I first read The Purpose Driven Church around 1998 and began to implement some of the core ideas of the book. Somewhere along the way, Christian leaders began to re-interpret Rick Warren’s ideas and reduce the idea of being a purpose driven church down to a seeker-sensitive style of worship and nothing more. But being a purpose driven church is really about having an intentional process for disciple-making.
This disciple-making process is rather simple. Bring your community into your weekend crowd. Help the crowd become part of your congregation. Move the congregation to be committed, and turn the committed into a core. And as your core adopts the mission, vision, and values, they reach the community and the cycle repeats. So it’s a matter of moving people into church membership, into spiritual maturity, into ministry, and into mission.
Church communications is an area of special interest to me and a vital part of any church’s strategy for reaching our current culture. And in a purpose driven paradigm, we need to think about how we communicate in a well-rounded fashion to strengthen the process of disciple-making. We tend to think about church communications as design, marketing, and promotion. But that’s merely one facet of the field.
There are at least four prongs in a well-rounded approach to communications in a purpose driven church. Rather than exploring each in detail, I’m opening the can of worms for you. As you evaluate how well you are communicating, ask these four questions:
1. How do we communicate effectively to bring the community into our crowd?
In other words, how to we spread the story of Jesus and the story of our church to our surrounding community? This includes the work of branding, which is more than logo design and really relates to how we frame the story that people tell about who we are. This level of communications includes what we promote publicly, how we promote it, and what kind of personality we are represented by on social media.
2. How do we communicate effectively to turn the crowd into a congregation?
One of the most difficult areas of church life to communicate is that of “next steps.” Events are easy, but helping people know which commitment will take them deeper in their spiritual life is a little more abstract. Part of our role as communicators is to clarify and clear the way for people to take the next step with as little resistance as possible. What is baptism and how do I pursue it? When is the next membership class? How do I start or get into a small group? These are questions we need to have simple, clear answers for.
3. How do we communicate effectively to help the congregation get committed?
I often say that nobody on earth has more vital content to share than the church, but how we present the content of the gospel and all that it calls us to can amplify or nullify what we hope to share. We must communicate clearly about what it looks like to grow deeper in the Christian walk and provide the resources to help people go there.
4. How do we communicate effectively to move the committed into the core?
At each level, communication gets more personal, and this is the level at which we change from a mass appeal of “we need some help in the nursery” to contacting gifted people with an open opportunity to grow by serving. As a church grows, helping people find their place to serve and making it all work smoothly to avoid frustration is dependent on a solid communication strategy.
There is way more to church communications than any one facet. It’s not just about social media, or advertising, or branding and design. So it’s pertinent we ask questions about our effectiveness at every level if we’re going to make disciples effectively.
By the way, did you know I wrote a whole book about this subject called Rewired? You can read more here.