Inspiring through Communication

A couple of months ago, a friend shared with me some examples of church “stewardship” or “annual” reports.  Most of them came from churches in the Protestant tradition.  In sharing these with me, she
commented,  “These reports are exciting.  They are motivational; they are inspiring!  I mean, when I look at these I want to be a part of their mission.  They are making a difference in the world; their efforts and their money are making a huge difference!  We all want to be a part of something that makes a difference.”  I wholeheartedly agree with her.  We all want to make a positive difference and humans have a desire to be a part of something larger than themselves.

I have had the privilege of being a part of projects and programs that were successful.  The sure knowledge of the good that you were a part of was contagious and motivating. I have also had other experiences where I felt like I was being asked to climb aboard a ship that was wandering aimlessly in the water.  Or worse yet, being asked to climb aboard a sinking ship.  Sometimes, these impressions
weren’t even accurate.  But those already involved either failed to communicate the mission and its purpose or they had become discouraged and disheartened and communicated that to others.

As Christians we know that this human desire to do good and to be part of something larger is rooted in being created by Love, out of love and for Love.  It is the voice of the Lord beckoning to us and to be a part of His mission.

Although I agree with my friend, I am also challenged by her words and the samples she shared with me.  And not because I don’t think our parishes are doing wonderful things. But producing a document like this takes skill and a great deal of data collection and tracking.  It takes some savvy marketing skills.  Even so,  I think it is worth thinking about and considering.  These are some of the questions these reports raised in me:

  • When we communicate with our parishioners, what message are we sending?  What is the overall impression they are left with?  The feelings our communications invoke?
  • And how often and what kind of information do we communicate?  Are many unaware of all that our parish does?  Do we tell the stories of how our parish impacts the lives of people?
  • Do our parishioners know the GOOD NEWS of what is happening in our parish?
  • Are they inspired?  Do they believe that by contributing to the life of the parish, they are making a difference in the world?

Take a look around at some saavy annual reports and allow yourself to be challenged and inspired by the principle and the possibilities.  What might God be asking of us? How can share the Good News of our parish with others?

I am grateful for all the good things I see happening in Western South Dakota.  God is Good!

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Barbara Scherr
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