Us and Them.
That’s a way of thinking that polarizes and divides any good company, community, or relationship. However, it’s often the way that church communicators and pastors view the relationship.
“My pastor want’s this stupid thing” or “I’ve got this great design, but my pastor wants me to re-do it in Word so he/she can work on it” or “I was up late last night because my pastor called and asked me to make a video for tomorrow’s service and straight up commanded me to show a movie clip we don’t have rights to.” UGH! Amiright?
As a former pastor, I can see the other side too. Communicators frustrate pastors too, believe it or not. They see it like this sometimes:
“They think since they’re the only one that understands how to make videos/graphics/websites, they can say no whenever they feel like it” or “This new process is a huge interruption. Why do we have to change everything?”
And on and on it goes until someone says “enough.”
I’m saying it. Enough.
Relationships are hard, no doubt about it, but the most disappointing thing about the type of situation I’ve just described is that I believe changing it can be so simple.
Church communicators and pastors should be best friends, in my opinion, for several reasons.
Friendship Un-dams the Communication Stream
Friendship with pastors means that you’re going to hear them talk about events, people, and policies a lot more by the sheer rule of proximity. When you make pastors the people you hang around a little more, then you’ll probably find that you’re a little more in the know. Information is essential for a church communicator to do their job well.
Friendship Makes Grace Easier
When a person you don’t know commits an offense, it’s easy to assume the worst and hope for the best. However, when friends commit an offense, it’s easier to assume the best and prepare for the worst.
When a pastor gives you a late deadline or calls you in the middle of the night with a “great” idea for the service tomorrow, you might be more inclined to give them grace and the benefit of the doubt rather than jump to conclusions, which may end with a viral YouTube video of how you quit. You’ll find a way to cash in on that favor your friend in the marching band owes you, I promise.
Friendship Makes You Familiar
The more time you spend with someone, the more you get to know how they work. This can only help you in the ministry world. If your pastor is prone to think of last-minute ideas, then you can learn to brace yourself for it or help train her not to wait that long (fake deadlines, anyone?)
It also helps pastors to know how you work too. She will learn that a short timeline on a project frustrates you and as you become better friends, want to keep from putting you in that situation because you’re her friend.
Friendship is Harder to Fire
Speaking of friends with benefits, if your pastor likes you and considers you a friend, he will have a harder time writing you off when you’re not hitting the mark. Instead, he will likely try to find ways to help his friend, rather than replace a poorly performing employee.
Relationships between communicators and pastors can cause your church to become a powerhouse for sharing the Gospel in your community. All it takes is a little Thor/Hulk team up! I’ll let you guys work out who is who.
If you want to build this relationship with your pastor, here are a few easy things you can do that, over time, can help the relationship along.
Drop by their office to talk in the morning.
Get your coffee and stop by the pastor’s office in the morning to see how they’re doing. You could also ask about a tv show you both watch that was on recently. The point is, just make small talk, because with relationship-building, small talk isn’t small. It’s like dropping quarters in a jar, after a while, it adds up.
Invite them and a few others to lunch.
Social time outside the church is very valuable to friendship. You may feel like you’re not working, but trust me, you’re right and that’s ok. What you’re doing is building a platform with your pastor and allowing him to do the same with you. You’re giving each other clearance, which any good friendship needs to survive.
Find a common interest and share things online with them.
Find memes, articles, or funny videos from time to time that they will enjoy. As you spend time with them, you’ll find out what they’re into and you can send them stuff you find. By the way, did you know Michael Bay is directing a live-action version of Dora the Explorer? Yeah, you read that right.
Under promise and over deliver on your work.
It’s always easier to like someone who brings value to the organization (as long as you’re not all pompous about it). There’s something about someone who works really hard to deliver great work that you just want to like them.
Find new ways to help them and make their ministry easier.
If you find an app or tool that can help them, share it with them. Help them learn to use Facebook or show them a site with great Scripture commentaries. Essentially, make their job easier. Wouldn’t you want to be friends with someone who did that for you?
When something good happens online, share it with them offline.
Basically, when what you do has an impact on someone that your pastor will understand, share it with him! When someone shares a prayer request online, tell your pastor how you prayed for them offline. When someone asks about your upcoming service times, tell your pastor how you were able to answer them within an hour on Facebook. Most pastors only hear from people when there’s a problem. Become the person he or she is glad to see because you usually bring good news!
Can you dig it?
It’s always easier to sit back and blame those with authority over you for blocking your initiatives and shooting down your ideas like they are mean kids with magnifying glasses toying with the life of your anthill. But most people aren’t really like that in real life. Especially pastors.
That’s just an image we create in our head because we don’t have enough real data to go on.
In the event you really do know your pastor and none of this seems to help at all, well, that’s a different blog. Have you considered paying for professional coaching? It can really make a difference.
But if you can honestly say that you’ve kind of neglected the relationship, maybe try a few of these ideas so that your pastor will start to learn the value of what you do. You may find he begins to look to you as the valuable member of the church staff and executing strategy that you are!
“Nothing valuable comes quick.” – Gary Vaynerchuck
In the comments, if you’re able, tell us your current struggle with your pastor. Maybe I can help? Maybe someone else who reads has been through it and can offer sage advice? Worth a shot. Thanks for reading!