Exploring the Intersections of Faith and Life

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2008

What message are you sending?

Below is the intro and link to an article from a recent Alban Institute email. It is well worth reading. But what I want to talk about is something Lynne said in the first paragraph – “people involved in a congregati0n are shaped by what they hear about that congregation.” I know first hand the truth of that statement!

I know I’ve told this story before, but I think it bears repeating. At one of my churches, EVERY WEEK we made sure we had something in the local weekly paper – whether it was an announcment in the local events section about an upcoming event, a paid ad (professional ad with “kick”), or a news story with photo. We were not doing anything different than we had before – we were just telling the community about it. The ‘buzz’ in the community was fascinating – people started talking about us! They would say “you sure are doing a lot at that church!” And people IN the church started feeling proud about being a member of the church. That was also the year we decided not to do a stewardship drive. Giving went up dramatically (over 30%), there was a lighter spirit in worship and meetings, there was a noticable decrease in conflict in the church.

The next year when we let our publicity slip. so did giving, and conflict rose. I can’t help but believe there was a direct connection.

People are shaped by what they hear about their church. What are message is your church sending it’s members (and community)

Myths about Communicating Congregational Identity
by Lynne M. Baab

Conveying a congregation’s identity and values clearly and through a variety of means of communication will help the congregation connect to the community around it. At the same time, clear expressions of values and identity will also have a deep impact on the congregation itself. The people involved in a congregation are shaped by what they hear about that congregation. Their expectations for the life of faith and for their involvement in the community are influenced by the ways in which the congregation talks about itself and its values.

For decades congregational leaders have been making decisions—both consciously and unconsciously—about identity and values and how they are communicated. The nine myths below lay out some of the underlying issues that may influence these choices and their effectiveness.

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