3 Ways to Turn Boring into Fascinating

I’m fascinated how someone can attend two similar church services (maybe even with the same Pastor) and have the 30-minute sermon seem long and boring in one while the other can feel interesting and not enough time. And it’s the same amount of time. And maybe similar content!

Or you can watch a YouTube video and be fully engaged with it for several minutes while another will drive you to close the window after a couple of minutes. Even if it’s the same subject.

Or there’s a website that can captivate you for a long time versus the website that loses your interest in about 30 seconds.

Communication is tough. Our audience has changed. Their attention-span has gotten shorter and shorter. In fact, according to a 2015 Microsoft study, humans lose interest in most things after only 8 seconds. This is astounding since a goldfish has a 9 second attention span. We’re doomed.

Our audience certainly isn’t changing, so we need to tackle things differently with our communication style.

Here are 3 things we (as communicators) must understand and change to turn boring into interesting:

  1. Make it matter to your audience. This is key. In the first few seconds, in the headline, or first sentence, speak to a pain that you know your audience faces or a challenging goal that they seek. Then deliver as quickly as possible the hope of a solution in your communication. Or a straight-line path to their goal. This requires you to know your audience extremely well. So do everything within your power to discover their pains and goals.
  2. Edit your content as short as possible and present it the way your audience wants it. Do the difficult work of eliminating everything that’s unnecessary or redundant. Get your communication to the basics and don’t overdo the details. Then, based on your communication channel, deliver it in a style you know they’ll enjoy. For in-person or on video, that’s an interjection-style that captures the wayward attention and holds it by bringing people back into the conversation. For printed or static web content, give in to their propensity of scanning. Create eye-interruptors (headlines, subheads, bullets, captions) that tell most of the story and lead to the deeper content so they can read more.
  3. Deliver it so you seek engagement. Remember you’re not just telling. All content today should engage. Drive them to other locations through links and suggestions. Allow them to process or do things so they interact with your content. Where possible, let them respond. This engagement says you care about them and want them to fully understand. This relationship of love and empathy will allow your audience to overlook flaws and truly be interested in what you have to offer.

Summary? Make it about THEM and less about YOU. Say it as quickly as possible. They’ll feel the love. That’s the role of all church communication today.

> Read more from Mark.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald is a Bible Teacher, speaker, best-selling author of Be Known For Something, and communication strategist for BeKnownForSomething.com and the Florida Baptist Convention. He empowers churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites, and social media. His book is available at BeKnownBook.com and amazon.com.

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The Vital Need to be a Church Unique

Have you noticed? Products and services are dropping from existence regularly. Toys”R”Us have closed their doors entirely and more than 5000 individual stores closed across the country as major retailers decide it’s best for their bottom line. What’s happening?!?

Even worse, 4000 evangelical churches disappeared from the United States. I wonder if many even notice?

Why all the closings? Because another organization started to supply the community’s needs in a similar or better way. Toys”R”Us used to be “the” place to go for toys. Kids would see it as a fun destination where they could dream and wish. Parents knew if they wanted something entertaining for their kids you could find it in one of the aisles. Plus they were local and easy to get to.

Then competition arrived and offered similar benefits. Followed by the internet allowing you to search for toys in the comfort of your home. Then Amazon promised quick shipping. Then people stopped going to the physical stores that were riddled with personnel and inventory issues. Oh, and we won’t even talk about pricing. Toy”R”Us was simply an option that didn’t stand out anymore. They weren’t different.

If you have a local church that are like all the other community’s churches, offering similar ministries, then you’re setting yourself up for comparison and eventually closing. Your community will simply decide where to go based on proximity, denomination, leadership personality, and maybe how your buildings look. It may even be your landscaping that becomes the issue.

There’s a better way.

You can create a different kind of church and become known for something very different and bold apart from the others in town. People will overlook most other things and drive great distances for something that’s different.

You need to be different.

But for the church; be sure that your difference is biblically sound, and most importantly, needed by enough people. Be known for being relevant and an essential benefit to your community. Then your church will be around for a long time.

You just have to effectively communicate your unique thread. Be different. Be needed. Be relevant.

> Read more from Mark.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald is a Bible Teacher, speaker, best-selling author of Be Known For Something, and communication strategist for BeKnownForSomething.com and the Florida Baptist Convention. He empowers churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites, and social media. His book is available at BeKnownBook.com and amazon.com.

