Real Time Church Reports

June 9, 2005 by

Driving into work yesterday, I was listening to the local news on the radio. As does happen every day during the top of the hour news broadcast, there were a few airtime seconds alloted to a sports update. Quick facts about significant games or other related tidbits is typical during this segment. Because I am not a big sports fanatic, a lot of the information is greek to me, but I still listen because the person reporting the sports news is always, without fail, more interesting than the Michael Jackson “live” report just moments before.

Then the thought hit me: What would happen if every Monday morning there was a quick report on the radio about the weekend church wrap up? Highlights from churches around the area of people’s lives being changed, kids doing better in school, teenagers no longer victims of poor decisions, marriages that are finding hope, and single moms who found a place to belong?

This idea is more of a rhetorical pondering than an executable action (or maybe not?). The real question for pastors is what would this report look like if there was such a thing? How would your weekend service wrap-up be reported? Would it change every week? What would be measured? Who would they talk to for sound bytes?

Is what happens in your church on a Sunday worth being talked about on Monday?

Post By:

Brad Abare

Brad Abare is the founder of the Center for Church Communication. He consults with companies and organizations, helping them figure out why in the world they exist, why anyone should care and what to do about it.
Read more posts by | Want to write for us?

14 Responses to “Real Time Church Reports”

  • Michael
    June 9, 2005

    I like it…
    Ok probably not viable for mainstream radio, but maybe an encouragement on christian radio. Or maybe it’s a preview of the upcoming Sunday messages…maybe someone listening isn’t thinking about going to church on Sunday but may consider going to hear a message with a great title.

  • brand1m
    June 9, 2005

    Might be cool for the church website. The churches that I have worked at already do this, but its for internal use. Departments report all the good and bad, in writing, to the pastor.
    It would just be making it public.

  • Dave J.
    June 9, 2005

    Better yet, and do-able, if it was an email to recap the service. Action items from the sermon, written list of prayer requests, etc. A little chattiness would be interesting, too. How many churches do this already?

  • Boyink
    June 9, 2005

    You’re talking about, I think, storytelling.

  • kevin
    June 9, 2005

    It sounds to me like the perfect content for a church’s podcast.

  • Anthony
    June 9, 2005

    I like the overall idea – but the problem is that it would have to come across as information and not as a competitive comparison of churches. (church A versus church B)What metrics/topics would we report on that would be of interest to the general public, or to most folks that were not members of our congregation? “X” number of folks saved, or “X” number of folks healed and/or Baptised with the Holy Ghost? I do like the idea of putting “life reports” on church web sites where folks can give their personal testimony about how their lives have been changed — maybe we COULD do THAT on the radio :-)

  • Ian Soper
    June 9, 2005

    That is an interesting concept. I like the idea of telling stories of life changes, etc, of people in the community. I Like the ecumenical approach, too. It would be nice to see all the churchese tell their stories together.
    However, I have trouble with this idea for a few reasons:

    1. Are we missing the point of a church community by reducing a church community to a few sound-bytes, or quickly quoted statistics?
    2. Does this focus too much on the Weekend gathering (what most of us would call “church”) and not the larger idea of the body of Christ?
    3. Do the sound-bytes and statistics really tell a truthful story of the church? I know that some churches may look better on paper than they actually operate and some look much worse on paper than the they acutally are. It seems to me that this approach leaves something to be desired. If we’ve learned anything from modernity is that we can make any statistic work for us or against someone else.
    4. Does this approach just scream of inauthenticity? It seems a little to whitewashed, streamlined and polished for my tastes. I’d probably be weary of any church that took this approach, but that could just be me.
    5. I could be way off on all of this and these are just random thoughts of mine that may not hold much water, but I thought that I might joing the conversation.

