Bob's Blog

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Developing Your Congregation’s Reputation

Regardless of how old your congregation is, your congregation has a reputation in the local community.   That reputation is the result of what your congregation has done to improve the quality of life in your community and on the basis of what people are saying when they talk about your congregation.

What is your congregation’s reputation within the community?  For what is your congregation known?   In order to improve the quality of life in your community, in what ways has your congregation interacted with members of the community in ways that make a difference in people’s lives?   Chances are pretty good that if you are not interacting with members of the local community and/or if you are not making a difference in people’s lives, then your congregation will either not have a good reputation with the community or its’ reputation will be rather bland.   On the other hand, if you are having meaningful interactions with members of the community, in ways that make a different in people’s lives, then you congregation will have a good reputation.

What are people saying about your congregation?   Essentially, everything every one of your congregational members says is either a positive or a negative endorsement of your congregation.   When they say things like “We really like our pastor or congregation” or “Our congregation is generous in its support of the food pantry”, those are positive endorsements.  When members say things like “Our church is always fighting” or “we don’t have enough money to pay the bills”, those are negative endorsements.   Would you rather belong to a church that gets along well and helps feeds the hungry or a congregation where people fight and complain about not having enough money?   Whatever you say to anyone else about your congregation is either a positive or a negative endorsement of your congregation.

What are people in the community (who are not members) saying about your congregation?   People tend to repeat the things that they know and the things that they have heard others say.   What do people in the community know about your congregation?  What kinds of experiences have they had with your congregation?   What kinds of things do they hear other people saying about your congregation?   By the things that they say, are they giving your congregation a positive or a negative endorsement?   What causes them to say positive things?  What causes them to say negative things?   What can you do to help me them say more positive things, instead of negative things?

Here are three things that you can do to help develop a positive reputation for your congregation in the local community:

1.      Do things that will improve the quality of life for people in your local community in ways that will make a difference in people’s lives.

2.      Say things that are a positive endorsement of your congregation and its’ ministries.

3.      Invite others to experience and participate in the difference your congregation is making in the lives of others.

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Pastor Bob Dealey, Director for Evangelical Mission and Coordinator of Communications & Networking for the Central/Southern Illinois Synod/ELCA is the author of “Bob’s Blog”.  Submit suggestions for future blogs using the submission form below.

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