Welcome to “No” Church – 4 Steps to Reversing Your Negative Church Messaging

NoChurch1

Almost without exception, churches somewhere utilize negative messaging for very practical reasons. After all, someone parking in the wrong spot can create havoc. So it’s quite natural to put up a sign that says, “No Parking Along Curb.”

But is that the only way to get the intended result?


Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 7.47.14 AMThe question is worth asking because studies show the impact of negative verses positive messaging on the brain. Negative messaging narrows your thought activity and focuses on actions related to the message. Positive messages on the other hand, broaden your thinking and create openness. More on this topic, from The Science of Positive Thinking.

So the big question is what kind of brain patterns do you want to create for people as they enter your church an prepare to worship the all-powerful and all-present living God and creator of the universe?

Let’s play this out for a guest coming to your church. What happens when they hit a cascade of messages like these:

  • No parking
  • Do not enter
  • For church members only
  • No skateboarding
  • No rollerblading
  • No bicycles
  • No scooters
  • No food or drink allowed
  • No talking
  • No trespassing
  • No running
  • No mobile phones
  • No signs allowed
  • No posters
  • No advertising
  • No parking along the curb

Essentially you create what we call the “No Church” church dynamic. Enough negative messaging and you might as well be saying…Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 12.00.27 PM

  • Don’t come here
  • Don’t relax
  • Don’t worship
  • Don’t find God

Sounds laughable, doesn’t it. It wouldn’t if you could feel the influence of multi-stages of negative messaging from the perspective of someone totally new to church.

What can you do about this dilemma? Four things:

Step #1: Inventory your negative messages. List every one, walking from your entrance of your church to the worship center or sanctuary.

Step #2: Ask how important the prohibition message really is. I once worked with a church that prohibited the use of the ball field on their campus. Is that really worth it?

Step #3: Consider a positive message instead. This might not be obvious at first glance, but explore options as a team. Can a “No parking along curb” sign be replaced with a “Please keep traffic flowing” sign?

Step #4:  Use your negative message  with a point of humor. Why not have fun if you must communicate a negative message? The classic illustration is the “Thou shalt not park here” sign. What other ideas have you seen?

And, if you have any other funny negative messages, please share!

Read more from Will.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
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
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.