Look at the receipt from your recent visit to a grocery store, restaurant, home improvement center or similar business. Near the bottom, you’ll probably see an invitation to take a survey by phone or online. The management wants to know if the company is doing a good job.
I often accept their invitation – not to complain about a bad experience, but also to offer positive comments and suggestions. If they are open to improving their products and services, I am willing to help.
The survey asks a customer to evaluate the company’s products. Was the food good, if not, what was wrong with it? Did you find the groceries or items you were looking for? Did you visit our website?
They also want to know if employees were helpful, available and friendly. A new survey question asks, “Did any employees make eye contact with you? Did they smile?” A coffee shop’s survey asks, “Did the barista attempt to get to know you?”
These are very insightful questions. Company executives are waking up to the high value of connecting and personally communicating with the customer. Selling a product or service is not enough to earn your loyalty. People value the kind of communication that is warm and personal. It makes a difference!
Church leaders would benefit from the lessons these surveys teach. After all, communication is what we do. Our calling as followers of Jesus Christ is the communication of a message that is both verbal and non-verbal.
The last assignment our Lord gave us is, “… you shall be witnesses…” (Acts 1:8, NKJV) and “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations … teaching them …” (Matthew 28:19-20, NKJV).
Preaching, teaching and singing are methods of communication. Greeting a guest or fellow church member is an act of personal communication.
Websites are supposed to communicate the church’s character, personality and purpose.
An email, letter or phone call communicates a message.
What are we communicating? Sadly, guests that attend our services may hear confusing messages from us.
They struggle to translate our “insider” language and the meaningless phrases we use in public communication that look like “fillers,” instead of genuine concern.
Insider language is often exposed in the directions we give. “If you are a guest, our pastor would like to meet you outside the office door.” The careless assumption is that everyone knows where the “office door” is located. Actually, they don’t. They need someone who will communicate with them clearly, warmly and relationally. Bad communication turns away good guests. It also frustrates some of the members.
In my last pastorate, we occasionally recruited outsiders to visit the church as “mystery guests” who provided written reports detailing their observations. We learned we were doing well in some areas, and we needed to improve our communication in other areas. This was a very helpful resource for our leadership team.
A church website is a great tool to reach those who do not attend your church. However, we often make the same mistake of using language and styles that do not look welcoming or appealing to the outsider.
It is well worth the investment of time to build, revitalize and maintain your website. What is your church website communicating? Have you asked anyone to critique it?
I visit at least 30 church websites every week. I’m amazed at the obvious information that is not included in even the sharpest looking sites. Many do not include their address or it is tucked away in a hidden location. It should not be difficult for a web visitor to learn about the pastor and staff, yet only a name is posted on many church sites – no photo, no bio, no contact info.
This does not communicate personal warmth. One site I visited recently simply gave the pastor’s first name – that’s all!
For the sake of the gospel and God’s glory, invite a “survey” of your church’s ministry. You might be surprised by the valuable lessons you discover.