Church Communications in a Crisis | Amy Whitfield

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Amy Whitfield shares what she has learned, in times of crisis within the church. Effective communication becomes paramount. Local churches, guided by a well-structured communication plan, must navigate the challenges with transparency and sensitivity.

Podcast Notes

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Podcast Transcription

SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Bart Blair: [00:00:12] Amy, welcome back to the Missional Marketing Podcast. So glad to hang out with you today.

Amy Whitfield: [00:00:16] Hey, I’m really happy to be here. Thanks for having me again.

Bart Blair: [00:00:20] You’re very welcome. So I sort of set this up in the intro for the podcast, but we had you on the show a couple of months ago. We had a great conversation about your role at Summit Church and, all the new things that you’ve been learning as you stepped out of sort of denominational communications and more into the local church. But it’s a local church on a pretty grand scale, as Summit is a pretty it’s a pretty large church with a pretty large footprint. And you dropped a little nugget in the middle of that conversation about crisis communication in church and said that this was something that you’re passionate about. And so I said, we’re going to get you back on the show, that’s what we’ve done, and we’re going to talk about that today. That is going to be the topic of our conversation, crisis communication in a church.

Bart Blair: [00:01:04] But before we get into that topic, for those that maybe didn’t listen to the last episode, shame on them, they don’t know your background, they don’t know who you are, maybe they don’t know anything about Summit Church. Give us a little bit of, background and just, your ministry history and Summit Church and what your role there entails.

Amy Whitfield: [00:01:22] Great, well, yes, as you said, I’m at the Summit Church. It’s in the Raleigh Durham area of North Carolina. So Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, the triangle, and, we have about 13 campuses here and, we reach about 11-12,000 people in the area a week, and it’s an incredible place trying to create a movement of disciple-making disciples in RDU and around the world. So I serve here as the Executive Director of Communications, and I’ve been doing that for two and a half years now, focusing on church-wide communication, staff communication, crisis communication, which is, what we’re talking about today. Before that, my professional life has been, as you said, was in denominational service in the Southern Baptist Convention. So I worked for four different entities over the years, the last couple of them were as communications director, so.

Bart Blair: [00:02:21] And, I mean, I don’t want to highlight something that really doesn’t need to be highlighted, but in your time with the Southern Baptist Convention, there was some crisis stuff that took place within the denomination. And so you had probably a little baptism by fire, in terms of managing some of those things. But what we want to do today is really, really kind of bring things down to a local church level. And let’s, let’s talk about that a little bit. Nobody wants to think that their church could find itself in a crisis, there are all kinds of different things, for which a church could need to have a crisis response plan when it comes to their communications. But why don’t you share a little bit about what you found to be some of the things that churches need to anticipate and maybe some of the best practices to just help them get ready for some sort of response to a situation that, again, the kind that nobody wants to see or experience?

Amy Whitfield: [00:03:21] Yes. Well, first of all, as you mentioned, one of the reasons that churches are often not prepared for a crisis is because they don’t want to be like, they don’t want to think it’s going to happen. So many people will put a crisis only in the category of like, the church did something wrong, and that can happen. You know, there are mistakes that churches make or that leaders make, even as far as crimes, that’s certainly a thing, but those are not the only types of crisis. You know there could be a tragedy that happens in the church. You could have a, you know, an environmental disaster, like you could have an earthquake, you could have anything. You know, you could have a major issue that happens to your building, anything that is going to cause significant disruption for your people or for your community fits in that, you need to think about crisis response. And so a lot of times, people don’t want to think that bad things are going to happen, but they are. And what you want is to be prepared, and it’s not because of, you know, PR spin, it’s because the best way to care for your people is to communicate well with them because they are going to be anxious, they are going to be uneasy, they’re going to be confused about whatever may be happening, and you’re the one to step in, and to lead, and to help them. So it’s the best way to care for them.

Bart Blair: [00:04:51] Yeah, That’s a really, really good point. I think, because in the grand scheme of things, if you’re in the communications director role, your role is really to primarily support the senior leadership, the elders, those that are actually leading the church. And most often those guys or gals are pretty effective in their communication, and oftentimes they have a really strong shepherd’s heart and they want to care for their people. Obviously, the larger the church, the more complex the communication strategy needs to be. But one of the things that we do here is define effective church communications. And the way that we define it is to say it’s the right message, in the right timing, to the right people, on the right platform. And so in any crisis response situation, you’ve got to ask yourself those questions. Who needs to know what, when do they need to know it, and how do I effectively communicate that to them? So why don’t you kind of walk us through some of the things that you have maybe built into your crisis response plan, or maybe just general things that you would expect that a church would need to do?

Amy Whitfield: [00:06:00] Yeah. So the first thing that we’ve done is I, you know, I and some others on my team, we have had a lot of conversations with church leaders, whether that’s kind of our main central ministry leaders, or if it’s campus pastors that we have out in the field. Because, you know, sometimes you can have an incident that happens just at the campus level, and so you got to figure out how to communicate to that campus for us as a multi-site church. But basically, anybody, whether it’s our kid’s ministry leader or, you know, anything else, that they, first of all, know that when a crisis comes, if they hear something, if something happens, that they are prepared to be able to stay calm, to just respond with a lot of care, and then to know immediately who to call. And that’s typically me, and there are, you know, a few other people on our staff. So the first thing is to say, know who to call, because a lot of times, someone in that position over a ministry, they immediately start to panic because they think I’m responsible for everything. Now, you may have a smaller staff and you don’t have a communications director, that’s fine. You’ve decided this is the person who will be the point person anytime there’s a crisis, and so then that way your folks always know, okay, I’m going to bring this person in. It’s incredible the difference that happens when your staff knows they’re part of a team and they’re not navigating something by themselves. so that’s the kind of the first thing.

Amy Whitfield: [00:07:32] The second thing is to go ahead and have a command of all your communication channels, phone, email, stage announcements, all of your social media channels, kind of all the things and be thinking through so that in the moment when a crisis happens, you already know, okay, how can we get the word out? We’ll have to decide which one of these channels, if we use all of them to get the word out about something. And then to be ready to ask who needs to know about this, whatever has happened, and when and who needs to hear directly.

Amy Whitfield: [00:08:05] So a lot of times, like, say, there’s an incident that happens, you know, sometimes maybe an incident that happens in your children’s ministry. It could be, you know, an accident in the class, or even down to, like, somebody brought peanuts into the class when they weren’t supposed to, and you’ve got, you know, kids with allergies. I know that doesn’t seem like a crisis, but if you don’t handle it with care, you can actually cause, you know, concern.

Bart Blair: [00:08:33] To the parent, with a child with a nut allergy, it is a crisis, and so you have to be sensitive to that.

Amy Whitfield: [00:08:40] Yeah. That’s right. So to them, it’s a crisis. And then like I said, you may be thinking only of things that are in the news, but this is a crisis to that group of people. So what you have to start thinking through is when the incident happens, are there people who need to get phone calls, who need to hear it directly from a pastor? Are there people, you know, is there a group that needs to get an email? What you want to think through is who are the people that we want to make sure they don’t hear this through the grapevine, they hear it from us because they know that we cared enough to let them know personally. And so we will often develop sort of circles of communication, this group of maybe, you know, we have a large staff, so we will identify that this particular group of staff needs to be alerted first so that they’re not confused so that they’re prepared for questions, so we will talk to them first. Then we will kind of move it out depending on who is affected. And then by the end, you know, maybe you have a public announcement of some sort. I always will work backward to say the public announcements coming at the end, now, who needs to know before that, and in what order. So being sort of prepared to ask who needs to learn.

Amy Whitfield: [00:10:01] And then also because you do have some that are more public, as you mentioned, you know, in my previous role with the Southern Baptist Convention, a lot of the crises there were extremely public and still are on a national, even global level. Now social media well, have someone that knows social media, knows the mainstream media well, and is able to track and to be able to talk to people, you know, that are in those spaces to answer questions if you can.

Bart Blair: [00:10:34] Hey, Amy, are you are you familiar with a strategy called stakeholder mapping? Does that ring a bell to you?

