Spreading the word

Scott Vaughan has built a career from his communication skills and faith

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Spreading the word

Scott Vaughan. Photo by Al Beard, Southern Sports

If you see a visitor standing in the vestibule of your church, speak to him.

It might be Scott Vaughan. And if you ignore him he might put that in his report.

As a church communications strategist, Vaughan travels the country visiting churches, helping them improve guest relations, communicate with members, and connect with communities.

He’s an invited and paid guest of the churches he visits and he networks with more than 2,400 churches throughout North America.

“My first question is ‘where’s the pain,’ ” Vaughan says when churches contact him. For some churches it’s growing pains, he says. But most are just at a place where there is a disconnect with the communities they serve.

“I’ll show up Sunday morning like a guest and evaluate how they treat people,” he says. “I know what it’s like to go to a church and nobody speaks to you.”

A 1981 graduate of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and a newspaper reporter and editor for almost 20 years, Vaughan says he was called to church communications when he was editor of the Lexington Dispatch News. Pastors would bring in ads and press releases for their churches and Vaughan “knew those ads weren’t going to do what they wanted them to do.”

Using the chamber of commerce conference room, Vaughan began holding free monthly meetings to help churches and other nonprofits better understand advertising strategy.

As far as he could tell, there was no one then doing the kind of church communication strategy that he felt was needed. In 1994, he left the newspaper business to explore communication ministry. His first work was a part-time position writing news releases for the South Carolina Baptist Convention in Columbia. The next year he became the state convention office’s director of church services.

When the state convention office created a marketing department in 1997, Vaughan was head of it. It wasn’t long before he was getting calls from churches of other denominations seeking his help.

In 2003, he resigned and started Scott Vaughan Communications. Since then he has worked for churches across the country representing more than 24 different denominations and faith organizations. He jokes, “I serve faith groups I didn’t even know existed.” He was licensed to the ministry in 2005.

Churches hire Vaughan to visit their church, review their communications materials, talk to their staffs and congregations and determine what they need to do to grow more strategically. It was during a 2005 visit that he realized he had found his calling.

“I was sitting in a service and I thought, what is this boy from Cumming, Georgia doing in this church in Gig Harbor, Washington,” he says. “That was a real defining moment for me. I knew I was absolutely doing what God put me on this earth to do.”

Beyond site visits, Vaughan is a frequent speaker, across the country, using humor, stories and anecdotes to help church leaders understand the value of communication to the effectiveness of today’s church.

“I’m not a preacher, I’m not a missionary,” Vaughan says. “But I understand the work of the church and I have a newspaper background so I understand communications and I can bring them both together.”

For more on Vaughan’s work, go to http://www.svministry.com