Tim Schraeder: Context & Relationships

Tim Schraeder: Context & Relationships

January 10, 2011 by

Our series of interviews with our board members continues as we talk with Tim Schraeder. Tim is one of the newest members to join the Center for Church Communication (CFCC) board. Formerly the communications director for Park Community Church in Chicago, Tim is now a communications consultant with Church Solutions Group. He continues to speak, blog, tweet and share ideas about church communication. He’s also working on OUTSPOKEN, a collaborative ebook on church communication.

What’s one thing church communication directors need to understand to help their churches reach people?

Tim Schraeder: More than anything communications directors need to understand their context. Context gives direction to your content. I think too often we can get distracted looking at what other churches are doing in other places and trying to adapt it for where we are instead of looking around and observing what’s happening around us. Where we are determines what we need to do. Living in the city, I oftentimes learn the most by riding public transportation. The El in Chicago is like a snapshot of the city as it brings together people of all walks of life. You can get a real inside look at what people are reading and listening to, what conversations they are having and hear what questions they are answering. Not all cities have public transportation like that, but regardless I think an effective communication director is an active student, diligently studying and observing what’s happening in their city or community. There are simple ways to learn from hanging out in coffee shops to reading [or following] local news agencies, and just taking time to be outside of the office and out where people are. Once you know your context you’re better able to know how to adjust and shape your message so it’s heard.

There have been a lot of changes in communication in the past few years. Can churches keep up? Is it even worth keeping up?

Tim: Our message is unchanging but the ways we communicate it are changing before our eyes. I personally believe we have to be on the front lines, like the Men of Isaachar (1 Chronicles 12:32) who understand the world we live in, see it through the lens of the gospel, and know how to respond. Change is no longer an option for any business or organization that wants to survive today, and I believe that rings true for the church as well. I believe we have a mandate and responsibility to keep up. Obviously, the church has endured without any of this for the past 2,000 years, but I believe we are in a critical time to lean into what’s happening and be actively extending our message into all of the different channels people are connecting with, listening to, or viewing. It’s a race we are called to run with endurance and I believe it presents some incredible opportunities [and challenges!] for the church.

What’s the most exciting thing you’ve seen churches do to communicate in the past year?

Tim: Can I pass on this one? :) There’s just too many things I could share here!

What’s helped you most as a church communications director?

Tim: ChurchMarketingSucks.com! :) No, really, it has. But in addition to the great resources offered by the Center for Church Communication through the Church Marketing Sucks blog and the Church Marketing Lab, I think the relationships I’ve made with other church communications directors has been key in my own personal growth. There’s a lot you can learn by watching and following other churches but getting to know the people behind-the-scenes and the “why” behind the “what” has been the most valuable for me. A lot of those friendships and connections were made through attending conferences or events back in the day, but today with Twitter and blogs it’s even more easier. I think having a trusted handful of people to bounce ideas off of, share and receive feedback from is absolutely invaluable. All throughout my career in church communications I had people like that and I would not have become who I am today without them.

What do you see down the road for the Center for Church Communication specifically and church communication in general?

Tim: For CFCC I think there is so much more potential for us to be relationally investing in the lives of church communications directors here in the U.S. and around the globe. In my role on the board of CFCC I’ll be helping to elevate the role of our Regional Network Coordinators and encourage them to network and engage with others in their respective areas as well as hoping to bring representatives from other countries, too! I believe there’s a wealth of information and resources CFCC has at its disposal but the greatest thing we can offer is relationship building and connection.

For church communication, I see the role of a church communications director changing from being a “director” to more of a consultant. I think as churches continue to grow and as the communications needs of each audience in a church changes, every ministry and area of the church will need to learn to adapt and discover how to best communicate with their respective audiences. While communications directors will oversee and manage church-wide communications, I can see them working as in-house consultants with individual ministries to help them figure out how to best reach and engage with their people. I think they’ll be doing less and less of the heavy lifting and empowering others to engage.

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Kevin D. Hendricks


When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998 and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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