Tuesday, 21 July 2015

If no one tells them: How will they know?

The words of Romans chapter ten came a knocking on my head in the early hours of this morning:
How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? 
And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? 
And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 
And how are they to preach unless they are sent?
This passage talks about the means by which the Gospel is preached but (as I keep pointing out) the Church is a communications business: We exist to communicate the Gospel of Christ in Word, deed and (leaving the most important to last) in prayer.

Communication of the Gospel is our raison d'être (which, apparently, as I've just found out) doesn't mean 'the raisin I just ate'): We exist to make Jesus, the Christ, known to all - inside and outside the Church.

Communicating the love of God demands the very best we can can be in terms of lifestyle, integrity and the word (written, spoken and, of course, Living). this means that we need to be using all of the means open to us to ensure that we are reaching those outside our doors and ministering effective to all both inside and out. 

We are called and then, having answered that call, we are sent to make the Christ known so that none are ignorant of who Jesus is or what He achieved for us on the cross and so, having heard, others might be reconciled to God through the Christ.

Communication in evangelism is essential.

BUT (you knew there was going to be a 'But' didn't you?)

Communication in Church (universal) is essential too. But how do you do yours?

Here are a few thoughts on the ways I know:

i. The notices - those service stopping, rhythm-breaking, lists of things you've forgotten before the end of the song that followed it.  I am not a fan of notices because I've noticed that few appear to be noticing them and fewer still make a note of the notices you wanted noted and noticed!!

ii. The news sheet - A piece of paper with everything you might ever want to know about the events, activities and news in and around the church community (and perhaps wider). The problem with this is that unless you make sure the people take them home they are pretty useless and merely destroy trees in the paper (and the paper banknotes) that they use us.

A colleague told me that they use a new sheet and mention the things on it before the service and again at the end (for those with short-term memory loss and those who come in late I suppose). Not only do they emphasise the stuff on the sheet twice but the 'welcomers' (a mythical group of people who live under church floors I think)  also check to see that people leaving have a copy of the sheet in their hands when they leave.

Impressed at the enthusiasm and endeavour I asked what difference their active marketing approach had made to attendance of events on the sheet. The response was, 'None at all, but at least we are trying!'

iii. The church magazine - where I am the magazine finds its way into homes,doctors surgeries and even onto the internet (click on the link and you'll see July's edition). This a great way of getting information into the hands of members and inhabitants of the place you serve BUT (keeps cropping up that word) the offering needs to possess some quality.

Only recently I came across a magazine that was using 'cut and paste' methods in its production. Before you wonder what is so special about that, after all we all cut text and paste in back into the document elsewhere at times, I have to point out that this was proper 'cut and paste'. The editor cut out images and text and then glued them onto a sheet of A4 to form the completed page - once all the pages were done the whole magazine was photocopied onto A5 (landscape) and the magazine was sorted.

I have to be honest and say that I don't miss the wonky text, blurred images and multiple fonts!

If you're going to have a magazine: Please make sure it's the best quality you can afford to have - the church magazine, like eyes, is the window into our very being!

iv. The church web site - Now this is an excellent way of communicating the events, news and message of the church BUT (there it is again) only to those who are switched on and able to browse (and there are a number for whom social media, the web and even texting is still out of reach. Don't assume that everyone is able to receive or review stuff using technical means (after all, I bet people thought Gutenberg and his printing press were cutting edge technology once).

I've covered the web site recently and so all that needs to be said is to remember the C's:

Content - Currency - Cwality
(and speling)

v. Newspapers - Where I am the local newspapers are happy to have copy regarding events and the like. Don't forget this great two-way street (they need news and you need your news to be aired): Develop a good relationship with your local press and you'll do the community and your church a great service. 

vi. Radio - one of the greatest aids to getting our news and message out is by means of the local radio. They are often happy to have someone who will put the God viewpoint on things and will often mention things that are happening in your church (but don't flood them - only send things that are attractive, newsworthy and perhaps a little out of the ordinary).

Again, development of a partnership is a valuable and useful two-way street as you're both looking to serve the communities where you are.

vi. Texting - this is surely one of the best means of informing church members especially about prayer needs and events. We've been using a bulk text message app on our iPhones to keep the prayer group appraised of needs as they emerge for a number of years and it has worked very well. (we use Mass Text Message).

This is a great way to be in people's pockets and it seems to me that people will read, and respond to, a text message where other means don't always do as well.

vii. eMail - you can't forget email as a means of communicating information but - and this applies to text too as I recently sent a message to tell someone I had arrived only to find they got it six hours later - don't assume that because you have emailed or texted something the intended recipient actually got it.

If it's important then telephone is the best belt and braces approach!

viii. Social media - Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Bebo, Linkedin, What's App, Pinterest and much much more besides. Herein lies the means of getting your information out into the world (local and global) BUT (there it is again) please make sure that you don't look needy or blitz the people around you with stuff that is neither helpful or good - well not unless you really want to affirm all those negatives about Christians that far too many people already have that is!
I'm sure I've missed something (but I'm sure someone will tell me).


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