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Do You Know WHY People Like Your Church?

We know the most effective way to get people to visit your church: word of mouth promotions. It’s the most cost-effective method of evangelism. Why? Because most people know and interact with people similar to them. If they like your church, the people around them will probably like the church too.

How do you control word of mouth promotion? Control what your congregation says about you. That seems easier said then done. But it’s not that difficult. It all comes down to one thing:

Tell them.

That’s right. Figure out what the majority of your congregation likes, appreciates, and promotes. Something that’s well done in your church and, hopefully, is unique to your community. Then make sure it’s desired! Do that by researching who lives around your campus and figure out what they’d be seeking for a solution to one of their big problems. Or maybe it’s a path to one of their prominent goals.

Then tell the congregation that reason. Over and over.

3 reasons why controlling this is important:

  • Helps people tell others. Often, during normal, day-to-day discussions at work or leisure, someone will be asked why they go to church. Or when Sunday’s are discussed, the way we use our time will be talked about. “Why do you like that church?”. If your reason isn’t overly religious, your congregation will be more apt to tell people. Perhaps it’s “they give me something simple to think about so I can be a better person”. Or “my marriage needs every service. They help my relationship”. If it’s been told to the congregation regularly (as a thread) then people will recall it when asked. Make it simple and easy to remember and make it part of every ministry!
  • Helps with SEO keywords. The words that become part of your controlled message will become your keywords. Throughout your promotions, social media, and website, you’ll use similar words regularly. In fact, you’ll become known for them. Then Google, Yahoo, Bing will love sending people to your website as they look for the controlled solution or goal that’s associated with your ministries.
  • Helps build your ministries. This desired thread will drive your ministries. Perhaps some of your current ministries need to go away as you build events and opportunities to build the benefit that you’ve been controlling. So what you’re telling your congregation is the authentic reality of why they love your church.

Go ahead, try it! Start suggesting your reason in announcements, during sermons, or in promotions. Use language like: “Many of you attend because we have practical relationship guidance.” or “Many churches are complex in their teaching but you all know how much we work at giving you simple ideas that’ll change your week.”

> Read more from Mark.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald is a Bible Teacher, speaker, best-selling author of Be Known For Something, and communication strategist for BeKnownForSomething.com and the Florida Baptist Convention. He empowers churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites, and social media. His book is available at BeKnownBook.com and amazon.com.

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These Three Things are Essential to Great Communication

Recently, I was talking to someone about their ability to bake bread. He said, “it really isn’t that difficult”. Then I challenged him further and he admitted, “well, once you figure out how to get the yeast to rise properly”.

Maybe this is why everyone doesn’t make bread, even though there’s something wonderful about the smell of fresh baked loaves and eating the sweet, warm, slices slathered in rich butter.

It reminds me of an important truth: it’s important to understand the difficult steps before you get started with any of the steps.

Effective church communication is a wonderful, enjoyable product but you need to assess the complicated parts, to determine if you think you can conquer them first, before setting out to accomplish the overall task. Here are 3 that come to mind in the recipe of great communication:

  1. Getting it all done. The role of church communicator is one of the few positions in the church that touches every ministry of a church. If you’re a centralized communication person, every church ministry wanting to communicate must funnel their materials through you! So, you need a process. You must establish and enforce a shared communication calendar, a tiered ministry structure that everyone understands, and a transactional system for providing and limiting communication materials. Extra required ingredients: an understanding spirit, the ability to enforce deadlines, and the (very) occasional authority to say “no”.
  2. Being creative. Everyone quickly tires of hearing and seeing the same thing. Creativity allows freshness to your messaging. So it allows the church brand guidelines (limitations) to feel interesting over a longer period of time. So, you need to constantly challenge status quo. This needs to be coupled with the tension of knowing that everything can’t constantly change! This balance must be struck from your audience’s perspective and certainly not your own. Internally, you and your leadership will get bored before your congregation or community. Extra ingredient: develop a way to constantly be aware of trends and keep up with the way of accomplishing them within your brand guideline’s limitations.
  3. Managing leadership. God placed you under a leader who’s equipping and setting vision for the congregation. They’re usually a complex person who has an intense desire to accomplish a lot. This makes them a great leader! But in their focus on the future, it’s often challenging for a communicator to keep up with them. So, you need to have mutual respect. As you find it difficult to understand their focus and demands, they often find it difficult to understand your creative world. It’s wise to discuss this together and earn their respect. This usually is established by establishing a respectful spirit towards them. Extra ingredient: You need time for this to happen. Don’t expect respect to happen quickly. And certainly don’t demand respect, since you must earn it.

