Church communications professionals from as far away as Australia are heading to Brentwood Baptist Church outside of Nashville next week for Big Idea. It will be the first conference geared specifically for this audience.
Big Idea is the brainchild of Brentwood’s Digital Strategy Director Darrel Giardier and Digital Content Manager Katie Allred. They noticed a gap in the events space for church communicators. Most conferences concentrate exclusively on technology and production rather than on brand and marketing strategy.
“Our event is essentially a conference for anyone who deals with church communication and marketing on any level, from a graphic designer who’s just one member of a larger team to the one communications staffer who is the Jack-of-all-trades for a smaller church,” he explains.
About half of the presenters at Big Idea are members of Brentwood’s 17-person communication team. The other half is comprised experts in the field or staff members from other churches. Nona Jones, who leads faith-based partnerships at Facebook, is a keynote speaker along with Evan McBroom, founder of church communications agency Fishhook.
Content will cover common challenges church communicators face like branding, designing on a budget, crisis management and managing user-generated content. Giadier says that simply connecting these professionals will be a huge benefit.
“Some of these people are the only ones at their church who work on communications, so building networks and realizing others have the same struggles is such an ‘ah-ha’ moment,” he says.
Giardier, who served as creative director at Lifeway for 12 years prior to joining the staff at Brentwood, says this event is not only the first-of-its-kind in the industry, but also an inaugural opportunity for Brentwood.
“Big Idea is the first conference where Brentwood has invited staff members from other churches in to learn from us,” he explains. “We’ve allowed other organizations to use our space as a venue, but this is our first foray into hosting events for people beyond our church,” he says.
He already has content and track ideas for future Big Idea gatherings.
Though it’s a first for the church and the industry, Big Idea is not the first collaboration between Giardier and Allred.
In 2015, they launched the Church Communications Facebook as a place for church communicators to share ideas and crowdsource issues. The group has grown to 16,000 members. The pair also host a weekly podcast, Church Communications, to debrief the week’s top articles and trends relevant to this audience.