In the community in which I serve, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon in the past couple of years. There are some start-up churches, of the non-denominational type, who are meeting in our community. They are young, passionate and energetic; and they have a sense of urgency to what they are doing. They exist to reach out to the lost. And their worship style seems to fit all of the stereotypes that we often think of. And while that style may not scratch me where I itch, I do believe that they play a role within the fabric of our community.
But here’s the thing I’ve noticed: About two years ago, one of these churches started putting out lawn signs. Lots of lawn signs. And not just on the corner near the school where they meet, it’s like they have infinite lawn sign budgets, and they put them out on every corner in our community. And most intersections had 4 signs…one for each corner. They would do this to advertise their worship schedule, or special events, or holiday services. Every month or two there was a new sign that was everywhere.
And then other churches seemed to notice, because all of a sudden, there were more signs. Competing signs. And so we have multiple signs on each corner, advertising for different events or worship services. This year, I’ve counted at least 4 or 5 different churches, all with lawn signs, advertising bigger and better Easter egg hunts. This spring I thought to myself: “Oh my gosh…what’s next? Those people who stand on corners, holding and waving signs advertising a store clearance?” And then (while I didn’t actually see it in person) I saw a photo posted of the bunny…waving the sign.
And so I roll my eyes. Because all of these signs…at some point, they just become litter…they become more clutter and people just filter and ignore.
But then I start to wonder about the ways we communicate.
In the ministry in which I am a part, we have e-newsletters…we tweet…we facebook…we instagram…we text…we mail…we announce… and I have to ask myself, “To what level is what I’m doing creating more clutter?”
Kym Meyer, who is a communications director at a large non-denominational congregation in Indiana, has an interesting book called “Less Clutter, Less Noise” about how churches communicate. Her premise is that more is not better. That we need to listen to how our people receive information, and then we need to be strategic, and to make the communication we share with them meaningful. And while there is a place for announcement, what resonates with people is engagement.
Lawn signs and bunnies don’t engage.
But what does?
We live in a time of information saturation. So what information sticks? What works?
I don’t have an answer for that. But I do nod my head when I hear Kem Meyer talking about engagement rather than noise. Perhaps the question we should be asking in our communication is not how can we “get them” to come…but rather how is our communication itself actually ministry? How can the medium itself be an actual tool for faith formation?
I’d love to hear about how you engage your people in your communication, for the sake of mission.
Networked in Christ,