How you can help people in your community hear your church's message

By Mark MacDonald
Church branding strategist and consultant

Reaching out to people who aren’t listening can feel like an overwhelming, impossible task. There are a few reasons why people don’t listen:

  • The world is noisy, so as a defense mechanism, they can’t listen to everything. Instead, they choose what they want.
  • They tune out messages that exceed their shrinking attention spans. Say too much and they end up not listening.
  • They ignore content delivered by someone that is deemed unnecessary or irrelevant. Perception is crucial in getting someone to pay attention.

So is the Church doomed? Unfortunately, our services often violate all three. No wonder our congregations stopped listening years ago. Let’s fix that.

How can the church reach people who are not listening? We need to track a brief interaction – just to get them to look up and listen for a moment. When done right, it helps them understand us are relevant and necessary.

3 steps to improve hearing

Here are 3 steps to help them start listening again:

  1. Say your name. Even in a noisy room, when someone says your first name, it breaks through and grabs your attention. That’s why good conversationalists naturally use names when meeting people. But how does the church do that for a group? It’s pretty easy. Make sure you understand the stereotypical group (communicator) who needs to hear whatt tell you and identify what they call themselves. This persona’s name must be preceded by an important message (e.g. “Parents with young children? We have an evening for you.”).
  2. Speak your pain. If you are taking care of your personality (that coveted stereotypical group) as God commanded us to, you need to understand what it is struggling with. To reach people who aren’t listening, you need to talk about their pain, concern, or challenging goal. In a crowded room with a lot of talk, the simple mention of “back pain” will immediately draw the attention of those affected by back pain. It shows that you understand them. The church needs to identify their persona’s needs, concerns, and goals and embed these points in the message (e.g., “Parents of young children, we know you want the best for your child, so we have a short video with daily tips made for you.”).
  3. announce solutions. If you quickly move from naming her name and her pain to a surprising solution, you’re sure to pique her interest. This requires the church to couple solutions to prominent felt needs once its commitment is won (e.g., “Parents, it is difficult to raise children, but the church wants you to have free access to entertaining videos that teach biblical principles .”).

EDITOR’S NOTE – Mark MacDonald is a communications pastor, public speaker, consultant, bestselling author, church branding strategist for, and executive director of the Center for Church Communications, which empowers more than 10,000 churches to be known for something relevant (a thread of communication) throughout their ministries, websites and social media. His book, Be Known for Something, is available at