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“The church is the people.”
We’ve all heard that. Most pastors and church leaders will tell you they believe it. But the reality is many churches don’t function that way – offline or online.
Most churches were started by people who genuinely love God and other people and are passionate about helping people reconnect with God through faith in Jesus and become disciples of Jesus. However…
It’s very easy to go from God-centered, to mission-centered to church-centered.
One day we wake up and find that we have made it all about the institution of the church. We treat people more like cogs in the church machine, and our communications reflects that:
- “We need volunteers for this ministry.”
- “We need you to give so we make our budget.”
- “We need you to invite your friends to this event.”
I believe that instead of rallying people to support the church, churches leaders who genuinely believe the church is the people, empower people to follow Jesus in their daily lives.
Certainly there should be a lot of overlap between supporting the church and empowering people. But there are some key things that people who empower others do, especially when it comes to the realm of communications.
7 Ways to Empower People Through Your Church Communications
1) Listen – If want to empower someone, the first thing you have to do is understand them. It’s important to understand where they are now, what they want to accomplish, what they’re passionate about, what they’re struggling with, what their ideas are, and more. Ask questions, provide the means for people to respond, and take the time to listen. Then you’ll know how best to empower those people.
2) Resource – God has given the church the opportunity and responsibility to share the good news of Jesus with people. Question: When you read that last sentence were you thinking of the church (institution) communicating to people? Or were you thinking of people communicating the gospel with the people around them? Be honest.
Most churches communicate with the mindset that they are going to reach people directly. But, we know that people are much more open to and influenced by their friends who they trust. Church leaders that genuinely want to empower their people, recognize this and provide communications resources their people can with their friends – invitation cards to services and events, Facebook events people can share with their friends, thought provoking social media content people can share with their friends.
3) Collaborate – Church leaders who empower realize they don’t have a monopoly on all the good ideas. They invite others to join them. They find ways to help others use their gifts.
4) Forge connections – Sometimes the best thing you can do to empower someone is to introduce them to someone else with a similar passion or complimentary gift. Social media provides great opportunities to do this.
5) Promote others – If you are empowering others, some people are going to take initiative to do things outside of the church. Maybe they’ll start a blog, serve at a local homeless shelter, take a missions trip, or even do something with another church (gasp!). Leaders who put the church institution first see these things as competing with their church and will at best ignore them and at worst criticize them. But church leaders who empower others, will actually tell these stories, share them on social media
6) Correct – If the church is the people, then what people think of your church and of Jesus himself will be influenced by what the people of your church do offline and online. A friend of mine who was on staff at a church once told me he and another staff member used to have a contest every Monday in which they would try to guess which member of the church had posted the most inappropriate content online that weekend (partying, profanity, vulgar jokes, etc). I wonder if anyone ever talked with these folks about how our lives online and offline should be a reflection of Jesus.
7) Make time for individuals – Every one of the six points above is very inefficient. It is much easier and less time consuming to broadcast without listening, to create without collaborating, to promote only your churches activities and no one else’s, to ignore instead of correct.
But Jesus was never about efficiency. He interrupted a message for many to heal one paralyzed man. He paused on his journey to heal one blind man. He made time at night to meet and talk with Nicodemus.
If you truly believe the church is the people and you want to empower people through your communications, it’s going to take a lot of time, effort, and intentionality, not to mention prayer and courage… and perhaps even a total change in the way you think about church communications. That’s all. Easy, right? 😉
Comment and Discuss…
- Is your church’s communications more about promoting the institution or empowering people?
- Which of the 7 keys to empowering people resonates with you most? Why?