– Public Relations for churches, Marce Okey Anyanwu, PR Impacts, 2014
As megachurches continue to spring up, attracting thousands of worshippers, it is notable that the competitiveness to stand out from the rest is the focus of new generation churches. These doesn’t come cheap for those who are determined to keep the congregation flowing, it takes a great deal of planning and executing actions that will serve in the best interest of her leaders, members and the public. While some have been able to attain the eagle height, many still grope on the plains of obscurity due to lack of understanding.
For a system that has become transactional and enterprising, it is not unfounded to consider the factors that have been initiated into ensuring the smooth running of the church. Physical and spiritual factors combine to form basis on which the church grows, nurtures and replenishes itself.
Meanwhile, the most important factor in a place of worship is the humans who make “church” meaningful, and not the other way round. When humans come to the fore, it becomes pertinent to ask how is the ideals of human relations is tackled in regards to branding, leadership, communication and services. These questions and more are raised in the book, public relations for churches.
Outlined in a thesis style, Marce Anyanwu weighs the effect of engaging public relations practice in the running of the church. He traces it back to the time of Adam, the first creation. He is more concerned with applying the rules, codes and ethics of the profession to achieve a desirable outcome, which translate to results that are in the interest of the church and its members.
At the management level, he task leaders to be good time managers, be accountable and to acquire notable marketing and management skills. The major hindrance to this, as he points out, is lack of a clear-cut organisational structure. As with the secular world, the role of ICT cannot be overemphasised. It is the best platform to build, project, protect or mar any image in split seconds. The church needs to deploy and use social media to simplify its duties publicity and soul winning.
Decisively, the intent of the author himself is to salvage the church’s image, which he does analytically. To buttress this, he uses a handful of scriptural references and theoretical questions. Anyanwu helps to understand that the business of the institutional church is a difficult one, one that has a corporate image at stake if action is not taken to protect it.
In the book, he reveals various forms of image an institution can have, which can be destroyed by what is done, not done, the way it is done and, more importantly, its communication within itself and the outside world: “The church corporate image can as well be seen as an amalgam of the church’s public attitudes, opinions, and beliefs about that church, established thing the powers and influence built overtime.” Part of the solutions to saving a corporate image, he tells us, lies in issues management.
Redressing it appropriately requires preparations, because churches will always have cause to handle, owing to its large and multiple members stakeholders. He advises that churches conduct issues audit to identify matters that carry implications for the organisation. Once this is done, then the order of analysing the issues, strategising and implementing action can follow. He rounds off with touching on areas such as the children church and the attending challenges that come with this territory.
Anyanwus’s book explores the role of church community relations duty to host communities, which involves implementing purposeful strategies that can cater to the need(s) of the community. These needs can be met through educationist, recreational and voluntary activities.
Through the depth of knowledge shared in the book, it gives a nuanced insight into how the church can manage its image as a corporate body.