3 Reasons Your Community Isn’t Listening to Your Church
By Mark MacDonald
Church branding strategist and consultant
“The community is not listening to my church.” This is a difficult statement I hear from many pastors. Is the church’s message wrong? Is it because people don’t want spiritual truth? Or are there other reasons why the community isn’t listening?
It is important to ensure that your gospel message is not ignored, as the church can often be blamed for how a message is communicated. If you find that your community isn’t listening to church messages, there are usually 3 reasons why (and here are some solutions):
1. It’s a noisy world. Every day people are bombarded with so much information – wanted and unwanted, promotional, entertaining and informative. Indeed, notifications interrupt online communication to redirect us to even more information. The television has a lower third scroll above the talking heads with informative graphics behind them – all at the same time! It is impossible to follow everything. In fact, if you try, you end up missing details. To stay sane, people have to decide what is important and what is ignorable. If something feels like it’s adding to the noise without any perceived benefit, it’s just muted.
SOLUTION: Calm your messaging and designs for all channels. Rather than several disconnected and complex elements, speak in unison with one main beneficial message (across all ministries) to make yourself known for it. People tend to spend more time on quiet web pages.
2. You don’t talk to them. We went there: a lively room with a lot of discussions. You end up ignoring all communication channels because nothing seems directed to you. Until someone says your name. So you listen! In our noisy and noisy world, if messaging is not intended for specific recipientsic people in your community, it will usually be ignored. Then, when your community isn’t listening, it’s hard to get them to pay attention again. The sad truth? Our communities stopped listening a long time ago because church communication focused internally on the congregation using acronyms, insider language, or clever sub-brands that didn’t connect to the outside.
SOLUTION: Know who you talk to in your community (“personas”) and say their name (i.e., parents), their pain (i.e., having trouble finding time?) or a solution to their needs (i.e. Finally, an evening on us!) and you’ll catch their attention for seconds. It is in this brief engagement that you should provide useful information.
3. You say too much. Attention span decreases dramatically. A study from a few years ago determined that they are as low as 8 seconds! The community isn’t listening because they’ve lost interest faster than it took you to deliver your message. Stop talking before they stop listening. It’s hard to say all we want because the Bible is full of great messages.
SOLUTION: Modify your communication to attract and engage. Only after they trust you not to waste their time can you give them more. Even then, edit, edit, edit. State their name, concern, or goal, then give them a snippet so they click through to learn more; or keep listening to them because you understand and love them.
MacDonald is a communications pastor, speaker, consultant, best-selling author, church branding strategist for BeKnownforSomething.com, and executive director of the Center for Church Communication, empowering more than 10,000 churches to something relevant (a communication thread) through their ministries, websites and social networks. His book, “Be Known for Something”, is available on BeKnownBook.com.