Do me a favor and go to your website and pick a random page to read.
How many times does that page say...
your "church name"?
Now count how many times it says “you” or “your” "you’re"....
My dad did not share with me his genetic disposition for placing bets, buying weekly lottery tickets and then winning 80% of the time even at slot machines - but if he had, I would bet my retirement funds that the "we's" out pace the "you's".
"For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” - Luke 14:11
Although not always intentional, we have fallen into an unhelpful habit of talking about ourselves, our church, our ministries all too often.
Why is this a problem you may ask? Let's think about this scenario as real people having a conversation.
If your best friend were to only talk about themselves, their experiences and their hardships, you would consider them self centered and hard to be around.
If they fail to ask you any questions about your life or your perspective on the topic at hand, you would find it hard to continue to be in a relationship with this person. Frankly, the title of BFF would most likely be revoked.
Potential worshippers, visitors or guests - whatever you wish to call those not yet connected to your congregation in some way - are doing the same thing.
Walking away. Not engaging. Not taking the next step in relationship with a congregation.
We need to live into our call as Jesus' followers and humble ourselves in order to garner trust with new-to-us folks. We need to reframe how we speak to those looking for a church community.
Here are some steps you can take now:
1. Throw out the list of ministries.
We regularly see a list of ministries or committees on church websites. Yet, these lists only glorify the amount of work these teams do rather than how lives and relationships are being impacted in the midst of these ministries.
From a new person's perspective - they don't care much about how busy your teams are and frankly, they aren't looking to join another team, so it is a fool's errand to continue to list ministries as if they are products that a consumer can add to their cart.
A new person wants to know:
Instead, highlight the values of the congregation (i.e. gathering for worship, building relationships, radical welcome to all God's people, serving those in need in the community and world...). You will find when you center the values of the congregation on the website, that sharing about ministries happens naturally.
For example, if serving the surrounding community is a value, you will find it easy to share all the ways that a person can get connected to feeding the hungry, supporting the unhoused or using their knitting skills to make baby blankets for the newest saints at the women's shelter.
2. Change every "we" statement to a "you" statement.
When writing content for any communication, especially your website, try putting the reader/visitor first with every statement you make. It is easier to talk about ourselves first so this will take a concerted effort to change your focus each time you go to write.
Some examples of how this reframing will change your language:
3. Use storytelling more than advertising.
When we adapt our thought process to sharing the good news about what God is up to versus advertising the next food drive - it’s hard to make the church the center of the conversation. God and the lives changed becomes the focus.
Here are some good storytelling examples: