When Crisis Strikes Your Ministry

Episode 644: An explosive crisis in a church can destroy both the congregation and Christ’s reputation in the community. Clint Clifton discusses crisis communication strategy with Christian Pinkston, founder of Pinkston, a public relations firm in Washington, D.C., that often helps churches with strategic communications.

In This Episode, You’ll Discover:

  • How a focus on enhance a church’s reputation can be an obstacle to its core mission
  • Steps young churches can take to mitigate risk and be emboldened to press forward and minister
  • The two categories of issues Pinkston finds churches most often face
  • The importance of having a communication strategy in place before a crisis happens
  • The three root causes of crisis in a church
  • What a church should do to have good risk-prevention policies in place
  • How a church planting pastor can introduce his congregation to the community through public relations

Sharable Quotes (#NewChurches):

Often we see a church focus on their profile in the community, probably for good reasons, but it almost always takes away from the focus on discipling their flock and loving and serving their neighbors. @cpinkston

Churches focused and intentional about being the church don’t find themselves in a crisis nearly as often as churches that are aiming to be something bigger than they probably should. @cpinkston

It seems like the moment we’re living in is a minefield that’s causing pastors to have fear and freeze in place, rather than move forward and bold faith to reshape their communities. @clintjclifton

We cannot walk in fear or serve our church in fear. @cpinkston

The amount of negative pressure that’s coming to churches and pastors almost feels overwhelming. @clintjclifton

You can’t out-communicate a set of bad policies. @cpinkston

Failure comes in not knowing best practices and implementing them in advance. @cpinkston

We tend to say, “This isn’t that big a deal. It’ll blow over” – and then it becomes a bigger deal. @clintjclifton

Crises are appointments by the Lord in his sovereignty as opportunities to glorify Him and an opportunity for you to walk it out faithfulness in front of your congregation without fear. They are painful, but the Lord redeems those things. @cpinkston

Hiding and denying is where these things escalate into major stories, and it’s avoidable. @cpinkston

Create a culture of transparency in your church and start building trust with your congregation. When something really bad does happen, that trust will take you a long way. @cpinkston 

The best crisis communication strategy is to be proactively communicating and building a reputation before there is a crisis. if the first thing someone hears about you is negative. It is really really hard to transform that narrative. @cpinkston

When a church tries to elevate its profile for the wrong reason, people bristle at that and it’s counterproductive. But when your church can be known for sacrificially loving and serving their community, that resonates. @cpinkston

There’s a lot we do in outreach – one-to-one connections – and then people show up on Sunday as a result. But there’s a lot we do that just simply builds the church’s reputation and aren’t necessarily reflected in the offering plate or the attendance. @clintjclifton

Building rapport in your community is a marathon. @clintjclifton

Don’t avoid controversial issues but think about how you engage those topics. Talking through them in a winsome, gracious but biblically sound way is helpful to the congregation. @cpinkston 

Pastors tend to overestimate their communication aptitude. @clintjclifton 

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Published February 24, 2022

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