Jersey Road PR is making our crisis communications course for churches available for free to help church leaders be proactive, empathetic and transparent in how they handle the issues they face.
The Calm in the Storm course equips leaders for the most common crises faced by churches, such as abuse, fraud, bullying and culture wars.
Gareth Russell, managing director of Jersey Road PR, said: “Having helped many churches respond to these types of stories, we know the best crisis is one that doesn’t happen in the first place, and that’s why we’ve decided to make this course free for churches.”
Calm in the Storm gives leaders a foundational understanding of good crisis communications and helps them apply it to their own church situation – from guidance on how to prevent a crisis, to how to respond effectively and repair the damage if a crisis hits.
Stephen Walker-Williams, pastor of Gold Hill Baptist Church in Chalfont St Peter, south Bucks, took the course after reading an article about it last year.
He said: “They don’t train you in PR in Bible College, and that’s understandable, but I think this is increasingly important and essential for church leaders to go through.”
Gold Hill has around 400 people in church every Sunday, and a further 1,000 each week come through the doors of its Hub building for ministry groups or community activities.
Stephen continued: “The reputation of the church is massive in the village, and we need to guard that reputation, because it opens doors or closes them firmly for a long time.
“When I’ve gone door-to-door in the community, I have come across people who left the church because of things that happened 30 or 40 years ago. For instance, I’ve spoken to people who were divorced and felt rejected by the church’s teaching on that at the time. They’ve still got that hurt and their view of the church is that it’s horrible.
“They are closed to the Gospel or further conversation because of how something was handled. So our reputation in the community is very important.”
Stephen went through the material on his own first, then shared a summary of his learnings with the church elders and the leadership team is now working though the course together.
He said he particularly appreciated a chart in the course workbook which takes leaders through some of the main reputational risks faced by churches to consider how they would respond.
“As we were going through, we realised that we’d already come across a number of those issues, so it was really good to know that the people who put the material together actually thought like a church leader.
“While we already have processes in place to deal with some of these issues, this helped us think through what we would say in statements ahead of time.”
As a result, the leadership is thinking through how it handles issues it has identified that could cause controversy locally in the future.
“It’s very valuable to prepare when everything’s calm and you’ve got time to think through things with other leaders, so that if and when things go wrong you can be clear and confident,” Stephen said.
“The material is so well thought-through and structured – I think it would be valuable for groups of church leaders to go through the course together and encourage one another.”
You can access the Calm in the Storm crisis communications course for churches here.
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