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.


 

Talk with an Auxano Navigator to learn how your communications keep your mission in focus.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

4 Things to Improve the Communication Culture at Your Church

Cornerstone Christian Fellowship is one of the fastest growing churches in the country. It has a lot of activities for the family with a very practical, biblical message. As the Executive Pastor, Marty oversees all staff and is part of the executive team which oversees every part of the church.

Communication breakdowns are a fairly common challenge in all types of interpersonal relationships, including ministry, and can be linked back to causing most problems. Marty is talking with us today about how Cornerstone has tackled the challenge of improving the communication culture among its staff.

  • Find the problems. // The first evidence that the communication culture needed work among the staff at Cornerstone was a general sense that something wasn’t right. Marty says they did the Best Christian Workplace Survey, which is a standard 55 questions regarding the workplace, plus Cornerstone could add a few extra questions specific to them. The survey revealed some consistent themes that needed to be addressed. The biggest issue was that the staff just wasn’t talking with each other very well, both up and down, top to bottom, and side to side.
  • Examine the problem. // Not everyone may realize there is a communication issue, but if some people on the staff are saying it, it should be looked at closely. Approach it ready to listen and admit, “We have a problem, so let’s talk about it.” At Cornerstone, everyone was sent off in their divisions and asked a series of questions. The executive team wanted to know what people thought it would look like to have a healthy culture of communication from top down, between ministries, and on their own team. They also asked about some specific examples of the existing issues. After compiling the data and looking for trends, they developed a couple of focus groups among the staff.
  • Include everyone in the solution. // It can be difficult to get honest because no one wants to put themselves out there. As a result, no one on the executive team led the focus groups. An outside HR consultant was brought in, which provided a feeling of security and comfort. Staff were able to open up and share things they might not have said to Marty or other staff members. Marty knew as people felt safer being honest, it would contribute to a better communication culture – one where the staff understood the executive team really wanted to listen to them. As Cornerstone began implementing strategies to address the existing issues, Marty emphasized how important it is that the staff be a part of the solution. Everyone needed to own the steps the church as a whole was taking to improve the culture.
  • Communication reminders. // Very practically speaking, when a decision or change is made, Cornerstone now makes sure everyone who needs to hear about it does. Sometimes it’s just a matter of casting vision and helping people understand why a decision was made rather than just sharing what the decision was. The staff wants to get on board with these decisions and be a part of supporting them. Remind your staff leaders to communicate with their team. Explain that while a decision may be more impactful to a specific department, it does affect the entire church. That constant conversation and sharing with your team keeps spreading the vision and will help people feel included.

You can learn more about Cornerstone Christian Fellowship at www.cornerstoneonline.com.

> Read more from Rich.


 

Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about improving your church’s communication culture.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

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.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

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

A NEXT STEP

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). 

Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

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.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Five Positive Responses to Negative People

The grief is both real and anticipatory.

The church member knows his or her church is in decline.

That member knows some things must change or the church is headed for more rapid decline or even death.

But change is difficult. These members want their old church back. They want to do things the way they’ve always done them.

That church of the past, however, will not return. The pace of change is faster than ever, and it will only increase.

How do we respond to these hurting, and sometimes, angry people? Here are five responses.

  1. Respond pastorally. These members are not just hurting; they are grieving. Some of them believe they can find a way to return to the church of the 60s, 70s, or 80s. When they finally realize that the past will not return, their grief intensifies. They need our love, our encouragement, our support, and our prayers. If our first response is to return anger with anger, we can exacerbate a difficult situation.
  2. Respond with reality. Do not give false hope to these members. That will only make the situation worse. Let them know gently and lovingly that change is inevitable. The church will either respond proactively to change, or it will be the victim of change. The latter is usually a death sentence.
  3. Respond with the non-negotiables. Assure the church member that there are some facets of church life that can never change. The Bible is still the Word of God. The gospel is still powerful. Christ is still the only way of salvation. In providing these non-negotiables, you are pointing the members away from the minors to the majors.
  4. Respond with an outward focus. Sometimes a church member’s longing for the past is indicative that he or she is inwardly focused. These members can possibly see church as a place to meet all their needs and desires. If possible, get them involved in ministries that take them away from their own preferences and desires to the world that needs our hope, our love, and our ministry.
  5. Respond with resolution. A few church members will fight for the past no matter how toxic it may be for the church and her future. Leaders have to resolve to move on. They cannot spend all their time coddling the disaffected to the neglect of those who are ready to make a difference. This step is a last step. It is a final alternative. It is the most painful. But it can be necessary for the health of the body as a whole.