> Read more from Mark.


 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald is a Bible Teacher, speaker, best-selling author of Be Known For Something, and communication strategist for BeKnownForSomething.com and the Florida Baptist Convention. He empowers churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites, and social media. His book is available at BeKnownBook.com and amazon.com.

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The Power of Brevity in Communicating for Change

We say too much.

Do you ever catch yourself talking to your child, spouse, or friend trying to get them to understand your perspective? The more you talk, the more they seem to disengage. So when you feel they’re not listening, you talk more. And it becomes self defeating. But we’ve all been in the opposite seat!

Your church is probably the same. You announce things from the stage, you put things in the bulletin, you pin posters to a bulletin board, and you post on your website and social media. And you STILL have the congregation calling the church office wondering about the information. It’s so frustrating! So you say or type more.

When you should do less. Here are 4 suggestions on how to solve the problem:

  1. Stop talking before they stop listening. We know attention spans are reduced. Be aware that most stop listening a lot sooner than we want to admit. Stories and testimonials will get people to listen longer. So… tell stories and testimonials. But don’t abuse them. Keep them short too.
  2. Stop writing in methods that few will read. Unless someone is reading a story or testimonial, people don’t prefer to read paragraphs much. That’s why most of my articles are bullet points, short paragraphs, or eye-interruptors, in order to get people to scan and “catch” the information.
  3. Learn how to give just the benefits. When giving an announcement or message, consider what the big take away will be. If some said, “I’m sorry I didn’t catch that, what did they say?” think about what your brief answer would be. Eliminate most everything else. Most don’t want to be told the details (they’ll forget them); instead people want to know a reliable place to retrieve the information when they want it. That’s your website. I hope.
  4. Tier your communications. Don’t waste everyone’s time with the information of some. Stop announcing event details to the congregation (bulletin or stage) when fewer than 80% that are listening would be interested. When the crowd stops listening, it’s near impossible to get them to start again. Every ministry and event should know when and where their information can/will be posted based on their ministry tier. This ultimately allows you to say less to a group who’ll listen more — because the information is geared to them!

Repeat after me. Say less; they’ll listen more.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald is a Bible Teacher, speaker, best-selling author of Be Known For Something, and communication strategist for BeKnownForSomething.com and the Florida Baptist Convention. He empowers churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites, and social media. His book is available at BeKnownBook.com and amazon.com.

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comment_post_ID); ?> It is a good idea to to know how christians should be good leaders. Thanks
 
— Okello.moses
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I ask: “How long have you been coming here?” It’s works in every situation.
 
— Russell C
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Excellent information, thank You
 
— Thomas TC Gotcher
 

Clarity Process

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3 Listening Practices for Church Communicators

There should be a constant tension: a communicator enjoys talking and pushing information, but an effective communicator must listen more than they talk.

See, to truly engage with an audience, it has to be a conversation. And there’s nothing worse than a one-sided conversation! The struggle often comes when a communicator feels they’re being paid to push communications, and there’s limited time for that; so how can anyone actually have time to listen? A good conversation requires talkers and listeners.

Here are 3 ways you should listen better:

1. When something’s added to your calendar. A good church communication process starts with a solid communication calendar. That easy place where all ministries can add their events in advance. In fact, they should add their events as soon as they start considering the planning of them. When there’s an addition, you need to plan a brief meeting with the leadership to listen to their goals, vision, and expectations. What exactly would the “win” be? This isn’t the time to caution them or tell them what you can’t do for them. Instead, encourage them to do better ministry as you advocate for their audience. Ask them how you can help them.

2. Any time you’re near your community or congregation. Often, we have so many responsibilities during our services or special events that it’s hard to slow down for listening. But it should be a privilege to have your audience near you. Take the opportunity to ask questions and listen for their answers. Do they have ongoing concerns? Questions? Looking for anything you’re not delivering? You may be able to solve them instantly or you may have to research an answer. Since you need to constantly have them in your mind as you plan ministry events, this is your time to soak in who they are, what they’re looking for, and how they feel a disconnect. Often you’ll hear themes that can be solved at a higher level.

