Nine Common Mistakes Churches Make

Here are the nine most common mistakes that churches make.

1. We confuse the three M's (message, method, movement). Step 1: Know your message (your call to action, your point, your purpose). Step 2: Define what you want to happen (the movement) as a result of your message being heard/seen/experienced (i.e., attendance, action, feeling). Step 3: Determine the best method to connect the message with the movement. Remember, the method is the bridge.

Do not get these out of order. If the method comes first (as if often does), what we get, for example, is a really cool Web site that doesn't do anything except look cool. If the movement comes first, we end up with a bunch of people but no purpose for their assembly.

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2. We copy others' methods. Just because it works for someone else doesn't mean it will work for you. It goes back to knowing the three M's and approaching them in the right order. It's no wonder the church has taken a back seat to innovation and originality. We just look at what everyone else is doing and tweak it for us. When we let the method come last, we'll start to see new methods develop because we'll come up with things that have never been done before—all because we care more about the message and the movement from that message than we do about the method itself.

3. We assume people get it. Don't assume people understand what you're trying to communicate. The only thing safe to assume is that no one heard you, no one understood and no one got it. Now what?

4. We speak church-iberish. Use real people words. Don't create your own vocabulary or try and reinvent the language wheel.

5. We underestimate our boringness. From the way we communicate to what we have to communicate, we often come across a lot more boring than we think.

6. We choose the easiest/cheapest method vs. the right method. If you can't afford to do it right, don't do it all. It would be better for you to save some money on a few projects so you can do the right projects well.

7. We assume we're credible. Don't assume that people want to hear what you have to say or that they will even care what you have to say. The audience is a privilege, not a right.

8. We forget to develop a plan and how to measure it. If you don't know where you're going or what you're attempting to do, how will you ever know when you arrive?

9. We forget the rule about "Fast. Good. Cheap." You can pick only two—you can't have all three!


Brad Abare is the director of communications for the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, founder of the Center for Church Communication and president of Personality, a communication and marketing consultancy.

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