The Big Mistake I’m Seeing With Church Communications

June 7, 2018

Last week it was reported that Netflix had acquired the rights to Martin Scorsese’s upcoming film The Irishman (Source). The film is set to star Robert De Niro, as well as Joe Pesci and Al Pacino.

Paramount was originally slated to distribute the film, but Netflix secured the rights instead.

Think about that for a moment.

A major film. Directed by one of Hollywood’s most applauded masterminds. Available entirely through streaming.

That means it is not available in your local theater. Instead, it’s accessible on your TV, desktop, or mobile device. This is a significant moment for the film industry. And it’s the first of many upcoming blows to major film studios.

Of course, this isn’t just happening in the film industry, it’s happening everywhere.

The Biggest Communications Shift In The Last 500 Years

We’ve seen major upheavals in almost every industry over the last decade:

  • Public Transportation vs. Ride-Sharing (Uber, Lyft)
  • Cable TV vs. On-Demand (HBO, Hulu)
  • Downloading Music vs. Streaming (Spotify, Apple Music)
  • Fortune 500 Companies vs. Startups
  • Big-Box Stores (Wal-Mart) vs. Online Retail (Amazon)
  • Hotels vs. Home Rentals (AirBnb)

Each industry is at a different point in its disruption. Some industries, like DVD rentals, have already gone completely extinct — replaced by digital streaming services. Others, such as live sports events, are just at the beginning of their disruption. While others, such as meal-delivery (Blue Apron), are just beginning to gain mainstream traction.

Why is this all happening?

Simply put, we’re living through the biggest communications shift in the last 500 years: The biggest shift since the printing press in the 1400’s. No industry or organization is immune.

And that includes our churches.

Churches Are Not Immune To This Cultural Shift

Church attendance is dropping. Families are attending weekly services less frequently. When asked why, half of the respondents cited “practical difficulties” such as being too busy or having work conflicts (Source).

Our churches are debating internally over stage design and the number of songs in the worship set, hoping that these answers will curb the exodus. But they won’t.

The reason people aren’t attending your church as frequently as you’d like has nothing to do with your stage design or the volume of your music. It has everything to do with the colossal communications shift our culture is experiencing.

Your church may respond in three ways:

  1. Deny this is happening
  2. Swim against the current and keep doing things the way you’ve always done them
  3. Go with the current and share your timeless message in new timely ways

The Big Church Communications Mistake I’m Seeing In 2017

Most of our churches are built around a weekly live event, usually about an hour in length. So what do we do when people stop attending this live event on a consistent basis? Simple. Instead of demanding people come to us, we go to them.

Remember, the reason at least half the people stopped attending your church on a consistent basis isn’t because they’ve lost their faith or were burned by the church. They are simply “too busy” or have “health issues” or are experiencing “work conflicts” (Source).

Thankfully, instead of requiring people to come to our church, we can bring church to them. Upwards of 70% of all Americans are active on Facebook (Source). What does this mean? This means that 7 out of every 10 people in your community are congregating in the same place every single day. Let me ask you this: If there were a physical place in your city where 7 out of every 10 people went every single day, would your church have an active presence there? Of course, you would!

But here’s the crux of what I’m getting at: It’s not enough for your church to have a Facebook page. It’s not even enough to be posting there consistently. You need to be posting the right kind of content. So what is the right kind of content?

What Would You Post Online If Your Weekly Service Didn’t Exist?

Every church’s mission statement can essentially be distilled to either The Great Commission, The Greatest Commandments, or some combination of the two.

  • Make disciples
  • Know Jesus
  • Make the love of Jesus known

This is great stuff.

But here’s the mental exercise you need to work on to break through the barrier most churches experience with their online presence.

What would you post online if your weekly service didn’t exist? If you didn’t have a weekly Sunday service, how would you go about accomplishing your church’s mission and vision?

The biggest problem I’m seeing with church communications in 2017 is that every post and digital effort made by churches is pushing people to their weekly service. “Here’s a quote from our message.” “Don’t miss this upcoming series!” “Invite a friend to church with you this week!”

Sure, this can be part of what we’re doing online. (I don’t want to diminish the importance of an in-person gathering of the church body.) But our online platforms can’t simply exist to talk about what we’re doing in person. These online platforms exist so we can accomplish our church’s missions beyond — and in many ways separated — from what we do in person.

So ask yourself these questions: “What would our church post online if our weekly service didn’t exist? How would our church accomplish our mission strictly using our online platforms?”

The Fate Of Your Church

We’re living through the biggest communications shift in the last 500 years. We can’t keep doing things the way they’ve always been done and expect them to work in this new landscape.

When industries and organizations refuse to react to the changing cultural climate they go extinct.

It should go without saying that The Church won’t go extinct. But the way we’re doing church right now might. I don’t know what’s going to happen.

What I do know is that for most of our churches, the majority of our resources are allocated toward a weekly one-hour live event. And there are 167 other hours every week that we continue to neglect.

Of course, you don’t need to like the changing landscape. No one likes change. But our churches need to react to it. How?

Ask yourself, “What would I post online if our weekly service didn’t exist?” This is the best place to start.

Click here for the original article from Pro Church website. 
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