Reading Rethink Communication: A Playbook to Clarify and Communicate Everything In Your Church, author Phil Bowdle shares the following:
“The basic foundation of most churches has not changed dramatically. The average church is built around worship services, children’s ministry, student ministry, Sunday school or small groups, and ministry events. So what’s changed? It’s the people.”
He then quotes Dave Adamson, “Church attendance is not decreasing, it’s decentralizing.” BECAUSE, according to http://www.socialmediatoday.com, “The average person who attends your church may only physically attend eight to ten times a year. The average person your church is trying to engage with is on social media 116 minutes a day.”
Breathe. Really. Just breathe.
Phil Bowdle was interviewed on the MyCom Church Marketing Podcast of March 12. He shared his dad was a United Methodist pastor, his mom served as a leader in Children’s Ministry. He didn’t just grow up in the church. His parents had keys! Phil serves today as the Creative Arts Pastor at West Ridge Church in Northwest Atlanta. I ordered the book before the podcast ended.
Jesus’ Great Commission to us as His followers is to ‘make disciples of Jesus Christ’ or in other translations, ‘go and teach’. We can only do that through engaging people in discipleship as they live their lives every day of the week. We MUST prepare and plan to engage people as they are inside the house AND outside the house.
So where do we start? Phil writes that many churches exist in the ‘chaos cycle.’ Two of the many symptoms of the ‘chaos cycle’ would be ‘reactive workflow instead of proactive planning’ and ‘everything comes together at the last minute.’ To break out of the ‘chaos cycle’ Phil suggests and outlines six plays to effectively communicate our message. Play #1: Clarify your message.
In clarifying your message, we ask ourselves three great questions:
1. Who is your target audience?
2. What’s the win for your message?
3. What are the barriers to your message?
I’ve spent the last week contemplating and talking about and to my target audience as we prepare to plan and promote a new monthly ministry to students in 3rd-5th grade next fall. I surveyed our 2nd-5th graders on Palm Sunday as they were waiting their class’ turn to move through the Easter Story Stone Stations after the traditional palm processional. Why? I no longer have a 2nd-5th grader living their everyday in my home and I don’t want to make assumptions.
The information gathered was surprisingly delightful, and so helpful. The questions we asked are below:
1. Top 2 shows you like to watch
2. Top 2 outside-of-school activities do you like to play
3. Top 2 sports you like to watch
4. Top 2 people in your life
5. Top 2 people you’d like to hang out with (past or present people)
6. Top 2 restaurants where you like to eat
7. Top 2 family traditions
8. Top 2 favorite colors
9. Top 2 things you like about church
10. Top 2 things you like about school
11. Top 2 things you like about Jesus
12. Top 2 things you like about your family
13. Top 2 people you like to talk to when you have a problem
14. Top 2 friends you have at church
15. Top 2 church leaders you know
16. Top 2 times when you like to pray
17. Top 2 times when you read your Bible
18. Top 2 songs you like to sing
19. What do you or have you participated in at church since you’ve been at McEachern? (circle all that apply)
Sunday School / Vacation Bible School / Ambassadors / Messy Family Lent / Messy Family Christmas / Acolytes / Winter Ball / Gaga Ball Pit / Christmas Caroling / Trip to Bethlehem / Ultimate Camp / Princess Class / Knights Class / Splish Splash / Tour of Nativities / Day Away at Ms. DeDe’s / Bible Ninja Warrior / Summer Special Sundays / Camp Glisson / Wonderfully Made / Faith Field Trips–Paddle Board, Puppets, Hiking, Movies / Recreation-Soccer, Basketball, etc. / McEachern Preschool
Next, I will work with our team to determine the win. Then, we address the barriers. This book is a practical playbook on communicating your message. Do I dare prepare a ‘next steps’ plan of discipleship for each age level based on this information? You bet I do!
“And again, ‘I will put my trust in him.’ And again he says, ‘Here am I, and the children God has given me.” Hebrews 2:13