Recently, someone from our church board asked me about how we communicate.
“Too much,” I replied, to her surprise. “We communicate too much.”
How often – in our passion for mission and service – do we add to the noise and informational clutter of the lives in our care? Specifically, how many times in an average week does an average congregant hear from their church? Email, Twitter, Facebook, paper newsletter, bulletin boards, verbal announcements… And with how many organizations does our average congregant have a relationship? Are they getting an equal number of communication attempts from Heifer International, ACLU, Amazon Watch, Alzheimer’s Association, First Things First Arizona, and United Way?
Is there a better way?
I’ve observed with my own children that sometimes they listen more closely to a whisper than to a shout. Maybe the folks in the pews feel the same way. Maybe they are tired of being invited to participate in our ministries with enthusiastic shouts. Let’s try whispering. Even more, let’s try trusting the Spirit to move people’s hearts to action.
Let’s pray the announcements.
Now, if your church is like mine, this is going to take some discipline. Everyone wants to chat on Sunday morning, and everyone thinks that their announcement is important and needs to be conveyed with some flair. I get it.
But instead of treating the Sunday morning announcements as if they were separate from worship, what if we approached them in a prayerful spirit? Sometimes we say, “Please hold in prayer the leadership and mission of our church.” Let’s do it – right then!
Lay participation in a community of faith is a spiritual practice. What would it look like to treat it as such? Maybe it looks and sounds like this…
“There are several opportunities to serve our community and the world this week. Please look at the announcements in the newsletter with me:
On Monday at 5 pm, the prayer shawl group will meet to knit and to pray over the shawls that are ready to be distributed.
Saturday, a group will gather at 7 am to repair the bricks on the patio.
Children in grades 2-4 have a sleepover next weekend. Volunteers are needed to prepare and serve dinner.
We are looking for liturgists and song leaders for Christmas Eve services at 7 pm and 11 pm.
Please take a deep breath and join me in prayer:
Holy One, we strive to be a faithful and compassionate people. We pray for your blessings on the activities and ministries of our church this week. We trust that you move through this week with us. In a spirit of discernment, we pause to ask ourselves: what work is entrusted to me? What part of our ministry together might be mine to do? We move forward knowing that our works of service on behalf the world will bring us joy and peace. We ask for energy and passion to fulfill our calling. With the faith of Jesus our brother, we pray. Amen.”
It’s a little thing… a tiny pivot in the spirit of our time together on Sunday mornings.
I believe that churches are called to be countercultural – little outposts of God’s Realm in the midst of the world. That means we do things differently. We don’t need a hard sell – we need invitation. We don’t need marketing – we need to tell our story. We don’t need more communication – we need more prayer.