An op-ed article in The New York Times, "Catholicism Inc." by Bill Keller not only challenges the Catholic Church with some suggestions for change during this time of transition between popes, but it inspired me to make some communication suggestions for all churches, based on his ideas. What follows are quotes from the article, and then communication applications suggested by the quotes:
Catholicism is mostly a service industry . . . . and its deliverables have stood the test of millenniums: instruction in how to live a good life, sacraments to consecrate major milestones, comfort in times of distress, the cleansing therapy of confession, penance and absolution, a sense of place in the universal order and the promise of a celestial payoff. . . . .There is still a robust market for the faith. The problem — evident in the waning confidence of the customers as well as the rising market share of evangelical start-ups . . . is with the management.
Communication application: Though we might use different terms to describe the benefits of our individual churches, a common denominator is that our gracious Creator has met every need of the human soul now and for eternity in the freely offered salvation provided by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, or as he says, "The fundamental problems are not in the catalog."
He goes on to lay the cause for the problems with the management of our churches and church communications are a key part of that. If the core message of salvation is not getting across to your audience, if new people aren't coming to know Jesus as Savior and growing to mature disciples, if they are not sharing the good news with their friends, practicing their spiritual gifts, and being salt and light in their world, the problem is not with the culture or media or lack of time or the crippling demands of the modern world—the problem is with us, the managers, the communicators. We have to take responsibility for what is happening our church if the message we preach and teach (or assume we do) isn't a reality in changing lives before we can make necessary changes. [Read more...]