Less Clutter, Less Noise: 4) Myth: It Worked Before so It Will Work Again

overlay crochet“Every organization has to face a changing culture, and your audience is changing faster than you are.”

Here is the thing, people resist change. A recent example, Facebook changing the look to profile pages. I received a request to check out the new format and was given the opportunity to join the change. I accepted and moved on about my day. I have been using this social networking system long enough to know that change it was a coming. Well it seemed that many of my friends did not relegate that change was happening whether they chose to join this movement or chose to ignore it. Oh, the mighty outcry the day change prevailed. However, none of them quit using the system they just wanted to be heard, that they did not like it.

In Less Clutter, Less Noise a book on getting the word out to our church congregations, I found a jewel of a resource. It’s streamline approach and blog-like structure makes this an enjoyable read. It is a great example of the most important take aways I found in chapter 4.

*We have to pay attention to how people are responding.

*We have to have the courage to start over if our message is muddy.

*We can’t stake our ground and shut out change or other perspectives.

*We must go to where the people are, because they aren’t going to come to us.

Here are some questions to consider:

1. Are you spending more energy trying to get people to come to you, than you are spending meeting them in online spaces they are already plugged in?

2. Is your first response to a new trend in communication to dismiss it? How can you change your openness to seeing how to work these trends to your advantage?

3. Are there any new trends you could share with the rest of us?

3) The Myth: Advertising Creates Interest <– Less Clutter, Less Noise –> 5) Myth: People Care About What You Say

Amber is wife, sister to the funniest kid she has ever met, and privileged to serve at such a wonderful church as Community Church. She has been in involved in ministering to children and youth for 10 years. You can check out more of her thoughts at http://heartstransformed.blogspot.com or follow her on Twitter: @msamberuh

16 Responses to “Less Clutter, Less Noise: 4) Myth: It Worked Before so It Will Work Again”

  1. I think the hardest step is admitting your current communication strategies aren't working. If you can realize that, then change isn't too hard. However, getting to the point where you can understand that people aren't coming to you may take a while…

  2. What a great summary! I loved this chapter because I thought it hit the nail right on the head. As someone who works with teens (and as a young adult myself), I've embraced online technologies and how they can help us grow relationships. I still come into contact with people who think "that's for the young people – I don't need to learn how to use it." It bothers me to hear them say that, because it seems like they aren't concerned with connecting with "the young people" in ways that will matter.

    I think this chapter gave me some language I can use when talking to people about online technologies – but I have a feeling it's going to be a long road to get them to understand that people aren't going to come to us – we have to go to them….we have to meet them where they are!

    • PaulSteinbrueck Jan 19, 2011 at 10:52 am

      Crystal, I can certainly sympathize with you. I have seen a number of church leaders openly mock the stereotypical teen as buried in their phone sending 100+ texts a day and the stereotypical Facebook and Twitter user as just posting what they ate for breakfast. Many dismiss texting and social media as immature, silly, or time-wasters. I wish more church leaders would realize it doesn't matter what they think of a communications medium. If you want to communicate with people, you have to use the media those people use.

      I'd love to see churches take 2 minutes on a Sunday morning to pass out a 1 question survey…

      Which of the following ways would you prefer to get information from us?
      - Mail
      - Sunday program
      - Email
      - Website
      - Text message
      - Facebook
      - Twitter
      - Phone call
      - Candygram ;)

      Based on the survey results a church can better judge which media are worth investing in.

      • You know – we tried to do this kind of survey a couple of years ago (although we didn't do it in paper form … we actually asked people after worship) and the responses we got weren't very helpful … I wonder if we'd get a better response using a written one question survey and actually pick up the pieces of paper during worship (or maybe before worship starts)

      • I like the quick survey idea.

      • The survey may be well-intentioned, but how to do you imagine it being perceived? As a way for the members to engage in conversations with the staff, or as a way for the church to transmit content? More the latter, I think.

        Are we looking for ways to get people to respond to us, or are we looking for ways we can respond to people? The content v. conversation concept is how Kem frames it in this chapter.

        As we consider our channels of communication, here's a great video of Shane Hipps, about how the content and the container need to match, and how technology (of all kinds) can bring us together, and at the same time, drive us apart. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkZ9G6ZxtmI

    • That struggle to get people to "we have to go to them" has been terrificly hard in many places and had gone on for much of my 40 years of adult life. However, there is more going to them happening now than even 10 years ago. The whole missional thing has been helping change thinking across a broad spectrum of American Christianity and I hope other places where it was needed as well. We have to meet they where they are! That's the Jesus model and He models only what works.

  3. I am the Communications Director of a 51 year old church (www.cypress-umc.org) and you better believe that we have heard many many times "it worked before" or "we used to" or "why do we have to change". To me if you are truly a follower of Christ, then you can't deny that change will happen, especially if you take John 15 to heart. There has been much change with the current pastor, and I believe for the good. We were very inwardly focused and are beginning to see the fruit of changing our mind-set to going out and making disciples. It has been a 4 year process and God is still molding and shaping (and pruning).

    With the communications department, this past year we have dived into social media and have found wonderful relationships out there (Kem Meyer is one of them) and new resources. We have had the opportunity to pray for strangers and connect in ways that are mind-blowing. There are still many staff and congregation members that are resisting social media, but I believe it will turn around soon.

    Thanks for this post, Amber.

  4. I'm not cutting edge enough to know new emerging things to recommend exploring but wish I was. My openness to new communication trends has generally been ahead of my taking time to explore and utilize them. That I have to change.

    I love the nuggets you pulled out. I personally found the Create Conversations Not Content very helpful as I struggle to participate in the new reality of communication forms and dynamics. But I am finding investing in meeting people in online spaces where they are already plugged in to be exhilerating. I don't have time to let it get to the point of addictive, thanks be to God. But it is great nonetheless.

    Check out my latest post – I think it is a prime example of how not to communicate. Yes, I have a long way to go by comments are welcome. They might help break some ice jams in my mind.

  5. So, a good chunk of the people checking these posts our are in some way involved with these communication efforts.

    What ways are not working, or you would like to get rid of? What ways do work?

    • Things that are working for us:
      - 4×6 postcards to invite friends (word of mouth)
      - Leadership trainings
      - E-News and surveys through Constant Contact (can be forwarded and shared on Twitter and Facebook)
      - Sunday school announcements
      - Keeping web site current
      - Pulpit announcements (reduced to 3 events that are geared to larger groups of people)
      - Press releases for big events
      - Blogging is just tipping the iceberg. Facebook is hot…Twitter is not…yet.

      • Great stuff. What are your big events you use press releases for? Are the press releases digital?

        We have noticed a lot of traffic on Facebook too. That's where people are!

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