Remember a while back when I thought I had developed the power of invisibility? It all started with my unsuccessful attempts to get my national newspaper delivered.
I’m happy to report that the situation has changed. Thanks to my dogged determination – and, I think, a refund request from their business office – I finally was greeted by the sight of my paper each morning. Guess I’m not invisible after all.
Nine months later, I’m convinced I really do have superpowers – just a different one.
Back at Christmas, we contacted the post office and newspaper to stop delivery, so our collected mail and papers don’t advertise “Please! Take our stuff!” to the world. But based on past experience I stopped the paper a day early. Sure enough, it still came.
The customer service rep apologized and told me the paper would definitely stop. Skeptical, I promised to cancel if I received even one paper the following week. When we got back there was not one but four papers scattered across the yard – only because there was no Christmas delivery.
I canceled on Jan. 2 and told them it was my last call. It’s almost March as I write this and it’s still coming. Free. (Yesterday’s mail even included a “we want you back” offer.)
And just as we found ways that people can become invisible to churches, it turns out that they – and we – could also become inaudible and without the need for a lightning bolt or your own batch of vibranium. How?
Mangling their name. I go by my middle name. Thanks to insurance, doctors and pharmacy never get it right. That shouldn’t happened at my church. The same is true for hyphenated last names, nicknames or the pronunciation. Does your church communication reflect that?
Blaming them for inattention. Is there an unrealistic expectation that people get their information when and where leaders expect? Everything should not have to depend on sermon announcements. Repetition and using different means of promotion help; so does training people or conducting a communication audit.
Promoting without a point. Too much verbiage, visuals that are too busy, low-energy or bored announcements and not stating benefits can thwart the best-planned news.
Refuse to accommodate… When members and guests make a reasonable request, consider holding your “No” before holding your nose and ponder before rejecting it out of hand.
…to a point. Not every request is reasonable. LifeWay President Thom Rainer maintains that while members should expect ministry and concern, there is a difference between their expression of servant mentality and entitlement mentality. His suggestions include providing member classes, one-on-one mentoring and small group opportunities.
Superpowers can be nice, but not necessarily ones that keep you from participating. The proof is in my paper.
Ken Satterfield is a former media specialist and current marketing director for Word&Way.
The Main Reason People Leave a Church (Thom S. Rainer)