Relentlessly Outwardly FocusedPosted: April 26, 2011
Last night as our social media team and I were trying to communicate with Kimberly Knight over ustream, (storms in the Atlanta Area made internet communication difficult) we finally decided to tackle the assignment of mapping our congregation’s social network.
We came up with a map that looked something like this:
I sat and looked at the Social Map we drew and suddenly noticed an important issue. Almost all of the lines of communication on our map are directed inward toward the congregation. This is but a symptom of the inward focus of our congregation in general. We need to learn that it is not about us. We are God’s instrument to take God’s love out into the world. We should be looking for a map with all kinds of communication lines leading out from the congregation to people outside of the church. Again, it is not about us. Our purpose is to take the gospel to people outside of the church and make disciples.
As I say this is just a symptom of a larger problem in our congregational culture, and congregational cultures only change slowly and with great difficulty. I think we need to redo our map and talk about how we can redirect our lines of communication outward — relentlessly outward focus.
That means we have to get over ourselves. Most members of the congregation would say that the purpose of the church is to serve the needs of the members. Wrong! the purpose of the church is to spread the love of God by focusing on the needs of people who are not yet a part of the church. That may mean that we may have to experiment with some ways of communicating the faith that some members of the congregation won’t like. Some people presently have the attitude that if the church is doing something they don’t like, then the church shouldn’t do it. We have to help these people get over themselves.
Beth gave me a book by Dale Carnegie. I am going to copy the chapter about the biggest obstacle to selling. The biggest obstacle to selling anything a product, an organization, or an idea is to spend your time telling people how great you are. The only way to convince other people to buy what you have to offer is to concentrate on their needs. As we think about a Website, or a Facebook Page, perhaps even our worship service, we need to be relentlessly outwardly focused, and concentrating on the needs of that population outside the church we think we might be able to reach.
I now think we need to move the congregation out of the center of the picture (that is hard to do in a congregational church). And instead we need to see ourselves more off to the side and engaging with people and organizations outside of ourselves in order to accomplish Jesus’ great commission to go to all the world (especially our own increasingly secular neighborhoods) and make disciples.