Cutting, Slicing, and Editing
It’s the middle of the night. I’ve found my victim – the one I’m going to make bleed. He’s young. He just arrived to the party. He’s filled with enthusiasm and ready to make his mark on the world. But we’ll see just how much impact he’ll have when I take my first slice into him.
Yes, I’m a serial killer.
I kill words, sentences, and even paragraphs. That’s my job. I’m an editor. I spend my days taking the hard work my writers send me, and cutting, slicing, and editing them away. Sometimes I’ll take a 1,500 word article and shred it down to 900. You should see the rivers of tears flowing from my writers each month.
I kill hundreds of good sentences and thoughts each issue.
It’s a brutal job. But somebody has to do it. It’s a vital part of effective communication.
I feel bad, to be honest. But there’s so much good stuff in each article, I can’t allow things to cloud it up. I can’t allow the best ideas to get lost in the mediocre ideas. That’s why I attack each article with such brutality. That’s why I risk offending my amazing, volunteer writers. The message is far too important to let it get lost in the clutter.
I run a magazine for churches. But you run a church. Your job is far more important than mine.
Do you attack your church’s communication with the same brutality as I do? If not, you should. Your message is far too important to let it get lost in the clutter.
So how do you go about cutting, slicing, and editing your church’s communication?
Remove the Christianese
You know what Christianese is. It’s the words we use when we don’t really know what we’re talking about. Glory, blessing, devotion. They’re the words we don’t use in everyday language – only at church. Even more “modern” terms like dynamic, moving, or transforming are all words we don’t normally use in our conversations with the Starbucks barista.
When we remove these words from our church’s vocabulary, it forces us to analyze what we’re really saying. Maybe the Christianese word is necessary. But more often, you’ll realize either the word doesn’t need to be there, or there’s a much better way to express what you’re really trying to communicate.
Stop Filling Space/Time
My word count for each article is 750-1250 words. There are times I bring an article down to 500. And that’s ok. If I’m trying to fill space in my magazine, the great messages in the articles get lost. Sometimes all the article needs is 500 words.
You have a word count at your church. Maybe it’s the 75-minute service. Maybe it’s the full page of the bulletin. Maybe it’s the front page of your website.
Do you ever find yourself filling space/time at your church? Stop that! If there’s only 50-minutes of great service content, leave it at that. If there’s only one announcement for the bulletin, put one announcement on the page. (Or better yet, find a better way to announce the event, rather than wasting paper.) If you’re trying desperately to keep a “current news” section going on your website’s front page, eliminate it. You don’t have to fill space/time. Say only what you have to say, and let that be enough.
Tell Stories, Not Facts
Have you ever sat down to read a technical manual? How many pages did you make it before giving up and watching TV? For most of us, that would be about five pages. But you can sit down with a great novel and read 100 pages in a single day.
Are you telling stories in your church, or are you presenting facts?
Try this: Convert your next communication piece into a story. See how it hits home. Sure, it might use more words than the initial piece – but it won’t feel like it to your congregation.
Cut, slice, and edit your church’s communication. Your message is far too important to let it get lost in the clutter.