Recently I saw an entertaining, but thought provoking, video of a friend’s daughter who is an incredibly creative and enthusiastic teacher! It made me think about the importance of church vision and how it’s shared.
The assignment she gave her second-graders was to explain, in order, the steps on how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They turned in their work and she sat at her desk to share the varied results with them by immediately attempting to craft the sandwich based on their recommendations. They sat on the floor in front of her eager to watch and enjoy eating the made sandwiches!
One submission did not include ingredients (plate, bread, peanut butter, jelly, knife, etc.). But instead shared something along the lines of, “Put it on there and then smash it together.” The teacher read those instructions aloud. And then she read it twice more. After all, she was trying to follow directions. One child asked why she wasn’t making the sandwich. She replied that she was not sure about what to put on and what to smash. The children looked at her quizzically. She said they would come back to that one later. And read the next one.
Assignment two explained, “Spread the peanut butter and the jelly on the bread and it will stick together.” So the young teacher used her hands and spread the peanut butter on a piece of bread and the jelly on the other. But oddly enough the two pieces wouldn’t stick together on their own. The children laughed and squealed and said, “No, you have to use a knife!” And “It’s not magic, you have to put the bread slices together to make a sandwich yourself!” To which she replied, “But the directions didn’t say for me to do that.”
While the children all knew the assignment, they didn’t clearly communicate the vision. The needed items or steps for someone else to successfully carry them out. While this was a really sweet hands-on lesson for the children, I think we can all learn from it…
Steven Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, writes, “From a Christian perspective, vision is the ability to clearly see and articulate where God wants us to go or what God wants us to do in a given situation. Vision is the bridge between the present and future reality. As one man stated, ‘If you want to find a needle in a haystack it is almost impossible. Yet if you place a magnet on the edge of the haystack, the needles jump out.’ Vision is that magnet that attracts followers and resources.”
In order to grow, you must communicate your vision. As a pastor, it is imperative that you communicate your desire to reach more people in your community for Christ. Although there are various mediums to engage with your community. All of which are so obvious we are telling you what you already know. Just like making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on two slices of bread. But we will anyway thanks to some recent guidance from a trusted ministry resource guide, Know and Grow:
Your church website is the virtual door to your church. Before visiting your church, people in your community will visit your church website multiple times. They want to learn more about who you are. As a church, your staff members, your beliefs, and your programs, activities, and small groups. Make sure you have your sermon archive on your website. Make it inviting!
Streaming is more ubiquitous now than ever. Churches have been forced to get their content out in a digital medium. Thanks to the current pandemic. If you aren’t live streaming your services, you are missing a very large chunk of your community.
Email communications from the pastor to church members and recent guests are so important. People will read emails from their pastor. Including guests is a great way to make them feel part of the family.
Consider social media campaigns that are composed of several ad variants targeted to your community. What are their interests? Do they have children? Are they widowed, divorced, single or married? Tailor your messaging to specific groups of people within your community.
Make more phone calls. We can’t stress the importance of how it makes people feel, especially guests, to receive a phone call from someone on staff personally inviting them to an event, a small group, or just to inform them of something happening that you want them to be part of.
Handwritten notes from the pastor go a long way. This is by far the one that should leave the most lasting impression.
Communicating coupled with intentionally nurturing your vision for the community goes a long way in getting people to return week after week. People want to be part of a church that cares about them, their family, and their spiritual growth as outlined in The Fact is This: Healthy Churches Grow! How will they know if you care? Or that you care? You need to communicate
to them in word and deed.
We are better communicators when it comes from a place of strength and gratitude. “Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness”- Colossians 2:7. Overflow is the excess or surplus. Not able to accommodate with available space. That sounds like quality growth to me!
How do you plan to focus on knowing your community better in 2022? The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to start something new and fresh. This blog references the new and helpful Know and Grow Ministry Guide as it’s the time of year when people are hungry for the Gospel- maybe now more than ever- and we shouldn’t be complacent.
Know your community. Rely on sources of data to help you deploy strategies for meaningful growth in your church. And, to make it even easier and so you don’t miss any of our Church Growth Resources, you can also receive our ministry blog posts straight to your inbox!
Rev. Chuck Salter joined ACS Technologies in 2019 when ACS Technologies acquired MissionInsite, a company he co-founded and which provides community demographics and data analytics to the faith-based market.
Chuck is a clergy member of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. He has over 30 years of experience in the strategic use of community demographic information, has served as a church planter, and has provided UMC Conference leadership in missional development and ministry advancement.