The Surprising Member Missing from Your Executive Team

Your church is probably missing a critical member of the senior leadership team.

Most churches have an executive team that sits atop the org chart. This small group, usually consisting of the senior pastor, executive pastor, and administrator is responsible for bringing strategic vision and high-level leadership to the church.

While this group can be sufficient, it is actually incomplete. There’s one key role missing that’s often present in corporate America. That role is the chief marketing officer.

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In churches, this looks more like a chief communications officer or executive communications pastor. Not normally seen in churches, this role should be given the authority and opportunity to bring greater clarity and consistency to the church.

In most congregations, communications is just a small department under the authority of the executive pastor or administrator. Those leaders are also tasked with things like facilities, finance, and HR. These departments have vastly different functions and needs, and it’s often difficult for the executive pastors to provide the strategic leadership necessary for an effective communications plan.

So the role of strategic thinking is usually left to someone with the title of “communications director”: An ambiguous title that covers anything from graphic design to web development to IT. Since this individual isn’t usually given the authority or opportunity to provide much-needed vision and leadership to church-wide communications, they find themselves frustrated by the limitations.

What the Church Misses

When a church doesn’t empower someone to lead communications at the senior level, they miss an incredible opportunity to become more effective. Ministry moves at an incredible pace, so unless someone has the specific responsibility to lead this area churchwide, then no one will.
What’s the result? Fragmented and disconnected strategies that waste time, money, and effort.

People don’t engage in your events or ministries because the communication strategy was ineffective. Communicating things to your church may always seem frantic and poorly planned—like the weekly email that’s supposed to go out on Monday at 10:30 AM but is always written at 10:17 that very morning.

We live in an age where communication is more common and constant than ever. People are bombarded with messages at every turn, and it’s easy for our church to get lost in the mix. The companies and churches that are most effective at communicating with people are those who empower someone to drive a culture of clear communication in every facet of the organization.

The Value They Bring

The solution, then, to creating a better and more effective communications strategy is to have a communications director at the executive level. While this may seem a bit unorthodox, it’s actually a smart move to help your church engage more people.

Here are five reasons why your senior leadership team needs a good chief communications officer:

1. They see what goes on

Communications, facilities, and finance are typically the only departments that know everything that goes on in a church. Communications sells the seats, finance pays for the seats, and facilities set up the seats. Even among these three departments, communications has a better perspective on how everything works together.

2. They understand consistency

Those gifted in communications and branding have a sense for when things are consistent. Because they promote everything that happens, they see events, ministries, and programs that are inconsistent with your church as a whole. They also realize the inconsistencies hinder your church’s ability to reach more people. In fact, your communications director could tell you 3-5 things right now that your church should stop doing.

3. They need to say no

Sometimes a ministry leader wants to do something that is completely inconsistent with the overall ministry of your church. Or maybe they want to try a strategy that’s simply ineffective. The communications director needs the authority either to say no or to guide that leader towards a more effective strategy.

4. They make great leaders

A recent study found nearly 25 percent of corporate CEOs come from a sales or marketing background, and a whopping 42 percent of B2B CEOs have a marketing background. The current CEO of McDonald’s stepped into the role after being the chief brand officer. This group knows how to lead and motivate people well.

5. They sell ideas well

Nearly every investor on Shark Tank started in sales or marketing. Billionaire Mark Cuban started as a salesman, and now he’s one of the richest men in the country. Great sales and marketing leaders know how to position ideas well in the mind of the hearer. Your next communications leader can bring great value in casting vision for your church, whether it’s a season of excitement or difficulty.

Bringing in an executive communications director may seem odd at first. In fact, it may require realigning your staff a bit in order to accommodate the change. But the small amount of discomfort will soon be forgotten as they bring critical leadership, vision, and insight to your church.

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