and the winner is…

Woohoo.

Our church notice sheet has won an award! You can see details here or download the weekly sheet here by clicking on the image of the sheet and then the link on the following page. It is particularly encouraging because we have taken steps this year to improve it to make it easier to read, more attractive and blend with our ‘corporate identity’ (ie in line with our logo colour scheme, the website and so on). We took the decision to print it in colour each week because it’s the item most people take away from our church after attending a service and so will be part of the lasting impression for newcomers.

We have a small team of editors (on a rota basis) who work with our church office to put this information out each week and maintain the look of the sheet at the same time. Sometimes, because of the amount of information to include, they manage to squeeze a quart into a pint pot and still manage to make it look good.

Two things come to mind this morning (in addition to pride). One is that it is always really nice when someone recognises and appreciates your work, especially when you have worked hard to improve something. How did you feel the last time someone said, ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’? How can you pass that on to someone else today?

The second thought is to be reminded about how important communication is, especially in churches. Last night we had a special Deacons’ Meeting where we looked at some of the things that might potentially hamper people from coming to faith and growing in faith at our church, and how we might improve things. Communication came out high on the list of things we need to improve.

Now that we have an award-winning news sheet we need to make sure that we continue to put relevant and helpful information in it, but we can’t assume that we have communicated. We put notices on the screens in the church before the service starts, but again we can’t assume that we have communicated with people through them. For communication to be effective it needs to be well-presented and interesting enough for people to pay attention, relevant and (perhaps most importantly) received and understood. The problem we have is that the latter two are outside of our control!

We can do our best to ensure that we share information (and especially the good news about Jesus) as relevantly, engagingly and attractively as possible but if someone is disinterested, too busy to pay attention (or asleep) then we will not have succeeded in communicating effectively.

Is there a crucial tip to be able to do that? Well there are thousands of books that have been written on the subject, so it may be presumptious of me to suggest that there is, but I think (and it was reinforced last night) that there is. It’s this:

Personal communication is more effective than mass communication.

An invitation extended by a friend is more likely to be communicated effectively than a notice on a screen or a news sheet. An explanation by one individual to another is more likely to address the questions of the second person because it can be more accurately tailored to them than any sermon can (subject to God’s intervention through the sermon).

Good, effective communication is the responsibility of every one of us. If we leave it to screens, pieces of paper or even websites (which can all be useful) we will leave a lot of people feeling bewildered, unwelcome or disengaged. (I wonder how many of the people who clicked onto this page have left before they get to this point?)

Be blessed, be a blessing

A classic joke about sermons… (I may start a home for retired jokes soon)

A preacher, who shall we say was “humour impaired,” attended a conference to help encourage and better equip pastors for their ministry. Among the speakers were many well known and dynamic speakers.

One such boldly approached the pulpit and, gathering the entire crowd’s attention, said, “The best years of my life were spent in the arms of another man’s wife!”

The crowd was shocked! He followed up by saying, “And that woman was my mother!”

The crowd burst into laughter and delivered the rest of his talk, which went over quite well.

The next week, the pastor decided he’d give this humour thing a try, and use that joke in his sermon. As he approached the pulpit that sunny Sunday, he tried to rehearse the joke in his head. It suddenly seemed a bit foggy to him.

Getting to the microphone he said loudly, “The greatest years of my life were spent in the arms of another man’s wife!”

The congregation inhaled half the air in the room. After standing there for almost 10 seconds in the stunned silence, trying to recall the second half of the joke, the pastor finally blurted out, “…and for the life of me I can’t remember who she was!”

One thought on “and the winner is…”

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