Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Perception Problems?

My first series of post on this blog will be about the methods we use to share the message of the cross with our families and our communities. Here is my next thought.

The other day I posted that I think we need to learn a lesson from Walmart. Walmart had a sign in one of their stores that mentioned being a part of the community where they exist because their employees live in that community. I believe the lesson we can learn is that we too should be involved in the communities where our congregations exist. But getting there can at times be a challenge.

One of the first things we must change to get involved in the community is perception. What is the community’s perception of your congregation? That is a must answer question.

The first church I served at one time had the wrong perception in the community. They exist in a small rural community. The church was considered the country club church of the area. The belief was in the past that if you did not go to that church, even if you went to another Christian Church, you were not going to go to heaven. But it was also a hard church to get into, at least that was they way they were perceived. If you did not have loads of money, or well known in the community, then you were not welcome there. Now, by the time I had arrived this was not the case. The church was very loving and very accepting. In fact, by this time, you could go to other churches and get into heaven. However, that perception was still there and did affect the community.

The second church I served had a very different perception. It was in a large metropolitan area where a lot of people did not go to church. My first fall there we decided to do a Fall Harvest Festival. To advertise we went door to door handing out fliers. One of my teenagers came back to me and shared this experience.

He approached one house, knocked on the door and an older lady answered. He began to tell her about the Fall Festival and what is was about. Then he told her where it was at. She then responded with this question, “Is that the church where we go to vote.” He did not really know how to respond to that question so he said he did not know.

I later came to learn that our church building was the local precinct for all elections. Now, and this is just an assumption, I can almost guarantee that the lady who my teenager approached had lived in her home for many years. She lived 200 yards away from our church building. She had to drive by the church thousands of times during her life, and the only thing she knew about the church was it was the local precinct for voting.

Friends I share all this to ask you, what is the perception the community has of your congregations? Both churches I have served in the past had perception problems. The first church had a negative one, and the second church, for the most part, was not even on the radar for the people in their own neighborhood.

So how do we correct the perceptions of the communities we live in? How do we build a good perception for those in our neighborhoods? Check back tomorrow for my thoughts and ideas?

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