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by Ryan Stigile, the Unstuck Group

Recently, I passed a billboard that promised hope through Jesus to those who called the listed phone number. Curious (and bored on a long drive), I decided to give them a call. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed by the recorded message.

Unfortunately, I’m afraid that many churches have a lot in common with this billboard. Is it possible that unchurched guests are disappointed by the messages you are sending their way?

Consider these four aspects of my billboard phone call experience…

1. Organizational Bragging

The recording included a list of the organization’s successes. They seem to have billboards in every state. Apparently those billboards are part of an international ministry. But do you think an unchurched caller is interested in those facts?

When people visit your church, do you begin by telling them about its impressive history and number of ministries? Or do you have an intentional way of getting to know them first? People want to know that you’re truly interested in them.

2. Recorded Salvation Message

Rather than taking the opportunity to share the message of Christ personally, a mass presentation introduced callers to Jesus. There are certainly times when large presentations, such as sermons, are helpful. But we cannot underestimate the influence of personal conversations.

Are your church members encouraged to share Christ relationally? Or have they been trained to rely on a sermon to save their friends? People are more likely to take a step in the context of a relationship.

3. “No counselor is available to take your call.”

I guess they thought I was in need of counseling. It could have just been a poor choice of words, but I heard it as an assumption that I have issues to deal with.

When guests enter your church, do you look for problems that need to be fixed? Or do you see the beauty of God’s creation that resides within each of them? How you view them affects how you approach them.

4. “Please call back later.”

I was interested to see if anyone would call me back. No one ever did. I wonder if an unsaved person would have tried calling again until someone picked up. I doubt that many people would.

Do you have a clear system in place to follow-up with guests? Are you confident that everyone who contacts your church is quickly connected? Their first call may be their only call.

Like this billboard, I’m sure your church has every intention of giving people hope through Jesus. Unfortunately, when we’re not intentional about the ways we communicate, we can accidentally give the wrong impression. Take a look at your organization from the perspective of an unchurched guest. You might be surprised to find messages you never knew you were sending.

Tony Morgan

Tony is the Founder and Lead Strategist of The Unstuck Group. Started in 2009, The Unstuck Group has served 500 churches throughout the United States and several countries around the world. Previously, Tony served on the senior leadership teams of three rapidly growing churches including NewSpring Church in South Carolina. He has five published books including, The Unstuck Church, and, with Amy Anderson, he hosts The Unstuck Church Podcast which has thousands of listeners each month.

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