3. After a ministry event. When something is fresh in everyone’s mind, like right after an event, you need to ask questions. How can we do better next time? Did we meet your expectations? What response did everyone feel? Take excellent notes and file them in a place that allows you to plan better next time. Bring them out during the initial planning meeting and remind everyone of specific issues. You’ll be valued for that information! Don’t be quick to defend yourself or your team; listen, have empathy, and clarify. Listen for questions directed at you before you start explaining.

Your communication role is to promote engagement (within leadership, your congregation, and your community) and to understand all your audiences well enough so that you can quickly make decisions when the time requires it. Today, listen more. Listen better.

> Read more from Mark.


 

Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn how to improve your communication skills.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald is a Bible Teacher, speaker, best-selling author of Be Known For Something, and communication strategist for BeKnownForSomething.com and the Florida Baptist Convention. He empowers churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites, and social media. His book is available at BeKnownBook.com and amazon.com.

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comment_post_ID); ?> It is a good idea to to know how christians should be good leaders. Thanks
 
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— Russell C
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Excellent information, thank You
 
— Thomas TC Gotcher
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Three Church Communication Mistakes to Avoid

Jesus shared the parable of the wise and foolish builders (Matthew and Luke) because we need to weigh the cost of what we’re building and start with the proper foundation.

The church today is scrambling to replicate communications from other churches. They see them spend money on something interesting, so they think they should do it too. Sometimes that works, however, if the proper foundation isn’t present, the components you’re building prove to be costly.

Here are 3 costly mistakes many churches are making in the communication department:

1. Not building an audience. I was recently lamenting the amount of political TV commercials and calculating how much each network must profit from political funds. But the opportunity to air the commercials (and make a gazillion dollars) wouldn’t be present if they didn’t build an audience before the political season. If they didn’t have the people, the campaigns wouldn’t choose them for their communications. The lesson? Build an audience for your church everyday so that when you have a particularly important message to relay, you’ll have them. SOLUTION: Pinpoint your audience, their needs and goals, and deliver them. Ensure all your communication vehicles are consistently needed, and promote them so you have as many followers as possible. On social media, try to entertain/influence/educate your audience in such a way that they want to share their experience with others on their wall.

2. Not establishing a communication thread. Your ministries need a unifier. Since everyone wants to feel unique and different, leadership wants to try new things and standout above those around them. It becomes a competition between ministry groups to see who can stand out more. The outcome? Often ministry silos start to destroy the foundation of your local church. Everyone becomes known for their own brand rather than a consistent communication thread that unites your church. SOLUTION: Unify the church messaging around one benefit or goal and you’ll save money because the message reaches and resonates farther. It’ll also give you a foundation for tiering your messaging and will allow you to be known for something in your community (so you can build a bigger audience).

3. Thinking an App will solve your Issues. “All the cool churches have apps, so we need one too”. We hear this regularly. But the truth? It’ll add another tool to maintain, another communication message to push (please download our app), and it’ll be a constant struggle to get your congregation to engage with it regularly (most apps are only used once and then stored in a folder to never be used again). What happens? You’ve spent a lot of money on a tool that simply replicates what your website should be doing. SOLUTION: Ensure your church has a trusted, responsive (mobile ready) website instead of an app. Everyone regularly uses websites to locate information on their built-in browser, so why struggle getting them to adopt another tool when your URL (that they already know) can deliver almost everything that they need? Geofencing and push notifications are perhaps the only reasons to have an app. But you’ll still need a solid website as a foundation, so spend the money on perfecting an amazing web experience before ever spending money on an app. Usually a good website is all you need.

Read more from Mark.


Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about improving your Communication!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald

Mark MacDonald is a Bible Teacher, speaker, best-selling author of Be Known For Something, and communication strategist for BeKnownForSomething.com and the Florida Baptist Convention. He empowers churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites, and social media. His book is available at BeKnownBook.com and amazon.com.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> It is a good idea to to know how christians should be good leaders. Thanks
 
— Okello.moses
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I ask: “How long have you been coming here?” It’s works in every situation.
 
— Russell C
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Excellent information, thank You
 
— Thomas TC Gotcher
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.