Everyone has a reputation. Not everyone recognizes it, but you’re known for something in the circles in which you live. The church has a reputation, too.
What reputation does the church have? It depends on whom you ask. Ask a Christ-follower, and you’ll hear one perception. Ask a community member who may or may not attend church regularly, and you’ll receive a completely different answer.
And if you ask about the big-C (universal) Church that Jesus said we’re a part of when we follow him and the little-c (local) church of believers? Prepare yourself for confusion. Most people, even ones who attend church regularly, may not be aware of the difference between the Church and the church.
In my new book, Be Known for Something: Reconnect With Community by Revitalizing Your Church’s Reputation, I talk about a worldwide perception study. People were asked to share their perception of “church,” and it was very low. However, their perception of Jesus Christ was quite high!
Those results mean we have a product delivery issue. We have the greatest and positively perceived product—Jesus—but many people don’t like how we, as local church bodies, take Jesus to our communities.
We must revitalize the church’s reputation or no one will ever want to be a part of it. The stats demonstrate the statement: approximately 4,000 churches close their doors permanently each year in America.
How does the local church revitalize its reputation? Here are three ways to get started:
- Stop assuming “church” will attract. Attract people with something else. The more you try to change perception, the more you have to consciously change and show people you’re different. If “church” is in your name, or if you meet in a building with a cross or other religious symbols, the community knows you as a church. You need to get out of that hole.
- Rediscover your community. Obtain a demographic study of your reach area. Discover how the locals are different from your congregation. Find out what their physical needs are and start meeting them. Isolate their predominant problem and be the solution. Become known for it. As you meet those needs, you will be able to introduce people to Jesus and his church.
- Get outside your church. You can’t expect people to come to you anymore. Get outside your walls (online or in person) and offer genuine help. Keep helping until they exclaim, “I didn’t expect a church to do this for me!” With that encouragement, slowly let them know that Jesus is the reason you do what you do and that the church encourages us to keep doing it.
- Buy a copy of Be Known for Something: Reconnect With Community by Revitalizing Your Church’s Reputation.
- Read our review of Be Known for Something: Reconnect With Community by Revitalizing Your Church’s Reputation.