October 15, 2014

Two Mistakes You Can’t Afford To Make in Your Communications Strategy


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It’s the church communicator’s greatest fear — important messages lost in a sea of information and distraction. Everyone’s communicating these days. Here are two important thoughts you can’t afford to overlook when developing your communications strategy:

We can’t leave out what makes us different.

People don’t care about how awesome you are. They care about how awesome they can become. They care how their life is going, how their kids are going to grow up, and how to sleep at night when they are riddled with anxiety.

The church’s answer to this has been the relevant teaching series, the polished environment — “look at us and all we can offer you.” Those things still count in most places — but they are now expected as a given and are therefore no longer perceived as a benefit. Carefully crafted and helpful environments are everywhere — even right on that smartphone in your hand. People can find 10 ways to improve their marriage or parenting on the Huffington Post. They can get great music in their pocket, great coffee on every corner, and great community in a mom’s group or book club. Their kids are involved in a dozen well-run activities in the local school or community center.

Only the church offers Jesus — the gospel is our exclusive distinctive. The truth that Jesus Christ died to give us His righteousness — that we’re no longer working our way to goodness or God on our own — is life and peace to the average over-scheduled, performance-oriented life.

People come to the church because they are looking for something they don’t think they can find anywhere else. Give it to them. The church’s best content will always contain a supernatural thread that offers a taste of deep spiritual life beyond a well-managed life.

This supernatural thread should not be hard to find in your work. It should not be preachy or filled with big spiritual words, and, above all, it should be honest. Use personal stories, make spiritual and scriptural connections in your articles, explain the gospel on your website.

We are different. Tell them.

We’re not talking to consumers, we’re talking to sinners.

That changes everything. People don’t ignore your words or stay home or show up late or fail to serve because they are weak or rude or busy or lazy.

They don’t engage because their core tendency is to pull away from God, not toward Him. Beautiful design or compelling copy will not turn the heart away from loving itself first, which is precisely what the other messages of the world offer — what we’re competing against.

The realization that we communicate to sinners and not just consumers does two things:

It shifts our attitudes. Our motivating thought changes from why aren’t they paying attention to us to of course they aren’t paying attention to us. We start with loving instead of demanding. We begin our communication with compassion for people instead of pride in what we can offer them. Like Jesus, we start with a heart for the crowd before we press in to reach them (Matthew 9:36).

It prompts us to pray. Communications becomes a spiritual battle, not just a strategic one. If we’re competing against sin — hearts that are distracted, weak, idolatrous and inclined away from God — we must arm our communication with the power of prayer.

In other news: the people creating communication — you and me — are sinners, too. Godly communication is not solely dependent on our talent, training or time.

Godly communication depends on a voice that has been shaped by the love and grace of Christ.

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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