services.

One of the most effective weapons I?ve added to my tool chest for protecting my team is outsourcing. Here?s where I?ve seen the value of outsourcing creative work.

Protection from the Urgent

Aside from the disruption urgent requests cause my team, constantly saying no erodes on relationships with other departments. By no means am I advocating a lack of boundaries, cut-off schedules, or healthy request processes. But despite having those systems in place, the reality is that urgent things still come up. Two things have helped me tremendously in shielding my team from urgent distractions, which has also worked great in serving departments with emergencies.[quote]Constantly saying no erodes on relationships with other departments.[/quote]

  1. Building a network of freelancers, graphic designers, motion graphic artists, video producers, web programmers, writers, techs, and engineers that I can tap. No one is on-call, exactly. But with enough people on the list, the likelihood that someone is available tends to be higher.
  2. Retainers?I was also fortunate to have someone on retainer who understands that he is my go-to for urgent requests. I?ve equipped him with all of our logos, fonts, templates, style guides, photos, and GracewayMedia account (product placement) to crank out urgent things like signup cards, additional business cards, t-shirt design, etc.

These two solutions have helped shoulder some of the burden when things get hectic. And that communicates to my team that they are important. It has also gained our department a lot of relational currency for accommodating other people?s emergencies.

Protection from the Important

Important major projects like redesigning, development, and launch of a new website or producing creative elements for Easter translates to adding a major workload on top of producing weekly services that can span months. A good team can typically take this on, but other important things suffer like personal spiritual growth, family time, discipleship, leadership development, etc.

When it was time to redesign our website more than a year ago, my plate was quite full but it needed to be done. I approached my friend, Jonathan Malm, who is an expert in the field to co-lead the project with me. In addition to the industry level expertise he brought, Jonathan is an outsider, which gave me an objective and fresh set of eyes and brains for the development of our new website. Jonathan is also a trusted friend, which meant he?s got my back and I trusted him to protect me from myself. He built a team of outsource partners to write, take photos, design, and build the site. He also helped me project manage to free me up not just logistically, but emotionally as well. This helped me make the most objective decisions as a leader to produce the best website we?ve ever had as a church.

This last Christmas and Easter, outsourcing liberated us to dream up some of the most creative elements. It was the healthiest Christmas and Easter for my team.

We just produced our most ambitious missions celebration report with a 32-page coffee table piece. This piece represents a defining milestone for our church. But instead of it becoming a nightmarish 2 months of trying squeeze in time to do it, my team brainstormed the creative concept and strategy, then set up the files and tools for a freelance graphic designer to knock it out. It was hard to imagine where to find the 70 hours it took the outsourced graphic designer to complete the project within my team.

Outsourcing is not the complete solution against the demands of urgent requests and important projects. In fact, it has a lot of logistical and communication challenges. But by being intentional in building a network of quality and trusted freelancers, it is definitely a potent tool to incorporate alongside good systems and clear communication of expectations to maintain a healthy creative team while delivering killer results to the churches we serve.

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