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Sticky Messages


Wednesday morning Apple launched the new iPad. Following their announcement, Apple’s home page looked like the picture here. Please note that Apple deleted all unnecessary content that might distract people from focusing on the new iPad.

I think congregations could benefit from eliminating the “noise” that prevents people from focusing on what matters most. This assumes that we’ve already decided what really matters such as a congregation’s mission, vision and values or perhaps key messages such as “home is church too” or that “faith formation is a lifelong adventure”.

When writing we need to think proverb rather than novel. We need to use metaphors rather than lengthy narratives. We need to connect with the heart as much as the head. We need to inspire as much as to inform.  We need mission statements that can fit on the front of a t-shirt and can be readily repeated by everyone.  And we need to remove the forest so people can see the trees.

1. What do you want people to know, remember and repeat?

2. What “noise” gets in the way of people hearing these primary messages?

3. What might you do differently to make your messages more memorable?


Some Toughts (14)

  1. MichelleCollins
    added on 8 Mar, 2012

    The statement we’re trying to bring forward in our congregation is “Connecting people with God, with others and with the world.” I think the noise that keeps us from doing that is our attempt to keep our brokenness to ourselves. I don’t think we can truly connect with each other if we’re not real and honest about our own brokenness.

  2. added on 8 Mar, 2012

    “To know Christ, and make Christ known.”

    The “noise” is so many things… the focus on little pieces and not the big picture; the politics within our congregation; the comfort of tradition…

    (And Michelle, I totally agree. By focusing on all these other things, we feel less accountable to show our brokenness. When, really, isn’t that what this is all about? Being vulnerable to Christ and each other? If we can’t do that, how can we expect honest relationships to be built?)

  3. Ben Koehler
    added on 8 Mar, 2012

    Yes, we have many calls for activity and funds. I really appreciate this, since it means we are active, but much of it could be condensed. I’m imagining the grand fund drive each quarter with a little sheet that says what percent goes where. Not a perfect plan, but it moves us away from convolution.

    Our main message is that God chose you and the works you will do. Our Sunday School Singers lead a song or hymn in worship about once a month. If they helped remind our congregation of one core message each time, people would have more incentive to listen and remember.

  4. Geri Kearney
    added on 8 Mar, 2012

    That faith is more that just knowing. It is also a call to action. We all have gifts that God has given us and we can use those gifts to act on bringing others to faith and it happens more outside the church walls.

    And I agree with Michelle we need to be hoenst about our own brokenness and I also think we need to allow others to be vulnerable without being judged.

  5. Heidi Hulme
    added on 9 Mar, 2012

    Our mission statement is Seeking, Serving, Sharing Christ. You’d think that would be enough. But the “noise” we hear comes from a loss of identity. We use to be a very prominent church in the community-“The John Deere Church”. (John Deere’s daughter donated our very beautiful chancel area.) But we are now less than 1/3 of the size, and to admit that brokenness would mean that we loose our status. I really like our mission statement, and believe we can live into it-if we can just admit that we are no longer who we once were. And, realize that it’s okay to be that.

    • MichelleCollins
      added on 12 Mar, 2012

      Heidi, I appreciate the challenge you stated of admitting that something has changed, and so struggling to create a new identity. I think that’s a struggle for communities and for individuals (that’s part of admitting brokenness, I think). But I also appreciate that your mission statement does not require a large church–any group of people (no matter how small) can engage in “seeking, serving and sharing Christ.” That’s an identity and a mission that doesn’t need large numbers and fancy buildings.

  6. Kelly L
    added on 9 Mar, 2012

    We want to make Jesus known and help them become His followers. The noise is ourselves and the expectations each person brings of how they want things to be instead of clearing the noise and allowing God to show up and move! Prayer for memorable and really getting to know the people we want the message to stick to!

  7. Tammi
    added on 11 Mar, 2012

    “Trinity is a Christ-centered community of believers, saved and enlightened by God’s grace. We serve God by serving others.” I think the noise around this mission statement is that we get so focused on the running of the church that we sometimes forget to actually serve others outside of ourselves. The noise can actually be tunnel vision. We are talking of changing our mission statement, not because we don’t or can’t live up to our current one, but because it might need a new outlook on what we are called to do and be for Christ.

  8. Karen Schultz
    added on 13 Mar, 2012

    At St. Luke’s we “Glorify God with our Gifts to Serve All.” God has given us all many gifts and we are to use them in service to others, both inside and outside the congregation. The “noise” most frequently occurring here is the “country club” menatality of church, that the pastors are suppose to do everything and that most don’t really get that all means ALL. Despite that we are blessed to have many who love outreach and inreach. We’re working on transformation here.

  9. Patrick
    added on 14 Mar, 2012

    I strongly agree that any mission/vision statement should fit easily on a t-shirt. Our congregation is a “rural congregation with a world vision exalting the name of Jesus Christ.” If it can easily be recalled/recited then it’s more likely to translate into action.
    I feel that life=noise and, since I have not been called to live in a monastery, I need to find ways to turn down the volume of the noise: simplify, simplify, simplify.
    When I share a message or at our youth gatherings, I identify what the message is in a brief sentence and refer to that regularly and then close the meeting/event again with that brief theme/sentence.

    • MichelleCollins
      added on 15 Mar, 2012

      Patrick, I agree with you that life can be ‘noise,’ but I’m wondering what you mean by ‘simply, simplify, simplify.’ Do you mean literally cut down on material goods, technology, etc. etc., or is there another way of thinking about ‘simplifying’ for the sake of clarity and vision? I’m just curious. It sounds interesting…I just want to know what it looks like.

  10. Jay Kiel
    added on 16 Mar, 2012

    I think that it is easy to get caught up in the “noise”. Sometimes it seems that more noise can be created by spending to much time on “noise”. One thing from the example of Apple is that we need to clear things out and realize where we want our focus to be, and that focus needs to be Jesus, I think that simple vision/ mission statements are a great way to show that focus. I think that the noise can be created by people trying to do what they want to do versus what God is calling them/ us to do. This is not easy, but I do feel that it is vital.

  11. Elise
    added on 19 Mar, 2012

    The biggest noise happening at Bethany right now is the gossip and talk that is happening in the church parking lot. We have had members return after moving back to the area after years and say how negative the atmosphere feels now. People literally need to quiet their own voices when it comes to the gossip. There is also a lot of focus on money and a push for getting inactive members back in the pews for the sole reason of getting extra income from them. We need to rather focus on our mission statement and realize that if we do the ministry, people will want to support it and come and give. This however is easier said than done.

  12. Cydney
    added on 20 Mar, 2012

    I want people to know that new members and their new ideas are welcomed, valued and important to our congregation. To remember that these new members are not to be blamed the “growing pains” of a healthy church. And, repeat both of these as necessary.

    The “noise” that we are hearing right now because we just had our Quarterly Congregational Meeting which included budget review is about “benevolence” and “new membership”. New membership is up and benevolence is down therefore, the conclusion of this phenomenon is that “new members” are not big in giving so that dilutes the average “confirmed member’s” annual giving amount statistic. This created much tension and frustration among new membership and a feeling of finger pointing the established congregation. Fortunately, our new members spoke up and were well received by everyone for a quick course correction.

    Don’t connect new membership with lower benevolence. They might influence one another but it does send the wrong message. As a result we have revised our budget to allow financial giving growth over a longer period instead of expecting new membership to translate to equal benevolence growth.

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