Communicators are quite possibly the most understaffed and overlooked ministers of the Christian church today. Many Christian organizations even those grouping several hundred churches lack a communications director, let alone a communications department. And in organizations with media staff, the internal network is often set up so poorly that news takes days, if not weeks, to reach the audience.
However, some groups are beginning to buck that trend by investing more time, money and manpower to the ministry. For example, the United Methodist Church helped establish the Association of United Methodist communicators in Africa last month, and the World Evangelical Alliance and American Baptist Churches created new websites to facilitate communications with its members earlier this year.
Leading the pack is the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., which last week launched a new network of communicators that would eventually designate a team of media personnel representing each of the churchs 173 presbyteries.
The new Presbyterian Communicators Network has been a dream of the Office of Communications for years, according to Ann Gillies, associate director for communication of the PC(USA) General Assembly Council.
More than 175 Presbyterian communicators gave their stamp of approval to the network, during the PC(USA) communicators conference in Louisville, Kentucky, from Aug. 11-14.
The network is not something that will happen, said Jon Brown, coordinator for mission education and promotion in the Congregational Ministries Division, according to PCnews. It started organically when you arrived Thursday evening (Aug. 11) and began connecting with each other.
The communicators will begin pooling resources and energies to better convey the good news of the gospel in addition to setting up representatives in each presbytery.
Th network will also start holding a series of regional communicators meetings every other year, and in the remaining years the communicators will gather nationally under the auspices of the General Assembly Council.
Accordingly, the General Assembly Council will be providing additional money into the Office of Communication budget to help underwrite the inaugural conference for the Network.
Meanwhile, during the conference, the PC(USA)s highest executive, stated clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick, told communicators that their role is absolutely crucial to the churchs future.
We have huge problems, but we have a huge reservoir of strength in the PC(USA). What we need most is new hope in the gospel of Jesus Christ so we need communicators who will help inspire that hope, Kirkpatrick said.
Taking note of the falling church membership and Sunday school attendance rates, Kirkpatrick explained that hope and inspiration are the keys to future growth.
Inspiration begins with telling the story of how God is at work throughout the PC(USA) and nobody can do that better than you, he explained.
The hope for PCN is that the network will provide people-to-people connections, communications resources, professional-development events and opportunities to explore emerging issues in the church and the culture.