Amy Whitfield: [00:10:41] Yeah. Yes.

Bart Blair: [00:10:42] So when you’re talking about this, this is what it reminds me of. So I’m going to use my hands, so for those of you who are listening to this podcast, you won’t get it, but if you’re watching on our YouTube channel, you’ll understand better. If you’ve never done stakeholder mapping in a situation in which you have an immediate communication need, this is a great exercise to do. In stakeholder mapping, what you do is you essentially, draw a cross in the middle of a piece of paper, and you make a list of all of the people who need to have some level of communication with them, this could be groups of people or individual people. And then you think about on the, I don’t know, my x and y axis, you can help me out here if, you know, but the vertical is people’s investment in the particular issue or topic. So from the bottom, they have low investment, and to the top, they have high investment. And then from left to right, you have their influence in the church. The far left being little influence, and the far right being a high level of influence. So you have these four quadrants, and the people who are in that bottom left quadrant are the people who are not really invested and who don’t have much influence. The people who are at the top right are the people who are the most invested and have the most influence.

Bart Blair: [00:11:58] So, for instance, a children’s ministry situation, people who are invested in the children’s ministry, whether that be parents, volunteers, or staff members, they’re all going to be on the top level of those that are invested in the children’s ministry. Some of those people are key influencers, meaning that what they say carries more weight with more people in the church, they fit in that top right category, those people are the people you have to have in-person, one-on-one conversations with. Whereas the people who are in that bottom left quadrant, you can probably make an announcement on a Sunday or shoot them an email.

Amy Whitfield: [00:12:34] That’s right.

Bart Blair: [00:12:34] That is probably enough, right?

Amy Whitfield: [00:12:35] That’s fine.

Bart Blair: [00:12:36] So as you’re thinking about your communication strategy, having some sort of cascading plan where you’re communicating to the people that are closest to it, the most invested in it, and those who have the most influence in the church that that communication is much more personal, and in-depth, and clarifying. Whereas those that are further out don’t necessarily need the same level of information. I think that’s a mistake that churches make, not just in crisis communication, but in communication in general, is that we communicate the same thing to everybody all the time, the same way. Where we don’t really evaluate that there are some people that just they simply need to know, there are some people that if you make the announcement on Sunday morning and they haven’t had a personal conversation about it, they’re going to be totally offended and hurt that they weren’t in the know before that happened. Whereas other people, for some situations, may not hear the announcement on Sunday morning. Anyway, your process there sort of reminded me of that strategy.

Amy Whitfield: [00:13:35] Yeah, that’s exactly right. I do it in concentric circles, that’s kind of how I draw it out, you know on my paper. But it helps because where you want to actually, you want to think in the negative, like if we don’t act or we don’t speak to this group, like who are the people that will be upset? And then you also have to just step back and realize you are you’re building something, you’re building capital, you’re building credibility, you’re building a foundation where they will trust you in future crises if you handle this, you know, with care. And you’re also saving yourself a lot of difficult conversations on the back end with people who have all sorts of questions, you’ve answered it on the front end by just reaching out to them.

Amy Whitfield: [00:14:23] So I think that some of the challenges that people will have is, first of all, sometimes folks will want to shut down and not answer any questions, that’s a huge mistake. There was one situation that I remember helping with, and it was a church that had just a terrible tragedy in their community, and a member of their church had actually committed a crime. And their initial steps, they did kind of move on to, to handle things better, but their initial steps were to just shut the doors, stop taking any calls, not respond to anybody, they turned their website off. Here’s what happens, they didn’t know what to do, and their motives were not bad, but they were so afraid because they weren’t sure how to answer that they actually let their silence fill in the gaps for everybody. So it opens the door for people to speculate about what’s going on. It’s amazing how far you can get just by saying, we are aware of the situation, we just learned about it ourselves today, our leadership is informed right now and is processing what to do next. If you say that, that actually buys you the time that you need to make your plan. the problem is that a lot of people just want to shut down and not respond at all. So that can be, you know, a real, it’s a really easy step, but it’s, it’s one that folks forget a lot.

Bart Blair: [00:16:02] Amy, have you ever spent any time around church people?

