One Big Communication Thought that Keeps Your Mission In Focus

Most churches communicate as though getting people to attend events is the primary goal. And when they do, they create all sorts of problems … and even end up, at times, working against the purpose of the mission they are trying to serve.

In our culture, most organizations have what I would call a lower purpose and a higher purpose. In the for-profit world, the lower purpose is always making money. The higher purpose has to do with the “why” behind the “what.” (For more on that, check out Simon Sinek’s TED talk on the topic.)

The same is true for churches, but most of them don’t realize it. For churches, the lower purpose has to do with attendance and giving. If we get people to attend our events … and if they give enough to keep the budget going, then we’re fine.

But that’s not the church’s higher purpose.

Every church is trying to serve the higher purpose of sharing the message and life of Jesus … and inviting people to experience that life. They all have unique ways that they express the life of Jesus, but at their core, the higher purpose is the same.

The problem is that most churches … and church communications … are designed around the lower purpose.

When that happens, ministries elbow each other out of the way for time on stage. The weekly bulletin has to contain every item that will take place at the church. Even more importantly, each event or program is measured as a success purely by attendance.

What happens when the higher purpose shapes the church … and church communications?

Implementing The Higher Purpose Strategy To Communication

Any announcements in the service are framed as next steps of engagement with the mission of the church. The bulletin contains a few prioritized next steps, not a menu of options. Ministry leaders are not simply concerned about getting people TO a program … they want to get people THROUGH an program.

What are inviting people to move into when they show up? And how are we making that easy for them?

If you’re answering these questions about each event or program at your church, your church (and your communications!) will remain stuck in the lower purpose.

When that happens, you won’t gain significant ground toward your mission to invite people deeper into life with Jesus, you will simply gather a crowd. You don’t want to settle for that, do you?

You’ve probably noticed something. This isn’t just about church communications. This is about every ministry leader and every ministry environment.

Your overall strategy as a church should be to move people THROUGH your different ministry environments to deeper levels of engagement with your mission. When that happens, communication becomes easy—all it has to do is clearly match the strategy and it will be exponentially more effective.

Don’t settle for the lower purpose of attendance. Strive for the higher purpose of mission engagement. That’s when lives and communities are truly changed.

> Read more from Steve.


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Steve Finkill

Steve Finkill

Steve Finkill is the Chief Messaging Officer at ID Digital, a verbal, visual, and marketing company. Dream Vacation: Driving the Pacific Coast Highway with my wife. Stopping for great food and some golf along the way. Ice Cream Flavor: Vanilla with real peanut butter mixed in. Favorite Films The Shawshank Redemption, The Empire Strikes Back, and Tombstone. Surprising Personal Fact: I was the Table Tennis Champion of my middle school. Favorite Album: The Firm Soundtrack, Dave Grusin. Coffee: Never. Beverages are meant to be cold.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree with your 3 must-haves. I would add that the rectors have to call on every member who attends, at least once a year. The existence of a "calling commitee" is just an excuse to avoid making the effort. This is part of #3. If a rector does not like to call on parishioners, then she/he should not be a rector, but should find a different ministry. Carter Kerns, former senior warden, Diocese of Eastern Oregon and lifelong Episcopalian Tel# 541-379-3124
— Carter Kerns
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
— Jon Moore
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks

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