If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn't love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn't love others, what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn't love others, I would be of no value whatsoever. (1 Cor. 13:1-3 NLT)
Words without love are just noise is Rick Warren’s commentary on these verses from one message in his 40 Days of Community
series. Though these words apply in every interaction we have in life, I think they are especially true in the world of church communications.
I’ve often said in my seminars that I can tell when I look at publication samples if the person who was doing them was having a grumpy day or not. People often laugh. But it really isn’t a joke.
Who we are, the mood we are in, and how much we care for the people for whom we are creating the print or digital piece comes through loud and clear in church communications.
Not that long ago, I was shown a sample of a church bulletin still produced on a typewriter. The tiny church was very poor and it was the best they could manage. But it was organized clearly and was complete in the facts communicated. The person doing it obviously took time and care putting it together, but there was one more thing about it that brought tears to my eyes. The church secretary hand-collated and folded each one so she could fold them in an off-set way and then on the top sheet, she hand cut each page with the sort of scalloped scissors used for scrapbooking. She did that she said, so that “people would feel special” when they got the bulletin. I’m sure on some level, people not only felt special, but knew they were loved. I’ve seen other examples of love in church communications in many ways.
I remember a church bulletin from a Greek Orthodox Church, where a retired lady in the church took time each week to research and then to write little stories of the saints of the church so members would understand their heritage of faith.
At a large church I visited in California, there was a table on the patio that had cards on it done up for all of the small groups in the church that described each group, told what they were studying, and invited newcomers to attend. The cards included upbeat photos and maps and were created in a positive, welcoming way. Keeping a project like that current is a huge labor of love.
One of my favorite responses to visitors was from a pastor in Canada whose welcoming letter included two free coupons for latte and an invitation to Latte with the Pastor and along with that an invitation to “ask any question you’d like about God.”
I’ve seen humorous expressions of love, like the one from a lady who tore the edges of announcements for the ladies events and then scattered them on the floor, because as she told me, the ladies in her church were very tidy and this way she knew they would pick them up and read them.
There are lots of ways to express love in your church communications. You know your people best. Create your church communications with creativity and love and your words will be much more than “just noise.”
From: Devotions for Church Communicators by Yvon Prehn