Before I was a Church Comm person I was a Pilates Instructor, and before that, I volunteered as a mentor and trainer for a non-profit online eating disorder support community. As I learn more and more about the world of church marketing and communications, I recognize 3 aspects of mentoring that improve the quality of communications.
As a mentor, my job was to tell my recovery story honestly and openly. I had to be willing to tell all parts of my story. Recently, in a That Church Podcast episode, Brady Shearer of Pro Church Tools discussed the role of storytelling in church communications. He shared that storytelling is the primary way that Jesus communicated to his people. As communicators in the digital world, we too, are responsible for sharing Christ?s message and storytelling is an effective and engaging way to do this. However, storytelling for the sake of the Gospel, must be honest and relevant, not just an add on to a sermon or promo piece.
Practical: When promoting Vacation Bible School, in addition to typical promotions, interview volunteers and former participants and share their stories. Ask parents why they bring their children?and if the answer is ?free babysitting??that?s ok! Share it anyway.
2. Asking Questions
When I first began ?telling my story? as a person in recovery, I focused on just telling my story and how God worked in me and on me during that time. However, as I began mentoring others in their own recovery journey it made me realize that hearing me tell my story might be encouraging, at first, but eventually, in order to heal, they would need to tell their own & I would need to help them do it. Asking questions of others helps them articulate their stories-of recovery and of redemption through Christ. In church communications, teaching people to tell the story of God?s work in their lives by asking questions is a great way to connect with them and keep them connected to Christ.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Teach people to tell the story of God?s work in their lives by asking questions…” quote=”Teach people to tell the story of God?s work in their lives by asking questions…”]
Practical: Ask your members questions about their faith journey and record their answers. Share these messages with the congregation at the beginning of worship or in weekly emails, podcasts, or use Facebook LIVE for a quick and easy video testimony moment.
3. Acknowledge The Story
Everyone has a different story, a different journey- toward recovery, toward Christ. When I became a mentor, I had to recognize that whereas there were some basic truths about eating disorders and recovery, my way was not the only way. Truly listening to my ?mentees? and responding to their questions, emotions, in a way that was meaningful to them was an important skill to learn. I couldn?t always rely on the ?this is what I do? approach. I had to guide them in finding their own way to heal, own way to stay focused on recovery. Communicating ?the journey? in the context of the church also requires an acknowledgement that not all journeys are the same. Yes, there is only one way- Christ, but how we connect and stay connected may look different. Yes, there are spiritual disciplines that help us stay focused, but how we practice them may vary.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Communicating the journey requires acknowledging that not all journeys are the same. #churchcomm ” quote=”Communicating the journey requires acknowledging that not all journeys are the same. #churchcomm “]
Practical: When communicating about prayer, study of God?s word, and other important aspects of the Christian life, acknowledging the need for them AND the various ways one can go about practicing them is necessary. For new believers, it is important that they know, for example, that all quiet times do not have to be early in the morning to be valid and that worship can happen outside the church walls.
To be sure, this is not an exhaustive list, rather it is just some thoughts on how using mentoring practices can help us in the work of being the church on social media. Mentoring, in essence, is a type of discipleship in that it is ?teaching? and ?guiding? along a journey. As communicators in the church, one of our roles is to disciple our audience, mentoring them through their faith journey and teaching them how to live as Christ calls us to live-at home, at work, and on social platforms.