These days are days of rapid change. Congregations have not been immune from the impact of the change. We must always love people. But we cannot let one or a few hinder us from the work to which God has called us.


Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about dealing with negative feedback.


> Read more from Thom.

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to speaking in hundreds of venues over the past 20 years, Rainer led Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah and Rachel respectively.  The Rainers have six grandchildren: Canon, Maggie, Nathaniel, Will (with the Lord), Harper, and Bren. He is the author of twenty-four books, including Breakout Churches, Simple Life, Simple Church, Raising Dad, The Millennials, and Essential Church.  His latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, was released in 2014 by B&H Publishing Group.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

8 Ways to Leverage Smartphones in Church

In 2011, smartphones were almost a novelty. Just 35% of American adults had one. That number has more than doubled in the past six years, and more than 9 in 10 adults under 30 have a smartphone (via Pew Research). When someone is considering a new phone, the question is no longer “will I get a smartphone?” but “which smartphone will I get?”

Now that this device has become almost attached to us 24-7 (I’ll be the first to admit, I’m tethered to mine), how is the church adapting? Or better yet, how should the church adapt and engage the smartphone? Here are eight ways.

  1. Live streaming. When the TV became prevalent in the 1950s, churches began television ministries. Many of those still exist but for most churches they are cost prohibitive and provide little return on the investment required. However, live streaming for smartphones can be implemented at a fraction of the cost and often has a greater reach than television ministries.
  2. Social media. This is an obvious inclusion. The rise of social media coincided with the rise of the smartphone. They go together like peanut butter and jelly or spaghetti and maple syrup. If your church is not active on social media, you’re missing a huge opportunity to engage your members and guests.
  3. Mobile friendly website. There is no excuse for a church not to have a good, well designed website. Not only should a website contain pertinent information, it should display well on a phone. This is also something to consider when creating graphics. Small text gets even smaller on smartphone screens.
  4. Text giving. We recently held a video call about giving trends in the church with several hundred leaders across North America. Text giving was the topic that drew the most questions from the audience. It’s the giving trend churches are inquiring about most. As we get more comfortable paying with our phones through Apple Pay, Paypal, and other techniques, text giving will only increase in its use in the church.
  5. Email newsletters. While email is readily available on a computer, the fact that we’re virtually always connected to email via our smartphones means newsletters are more likely to be seen. The more they are seen and read, the better informed your congregation will be.
  6. Online or in-app sermon notes. The proliferation of Bible apps has led to a new type of engagement of the Word during a service. My pastor even states, “open or turn on your Bibles” each week when preparing to read from Scripture. My church also posts sermon notes online and in an app, as do many others. While I personally prefer paper note-taking, my 13-year old son types his notes into his Bible app. He stays engaged in the sermon because of his smartphone.
  7. Church management. App- or cloud-based church management software allows church staff to have information about church events, members, or details at their fingertips regardless of their location. As more and more staff members office in community spaces (coffee shops, restaurants, etc.), this helps them stay connected to needed tools via their smartphones while working off-site.
  8. Event scheduling and reminders. Digital calendars have all but replaced paper day planners. Setting reminders and adding calendar events via smartphone apps allow you to stay more up-to-date on church events and happenings.

Does your church use any of these already? How else does your church engage members and guests via smartphone?

> Read more from Jonathan.


 

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Howe

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Six Churches Who are “Nailing It” with Their Branding

The Auxano Team has spent some time reflecting on last month’s Guest Experience Boot Camp. We remain energized by how God brought together 25 unique teams of leaders to take an honest look at, and design a powerful moment for, every First Time Guest that visits their church. Auxano’s Guest Experience specialist, Bob Adams, and I also love hearing the resultant stories of significant breakthrough emerging from seemingly insignificant hospitality tweaks. We are already planning two or three more Guest Experience Boot Camps for 2018 in strategic cities across the U.S. The Guest Experience Boot Camps for 2018 have been scheduled: check here for details. If you register before 1/1/18, use the code EarlyBird20 at checkout to receive a 20% discount!

