Effective Church Communication

Vision, Plans, and Resources

Williams Costa Jr. was born in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil.

He concluded three college degree programs in Brazil: Piano (1972), Composition and Conducting (1974), and Music Education (1975). In 1976 he earned a master’s degree in Music History and Composition at Andrews University, Berrien Springs, Michigan, United States. He worked as music teacher, as well as a choir and orchestra conductor for almost 20 years. During this time he produced and recorded almost 100 albums and composed more than 1,000 hymns, orchestral arrangements, and original compositions.

In 1991 he was invited to be the It is Written (IIW) producer for the Portuguese language. After five years, he became the Brazilian IIW associate director and in May of 1998 he was called to be the Western Hemisphere Adventist Satellite Television (WHAST) director, institution created and maintained by the General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventists. After two years, Novo Tempo TV and Nuevo Tiempo TV started. They are the South American Division’s Hope Channel in Portuguese and Spanish respectively.

In 2005 he was called to be the South America Region Communication and Public Affairs and Religious Liberty director.

In October of 2006 he accepted the call to serve as an associate Communication Department director at the General Conference (GC) responsible for the Media Services. At the last GC Session in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, in 2010, he was called to be the GC Communication Department director.

What is the main purpose of the GC Communication Department and how it is impacting our worldwide church?

The main purpose of the GC Communication Department is to serve. We exist to share, help, and support the communication process of the departments and institutions of our Church worldwide. Without communication there is no information, inspiration, and consequently, motivation. Good and positive communication binds people, strength goals, and empowers vision. Communication is the soul of relationship. We can’t strength a relationship without communication. On the other hand, hatred normally comes from preconceive perceptions and miscommunication. The first reaction of anenemy is, “I don’t want to talk with you.” Friendship is based in good communication. In a world church like the Seventhday Adventist Church, it is indispensable to communicate, because communication is the divine way to converge and integrate. Communication is the fuel for unity.

What are your vision and strategies for effective church marketing using high-tech devices and the social media?

We can’t ignore the time that we live. The world has changed and there are a number of things that we also need to change. I don’t support the concept of changing for change sake. We always need to have a reason for an initiative. My vision for effective church marketing is lives transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. We cannot share what we don’t have. Marketing is not magic. You must have something inside to have consistent and meaningful content to share outside. Without Jesus in the heart there is no strategy that can make a good marketing. In this context it is important to be inserted in the society using the high-tech devices and the social media. Everybody is migrating to these devices. We can’t ignore them. I strongly believe that we can’t substitute the personal touch, but I also recognize the effectiveness of the quick messages on Twitter; the pictures on Instagram, the video chats on Skype, just to mention some of the possibilities. More than ever we can testify about Jesus in a personal way and also through the social network.

“Tell the World” is the program of the Church for this quinquennium. On the other hand, we have many worldwide initiatives like “Revival and Reformation,” “Mission to the Cities,” and others. What is the responsibility of the Communication Department to promote these milestones?

Since I came to GC Communication Department I caught people by surprise asking “what can we do to inform what you are doing?” Many people look to me thinking: “what does this department want from mine?” Well, the essence of our mission is not to work “as a department.” If you think carefully, a “Communication Department” has nothing to communicate, unless it receives content from other depatments – Sabbath School/Personal Ministries, Education, Stewardship, etc. “Tell the World,” “Revival and Reformation,” “Mission to the Cities” and many other worldwide initiatives need to be announced. If people know what has been done, surely it will be a great blessing and inspiration. This is the role of communication. I don’t say that we have a “responsibility.” Responsibility sounds to me “too heavy.” I would say it is our privilege to announce, inform, and support what has been planned, what has been done, and what the church plans to do. We are pleased to communicate.

The church elders are the key leaders to promote the plans, initiatives, and decisions of the worldwide Church. How can they support the Communication Department at the local church level?

In many parts of the world people think that the pastor is the spine of the church. Of course the pastor is the leader, the main figure of a church, but I remember once traveling along the Amazon River and we stopped in a little village. It was a little community of 500 people. All of them were Seventhday Adventists. In the center of the village they had a beautiful church with 500 seats. This village was part of a pastoral district of 36 churches. The churches were far from the pastor’s home. To get to some of them it took two days by traveling in a little boat. The pastor was only able to get to the churches in his district one or two times a year. I asked the elder how they “survive” without a pastor. He said: “We understand that is humanly impossible for the pastor to be with us every Sabbath. We do our best to organize and help. We divide the responsibilities and everybody participates. When the pastor comes, it is a big celebration. Generally we have baptisms, communion service, and weddings. Our pastor remains as our leader and we do everything possible to support him and our Church.” I became very impressed with his answer. My understanding of the elder’s role in the church changed forever. Even in churches that have the presence of the pastor regularly, the church elders are key leaders to promote the plans, initiatives and decisions in all churches of the world. I always saw the Elder’s Digest magazine as a tremendous resource, a tremendous communication tool to support the local church leadership.

What kind of information and resources can the local congregation get from the GC Communication Department?

If the local congregation keeps in touch with the GC Communication Department, they can have access to all kinds of information and resources that have been produced. On a weekly basis, Adventist News Network (ANN) shares news, stories, testimonies, and plans of all departments and institutions. Carefully, we try to have a balanced participation giving opportunity to everybody to communicate. This is our mission.

How can I access GC Communication on the Internet?

I suggest the official site of the Church: For ANN, GAiN conference, http:// Facebook, Twitter, @adventistchurch.

If the local congregation keeps in touch with the GC Communication Department, everybody will be informed of church’s development. Let’s keep in touch and communicate the good news of salvation.