Tag Archives: Center for Church Communication

You’ve Got This: A Pep Talk for Church Communicators

Three years ago—in 2015—I came up with an idea for a book giving a pep talk to church communicators. Last month we officially launched You’ve Got This: A Pep Talk for Church Communicators by Kelley Hartnett and illustrated by Erica J. Hicks.

The Backstory

In 2015 I was in the middle of reading Kid President’s Guide to Being Awesome by Robby Novak and Brad Montague. It’s hard to read that book without smiling and being inspired. It’s just full of such pep.

I’ve worked with church communicators as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks since 2004. If there’s any group in need of a pep talk, it’s church communicators. I read Novak and Montague’s infectious good cheer and thought we need this for church communicators.

So I put a proposal together for a pep talk for church communicators. Continue reading You’ve Got This: A Pep Talk for Church Communicators

Church Communication Heroes

Church Communication Heroes Volume 1Last month I put together another yet another ebook, this one exploring heroes. Church Communication Heroes Volume 1 launched on All Saints’ Day last week. It’s another ebook from Church Marketing Sucks, our second one this year.

I’m especially excited about this one because it finds inspiration in the historical figures who have gone before us. They may not have used Facebook hundreds of years ago, but they still had to communicate. I think churches can learn a lot from history and too often we’re disconnected from it.

Church communicators may not think we have any history, but we do.

The book explores the stories of 15 saints of communication, including familiar names such as  Martin Luther King Jr. and Vincent van Gogh and less obvious names such as Pauli Murray and Pandita Ramabai. We also had a ton of great writers and an incredible cover design.

It’s also fun because it’s volume one. The plan is to roll out more hero stories in the future.

Learn more about the ebook and pick up your own copy >>

Dangerous: More Books!

Yesterday I released a new book, Dangerous: A Go-to Guide for Church Communication. It’s a collaborative effort published by one of my clients in cooperation with another awesome organization, Creative Missions. I got to work with some great contributors and some great co-editors. You can read more about the basics of the book over at Church Marketing Sucks.

I’ve done enough last-minute marketing about the book. Rather than do that here, I’d rather just talk honestly about it. Four quick lessons from this project:

1. I didn’t want to do it.
When the idea was first pitched we had about three and a half weeks to pull it off. Honestly, I’d had the same idea months earlier but I kept it to myself. Why? I don’t know. It seemed like something we could do eventually. I knew it would come down to a rushed project and I dreaded that. I think deep down I wanted someone else to come up with the driving vision and make it happen. Let someone else take the responsibility. That’s about what happened. (Confession: I’m not a leader.)

Now that’s it’s over, I’m glad we did it. We’ll see what the results are, but I think it was a smart move. It’s well-timed to be a good resource.

2. Fast is good.
This project happened fast. Like, 20 days fast. That’s a little crazy. But sometimes I think we need that. Too often we over-think ideas and turn them into these big huge things that can’t stand up on their own and collapse under all our expectations. Sometimes it works better to shut up and crank something out.

3. Help is good.
We had a lot of great people helping on this project. We had a team of three people giving editorial direction. We had more than a dozen contributors. We had someone do the layout. Someone else did the design. Someone else got the ebook working (long story). Collaboration is an amazing thing. Sometimes I wish we had more. (Marketing plan? Oh yeah, I guess we could use one of those.)

4. Scared.
I’ve published several books now. I’ve got a once-a-year streak going that’s kind of fun. You think I’d be used to this by now. But to be honest, I’m scared. I’m a little panicked about how people are going to respond to this book. Are they going to hate it? Did I forget something? How many horrible, ridiculous typos are there? Did I make some huge mistake and I should be embarrassed to call myself an editor? Will they be mad because it’s too short? Will they be annoyed that the content is available elsewhere? Will it be worth all the effort? So many doubts. So many fears.

I think that’s part of being a writer. I think that’s part of being creative and putting yourself out there. It’s scary.

Conference Week: Story & Cultivate

I’ve been working in church communications since 2004 and this week I went to my first church communications conference. Two of them actually. Making up for lost time, I guess. I hit up Cultivate in Chicago and Story in Aurora, Ill. (I had to skip out on the second day workshop portion of Story). It was a great couple days of getting out of the house and meeting folks I’ve followed online for years but never actually met. Of course I’m also an introvert, so it was a bit overwhelming and I wanted to curl up and be alone on several occasions.

Getting to the events was a miracle in itself. I owe a big debt to my mother-in-law for watching the kids, Michael Buckingham for splitting a hotel room with me, Cultivate for being cheap, Story for hooking me up with a free ticket, Brad Abare and Matt Kerner for posing as chaufers, and United for having cheap flights to Chicago. Thanks!

Cultivate vs. Story
The two events are like a study in contrasts. While the subject matter was the same (church communication) the style and approach of the two events couldn’t be more different.