Looking back, one brand name appeared multiple times during the Guest Experience BootCamp: Disney.
Specifically the amazing attention to detail and user-experience that the Guest Services Team from Walt Disney exhibits every day. Using Disney as an example of an organization that creates “repeat” visits, should be pretty obvious and natural. Churches can stand to learn a lot from how well Disney welcomes and cares for every Guest.
It got me to wondering though, what if churches patterned themselves after other major commercial brands? What would those churches be like?
Starbucks Church – At this congregation, you can count on the pastors to seem very friendly and interested in you, but never actually learn your real name. The environment is styled and modern, creating some great hang time among your friends with each visit. In reality though, they are unapologetically over-tithing you. Nobody attending the Starbucks Church actually listens to the messages, as most are there just because everyone else is too.
Walmart Church – This big-box church experience is very generic and, as a result, everyone who visits can find something they like. The worship here is loud and there is a lot of it… but the quality of worship is suspect, at best. Church leadership is proud of their informality and accessibility to everyone, it’s just a bit weird that so many people are in their pajamas.
Apple Church – With this paradigm shifting congregation, every other church in town simultaneously hates and imitates them at the same time. However, just when you start to love them as an attender, they introduce a new location and/or staff. In fact, you can count on something major to change at about the same time every year, in the name of “just one more thing.”
Blockbuster Church – This once-mega body now holds a bit too tightly onto a grossly outdated experience, believing that tradition and their historic size will one day be on their side. The core belief here is that the church will return to past glory, and every leadership meeting devolves into trying to remember what worked “that time” a few years ago. As the years go by, and culture keeps changing, keen observers can look forward to this church’s building becoming a crossfit gym, hipster design firm or furniture rental store.
Target Church – See above description of Walmart Church and think just a bit nicer and cleaner.
Chick-Fil-A Church – Wait. Isn’t this a thing already? This church is always, and I mean always, crowded and staffed by an unnaturally happy ministry team. In fact, it’s borderline weird how much pleasure these folks get out of doing their jobs. Every Sunday morning, you start out thinking you will visit another church, but somehow always end up back here. When every other church in town is open for mid-week ministry activities, they are rebelliously closed. And their youth ministry STILL reaches more than every other hype-church’s (insert “fun” food or cult classic movie night) Awesome Wednesday Youth Group.
Read more from Bryan here.
Download PDF

Tags: ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Rose

As Lead Navigator for Auxano, Bryan Rose has a strong bias toward merging strategy and creativity within the vision of the local church and has had a diversity of experience in just about every ministry discipline over the last 12 years. With his experience as a multi-site strategist and campus pastor at a 3500 member multi-campus church in the Houston Metro area, Bryan has a passion to see “launch clarity” define the unique Great Commission call of developing church plants and campus, while at the same time serving established churches as they seek to clarify their individual ministry calling. Bryan has demonstrated achievement as a strategic thinker with a unique ability to infuse creativity into the visioning process while bringing a group of people to a deep sense of personal ownership and passion.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Less (Words) Is More (Impact)

The bread aisle at the grocery store confounds me.

I just wanted to buy a loaf of bread to make a sandwich – I didn’t really want to wade through 7 long shelves of every imaginable type of bread possible.

My grocery store is just like your grocery store: when you stand in any aisle in any retail store in the U.S., you will be inundated with choices. Whether you are buying cereal, candy, TVs, or jeans, you’ll likely have huge number of items to choose from. Whether it’s a retail store or a Web site, if you ask people if they’d prefer to choose from a few alternatives or have lots of choices, most people will say they want lots of choices.

This is true in ChurchWorld, too.

