Earlier this week my wife and I were part of a conversation with a handful of churches brought together in Northeast Los Angeles. Those present were about as eclectic as you could get: inter-denominational, multi-generational, multi-ethnic and people from every part of the socioeconomic spectrum. We had come to discuss how our individual churches could unite together and be one church community within our city, particularly as it relates to addressing issues of poverty, homelessness, education and other hot topics confronting us. Unfortunately, this was an historic moment for churches in Northeast Los Angeles.
In response to how we could broaden the conversations we were having on this night to the rest of the people in our church communities, an elder in the room stood up. Tony was from one of the nearby Catholic parishes responsible for the only 7-day-a-week feeding program in the area. They’ve gone from feeding a handful of people to nearly 150 every day for lunch, and dinner on Friday nights.
You can imagine my surprise when Tony said the majority of people in their parish did not know their own feeding ministry exists. “In spite of printing something in the bulletin every week,” said Tony, “our own people have no idea what’s going on.” Many others in the room nodded in sympathetic frustration. The collective sigh sounded like this: “How could we get others in our church on board with social justice topics when it seems like very few others even care?”
Stop assuming people get it. This problem is far too common which is why it’s number three on my list of common communication mistakes. It’s not that people don’t care, it’s that you and I don’t care enough to make sure they know what to care about. Pick the top 4-6 things your church is really passionate about and invested in. If you can’t pull at random people from your congregation and have them say the same things, we’ve got a problem.
Now what are you going to do about it? People gotta know.