This summer your church will get lots of visitors, some of whom are friends of church members who might not regularly go to church, others may be from the surrounding community, and we can't forget out of town visitors. This is a wonderful opportunity to reach out with the gospel and the love of Jesus and here are some strategic tips to help your communications make the most of this opportunity and some strong cautions about what not to do.
We know we shouldn’t use church jargon terms like justification and sanctification in our church bulletin, web, or social media when we are writing for people visiting our church, but so much of our church jargon we don’t even see. Using acronyms we don't explain, talking about events that we do year after year and assume everyone knows about, insider jokes, assuming people know times and locations—all these things are confusing and unkind to someone visiting. We don't want our language to keep someone with a free night in our city to miss out on an opportunity to learn about Jesus.
What should we do? Awareness is a good first step. Look at your bulletin, web, and social media and ask the Lord to help you see them as a visitor would. Take the time to explain what you know is confusing, even if it benefits only one person. To go further, show your communications to a friend who doesn't go to the church and ask them to tell you what you said. If they have trouble explaining exactly what you are referring to, how to get there, and why they should bother to come you may want to make some changes.
Not for summer only: the above tip is useful to do at least once a year in your church. It becomes impossible for us to see if our communications make sense to anyone outside the church. You have to get that feedback regularly to be sure you are communicating with the people you want to reach.