Amy Whitfield: [00:16:05] Yes, I have.

Bart Blair: [00:16:07] Here’s one lesson that I’ve learned about church people over all my decades in ministry, and that is when church people don’t have information, they make up their own.

Amy Whitfield: [00:16:16] Yes, they do.

Bart Blair: [00:16:17] When there are gaps. I mean, we do it with the Bible and we do it with everything else. And where the Bible is silent, we like to fill in the details, right? And people will do that in the church as well, in every level of stuff, relationships, ministry strategies. If they don’t have information, there will always be people in the church that will sort of fill in the blanks for themselves; and more often than not, they will go to worst-case scenarios.

Amy Whitfield: [00:16:43] Right. And it’s good to remember that a lot of times this isn’t malicious on their part, this comes out of anxiety. They don’t know what’s happening, and so they are afraid of the worst. If you step into that gap for them and say, hey, I can’t share any details right now because of the sensitivity of this issue, but we are planning to address it on Sunday, we will let you know if anything comes in the meantime. Or we’re planning to send something out tomorrow, but we’ve just learned about it ourselves, so if you could just give us a little bit of time to process this. It’s amazing how far that will get, because some people just want to know, okay, they know about it, they’re taking care of it, I can step back and let them. They feel security in that. And so in that way, you’re caring for your people. You’re not just putting optics out there, you’re actually caring for them and stepping forward in that way.

Amy Whitfield: [00:17:41] One thing that can happen a lot is people will either move too slowly or they’ll move too quickly. When they move too quickly, they start, you know, I just said one bad thing is that they shut down. The other bad thing is they start answering all the questions, and everybody’s talking. So this person is talking over here and giving this amount of information, and another person is answering these questions and giving additional information. Then people start talking to each other and they get confused, and you don’t have a cohesive way of communicating. It’s really important to give yourself time to make sure all the most important stakeholders, the leaders, are on the same page and are ready and able to help people with clarity is kindness, and so making sure that you’ve given yourself time for that..

Amy Whitfield: [00:18:32] But also, I know some people who will move really slowly and they’ll, you know, and I hate this, I’m used to it because I work in this area, but sometimes a crisis will happen and a person will be like, well, I was taking the day off today, so just, you know, let me know tomorrow. And some crises don’t allow for that, I mean you can’t. I mean, you would like for them to, but some of them have, a very quick response that is needed. And so, kind of coming to terms with that, that you need to at times just get right on it, and I’ve had many days that I’ve wanted to be off and end up not being so.

Bart Blair: [00:19:16] Let me ask you a question. You know, if I’m putting together a crisis communication strategy, this thought just occurred to me, and maybe this is worth diving into. Maybe I should probably create some categories for the types of crises that we might encounter. So, you know, somebody bringing peanuts into the children’s ministry is on a completely different level than someone actually abusing someone in the church or committing a crime. Or, you know, if there’s a victim involved, there’s always a very different need to respond than if the victim is kind of a global like we found out that somebody was embezzling money from the church. Okay, so we’re all victims, but there’s not like a single person. Whereas if someone was abused, there is a physical victim and, you know, criminal charges perhaps, and those types of things. So how do you, as a team, categorize those types of responses? And because you said, you know if somebody’s taking a day off and they’re thinking, well, I’ll just deal with this when I’m back in the office, how do we rate the level of our crises so that we know, okay, this is not one that you can wait until you get back to the office, this is one that has to be done today. How do you work with that?

Amy Whitfield: [00:20:30] Well, we have really worked with our staff and done a lot of training. You know, the one you’re talking about where there’s a victim, particularly when there is someone who comes forward with an allegation of abuse, you have to move very quickly, and there are a lot more steps than just the communications piece. I am one voice who is just trying to help, how do we let the right people know? And so there are trainings in that particular area and how to care, well, for, victims and survivors of abuse. So, getting your team up to speed on that, and having plans in place, because with those you typically have to act very quickly. Other ones, like you said, like the peanut allergy. No, unless it happened, you know, this morning during the women’s Bible study, they brought their kids and it happened this morning. And so now you realize, and you’ve got to get that word out because there’s a certain window of time, you know, or whatever. That’s something you would act quickly on, not because it’s as egregious, but because it’s time-sensitive. But you definitely want to recognize there are some that raise to a level where you’re bringing in more than just your communications folks, we have people who, in our counseling ministry and other places, are specifically trained to speak in with expertise in some of these other areas.