Continue reading Conference Week: Story & Cultivate

Back in Black

The Standard48 hours after departure I touched down at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, business trip complete.

Of course the trip home always sucks. Turbulence struck twice, agitating the three hours in one seat and growing car-sick feeling, so it took hours before I felt at home at home. Not having breakfast time didn’t help. Travel days are outside of reality in a sense. Everything is blown off, you’re out of your element, out of your time zone, out of space. It’s a good excuse to order out anyway.

The trip was good. I saw my cousin and his family of four, which was a family of three when I last saw them 10 years ago. And I saw a good business friend I haven’t seen since 1999. And I saw L.A. When the plane touched down at LAX, I looked at the window to see palm trees lining the runway, which is really the most striking feature about California. And seeing the mountains in the distance was great. I love that.

I slept on a different couch both nights, just in case you get the idea that I’m a jet-set hipster. Though on the plus side I never spent a dime the whole trip. Partly thanks to mooching, partly thanks to a lack of time. The downside is no souvenirs for the wife, save for the nifty book of matches swiped from The Standard in downtown L.A.

A word about The Standard: This is the hotel where we had our all day meeting. It’s a funky, hip, 60s retro place. Our room had this trippy circle pattern wall paper that was textured with velvet. The signs for every door were “Hello My Name Is…” badges. Across the hall from our meeting room was a normal hotel room we had access to for the bathroom. The shower was separated from the rest of the room with a glass wall, frosted from shoulder height down, letting sunlight stream in from the windows, across the room and into the shower so you actually see what you were doing. The beds were single mattresses sitting on raised platforms. We ate lunch on the roof, checking out the rising skyscrapers of Los Angeles, sitting on astroturf. The matches I swiped are just an example of all the ephemeral products they had. The sticker on the toilet paper was the same stylized stick figure, only bending over pooping. The trashcan had a piece of paper in the bottom with a stick figure throwing up. Weird? Yes. Funky? Yes. It’s not Holiday Inn. I hate to think what it would cost to stay at the Standard, but it’s worth dropping by. Next time you’re in L.A.

Next time. That’s what I kept thinking the whole trip. The ocean was 45 minutes away. Never saw it. (I’m still kicking myself for the time—hey, it was 10 years ago as well—my family went to the beach in San Diego and I was too cool to be impressed by the ocean. I don’t remember if I even touched the water. Stupid 15-year-old.) The foothills were just crying to me on the not-so-distant horizon. The palm trees begged me to pose in front of them, but I didn’t even bring a camera. 48 hours isn’t enough time.

I contemplated the idea of staying the weekend and bringing the wife, but it just didn’t pan out. I couldn’t have afforded it and I really don’t have the time. This isn’t a good month to take a vacation, let alone a business trip. Hence the 48 hours. But I’m coming back. I don’t know when, but I am.

The weather wasn’t too shabby either. 60s and 70s, sunny, beautiful. What would you expect? I told lovely stories of the snow flurries we had in St. Paul last week and the negative 20 Januaries. When my cousin recommended visiting in the spring or the fall, I asked about the winter and he said it’s cold. I told him we could swap.

Of course it’s still L.A. Concrete as far as the eye can see. Freeway as far as the eye can see. They like their highways so much they refer to them as “the” highway. It’s “The 110,” “The 605,” “The 5,” as opposed to “I-94” or just plain “94.” Try saying “take the 94” in Minneapolis and see how stupid you look. No, L.A. is a place to visit, but not a place I’d want to stay.

I also made the right decision when it came to packing reading material. I finished two of the three books and am halfway through the third. I don’t think I’ve ever actually needed all the reading material I’ve brought on a trip.

The business side of things went well. I think non-disclosure agreements would be needed if I were to explain anything, so we just won’t go there. Yet. We’ll just say it’s a new business venture that I’m helping to launch. It should mean a steady paycheck this year, a nice chunk of freelance change, though definitely not a full or even half time job. It will also mean some time and commitment, but I’m cool with that. It’s a cause I believe in, not just another businessey thing. And it could mean some financial pay off in the future. I’m not holding my breath on this one because it will be years away, if it’s successful. Even though I try to live simply, I’m still susceptible to greed and piles of cash, the latest gizmo, delivery pizza over frozen. So I try not to fixate on the potential reward. If it comes it comes, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. I just don’t want to be consumed by it.

Another funky thing about the trip, Direct TV on the plane. You had to pay $5 to watch, so I passed, but I could still see static ads and a little map showing the plane’s progress across the country. It also showed our speed and altitude. Nothing like cruising at 600 mph and 40,000 ft.

But now I’m back, wishing I had an iPod and developing PowerBook envy (I was one of two out of seven at the meeting not to have the shiny, metal laptop). See, I told you I’m susceptible.

All in all, it’s good to be home.