Welcome to “No” Church – 4 Steps to Reversing Your Negative Church Messaging

NoChurch1

Almost without exception, churches somewhere utilize negative messaging for very practical reasons. After all, someone parking in the wrong spot can create havoc. So it’s quite natural to put up a sign that says, “No Parking Along Curb.”

But is that the only way to get the intended result?


Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 7.47.14 AMThe question is worth asking because studies show the impact of negative verses positive messaging on the brain. Negative messaging narrows your thought activity and focuses on actions related to the message. Positive messages on the other hand, broaden your thinking and create openness. More on this topic, from The Science of Positive Thinking.

So the big question is what kind of brain patterns do you want to create for people as they enter your church an prepare to worship the all-powerful and all-present living God and creator of the universe?

Let’s play this out for a guest coming to your church. What happens when they hit a cascade of messages like these:

  • No parking
  • Do not enter
  • For church members only
  • No skateboarding
  • No rollerblading
  • No bicycles
  • No scooters
  • No food or drink allowed
  • No talking
  • No trespassing
  • No running
  • No mobile phones
  • No signs allowed
  • No posters
  • No advertising
  • No parking along the curb

Essentially you create what we call the “No Church” church dynamic. Enough negative messaging and you might as well be saying…Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 12.00.27 PM

  • Don’t come here
  • Don’t relax
  • Don’t worship
  • Don’t find God

Sounds laughable, doesn’t it. It wouldn’t if you could feel the influence of multi-stages of negative messaging from the perspective of someone totally new to church.

What can you do about this dilemma? Four things:

Step #1: Inventory your negative messages. List every one, walking from your entrance of your church to the worship center or sanctuary.

Step #2: Ask how important the prohibition message really is. I once worked with a church that prohibited the use of the ball field on their campus. Is that really worth it?

Step #3: Consider a positive message instead. This might not be obvious at first glance, but explore options as a team. Can a “No parking along curb” sign be replaced with a “Please keep traffic flowing” sign?

Step #4:  Use your negative message  with a point of humor. Why not have fun if you must communicate a negative message? The classic illustration is the “Thou shalt not park here” sign. What other ideas have you seen?

And, if you have any other funny negative messages, please share!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
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