  • kevin
    June 10, 2005

    Hey Ian, thanks for joining the conversation. You’re always welcome to jump in.
    I can understand where you’re coming from, but I think you can come up with those complaints for any attempt to talk about what’s happening in church. You’ll never have time to tell the whole story and to dive into everything to give the complete picture, especially if you’re using the radio format Brad’s suggesting.
    I think what’s cool about Brad’s idea is that churches have little or no presence on the radio (except for the few Christian stations or a stray church commercial on a mainstream station). This is an interesting way to give them some presence. It’s not meant to be a full picture of church life, it’s not meant to tell the whole story, and it’s not trying to reduce anything. It’s just trying to give people a taste of what happens at the corner church. While it’s not everything, it’s at least something. And that seems better than nothing.

  • Ian Soper
    June 10, 2005

    Thanks for the comment, Kevin. I’m glad to be apart of the discussion.
    In retrospect, I really have most concern with only one of my quetsions: “Does this focus too much on the Weekend gathering (what most of us would call “church”) and not the larger idea of the body of Christ?”
    I guess you may be right. Something is better than nothing. I tend to struggle with this idea that we make church out to be this event that happens on the weekend, when in relity is is the people, the body of Christ, and church exists when we gather, when we live our lives together in whatever form that is. Sometimes that is a weekend worship gathering, other times it might be dinner at someone’s house, other times it could be helping someone out when in need.
    If this radio announcement would be less and less about this event and more about the people. I guess I like some of the approaches that Brad took in the initial post. But, I could easily see it as something that becomes just a recap of attendance, “salvation” and baptism statistics than the real stories of life as the church….

  • SMO
    June 10, 2005

    What is the purpose of a “sports update” w/ soundbytes? To update those who missed the games, to keep the casual fan somewhat reconnected, and to get the person who never follows the sport a few tid-bits that might get them hooked at a later time. Sounds like a great idea for the high-lights of the churches in the area. To inform those who are missing out, to reconnect others who are not currently connected, and to get those who have no interest, somewhat interested. GREAT IDEA outside of the church walls, as well as in!

  • betsy
    June 21, 2005

    A radio station in Baltimore does this, in a way. During their gospel programming on Sunday afternoon, they have a feature called “Where Ya Churchin’?” (that wouldn’t be my first choice of title, but there it is.) Listeners phone in and, basically, brag about what their church did that day. They talk about the scripture, the topic of the message, and how God moved for them. There’s a certain amount of competitiveness, and I’m not sure what the benefit is for regular people.
    But as a minister/liturgist, I find it unbelievably encouraging. Occasionally I wonder if worship – any community’s worship – means anything to a congregation. Whether it makes an impression at all. It touches me to hear people love their churches and brag about how much God uses their services.
    Like I said, I don’t know what motivates people to call, or to listen to the calls. But it’s great for me.

  • kristin
    August 10, 2005

    so i googled “christian media sucks” and few clicks later, here i am. glad i found this. look forward to more entries & great reading. as far as REALTIME CHURCH REPORTS go, i betcha that would be interested in giving it a try.

  • Matt Gould
    October 5, 2005

    We do this in Buffalo in a bit of a different form. We do a daily 60 second spot Monday-Friday on the local secular news/talk station during the highest rated local morning show. THe spot is called “Good Things are Happening”. We update it with a new testimony of something great happening in the community. It is most often church related but not always. It is always done with a sense of immediacy. Our Senior Pastor has made a commitment to this and the Good Things are Happening slogan is quickly becoming part of our church brand. Buffalo, NY is a struggling city financially and politically at this point in time, so we are trying to offer some good news in the midst of all the crap you hear every hour of every day. It’s a transparent, shining light in dank house called talk radio. All stories are checked for accuracy and a RELEVANT for a non-church-going listener. SPEND YOUR DOLLARS IN SECULAR MEDIA, folks. The results are immediate and LONG-TERM!

  • Ruben Zachery
    January 23, 2012

    Thanks for the post. Really Great.

Leave a Reply

Mass Media