Amy Whitfield: [00:22:01] You know, one of the first major crises I ever dealt with, which was when I was at a seminary, and we actually had a member of the seminary community who died in a very tragic accident. But she had also been part of kind of the broader community, and so because of that and because of sort of the nature of the accident, it got a ton of news media. So we all of a sudden had news media showing up on to the property, trying to get shots, driving around where the the family lived. That’s something where you just, everybody has to get it in gear immediately, we’ve got to go and get this all, kind of reined in. We need to figure out who’s going to be communicating with the media. How do we protect this family? So sometimes it is you know it when you see it, and you need to, I would say acting quickly needs to be your default as opposed to not. You can get into it and realize, okay, we can take this a little bit slower.

Bart Blair: [00:23:12] Sure. Let’s use that point as a shift in the conversation, and let’s talk a little bit about the media. We’ve talked a lot about communication inside the church family and inside the church body, but let’s shift that focus to dealing with the media and the rest of the community. In the situation that you mentioned, you know, the person who passed away was an active member of the community. The reality is, and we know this to be true, that when there is an incident in the church, the more sensational it is, the more interest there is from the local media and the community at large. What are sort of your policies and procedures with how you deal with news outlets and other media outlets that might want information from the church? How do they fit into the grand scheme of your communication strategy?

Amy Whitfield: [00:23:59] So first of all, I always remember in kind of the bigger media policy, the more relationships you can build with members of the media when there’s not a crisis, the better situation you’re in when there is a crisis. So if you have an opportunity, if you’re in a smaller area and you can just initiate connections with local media, that’s great. For me, in our area, we will often have media that will just reach out and ask us about outreach events or things like that. I take as many media calls as I possibly can because that helps me build a connection, it helps them know who to call, and it helps them to know that I’m going to cooperate with them as much as possible. And then I think it’s really important, and this is something that, particularly if you don’t come out of a communications background, a lot of times pastors don’t know this or other staff members, but just realizing the categories that you can use when you talk to the media on the record, off the record, background information. And so you can have a conversation with the media person to say, off the record, I need to let you know that the family is not available for you to talk to for this reason and so I can’t make them available, but I will send you a statement within the next hour, and that’s what we’ll be on the record. So building in those kinds of, instead of panicking, or if there’s something that has happened that is, like you said, a crime, I have relationships with members of the media. I’ve been able to say, hey, off the record, I’m not going to be able to tell you anything about this, we’re dealing with it right now, I’ll send you something in 30 minutes. And then just understanding, you don’t have to do on-air interviews, you can send written statements, there are all kinds of things that you can do. The worst thing you can do is say, no comment. I mean, I would say don’t respond before you actually say no comment. No comment communicates way more than you want it to, and so if you’re not able to answer then you just leave it. And then they can say, we tried to reach out, but we didn’t hear anything back, that’s better than they told us no comment. So just building that, and then also recognizing they’re going to tell the story, you have an opportunity to be part of that, to actually dictate what is said about you. If you don’t, they’re going to fill in those gaps again. So as much as you can say, go ahead and do that. But I don’t ever do, I don’t like, you know, especially in a crisis, we do as few off-the-cuff interviews as possible. We don’t have, you know, swarms of people coming on and just, you know, talking to anyone. We try to be prepared, we want to have the command of what we need to let the public know.

Bart Blair: [00:27:05] At what point, Amy, would you say that before responding to requests for interviews or statements or information, at what point is it important to consult legal counsel? Are there times and places where it’s like, hey, before we even address the media, especially if there’s a criminal charge or something that could be perceived as criminal, you know, what’s your advice there?

