Traveling Pipelines

Posted by Tim Schraeder on September 01, 2013.

Author: Tim Schraeder

As a kid who grew up in the late 1980s, Super Mario Brothers was one of my favorite video games. While Mario and his faithful friend Luigi confronted Koopa Troopers and other-worldly creatures, they navigated complex levels and challenges through magical pipelines. They were plumbers, after all. These pipelines would let them advance ahead to new levels or get golden coins and new lives.

In a lot of ways, those of us who are tasked to do church communication are like Mario and Luigi. We have a battle to fight things that stop the flow of great communication through the various communication pipelines our church uses. Those pipelines can be anything from in-service announcements to our weekly bulletins, our websites and social media channels, or any other ways we communicate with our churches.

If we’re doing our job well, the pipelines deliver the right content and message to the right audience. The problem with any pipeline, though, is that it’s susceptible to being clogged or damaged. But with some Drain-O, a plunger, and other helpful tools, we can preventatively do our best to ensure clear communication travels through our pipelines.

Often, in our church communication, things can get clogged. Too many messages can compete for attention. Too many initiatives can launch all at once, leaving people clueless as to where to focus. We can try to say too much all at once or we can try to flood people with information (good information), but in one blast, it can clog up the pipelines.

We can try to say too much all at once or we can try to flood people with information, but in one blast, it can clog up the pipelines.

Either way, we’ve got some work to do!

You’re a Plumber

In the case of your church communication, you’re a plumber. You’re the one in charge of releasing the flow of content and information in your church’s communication pipelines. If you set up the right infrastructure and lay the right pipelines, you shouldn’t have to focus too much of your time and energy on repairs. So see yourself as someone who helps regulate and manage the quality of what’s flowing through your church’s communication pipelines. With a clear strategy of how things are supposed to flow and your watchful eye, your church can avoid leaks, clogs, and other things than can be a barrier to great communication flowing to your church.

See yourself as someone who helps regulate and manage the quality of what’s flowing through your church’s communication pipelines.

Start with the Source

What’s the central source of content flowing through your church’s communication pipelines?

Every pipeline is connected to a source. If you’re finding your communication isn’t reaching the right places, or if there seems to be some barriers in the way of your message being heard, you need to go to the source and find the problem.

Part of your job is to help create clear messages, compelling content, and to release the right responses. Your job is to ensure that the barriers to the messages your church communicates are removed and that the information is flowing freely and reaching the right places.

Whatever processes you create to gather information from individual ministries and then communicate them is the primary place you need to focus. Having a system set up and a defined way that you collect and communicate through your church’s different pipelines is absolutely essential.

Every ministry in your church has messages they want to communicate, and to the individual ministries, everything is important. To help you sort through the chaos of requests and emails, set up a structure to handle them. Some churches use paper forms. At one of the last churches I worked at, we used a form on GoogleDocs. Centralizing all of your requests to one central spot will help make your life much easier. Set clear deadlines for the various communication pipelines your church uses and make sure that they, along with the ways people submit their content to you, are clearly communicated.

Once you have everything that needs to be communicated in one central source, you can then begin to determine what needs to be pushed out to your communication pipelines. Choose carefully.

Dealing with Blockages and Leaks

Even with strong communication pipelines, blockages and leaks can and will happen. In most cases, those issues aren’t to do with the things below ground – it’s oftentimes with people: ministry leaders, passionate causes, a visionary pastor with last-minute plans, or the ever-changing nature of church life. When those moments happen, things like Drain-O and a plunger won’t help.

We do what we do to make sure that clear communication flows where it needs to go.

Remember, at the end of the day, the role of a plumber is an important one, but it’s also a service job. We do what we do, day in and day out, to make sure that clear communication flows where it needs to go. In those tense moments, we need to take a breath and remember that we are fighting for something bigger than an in-service announcement, predominance on the website homepage, or a last-minute handout. We are here to serve. Gracefully face the challenges and do what you can to prevent similar situations from happening in the future.

Go and Conquer!

With all of the content that’s flowing in people’s direction today, it’s vital your church’s content is flowing clearly through its communications pipelines. Create a centralized space for communication requests to make your life easier. Be ready and willing to step in when there is a leak or a problem, and do all you can ensure things flow clearly and without hindrance. Now, go forward and take your church communication to the next level!

About the Author

Tim Schraeder
Tim is obsessed with all things social media. Having worked with some of the world’s largest churches and para-church organizations, he served as an evangelist for social media with a knack for connecting people and spreading ideas that matter. He’s been a consultant and coach as well as a sought-after speaker and previously served as the co-director of the Center for Church Communication.

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