It is one of the most underestimated and undetected reasons people come and stick or pack up and leave after experiencing a church service. What is it? Language.
Whether we admit to it or not, everyone adjusts their words and phrases to adapt to the social spheres that surround them. There are certain phrases we feel comfortable saying to our friends but would never dare to use them in discussion with our parents. Or, how about those insider one-liners that humorously bowl over those in the know, yet indirectly ostracize those who aren’t?
For too long, the church, in general, has unintentionally had visitor casualties and the culprit is how we speak. It’s time for a change. This isn’t about bringing outside language in. This is about developing verbiage inside, at the core, that is so life-giving it can’t help but leak out into our communities.
Here are several key steps in developing a life-giving language to assist in retention:
No 1. It must be spoken at the core.
John C. Maxwell stated it best in his book The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader, “Everything rises and falls on leadership”. The language used should be a direct reflection of the heart and vision of the house. The mandate of soul-winning churches is just that; to win souls.
What is spoken from the platform speaks volumes about the direction and intention of the church. Soul-winning church leaders are willing to simplify, clarify and exemplify the message of the gospel at the risk of losing interest from those who have their Sunday chair in order to gain the interest of those who haven’t sat down yet.
Once making this move, it is of utmost importance to not compromise. It may take longer, it may be harder, but the reward of seeing people, families and ultimately generations changed forever is so worth it.
No. 2 It must be spoken by the team.
It’s not enough to say it from the stage. This language must be spoken from the parking lot to the moms with tots. How do you ensure this happens? Create a code with your team. A fundamental culture code that clearly states who you are, what you believe, what you tolerate and what is out of bounds.
Sam Chand, a world-renowned speaker on leadership and the author of Cracking Your Church’s Culture Code said, “The most powerful features of an organizational culture are trust and respect.” Team members and volunteers need to know and believe they are a part of something much bigger than themselves.
When a culture code is established, it gives a language to the vision. If the culture code is grounded in teamwork, honesty and respect with a drive towards excellence, it builds a framework that allows volunteers and leadership to work and speak as one cohesive unit.
Empower your teams to call fouls and hold each other accountable to the culture code. This will foster trust, alignment, and ultimately, create genuine relationships.
No. 3 It should be heard in the community.
There is an easy way to measure how strong and compelling the language of your church is. Pretend to be a stranger in your own city, hit up the local coffee shops, and ask about your church. The message of an effective soul-winning church resounds in the streets of its community.
It’s easy to learn about your church from those that attend but it’s far more interesting to learn from those who don’t. The language should be so compelling that it could be heard and spoken in buildings other than the church. Can you imagine if the ultimate message of hope and acceptance stayed in the synagogue with Jesus and the disciples?
Cultivate a language so genuinely accepting, enticing, and passionate that it can reverberate through local businesses, government sectors, schools and entertainment centres. Evaluate your new here cards and invite sources and you’ll be sure to find out if what you’re speaking is reaching.
The local church is God’s Plan A without a contingency. Let your church speak a language so unified that it’s engaging and so simple that it’s irresistible.
After evaluating your church’s language, what needs to change?