Too Many Choices Paralyze the Thought Process

The book Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar details research on choice. In graduate school, Iyengar conducted what is now known as the “jam” study. She decided to test the theory that people who have too many choices will not choose at all. In a booth set up in a busy grocery store, Iyengar and her associates posed as store employees. They alternated the selection on the table: half the time there were 6 choices of fruit jam and half the time there were 24 jars of jam.

When there were 24 jars of jam, 60 percent of the people coming by would stop and taste. When there were only 6 jars of jam only 40 percent of the people would stop and taste. More choices were better – right?

Not exactly.

You might think that people would taste more jam when the table had 24 varieties – but they didn’t. People stopped at the table, but they only tasted a few varieties whether there were 6 or 24 choice available.

People can only remember 3 or 4 things at a time; likewise, they can decide from among only 3 or 4 things at a time.

The most interesting part of Iyengar’s study is that 31 percent of the people who stopped at the table with 6 jars actually made a purchase. But only 3 percent of the people who stopped at the table with 24 jars actually mad a purchase.

More people may have stopped by, but less people purchased.

The study may have proved that less is more, but why do people always want more choices?

Information is addictive.

Dopamine, a chemical created and released in our brains, is critical in all sorts of brain functions: thinking, moving, sleeping, mood, attention, motivation, seeking, and reward. Dopamine also causes you to want, desire, seek out, and search. Dopamine makes you curious about ideas and fuels your search for more information. A fascinating topic, but it will have to wait for later!

It’s only when people are confident in their decisions that they stop seeking more information.

Application for ChurchWorld Leaders

  • Resist the impulse to provide large number of choices
  • If you ask people how many options they want, the will almost always say “a lot” or “give me all the options.” If you ask, be prepared to deviate from what they ask for
  • If possible, limit the number of choices to 3 or 4. If you have to offer more options, try to do so in a progressive way. Have people choose first from 3 or 4 options, and then choose again from that subset.

inspired by and adapted from 100 Things Every Designer Needs to Know About People, by Susan Weinschenk

Read more from Bob.


Would you like to learn more about why less is more? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bob Adams

Bob Adams

Bob is an absolute fanatic about Guest Experiences, growing up watching his father serve customers at the gas station he built and operated for 44 years. Bob is continually connecting with corporate leaders in the customer experience world, learning and then translating practices for ChurchWorld. He writes, speaks, and consults on the topic frequently. Best of all, he is a front-line practitioner at Elevation Church, serving in various roles at the Uptown and Lake Norman Campuses. Vocationally, Bob has a dual role at Auxano, a clarity first consulting firm serving the church. As Vision Room Curator and Digital Engagement Leader he researches, edits, writes and publishes online content. As Guest Experience Navigator, he leverages his passion, providing Guest Perspective Evaluations and Guest Experience Blueprints. Bob and his wife Anita have been married for 38 years. They have 4 children, 2 daughters-in-law, 1 son-in-law, and 4 grandchildren.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Communicate Change Using the Power of Momentum

It is hard to overstate the importance of communication when unveiling a new initiative or introducing change. The communication of a change is as critical as the strategic thinking behind the change. The communication of a new initiative is often as important as the initiative itself. A leadership team may have an incredible strategy, but if the communication is poor, the strategy will not be embraced. Leaders who communicate well have prepared the new initiative for momentum, while those who communicate poorly doom it to failure or a slow start.

When communicating major change or a new initiative, it is wise to communicate in waves to multiple groups of people. While the nomenclature of the different levels of leadership varies from context to context, there are typically layers of leadership in every context.

  • Start with a small group of decision makers, a core of strategic leaders who have a view of and burden for the entire organization/ministry.
  • Then communicate to the next level of leaders, often leaders of leaders, and set the pace for the entire organization/ministry.
  • Then communicate again to those leaders who serve/work to make the organization/ministry what she is.
  • Finally, communicate to the whole organization/ministry.

The communication plan can be illustrated like this:

Communicating Change

While the steps can be reduced or expanded, depending on the size of the organization or ministry, communicating in waves produces two big benefits:

 1. The message is refined.

By communicating the same message to different groups of people, the communicators are able to refine the message and the delivery of the message. They learn the questions, the struggles, and the points of excitement. They are able to listen to feedback, adjust the message, and communicate again. By the time the communication is delivered to the entire organization, those who communicate the direction have tested the language and the clarity with multiple groups of people.

