This is the third in a series of posts about Cultivate ’09, a one-day conversation held at Park Community Church in Chicago about church communication. Born out of conversations among some respected consultants in this field (Dawn Nicole Baldwin, Tim Schraeder, Kem Meyer, among others), Cultivate was the first of what I hope will be many similar gatherings.
In my mind, there is an obvious connection between church unity (my calling) and church communication. Church unity is all about relationships. Relationships, in turn, are all about communication. You can do the logic from here.
There is an element to church communications which is not so much about PR or marketing or branding or logos. A critical part of the ministry of church communications is how a church communicates within the body of believers. The ministry of church communications necessarily must include some strategies about how to facilitate conversation among the church itself. Sitting and talking with Cultivate participants, it was clear to me that many of these communications professionals at least have a glimpse of what this means (actually, some have much more than just a glimpse). There is power in formatting how a story is told. More importantly, there is responsibility in using that power to bring about God-honoring results.
In a session with Kent Shaffer (of Bombay Creative and churchrelevance.com), he said it this way: “Communication [in churches] is more than just sending the right message…it is evoking the right response.” When we begin to take seriously our objective of “evoking the right response”, we begin to see that we can actually empower how people see each other. We can facilitate conversation among them, strengthening relationships. We can help bridge communication gaps within a church body, and thereby “preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Pretty amazing, wouldn’t you agree? Here is an example…
In more than one of the sessions I attended, there were people struggling with the communications challenge of being in a church who feels called to reach every generation. From a secular communications standpoint, that is not just a challenge, it is planning to fail. But in the kingdom of God, it is not only possible, it is actually pretty common among churches. So how can the power of communications be put to use in that setting? People gifted with communications skills can actually help create environments where stories can be effectively told across generational lines. Teenagers can be taught how to stand in front of a group of adults and share what God is doing in their lives. We can put a senior adult’s amazing story about God’s direction in her life on video in a format which engages the attention of students. Again, I am not talking here about messages going out from the church leadership…I am talking about people sharing their stories with one another. We can help our people succeed in giving testimony of what God is doing among them, and by doing so, we can strengthen the body.
That is a ministry worth fighting for. That is why this church whisperer is so passionate about church communications. We can be part of the answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17: “Father, make them one, so that the world might know that you sent me.” Count me in. How about you?
© Blake Coffee
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