The Bible clearly says “go and tell”. But what if the community isn’t listening? I often hear Pastors say “we can’t make the community listen, it’s only up to us to tell”. Can you imagine if we took that approach with our kids? We’d be talking a lot without them paying attention (and our kids would be awful)!
Let’s do what it takes for people all around us to listen. We need to formulate our messages so they’ll be received and processed. Sadly, the world has ignored the Church because our messages seem irrelevant to them.
Here are 5 sweeping communication paradigms that must be tackled now:
- No one will listen unless you love first. No wonder why Jesus said “they” will know we’re christians by our love. We often struggle loving each other, let alone our communities. Remember that people received love differently (thanks Dr. Gary Chapman for your 5 Love Language book!)
- Few understand what the purpose of a church is. About a third of our communities don’t have any concept of what we actually do. And strangely, as I talk to congregations, I’m not sure it’s clear to most Christians why we “do” church. Establish it in your congregation’s hearts so that we can extend our purpose outside of our doors. Make it simple (not these long purpose statements)!
- Don’t assume they hear your message. Many churches think they’re communicating enough. Are you posting to social media? Billboards? Ads? Don’t assume that the unchurched are paying attention. Most people are only half-listening and usually only to those things that interest them. Work on your headlines and stop saying so much — we have to stop creating marketing clutter!
- Talk about your solutions and benefits. (Here’s the secret) Want your message to be heard? Do the research to understand what the pains, problems, concerns and goals are in your community. If someone is hungry and you talk about hunger and feeding, they’ll listen. Talk about their concerns and you’ll get their attention every time. Create headlines that mention the concern or the solution. Get them to say “I didn’t realize I needed a church to help me with that!”. Then, once you get their attention, love them. And part of love is gently guiding them to Jesus (without this step, you’re simply a service organization — and we’re called to be ministers!)
- Don’t create a separate website for outsiders. When the community starts to listen, they’ll go to your website. What we know: they want to see what you’re all about. They want your benefit and solution to be intertwined through every page; not just promoted on a separate page or stand-alone website (or microsite). Use your entire website to demonstrate what you’re all about. Let them see true Christian community and fellowship. Then, they’ll not only listen, they want to attend.