When Churches Keep Quiet: Is Silence Deafening Your Message?

When Churches Keep Quiet: Is Silence Deafening Your Message?

October 3, 2010 by

In ninth grade Heather Cooper sent me a note in study hall. It was the typical, “I like you. We are in German class together. Do you want to go out? Check yes or no.” I wasn’t prepared to manage such a life-altering decision eight minutes before the eighth period bell rang. I had no idea how to fill out the note, and I have always preferred to ignore a message rather than send the wrong one. Case in point, I never enjoyed answering the phone when creditors called. I don’t want to give them poor news, so why give them any news at all?

This habit, a bad one, still plagues me and too many churches. In short, our silence can overpower our message. What and when you don’t communicate can negate whatever message you are attempting to convey.

Churches and their communicators are always sending a message to their local communities. Our given message is to be the kingdom of God and gift of Jesus Christ. When this message is not clearly proclaimed by our verbal and non-verbal communication, our audience fills in the blanks. Our neighbors come to two conclusions: we are either ignorant of their problem, or we don’t care. Or both. And unfortunately, there are churches in both camps.

No one accidentally concludes you are a loving church without hearing your message. No one guesses you are a serving church without seeing your actions.

The current religious climate demands we exhaust every possible avenue in carrying the message of Christ clearly and concisely to any open ear. If your church is not using Facebook, then start—your high school, chamber of commerce, library and most tax paying citizens are. If you don’t use Twitter, learn—your friends and community already have. Does your local community have a bulletin board, free town mailer, radio station or homepage? Get on it. Go out in your community, and do something. The church’s silence is killing her message. If you make people guess what you are about, they will guess wrong.

There are two perceptions your church must counter:

  1. Battle perceived ignorance. Engage your community leaders and find the needs. Take the mayor to lunch. Write your district representative. Obey Jeremiah 29:1-7 and care about the welfare of your city.
  2. Battle perceived apathy. Invest all your resources in meeting the needs of your town. Use financial resources—budget if they aren’t there. Each dollar dropped in the plate should draw a clear connection to a mission, local or global. Encourage your people to invest their lives in reaching the community. Celebrate stories of church members getting involved outside the walls of your building.

Your challenge is to leave your community no excuse for marking the wrong answer if asked, “Do you think my church is loving? Check yes or no.” Branding isn’t what you say you are about. It is what your audience says you are about. May our message clearly be proclaimed through our words and our actions.

What current ways are you sending your message out? Is it working? How is your town filling in your blanks?

Post By:

Paul Hickernell


Paul is the Pastor of Creative Arts at ZION Church, a multi-site church in western Pa. His passion is helping the local church and its communicators share the best possible message to their context and culture, which he writes about on his personal site, paulhickernell.com.
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One Response to “When Churches Keep Quiet: Is Silence Deafening Your Message?”

  • Denise Simpson
    October 18, 2010

    Thanks for posting this first of all, Ive had to walk away from this a few times, so I could collect my thoughts before putting thewm down here,

    I feel that this message goes hand in hand with this church down here, it might be the eay I re…ad it, but when you have been a church for 10 yrs and you have less than a hand full of people that atend then there is a problem, specialy when there is less than there was 4 yrs ago when I was down here.

    I feel like not only are churches keeping quiet on things but they are lossing faith, not listening to what God has to say, they go on line and get cheep stuff on line and use it in church, which can be helpful when you listen to what God has to say,

    But when church service is faster than the drive thro at McDonalds then there is a problem! and No I am not kidding, the people who are there stay because they are comfortable, not because they are being fed the word,

    I wanted to start a womens group got the ok from the Pastor’s wife to use the building, only to get told that I can not use it because the Pastor is on Vacation and cant start anything new while they are gone for a whole month, or because they can not afford to pay the gas bill, ect. this told to me by the SO call Asst. Pastor and his wife,
    Yes I know I do not sound very Christian like at this moment in time,

    But if people have ideas and God has lead you to them yet the doors keep getting slamed on them then how is a church to grow? how are you as a church being helpful to the community? how are you helping those who want a small church when you are not letting them be apart of?

    They didn’t have a web page at all, I offered to make a FB page for them GREAT IDEA they said, yet no one does anything with it, but me, Yes it only takes one person to make a difference, but gee golly wiz shouldn’t the Pastor add something to the page,?
    how long to I keep trying before I look some where else? throw in the towel? tell them just what I think which is what I think reallt needs to be done here!!!!!

    I have talked to the people in the church and they feel they aren’t getting feed Gods word eaither but stay for whatever reason, and the people are hungry, they want to be lead, they want to walk away feeling like they learned something on Sunday morning,
    The one thing this church aas going for them is their food bank, and that is only done once a month, and there are more people that show up for that anywhrere from 40 to 50 somew people a month,
    they have a little service which is better than the ones held on Suinday sometimes but none of those people come on Sundays,

    Go figure……

    I could go on and say more but for now I wont, I will let you read this and see if people have any advice they can give to help me help this church or if I should move on, thanks for posting this I think I will also share thisSee More



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