At my home church Lori and I have been attending the life group headed by a retired pastor, who also is the father of our lead pastor. He made an important point on this past Sunday on communication.
Pastor Jim, as he is known, shared about one lady he had asked about joining our congregation.
She replied, “I don’t have $15,000.” He asked what she meant.
Her reply: “I’ve seen the posters with $15,000 around the church.”
Pastor Jim explained that the posters were promoting a North America missions offering, but the lady thought that the posters were the amount you had to pay to join the church. Maybe she was thinking about Country Clubs.
Pastor Jim asked that the posters come down, and the leadership team agreed to take them down.
Pastor Jim shared with us that people don’t know anything about churches, and we need to be careful with our communication. Great point!
Communication problems with churches are not new. When I was a seminary student I, along with a missions partner, was part of a 10 week summer ministry in church planting in New York state. To gain publicity we had worked it out with a shopping mall to have a puppet show. Following the presentation we wanted someone to give a brief salvation testimony. There was an eager teenage lady who wanted to do it, and we agreed to let her.
She shared about being in a church service, and at the end of it she “walked the aisle.” At that point she burst into tears and couldn’t continue. That was it. Why did she walk the aisle? No one listening would have known. Perhaps some may have thought she walked the aisle to take communion. The young lady was using some churchy lingo. Those from her church probably figured she walked the aisle to accept Christ, but no one else would have known that.
Now walking the aisle might be good for burning a few calories, but it doesn’t communicate the gospel to anyone.
I know that various industries and occupations have their own lingo. And churches do, too. But we must remember that many people may have no idea what we’re talking about or what we may be communicating unwittingly, as the $15,000 mission goal poster did.
I know when I meet someone who is using anacronyms and expressions I don’t understand, I may ask, “What’s that?” But after a few times I hate to keep asking, so the person is no longer communicating to me.
We have a message that’s the most important. It’s a message about Christ who died on the cross for our sins in our place and arose the third day. We want people to believe in Him for salvation.
We also desire that people become a part of a biblical congregation and be discipled. We need to tell them what we expect and explain exactly what we’re about and what we’re doing.
We have more channels for communication that ever before. Let’s use them well so that we can reach people with the good news of salvation in Christ.
I can help you and your congregation do this. Feel free to contact me.
Ashton C. Smith, Certified Church Consultant