Amy Whitfield: [00:27:29] Absolutely, and particularly in a scenario like that, you would want to run something by your legal counsel. And you need to be following all the things, especially if there’s a crime that you’re reporting, you’re doing all of these things, but you want to run that by them before it’s released, this is with written statements. That doesn’t preclude you from responding to the media person and saying, hey, we don’t have anything for you yet, but I will. What’s your deadline, and are there particular questions that you’re asking? I’ll try to find out and I’ll let you know. That will do a ton for you. And then, yes, you would want to involve legal counsel or other counsel that you need on what goes out, eventually. So I think that what you want to think through is how to maintain the open lines of communication while you do the work that you need to do to be precise.

Bart Blair: [00:28:29] Okay. So you’ve already hit on a few mistakes that you see churches make from time to time, either responding too quickly, saying too much, not responding quickly enough, or not saying enough. What are some other pitfalls that you see churches fall into when it comes to their crisis communication? What mistakes do you see them make? What are things that if you have the ear of many, many communications directors right now, what are the please don’t do this, or please do this types of things that you would counsel them on?

Amy Whitfield: [00:29:03] Yeah. So I would say, and especially in this day and age, transparency is a high commodity right now. And so it becomes really important to ask the question, what is the most amount of information that we can give, and to try to do that. It actually helps people the more that they can know. Now you’re going to have certain legal constraints, you’re going to have certain privacy issues, that you have to be protective of. You may have a situation that involves personnel, and there are certain things that you are not able to divulge. That’s fine, you need to ask the question, how much can we explain? And you need to bring, you know, multiple eyes into that. You know, here we have a human resources director, as I said, a lot of times, our counseling director, our counseling pastor will be involved in things that we put out. You might need to consult with legal counsel before you publish something. That’s fine, but always do it with an eye toward, saying as much as you possibly can because more information just helps and serves your people. So I think a huge mistake is often when people will just want to kind of be closed off. And then for the information you can’t share, be able to explain why. To say, I wish that I could tell you more, if you have specific questions you can come and ask. We would be happy to have a conversation and maybe hear what your biggest concerns are. I wish we could say more, but this is all that we’re able to share publicly for whatever reason, you know that that it may be. So trying to sort of anticipate the questions that people might have, and then to tell us as much as you possibly can, that’s a huge one.

Amy Whitfield: [00:30:58] And then the other one, which I touched on this a little bit earlier, is if you don’t have all the people on the same page and so you have different levels of communication happening depending on who the leader is. That’s one of the biggest pitfalls because what begins to happen is people start comparing stories, they get confused, you’ve got something that has kind of gotten out of control and then you’re not able to serve people well at all. I would also say be willing to, you know, go to great lengths, as we said, if there’s an incident, so, for example, when you talk about if there’s something that involves a victim. Obviously, your first responsibility is to contact the authorities to do everything to care for that victim. Now you start moving out, if there was an incident that happened, and you need to let the other families know, or you need to put something out in case maybe other victims might need to come forward. Go ahead, and go to the nth degree, get as much out as you possibly can, and make as many phone calls as you possibly can. Go the extra mile, it is the right thing to do, and it will pay off. It is an investment in building that trust, and also in helping, you know, what you see as a small crisis may be bigger. You need to be the one that finds that out, as opposed to letting it just sort of come to you. But obviously, as we’ve said, in certain things, if you need to involve the authorities, that’s, you know, kind of your number one thing, and then you begin to walk with them.

Amy Whitfield: [00:32:42] The other thing I would say is to keep an eye on all the people that need to be on sort of your team for this. So that may include your head of security, that may include your facilities director, you know, other people. A lot of times you can kind of forget and keep the room small, but there are folks who bring particular insight, into that meeting or that discussion. And so keep an eye on who all needs to be here. The stakeholders are going to be different for every crisis, so don’t just keep it, you know, the same. Bring the people who can help the most.

Bart Blair: [00:33:19] This has been really, I think, a very useful, very helpful conversation. We do need to kind of wrap things up here, but I just want to have a couple of questions to close things out. One is this, your experience currently in your current church is it’s a large church, and you’re mentioning people like head of security and HR and all these other people. You know, you know, from your experience in the SBC that the average church out there is probably like a pastor, maybe a part-time youth pastor, a part-time worship pastor, a part-time administrative assistant, secretary. You know, if I’m a smaller church and I don’t have all of these staff and all of these resources, what are the best places for me to start in terms of crafting my crisis communication strategy?

