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CHURCH IN THE DIGITAL AGE

What are the new church jobs emerging and the skills needed?

By Richard Hong | Presbyterians Today

Woman sitting in a chair before video recording session, shown with camera, lights and microphone.

Sam McGhee/Unsplash

Before the pandemic, most pastors — after a week of sermon prep and writing — only had to show up ready to lead worship on a Sunday morning. Since March 2020, though, Sundays have been filled with more work and stress for many church leaders utilizing cameras, the internet, Zoom and Facebook Live. It may be tempting to think, “We need a tech person.” But online ministry requires a disparate set of skills. Here are some roles that make a complete digital ministry team. These may be filled by paid staff or volunteers. Use this list as a conversation starter with your session, your worship team or finance committee to begin thinking what will be needed in terms of personnel and money to continue moving your church into the digital age.

Communications Director

The communications director manages all aspects of content creation for the church. Everything from social media posts to signage falls under church communications. This person should have a keen visual eye and, of course, good writing and proofreading skills. They could have experience as a graphic artist. A key to the success of this position is policy guidelines that are strictly enforced. There should be standards for how long an event is publicized, what social media posts look like, etc. The goal is consistency. A good communications policy document will make sure your church has a consistent voice that is not dependent on the person executing it.

IT Specialist

Keeping your IT infrastructure running is a separate job. A characteristic of technology is that as it becomes more advanced, it simultaneously becomes both easier to use and harder to understand. Think about the automobile. A generation ago, one could often tinker with their car if something wasn’t working. Now we’re coming upon the age of self-driving cars, and with that ease comes the reality that if something stops working it is almost impossible for drivers to repair it themselves. Just because someone is skilled at using computers for photo or video editing does not mean they understand how to set up an infrastructure that may involve managing a network, shared storage or remote access. You need someone on call who can create the backbone of what your content creators will use. This person might be a network administrator or IT specialist in their day job.

Worship AV Engineers       

Whether in-person or online, your Sunday worship experience involves both audio and video components, and few people are skilled at both. Mixing audio is a different skill from handling video. To make things more complicated, working with audio in a live venue is different from working with audio in a recording studio. Studio engineers are used to working under perfect conditions in isolation from the world. Live audio engineers are used to adjusting to a different venue. Know anyone who used to be a roadie for a rock band? That would be a good background for this. Video is a separate challenge. Composing a good visual is a unique skill. Your video specialist will understand lighting and camera angles to create a good look. Most AV people you encounter will be primarily audio or primarily video. You probably want to find separate people for your team with each skill set.

Online Pastor

An increasing number of churches are designating a person as the online pastor to engage with your online community. They facilitate discussion on social media, conduct online chat even during worship and receive prayer requests. Some of this might be the pastor’s job, but since some of the interaction occurs online during worship, having another person behind the scenes is helpful. You need someone who is caring, committed and communicative to take on this role.

These are just some of the digital ministry jobs emerging. Take a look at what you need right now and what will be needed in the future. Remember, finding one person who can do it all is almost impossible. Finding people who possess one of these skills and would love to share their expertise with the church is far easier. There are also many Facebook groups where you can learn more about these roles, such as the Church Communications group and the Church Sound and Media Techs group.

Richard Hong is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Englewood, New Jersey. If there’s a topic you’d like for him to address, contact him at rich@englewoodpres.org.

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