What’s better than a form letter signed by the pastor? A form text…or so say the church growth gurus. If preacher upfront hopes to see those smiling guests become well worn church members, the he should embrace a strategic digital communication plan consisting of prewritten and formulaic texts and emails. The growth gurus promise that their well-timed communication will be perfect remedy for indecisive guests.
The concept is well-intended. I want Amissville Baptist Church to grow. I want your church to grow too. And by way of full disclosure, I use a texting program at ABC to send out alerts and other information. Texts can be sent quickly, can be easily received, and seamlessly responded to during working hours. I’m all for texting, for church wide texting, and for welcoming new technology into the church. But churches should not employ employee form texts and highly detailed communication programs as their main means of visitor follow up.
To begin with, the 65 year-old woman has vastly different concerns than the 18 year-old college student who has vastly different concerns than the 35 year-old working mom. While the bombardment of form emails and texts may appeal to the subconsciouse elements of their brains which have been heavily influenced by America’s advertising culture, the form texts do not ministry to the souls listed above. By nature, prewritten communication communicates a lack of care.
And when we use communication tools to manipulate guests into attending our congregation, we hide from guests the beauty of Christ’s loving community. Moreover if the texts convince the visitors to return again and again, their coming reveals that the have a desire to be served. And if these visitors make the transition into the church body we have to ask why. Did they join us because we manipulated them more than the church down the street did? Did they come because we told them about all the things that we can do for them and showed them a willingness to make church all about them? Or did they join us because they want to worship God and because they want to show others the love that they have experienced while in our midst? Did they come because they saw the same Holy Spirit that is in their heart in our church?
The attraction of the gospel consists of real, meaningful, and sincere relationships. Notice how Paul describes his interactions with the people of Thessalonica:
So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us (1 Thess. 2:8).
To win guest to our congregations and more importantly to the gospel, we do not need form text messages or form letters. We need men and women who are willing to join with Paul and with Jesus by sharing both the gospel and their lives with anyone and everyone who walks through our church doors. That is one compelling outreach ministry. That is what I aspire to. That is what I encourage ABC to aspire to.
If you want people to join our church, we should invite them to lunch, take them out to coffee, and let their kids jump across our living room floors after the service has concluded. We should not come to church, wave, exchange a few pleasantries, and then fill the rest of the week with prescheduled texts, emails, or letters. We should spend time getting to know the the visitors at church, at Burger King, and in our home. And then, we should fill the week with personal notes, texts, and phone calls that reflect our real and ongoing relationship. If we care for people like Jesus does, we will do life with them…not prewritten texts.
Do you agree?
Do you want an impersonal form letter, email, or text from the various people at church? Or do you want a relationship?