Jesus told us that "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks, (Luke 6:45)" and we know that's true. If we are angry with someone, it always comes out. Maybe in nasty, little snide comments, maybe in screaming. If we love someone, we can't help but smile when we are with them or thinking about them.
We may want to hide either emotion, but it seldom works. No matter what we say, "I'm not angry, just frustrated" or "No, he's really just a friend" our words and actions will always show what is in our hearts.
It's the same with your church. You can have the most biblical, Great Commission-centered mission statement ever. Your leadership board can decide that this year the focus will be on outreach and discipleship and the congregation can agree those are great goals.
But are these truly at the heart of your church? Do you honestly care about reaching unchurched people with the good news of Jesus and growing your current members into mature disciples? Do these convictions result in action?
It doesn't matter what you say in staff meetings. What does the voice of your church, your communications, say are your priorities?
This is very easy to evaluate. Look at the recent communications—your social media, newsletter, church bulletin. What are they about? As I write this, it's summer and I had the opportunity to compare two sets of church communications from two churches where they talk about their communications. The defining details are changed so as not to embarrass any member of the Body of Christ, but here is a summary of each one from an overview of their summer communications.
I selected summer as a time to evaluate because we tend to be very intentional about this time. Churches have incredible opportunities to either make a great impact for the Kingdom of God or to be selfishly inward-focused. The following are true stories.
Church #1—Summer is the time where this church holds special outreach and training opportunities. Once a week, they have a low-cost family meal at the church, free child care, and then different classes ranging from ones that are designed specifically for people not familiar with the church, "Why is the Bible different from any other religious book?" and ones for current Christians who want to grow in their faith such as "What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus in the secular workplace?" and theological classes such as "An overview of GRACE in the Old and New Testaments" taught by professors from the local seminary. They do an extensive amount of advertising to get people outside the church invited to these events and invitations and social media are created for church members to enable them to invite friends and neighbors. They look at summer as a time for intentional outreach to their community and a time to challenge church attenders to grow as disciples of Jesus.
Church #2—Summer for this church consists of a series of fun events. The church cancels all adult Bible classes and small groups for the summer. The fun events they focus on have been traditional at the church for many years and they are seen as "family times" meaning times for the church family to have BBQ's, pie parties, and time together. The advertising for the events is primarily done through the church bulletin and member email. No communications are created to invite people outside the church or to encourage members to bring guests.
Both of these churches are in the same denomination, both would consider themselves biblical and evangelical.
But what do their communications say about what each church truly believes is important?
At the end of the summer, what do you imagine will be the results in each church in helping people come to know Jesus as Savior and grow as disciples?
Spend some time this week in a staff meeting looking at your current church communications
Ask yourselves: If I didn't know anything about this church, what would I consider their priorities? What are they doing now and in the coming weeks that is obedient to the Great Commission, to helping people outside the church come to know Jesus, and to help those who know him grow as disciples?
It doesn't matter how up-to-date you are with your technology, if you've already mastered the latest social media format, or if your designs could win marketing competitions, or if your social media mix has extraordinary engagement by your members. What matters is what drives the heart of your church programming? If it doesn't reflect obedience to the Great Commission, you need to work on that first.
Once obedience to the Great Commission is honestly at the core of your church and your actions, no matter how you choose to communicate it, no matter what your skill or technology expertise, you will have the Lord's blessing and partnership in your work
What is your summertime priority, making yourselves comfortable and happy or fully fulfilling the commands of Jesus?
What's in your heart, personally or as a church will always come out in your words.