 2. Ownership is expanded.

Initiatives and change efforts often fail because too few people own them. When communication occurs in waves, people are invited to “own the direction.” Leaders often bemoan low amounts “vision buy-in” among the people they lead. If the direction is sound, a lack of “buy-in” is either a credibility or a communication problem. To secure “buy-in” across multiple groups of people, leaders are wise to communicate in waves, to listen, and to ask questions. To hit the bullseye on buy-in, you will need to communicate multiple times to multiple groups. If the communication is strategic, by the time the whole organization hears of the direction, ownership has been expanded.

> Read more from Eric.


 Would you like to know how to use the power of momentum when communicating change? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

6 Places Where Vision Communication Must Be Clear

Clarity is the highest goal of all church communications. Our role is to cut through the clutter and deliver the message we are giving with as much precision as possible. In order to do that we employ a wide variety of tactics to persuade people towards the goals that we’ve set. In an effort to persuade our communications can slip to a place where they stop being clear and become just clever. We can become too self-impressed with how we’re communicating the message that the content of the message is lost.

Here are a handful of times that I’ve seen churches lose clarity when communicating with their community:

  • Family Ministry Environment Names // When a first time guest sees the names of your kid’s and student’s ministries do they make sense? If I have an infant do I take them to “WhizBangLand” or “GrowUpGang”? Too many churches employ clever ministry names that don’t make sense to people outside of the church. It’s the ultimate insider focused tactic to use names that are not self-evident to guests. Make sure people can clearly understand the signage and printed materials about your family ministry environments without having to interpret what they mean.
  • Campus Location Labeling // Too often churches attempt to be clever by naming campuses using relative locations to the original campus … Crossroads Church North, St. Paul’s East … the problem is that naming convention assumes that the new campus is a small satellite of something larger. Quickly after you launch people will attend the new location that have never been to the original campus … when you use a naming convention that points back to the first location it diminishes the work in the new campus. Pick an approach to labeling the new location that casts vision for the community for want to reach … Crossroad Church Essex County, St. Paul’s Uptown.
  • Graphic Design // Can I speak to the graphic designers for a minute? There is a difference between something looking amazing and it communicating clearly. Most of the great art I’ve ever seen is ambiguous and hard to understand what the artist is saying. The fact that I need to wrestle with the meaning of the piece is what makes it art. Your role as a graphic designer is to use elements of design to communicate a message. Communication leads … art follows. It would be prettier to have the super slender font on that flyer … but people wouldn’t understand that it’s talking about. This isn’t a tension to be managed … communication comes before beauty … function before form.
  • Next Steps // Once people start attending your church for a while they will be looking for their next steps to getting connected. Often I’ve seen churches call their first steps for new people some fancy name that just doesn’t make sense on the surface … Discovery Class, Engage, Connection. By definition, people who are new to your church don’t have any sense of your “integration process” and are just wondering what they should do first. At our church we call this environment First Step because we want it to be the first thing people who when they come to our church. This is also the case when you ask people to take any sort of “next step” in their spiritual journey. Make the right next step obvious and clear.
  • Financial Reporting // Report your finances in a way that can be easily understood by “non-financial” people. Use plain language, simple charts and clear commentary when talking about the financial state of the church. Financials are not self-evident to most people. We need to provide simple commentary that helps people benchmark what is happening in the life of the church. Bold clarity in this area will build trust with your donors and ultimately encourage them to give more to your ministry. If people don’t understand this part of what happens at your church they will be less likely to give. Active obfuscation of the truth is the shortest route to financial ruin of a church.
  • Online Calls to Action // Your church’s website probably has too many options on it. When people arrive at your site what do you want them to “do”? Are you focusing their attention on just a few next steps rather than a wide variety of options? Every ministry wants to be “featured” on your site … but if you “feature” them all you will just generate clutter and noise for your guests. Often we use our websites to move people to action in our church … asking them to donate, join a small group, volunteer for a team, connect with our team, etc … but when we pile on the “calls to action” each new ask erodes the impact of the last.

