Earlier this week we held our second Certification Lab in Atlanta. It’s a two-day training intensive for new church communicators. As I was flying to this year’s Certification Lab, I was thinking to myself, “Last year’s Lab was a huge success. Can this year’s Lab be as good? We have more people signed up, the stakes are higher and I really want to knock it out of the park for these folks.”
Now understand, I wasn’t concerned about the speakers. Our lineup is solid.
I wasn’t concerned about the attendees. Our audience is second to none.
It’s just that success is often hard to repeat. Everyone has a different need and every group has a different makeup.
Well, after two days of talking to participants and after reading the evaluation forms, I think it is safe to say that this year’s Certification Lab was an overwhelming success.
It started at the pre-Lab mixer where we learned this year’s crowd was a lively and sharp bunch, and I knew they were going to challenge those of us responsible for leading them over the next two days. We were up for the challenge.
Center for Church Communication board chairman David Uribe gave the opening charge: Have fun, learn lots of new things, ask lots of questions, and let God move in your life and ministry in ways you never thought possible.
Church Brand Mark MacDonald taught us about the tension of church communication and how it is important for every church communicator to help their church find their unique brand flavor. We addressed the question, “What is that one small characteristic that makes your church unique?”
@markmac1023 churches are not in competition. We’re doing what w do for the cause of Jesus Christ. #certlab
Creativity & Connection Stephen Brewster spoke about personal creativity for church communicators and storytelling in churches. We learned how communication doesn’t matter if it doesn’t connect, and sharing your story is one of the best ways for churches to accomplish this connection. Stephen also gave some practical tips about the project management process from start to finish.
No one cares about what you are doing. Everyone cares about the lives you are changing. @B_REWSTER#certlab
Word Nerds Unite Kelley Hartnett used fun and creative teaching tools in her sessions that covered the topics of building communication plans, style guides, editing our words to make an impact and branding tips. Words matter and Kelley, a self-diagnosed “word nerd,” helped us to think through the true messages we are sending to those whom we are communicating. Sometimes what we think we are saying and what we really communicating are two very different things.
Churches don’t need writers.
Churches need editors. #certlab
Expectations & Boundaries Gerry True truly gets relational leadership (see what I did there?). His topics included shaping expectations of leaders and colleagues in ministry, setting boundaries and influencing decisions. Gerry’s pastoral approach to church communication is refreshing and something we can all learn from.
Series Planning, Social Media & Volunteers
Finally, Phil Bowdle gave some practical tips on creative message series planning, social media strategy and working with church communication volunteers. The Certification Lab was hosted at Phil’s church, West Ridge—just outside of Atlanta—and it was inspiring to see the environments he’s helped to create there.
On-Going Growth & Connection
There were also several Q&A sessions where participants asked thought-provoking questions and spurred one another on in areas of growth. Outside the formal learning times were opportunities to hang out and build relationships that are certain to continue beyond the two-day event.
One of my favorite aspects of the Certification Lab happened at the end of the event where small groups were formed for the purpose of on-going connection through the post-Lab hangouts. Each of the Certification Lab leaders will lead a group of six to eight people and be available as a resource for the next six months as folks take what they learned back to their churches and begin the process of implementation.
Attending #certlab is the best thing this communication newbie could have done. Looking forward to starting tomorrow with @kelleyhartnett.
As the executive director of the Center for Church Communication, I can say we are committed to provide you resources and events for your continued growth. The Certification Lab is just one example of this commitment and I could not be more pleased with results. Thank you to everyone who was a part of the Certification Lab and stay tuned for what’s next from the Center for Church Communication.
Check out our Twitter round up for a full collection of wisdom and insight from the event.