In our last section, I talked about how communication leadership includes having the “right tools.” Later in this short series, I’ll discuss the role played by Project Management Systems and Habits. In this article, I’ll talk about the importance of developing the role of “editor” within a church. This role is crucial to leading effective, consistent, reliable communications for everyone, yet it is elusive in most organizations, and especially those of the non-profit kind. It can be the pastor…but often it is not, and perhaps shouldn’t be. Please read on:
The Editorial Role
6. Who will be the champion/guardian/owner of overall communication? – Oh, is this a sticky wicket. Yes, yes, of course, the pastor sets the vision and the tone – and should – but who can shepherd the day-to-day communication activities of the church? There needs to be a person reasonably skilled with a variety of technology and communication approaches who also happens to be very good and balancing the dual role of “gatekeeper” and “catalyst.” (Not asking much, are we?) If communication is left to a “team” – formal, or more often the case – ad-hoc, those in the congregation with communication input (figure just about everybody and his uncle) won’t know the best methods, timelines for production, what the pastor feels is appropriate (or not) to communicate during the service, and a host of other things.
7. Do you (the editor) understand the vision of the pastor for the church? – This ain’t no small thing. And the trouble is, it could be that the vision is muddled or unclear or poorly articulated…or it could be that everyone takes for granted that he/she knows the pastor’s vision. The PASTOR may take it for granted that the vision is understood. In other articles, I talk about the importance of a shared and understood vision, so it’s imperative that this guides everything the communication editor does.
8. Is the editorial role explicitly understood? – The editorial/communication leader role is crucial in any organization, and the designation of “editor” or “communication leader” needs to be understood and – if you’ll allow me – “blessed” by the pastor. This isn’t about becoming needlessly autocratic. It’s about leadership and consistency, which are essential to communication, especially when constituents technically “don’t have to be there.” Nothing will spell disaster faster for communication if it seems the pastor and the communication leader are misaligned.
9. Who sets timetables, content criteria and directs project systems? – Some of the most perfunctory things that an editor of anything does is to set deadlines, criteria for submission and how things will routinely (note I said “routinely”) get done. The whole goal here is to develop a well-oiled communication engine. It is the editor or communication leader’s role to carefully set out reasonable guidelines for dates, forms, content and such. I highly recommend that the editor not establish the list of these things off on an island. Some degree of collaboration and deliberation should address most routine communication needs.
10. Where are my communication “assets”? – Sometimes, the stuff is right there under your nose. You just don’t see it. Communication “assets” in a church environment principally describe people. Now, in a small church, you may know pretty well what everyone does (“is good at”). But as churches get larger, there is often a knowledge gap in understanding where skills and abilities reside across the congregation or with other churches (yes, other churches). Do you know who your potential writers are? Do you know who’s good at negotiating pricing? Who’s your tech resource, if not on staff? Who can get the camera working when it’s on the fritz? What about when that guy’s on vacation? Having at your fingertips a handy list of people who can get things done is important. This doesn’t mean throwing out systems and processes every time you need a helper. It simply means recognizing that a communication leader’s time – like anyone’s – isn’t infinite and infinitely flexible. Build bench strength.