Read more from Rich.


Want help keeping your communication clear? Find out more about Auxano’s Communication service.

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Birch

Rich Birch

Thanks so much for dropping by unseminary … I hope that your able to find some resources that help you lead your church better in the coming days! I’ve been involved in church leadership for over 15 years. Early on I had the privilege of leading in one of the very first multisite churches in North Amerca. I led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 4,000 people in 6 locations. (Today they are 13 locations with somewhere over 5,000 people attending.) In addition, I served on the leadership team of Connexus Community Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. I currently serves as Operations Pastor at Liquid Church in the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. I have a dual vocational background that uniquely positions me for serving churches to multiply impact. While in the marketplace, I founded a dot-com with two partners in the late 90’s that worked to increase value for media firms and internet service providers. I’m married to Christine and we live in Scotch Plains, NJ with their two children and one dog.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Sidestepping 5 Communication Pitfalls that Trap Vision

Effective communication is absolutely critical to creating movement toward your vision.

The challenge then is keeping the vision of your church central in your messaging. Does clarity of vision drive your communications strategy or does communication rely on the loudest voice or greatest need? Without an intentional, strategic, vision-soaked communications plan, it is easy to fall into the pitfall of calendar maintenance and program sustenance. A pitfall that always traps vision.

Here are 5 Communication Pitfalls that every church faces and one side-step for each to keep your vision on solid ground.

1. The Program-Focus Pitfall

Many churches rely on communicating about programs rather than through vision. Every Sunday announcement begins to sound the same:  “Here’s what we’re doing! Sign up today.” Response wanes quickly, if any response happens at all, because nearly everyone in the congregation already feels overwhelmed by their schedule. The last thing they came to church to do was sign up for something else. 

If all you do is communicate programs or events, your communication will likely go in one ear and out the other. So how can you sidestep this pitfall?

Never communicate about a program without first communicating vision. Ask: How does this program or event enable people to be a part of the vision and mission God has given to your church? What part of our Great Commission call might people miss if they do not participate? What are some life-change stories you can tell to demonstrate Gospel effectiveness and generate missional excitement around the program?

Side-Step #1: WHY before WHATInstead of just standing and announcing your church homecoming Sunday in July, hoping to convince everyone to show up and sweat together around some sketchy potato salad, stop and frame the why. Is gathering as a family important or missing in your culture? Will guests get to know the church behind the Sunday service formality? Are there stories of impact from last year’s homecoming that you can communicate through a short video clip? First, communicate WHY this program or event matters to the vision of the church before you tell the congregation WHAT side dish they need to sign-up for. 

2. The Too Many Choices Pitfall

Without a clear understanding of success in the mission, it is easy to elevate doing many activities above developing the few attributes of gospel-centered disciples. We proudly communicate, “There’s a lot going on around here!” but do people truly know what they are accomplishing by making a particular choice?

The vast menu of options for people to get involved, simply does not work. Major research studies exist on the concept of “decision paralysis.” These scientific studies reveal that offering people too many choices actually leads to people to not choosing anything at all. It is easier to do nothing than to guess at one thing.

The best way to avoid this pitfall is to develop a comprehensive communication plan. A great plan defines one specific next step of engagement you want people to take in each ministry environment or program. Make it clear why these next steps are important for missional engagement and give clear instructions on how to do it. The number of activities you offer may decrease, but you will increase the overall participation of your congregation around what matters the most.

Side-Step #2: One + One. Pull out the worship bulletin from last Sunday’s service and stop to count the number of next-step choices you communicated. How many were applicable to your first-time guests and how many were members-only? Could the average attender even tell the difference? Commit to simplifying everybody’s world in the future and carefully craft one intentional next step for your guests and one next step for the congregation each week.

3. The Ineffective Messaging Pitfall

Some studies suggest that the average adult views close to 3,000 marketing messages per day. That’s about 3,000 intentionally designed advertisements, by marketing professionals, to creatively connect with people emotionally to compel or require action. In contrast, we in the church often assume that people will engage with our service announcement in the same way, simply because we are the church. Carrying the mandate of the Gospel requires us to be intentional and effective in church communication. The stakes may be eternal.