Amy Whitfield: [00:34:07] Yeah. So first of all, I mean, there are actually some great resources out there that you can look at. I mean, you can even just start with searching articles on crisis communications. There are some that are developed for sort of the business world or for the nonprofit world that actually give you some great principles for churches, so you can do some looking on your own. Also knowing, you know, depending on if you’re part of a denomination, you may have a local association, or a state, or regional headquarters that you can reach out to for help, there typically are people who are skilled and ready to help and walk alongside you in that, or possibly other churches. I help, even now, I will consult and help other churches as they walk through things because maybe they they are smaller. There’s an incredible network, particularly in the communications area. So I would really encourage that if you are trying to develop this or if you get hit with a crisis, don’t hesitate to reach out. I mean, when I do that and help people, I have a confidentiality that that I will do and say, I’m just here to help you think through what to do. So there are resources out there that you can go to.

Bart Blair: [00:35:28] Okay. Well, that actually answered sort of my second question, which was, you know, asking are there are there any specific resources or any tools that you’ve sort of leaned into that you found to be especially helpful? Are there any specific voices, any people that speak into this, outside of you and your expertise, that you have sort of learned from?

Amy Whitfield: [00:35:48] Yeah. So I’m going to be honest and tell you a lot of what I learned, I had to learn by doing. And that’s one reason I love to talk about it because I don’t want other people to have to learn that. So pretty much my only resources have been through like communications textbooks, and things like that, and then learning as I went with other people. There is not a great resource out there for communications crises or for crisis management for churches. but actually, I am, at the beginning of trying to work on a project like that. So we actually hope that some more of those are coming, and podcasts like this, starting the conversation to say churches need to start getting serious about this. So I don’t have a lot of great ones because we need to start building that body of work.

Bart Blair: [00:36:40] Yeah, I appreciate that. And so if any of you are listening to this and you have an eager spirit to contribute to something like this, it’s a good time to be on it. Because I think you’re right, there are far too many resources on how to post awesome social media content and not enough resources on how to deal with real-life issues that happen in the context of the local church. And, you know, I don’t mean to bash social media, it’s the highlight reel, but it’s not always what’s real, right, and the real stuff is the stuff that we need to be prepared to respond to and communicate through. Because it’s that real stuff in which people’s picture of the church is really shaped, it’s really formed. You know, people can look at us on social media, they can look at our YouTube channel, and they can think they know what the church is all about. But it’s when we face a crisis or a situation, and how we handle that crisis or that negative situation, that really reveals who we are, how united we are as a spiritual family, as a leadership team, and all the other stuff that is really measurable and defining of who we are as followers of Jesus. So, very cool. Amy, thanks again for hanging out with me today. If folks have follow-up questions for you, or if they want to get some more information, maybe something that you mentioned, sparked another question that they have that we didn’t actually answer. How can they get ahold of you?

Amy Whitfield: [00:38:03] Yeah. My email address is awhitfield@SummitChurch.Com, and I would love to hear from anyone, so.

Bart Blair: [00:38:12] Okay. And is that the leaf-blower guy in the background again? Did I just hear a leaf blower?

Amy Whitfield: [00:38:15] He just came back?

Bart Blair: [00:38:16] Before we started recording, we delayed for about ten minutes because the leaf-blowing man was blowing.

Amy Whitfield: [00:38:23] And here he is.

Bart Blair: [00:38:24] And he is now back, so perfect time for us to wrap this up. Amy, thanks again for hanging out with me today. If you, have found this content to be helpful for you, we’d love for you to leave a rating or review wherever you’re listening. Or if you’re watching on our YouTube channel, leave us a comment there. And if you haven’t ever subscribed, wherever you’re listening, make sure that you do that so that you don’t miss any future episodes. Amy, thanks again for hanging out with me today, have a great end of your year.

Amy Whitfield: [00:38:48] All right. Thanks.

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