Ever met anyone who opened your eyes to something that revolutionized your life? For me, that guy is my ministry friend, David Smith. More than 20 years ago after a game of golf, in casual conversation David unknowingly introduced me to an idea that ever since has been a game changer in my marriage.
Anyone who meets David for the first time quickly discovers he’s married—happily married. David talks about his wife Linda all the time—even on the golf course where many men seldom talk about their wives. I’ve always admired that about him. When I spent time with him, he constantly complimented Linda and went out of his way to build her up in front of others.
Have you ever stopped to think and seriously consider that the local church—your church—is the frontline of offense in the battle for marriage and ultimately the family?
It’s a daunting thought. God instituted marriage as one of the foundational principals of mankind, and since the moment of its inception, this sacred bond has been under attack. How is a pastor, whose time and capacity are already spread paper thin, supposed to wage a war for these covenant relationships and maintain a revolution of this magnitude and importancewhen the world is working to make them ever more dispensable?
In a recent interview for our daughters’ new school, I was asked some personal, thought-provoking questions about my walk with God. My answers surprised the interviewer a little: “I didn’t grow up in a home that served God,” he said, “so I am fascinated by those who did. I always just assumed their lives were easy and somewhat perfect.”
I am so thankful that not only did I grow up in a home that served God, but that my parents devoted their lives to helping others serve Him as well. However, those of us who grew up in the ministry or who are raising children in it know it’s far from easy or perfect.
You know the feeling—you see her coming and you want to turn away.
Mary is in your church. Something isn’t quite right with her. Sometimes she seems balanced, lucid and smart. Other times she is really off. She might have strong mood swings, flow in and out of psychotic episodes, or she could have one of dozens of mental illnesses.
The bottom line is that you (and most everyone else) feel uncomfortable around her, and with that discomfort comes frustration and sometimes guilt.
Hope: An expectation of obtainment. To expect with confidence.
I hope that I get that promotion. I hope that my children don’t get hurt. I hope that I find an amazing man to marry.
Everybody hopes in something. For something. It’s as natural as breathing.
I (Cindy) hoped that one day I’d find my knight in shining armor. I didn’t know when he’d arrive on my doorstep, so while I waited for him, I made a list of things that I desired to find in my future husband. Tall. Musical. Loves Jesus. Sensitive. Funny. Respectable. Admirable. Honest. Trusting. Protecting. Handsome.
I hoped for a lot.
Some will say the very act of sitting down to come up with a communication strategy will improve how you communicate. Though that may be true, it helps if you’re asking yourself and your team the right questions.
Question 1: Who is our church trying to reach?
You might be tempted to answer, “Everyone!” But start with your church’s mission statement. Everything you do will trickle down from the mission of your church. If your church is like most, it probably has some sort of evangelistic phrase in its mission statement. In fact, if you asked your senior leaders to share their heart about whom they would like to reach, they will most likely speak of reaching those who do not already know Jesus.
This step is critical because it will drive how you communicate on your website and from the stage. It will force you to come up with a communication system that’s easy, obvious and strategic. It will mean giving preference to the outsider who hasn’t yet been to your church, instead of the insider who has been there for years. If the mission of your church is to reach those not in the church, then start talking to them!
Question 2: How are we going to reach our audience on the weekend and during the week?
The weekend seems easy, but without a strategic plan, it will turn to chaos. You’ll need to put together simple criteria to determine what will be talked about through your bulletin, from the stage and on the weekend. The easy criteria to start with is the percentage of your total audience that a particular announcement applies to. If it’s below 90 percent, then you might not want to talk about it from the stage. If it’s below 50 percent, then you might not want to talk about it at all on the weekends.
But don’t stop there. Your online efforts should continue to engage and dialogue about the same things emphasized on the weekends. Your website should be the most trusted source of information. All other media (e-newsletter, social media, etc.) should point to that content.
The most important element about reaching your online audience is engagement. Don’t just tell them the information you want them to hear. Dialogue with them. Ask questions. Post photos.
Asking these two simple questions will begin to frame a strategy from which to start. Focus on communicating creatively and effectively with the people already connected to your church to get them motivated, excited and equipped for outreach. Then you can begin to focus on external marketing based on your mission and budget.
Joe Porter is the communications director at Whitewater Crossing in the Cincinnati, Ohio, area, in addition to maintaining his photo and video business. Adapted and used with permission from churchmarketingsucks.com.