How much time do you spend working on and refining the language you use to communicate your mission and vision? Bill Hybels, in his book, Axiom, tells a story of how he spent an entire transatlantic flight working on two specific words that would ignite passion in people around God’s vision for Willow Creek Community Church. Words create worlds, and every word matters. Who can help you hone and sharpen your vision language for transformational impact?

One quick way to evaluate your existing vision is to simply ask yourself: Does this vision get me excited? Am I compelled to do something new or be someone better because of the language we use to communicate our calling?

Side-Step #3: Emotion Creates Motion. How much more effective would your immediately-swiped-left-to-delete weekly emails be if you spent as much time developing a compelling subject line as you did on the content itself? Stop and think about what really matters to the average church member in what you are communicating. If you cannot answer this, maybe do not send an email this week. If you cannot decide which one, go ahead to Pitfall #4 below. Either way, invest the time necessary to develop language that connects people at both the head and heart level to your missional calling.

4. The Too Many Messages Pitfall

Even when the message is highly crafted, it is easy to communicate too many messages. Remember those 3,000 marketing messages per day? When people come to services on the weekend or even visit your church Facebook page during the week, they have likely already been bombarded with too many ads and calls to action. Everybody has something or wants something. Unfortunately, we are sometimes a part of the problem adding multiple messages by saying the same thing many different ways.

As church leaders, we get to do more than market…we get to remind people that there is something bigger going on in the world and that they are a part of it—that is the mission God has given us. We can cut through the cultural marketing madness by focusing the church on the few simple, memorable goals that we are working toward, together. That is our vision.

To sidestep this pitfall, develop a clear, concise and compelling articulation of both your mission (what are we doing?) and your vision (what’s the next milestone on the horizon?), and then say them over and over and over.

Side-Step #4: Less is More. Stop and think about your last small groups emphasis. Whether it was plugging into a Sunday bible study or committing to another night out each week, you were asking for a significant commitment. How many different and creative ways did you communicate this? More than one was probably too many. How consistent was the message of why from each of your leaders? Allowing personalization potentially creates confusion. Say more with less by refining your language of mission and vision, or even creating a complete vision frame. Then develop a team discipline to say the same thing in the same way – every time. Until leaders are tired of saying it, the congregation has not yet heard it.

5. The Lack of Follow-Through Pitfall

It is easy for church leaders to get more excited with the next new thing rather than remaining focused on the current important thing. Leaders lose credibility with staff and congregation by moving on to the next big idea before the last big idea has come to fruition.

When you communicate vision clearly—with clear milestones that everyone understands—continue to work toward those milestones as a church until you achieve them. Stay the course. Concentrate on the language to connect with your people and invite them into what God has called you to do as a church. Do whatever you have to do in order to hit those milestones. Then, move on to the next big thing.

Side-Step #5: One Thing Focus. Everyone wants to be a part of a church that is winning by doing something significant for the Kingdom. During the next church-wide emphasis, celebrate small wins along the way and tell the stories of life change. If your people have been called to invest above and beyond their typical pattern of attendance or giving, provide closure when the goals are met or the season ends. Spend the time and resources necessary to demonstrate completion, or over-communicate how the next initiative helps fulfill the last one. Stay focused on one big vision milestone at a time, communicate it in compelling ways, and celebrate it when God leads you through it.

How do you keep your church communication from falling into a vision-trapping pitfall? Keep these 5 Sidesteps in mind to stay on course and Go Ahead with vision clarity:

  1. WHY before WHAT
  2. One + One
  3. Emotion Creates Motion
  4. Less is More
  5. One Thing Focus

 

If you’re not satisfied with your communication strategy, start a conversation with our team. We’re glad to offer our input. Your vision is at stake, so let’s talk.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Auxano Content Team

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Dr.Shirley Lynn — 11/01/16 5:12 pm

We are a small church and our vision sometimes gets lost in so many things and our staff is not easy to understand how important communication and vision are and another thing is being excited about vision and seem to not be able to create excitement in our congregation.

Mike Maye — 11/01/16 10:56 am

This article was extremely helpful

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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.