Memo: Church Communication and Missionary Work
Understanding the different roles played by National Communication Councils and Missions and how these two can work effectively to share the gospel of Jesus Christ and improve the reputation of the Church
Memorandum on Church Communication Work and Missionary Work effort
(based on an email sent by Dinis Adriano - Europe Area Director of Church Communication, on Nov. 4, 2020)
Dear National Directors,
I would like to bring an important matter to your attention today. My hope in writing this memo is that it may contribute to clarify some questions we have been receiving regarding Missionary work and Church Communication respective roles.
As you all know, since the current pandemic started the Church had to quickly change and adapt its efforts to better respond to an unprecedented new reality, in order to assure the building of the kingdom of God would keep progressing well. Our own work in Church Communication – both in the Europe Area office and in your National Councils – has also been affected and we were forced to do things in a completely new way. We’ve been successful in some of them, in others we have felt short, but we will keep striving to improve our work.
Another area of work of the Church that has been severely disrupted is the Missionary work. Overnight, full time missionaries had to self-isolate and shelter in place, and this forced the Missionary Department of the Church to explore many alternative ways of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with all of God’s children. One obvious choice was to increase missionary work online – especially in social media platforms.
So under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Missions around the world were invited to create their own mission pages (several of them in some cases), in the different social media platforms, so missionaries could shift their proselyting work online. The Europe Area Presidency supported this prophetic direction and asked several Church departments in the Area to also support this effort, within the respective spheres of work. We in Church Communication, were one of those departments and committed to it. In fact, we have been doing this for the last few years as we helped the Missions understand the possibilities of social media. Little did we know what was coming in 2020.
The Missions created new social media pages – under the direction of the ‘Priesthood line’ all over the globe – and concentrated their efforts in being effective in that (new) medium. For most of them, this was really their only option to give the missionaries a real ‘face-to-face’ opportunity to engage with those who are seeking for the truth.
Because the pandemic is still a reality, and it will be for the foreseeable future, Missions will keep running these ‘additional pages’ and will engage in sharing the gospel in creative (online) ways. We all need to understand this new paradigm is here to stay. And then, whenever the COVID-19 pandemic finally subsides (summer of 2021?, no one really knows) and the whole world starts going back to a new normal (I am aware of the paradox), we will resume the work of streamlining, consolidation and adjusting the number of social media channels owned by the Church.
You might be asking now: ‘Then what is the role of the Church Communication (Area office and National Councils) in this MissionaryDepartment-led social media effort’?
The answer is a simple one. Church Communication's role is to support and help Missionary Work, in the best possible, with the resources we have today. Because the Mission-created social media pages are not official pages, we do not supervise them, manage, oversee them, direct them or define strategy for them. Nor does Church Communication commit to any financial resources to support that effort. To be clear, in Church Communication, we haven’t been set apart as missionaries and we cannot and should not replace the Missions and missionaries in their sacred responsibility to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. That mandate or stewardship relies solely with them, under the guidance of the Area Presidency and of the Missionary Department. If the Missions in your respective country request help and desire to engage with your National Council - to be more effective in the online effort – you should welcome that invitation. But our role is always a supporting one. We do not lead and direct.
Written in another way - as Church Communication, our main responsibility is really to manage and oversee the official channels of the Church in each country, again under the direction of the Priesthood ‘line’- i.e., the Europe Area Presidency. This is where we need to concentrate our main efforts on. We are trying to do this ourselves in the Europe Area office. We have a great relationship with another department – the Publishing Services Department. Without them we could not do our work, that is to help provide Global and Area-generated content, meant to be published in all official digital channels of the Church in Europe.
So I hope I have clarified things a bit. I am aware that this memo may prompt different reactions from each one of you. My sole purpose is to give you the framework that can guide your actions at the local level – as you engage with the Missions and their special work. Maybe this clarification should have come sooner, if that's the case, please accept my apologies for the delay. The situation is 100% fluid these and sometimes we miss the right time to communicate. Another lesson we have learned.
If any of you needs additional clarification on this specific topic, please feel free to contact us directly – we can set a time to have a phone conversation at a convenient time and discuss our unique roles in the overall ‘Church Communication’ effort.
Thank you very much for your great work and support. It is a blessing to work with all of you.
All the best and warm regards,
Europe Area Director - Church Communication Department