A Creative Missionary

Rivers Brunson Faith, Fall 2017 0 Comments

Katie Allred ’12

Armed with an eye for design, a clever wit, a deep love for people, and the ability to fix anything tech-related, University of Mobile 2012 graduate Katie Allred just may change the world.

Since her launch from UM, Katie has become known as a rising star in the world of church communications. Officially, she is web content manager at Brentwood Baptist Church, just south of Nashville, TN and adjunct professor at University of Florida. It is her extracurricular activities, however, that have put her on the map. A regular blogger and podcaster, Katie’s role as administrator of “Church Communications,” a 10,000-member Facebook group, is her biggest claim to fame.

“People will come by the church just to meet me and will shyly come up to me at conferences,” she confessed. “I definitely did not expect that.”

The true mark that sets Katie apart from your average techie is her Great Commission mindset. She uses the Facebook group, her website katieallred.com, and her personal social media accounts to equip the saints to communicate the gospel to their corner of the internet.

“I’ve always felt the next Great Awakening will happen because the internet was invented,” she said. “I don’t want us to miss it.”

From UM to Brentwood

Katie originally chose University of Mobile for her undergraduate degree because she knew a Christian institution would create a more nurturing environment than a public college, especially in the wake of her father’s death. Once she became a student, she began working in the IT department, learning customer support, the art of cultivating relationships, and “how to fix just about anything.” After graduation, she remained in IT for an additional year.

Katie was elected Student Government Association’s secretary of technological advancement. Her contributions are still relevant today, including Google’s email platform for student email and each residence hall’s Mac lab and printer.

“It was only after successfully winning the campaign for Mac labs that I realized I would be the one who installed them,” Katie joked.

When asked to name her favorite professor, she rattled off a list of a dozen or so faculty – presumably every professor whose class she took. She credits her instructors with empowering her to think differently about work. A career is not just day-to-day tasks; a career is a calling.

“I loved learning that all work is good work… I enjoyed classes that taught me about how to not only be a good employee, but also how to someday be a good employer.”

The friends she made as an undergraduate?

“Some of the very best people I know.”

It was a fellow student at UM who introduced her to CentriKid, a high-energy summer camp where she was hired as video producer and, in later summers, as production director. There, she fell in love with creating experiences. She was trained by Darrel Girardier, who would later hire her and become her supervisor at Brentwood Baptist Church. These days she manages the web sites, social media, and email marketing for seven campuses as the mega-church’s web content manager.

“I get paid to tweet and play on Facebook—how cool is that?” she said.

Equipping the Saints

After a few years in her role at Brentwood, Katie and Darrel began discussing ways to help smaller churches with marketing and communications. They had just attended a conference and wanted to keep the conversation going. They knew that a discussion-driven community would be more helpful than an email blast, so in January 2016 they began “Church Communications,” a request-to-join Facebook group. They set their expectation at 50 members – an appropriate number to include in daily discussions.

They were astonished when the group grew to 10,000 members within 18 months.

The group has become a vibrant community of ministers with the common interest of positioning their churches to share the gospel. It includes representatives from larger-than-life churches like Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City and the all-star communications team at Elevation Church, to small church plants looking to grow and older churches looking to revitalize. Its members span the globe from Nashville to the Philippines, Australia, Nigeria and England. There’s hardly a denomination excluded, equipping everyone from Southern Baptists to Mennonites to market their churches well.

Following their popularity on Facebook, Katie and Darrel began The Church Communications Podcast featuring guest experts on topics like “How to Get the Most Out of Instagram,” “Communicating to Millennials,” “Empowering Group Leaders” and “Creating Immersive Experiences.” They hope to launch a conference soon.

“The group grew very quickly, which I consider a success, but fast growth was also difficult,” Katie acknowledged. “It’s time consuming, so we ended up getting some help from friends we made in the group who now moderate from day-to-day.”

The thought to compete in order to get ahead in her career never occurred to Katie.

“I just don’t compare myself. We were all created to shine in different ways… My pastor Mike Glenn likes to say, ‘No one has all the gifts, because there’s something about the body of Christ together that brings glory to God in a way that one person cannot.’”

Katie is grateful for the work that God is doing through the group. She does not take it lightly that she has the opportunity to affect thousands of churches and possibly millions of people. The Church is growing because of the conversation happening and resources being shared in that ask-to-join corner of the internet.

A Great Commission Mindset

With the internet now in nearly every country in the world, Katie constantly emphasizes the eternal impact churches and individuals can have through their social media platforms.

“Churches have been connecting people for thousands of years. Now social media is doing that,” she pointed out. “The question is how can we come alongside social media and use it, rather than be replaced by it.”

What does Katie most want churches to know?

“Social media is not a billboard. It’s having a conversation – just like Jesus did. It’s the same evangelism model as the one used in the 1950s with door-to-door evangelism, except in most cases it’s far less threatening.”

She is convinced that churches can no longer go without an effective digital media strategy. Corporate social media evangelism is not the only method she advocates. Katie’s own Facebook friends frequently hear the gospel through posts and live broadcasts. Once, she livestreamed daily readings of Proverbs and prayer as a way to engage with her social media friends. She was surprised to find that many of the people who engaged with those posts were the ones she had thought least likely.

Another way she contributes to kingdom work is serving with Creative Missions (www.creativemissions.to). Alongside 25 missionaries from across the United States and the United Kingdom, Katie has volunteered her expertise to church planters and missionaries in Vermont and Montana. The teams aided churches with branding, web presence, social media, audio and video.

“We did this because it’s a costly service and we wanted to bless church plants who are just getting started,” she said.

Katie’s contribution to the Great Commission is simple: “Paul wrote letters. We write social media posts.”

A Singular Focus

There’s no denying that Katie has dreams of expansion for the Church Communications Facebook community. She plans to start with a conference. After writing the forward for “ReThink.Ministry,” she hopes to eventually do some writing of her own. Ultimately, she desires to be in the center of God’s will.

For now, that means tweeting, designing websites, and helping the Church use the internet well.

“Something I learned during undergrad at UM is that God is also the God of technology, not just the God of the natural world. I’ve seen Him bring back broken computers from the dead and I’ve seen Him fix light shows in just the nick of time during production. He can move even when we don’t think He can. He cares about Facebook groups, even though there are no worship songs about Macs.

“He is good and faithful in all things,” she said. “Even the tech.”

About the Author
Rivers Brunson

Rivers Brunson

Rivers is an experienced writer and an alumna of University of Mobile. She graduated in 2015 and holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication. She returned to University of Mobile professionally as marketing communications specialist in 2017. She also hosts a podcast with Bellum Creative Group called Due South about Southern arts and culture. A Grove Hill, Alabama native, Rivers fell in love with the city of Mobile as an undergraduate student and now calls it home; however she takes frequent trips to see her family who are NAMB church planters in Livingston, Montana. She has a lovable golden retriever named Cooper.

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