I fly a lot, and I pray before each flight that God would allow me to have an effective conversation with the person next to me. Effective? That means I’ll represent the Church in a good light and talk about Jesus or faith somehow.
Occasionally, the Holy Spirit prepares the stranger and, through questions and answers, I end up praying out loud with the person who agrees to it. As a Christian, I believe this is my role. Sometimes, however, the person will sit down and quickly put their earphones in, pull out a book, or quickly close their eyes and lean back in their chair. They are essentially saying, “leave me alone”. So I do. Obviously, God isn’t opening the doors for a conversation.
What about a church setting where you’re trying to communicate to them? Maybe they’ve unsubscribed from your email list, declined a bulletin, or unfollowed your social media feed — these are the kind ways. Then there’s the vocal person who sees you in the church foyer, sends you a long email, or comments on your feed: “I wish you’d stop pushing church information to me!”
What’s a church to do? Should you take it personally? Should you try to discover a way around their ultimatum? Here’s 3 essential things every church should do:
- Consider who they are if you can. Maybe they’re not really interested in the things that your church is. Maybe they’re considering leaving the church. Maybe they’re well connected, so they already know everything. Maybe they prefer to seek out the information (on your website) rather than get print material or emails. Maybe they’re trying to simplify life! Always consider who they are and what possible motives they might have before taking it personally.
- Take a look at your content. What do we know about most people today? They want YOU to do the heavy-lifting, editing out anything not important to them and ONLY delivering the things they desire. And even then, they just want the smallest amount of information. They want you to edit out every unimportant word. People don’t have time to read or direct their attention to a lot of communications. They don’t have the time for anything they don’t have time for. If you’re not providing it this way, you’re creating an audience that’s tuning you out. You need to change.
- Try and talk to them. If your content is great, and the person “should” want your information, I would attempt to talk to them if possible. Maybe they can give you tips on how to deliver better materials to your congregation. Whatever you do, listen and ask questions; don’t get defensive! You can always learn something from them.
Once you’ve done these things and have tried to adapt for people (without upsetting everyone else), you must realize you can’t please everyone. So, as difficult as it is, you should be relieved to let them go from your communication since they’re not the type of person who wants to listen to what you have to offer. Our whole goal is to not waste anyone’s time!