The article “Banned from church” appeared on the front page of the “Weekend Journal” section of a recent Wall Street Journal. The piece is about churches that are reviving the “ancient” practice of shunning, or expelling members who are believed to be in deliberate conflict with the laws and leadership of their local church.
While I take issue with the story’s tone that suggests that the church is more intimidating than inviting, when I looked more closely, I also found some useful lessons for becoming a more effective communicator for Christ:
Trying to keep people out of church will always win us more publicity than trying to invite people in to church. Accept the fact that church marketing that matters is going to be challenging, creative and often invisible work.
If, as church leaders, we would shift our focus to “enthusiastically engaging” from “strictly enforcing,” then people might believe that the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ is real.
A church’s most effective information source is its congregation; be it good news or gossip, they spread the word. Whatever techniques and technology we employ should empower them, not frustrate. Our members are our most valuable marketing partners.
Here’s to hoping that we’ll do more sharing than shunning! If nothing else, it will lead to better coverage in the popular press, the pages read by both believers and seekers.