Communicate Clearly Using These Seven Attention Getters

How can you more clearly communicate your unique church vision?

Every day, your church stewards thousands of moments of truth. Every time a member talks to a neighbor, someone drives by the church facility, ministry e-mail goes out, a pastor’s business card is left on a desk, some interaction on behalf of the church has transpired. Every time these events happen, the church’s vision glows brighter or dims in the tiniest little increments.

The leader’s role is to crank up the communication wattage. The visionary cares too much about the message to let it just blow in the wind, unattended. Rather, they grab the message and affix it to a kite for all to see. This can happen only with a tremendous amount of intentionality in the complex discipline of church communications.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Attention Economy, Thomas Davenport and John Beck

This title identifies attention management as the new critical competency for 21st century business. This is a landmark book for every manager who wants to learn how to earn and spend the new currency of business argues that unless companies learn to effectively capture, manage, and keep attention – both internally and out in the marketplace – they’ll fall hopelessly behind in our information-flooded world. It is based on an exclusive global research study, with examples from a range of companies. It provides a revolutionary four-part model for managing attention in all areas of business. It presents a multidisciplinary approach to the topic of ‘attention,’ incorporating economics, psychology, and technology. It appeals to readers not only as representatives of an organization, but as individuals.


When Thomas Davenport and John Beck wrote the book The Attention Economy, they brought a very important message to church leaders. The book argues that information and talent are no longer your most important resource, but rather attention itself. People cannot hear the vision unless we cut through the clutter.

The principle of attention requires church leaders to be bold and relevant as they integrate vision into the internal communication of the church. According to Davenport and Beck, these are the most important characteristics to get attention:

  • The communication is personalized.
  • The communication comes from a trustworthy source.
  • The communication is brief.
The communication is emotional.

Imagine the implications of these attributes for your church’s communications. Are you sending targeted, HTML e-mails to supplement snail mail and print communication? Are you delivering your most important sound bites via sharable social media posts?

It is important to keep good communications people close to the core leadership. They shouldn’t have to guess about your church’s DNA. Rather, allow them to be privy to all the conversations and dialogue that surround development and articulation of your vision.

Every organization is an engine fueled by attention.

Every organization is an engine fueled by attention. In the farms and fields of primitive societies, and in the factories of the Industrial Revolution, physical manpower drove the economy. In the information era, knowledge was power – the more an organization had, the more successful it could be.

But now, as flows of unnecessary information clog brains and corporate communication links, attention is the rare resource that truly powers an organization. Recognizing that attention is valuable, that where it is directed is important, and that it can be managed like other precious resources is essential in today’s economy.

Let’s look at the word attention: Notice that its root word is attend. To attend to something is to tend it – to take care of it. A typical employee is today’s world is expected to take care of more things than a worker would have at any other time in history. So much information and so many activities, people, and places are vying for our attention today that the mere management of attention has become one of our most important activities. Attention involves understanding how to work within an overabundance of “information competition,” whether you are interfacing with customers, coworkers, or your own priority list.

Our simple definition is this: Attention is focused mental engagement on a particular item of information. Items come into our awareness, we attend to a particular item, and then we decide whether to act. Attention occurs between a relatively unconscious narrowing phase in which we screen out most of the sensory inputs around us (we are aware of many things, but not paying attention to them), and a decision phase, in which we decide to act on the attention-getting information. Without both phases, there is no attention.

Awareness become attention when information reaches a threshold of meaning and spurs the potential for action.

You can throw oodles of information into a person’s awareness. The problem is that everybody is doing it. Awareness is vague, general information, and doesn’t by itself catalyze any action. Attention is targeted and specific. It gets people moving. In a simple analogy, awareness is the target, and attention is the bull’s -eye.

Thomas H. Davenport and John C. Beck, The Attention Economy


In your next leadership meeting, gather the last 4 weeks of Sunday morning bulletins. On a whiteboard, list every announcement made in the last month. Note recurring announcements.

Next rate the attentiveness to each of these announcements (from 1 to 5) in the following seven categories:

  1. Verbal Support (1 – no verbal support given to this announcement, 5 – this announcement got a sermon mention)
  2. Visual Support (1 – there are no bulletin or screen graphics for this announcement, 5 – this has it’s own logo and visual identity)
  3. Ministry Support (1 – this is a general announcement with no ONE ministry or leader giving oversight, 5 – this is directly connected to a ministry and/or leader)
  4. Next-Step Support (1 – there was nothing for the reader to actually do, just something to know, 5 – there was a clear next-step communicated)
  5. Vision Support (1 – we loosely connect this to the future, but in reality this is more connected to the past, 5 – this clearly points to God’s vision for the church)
  6. Emotional Support (1 – this announcement was likely to get only a small number of our congregation excited and engaged, 5 – everyone was excited about this)
  7. Scoreboard Support (1 – this will not likely lead someone to Jesus or grow them as a follower, 5 – this event will prayerfully change lives for eternity)

Now add up the scores for each announcement and discuss the following next steps:

Score of 7 – 14 – How can we cut or cage this event or announcement in order to prioritize more important and impacting activity?

Score of 15 – 28 – How can we combine or coordinate this even within our vision to bring greater impact?

Score of 29-35 – How can we catapult this to prominence across each service and communication channels?

Set your focus on a Sunday 2-4 weeks in the future and make the necessary adjustments as a team to grab attention with every announcement.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 57-1, January 2017


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders.

SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

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Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright
comment_post_ID); ?> "While I understand the intent behind this phrase" Expound please. What do you understand to be the intent behind that phrase?
— Ken

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