Focus on Why

The other night I was leading a congregation council retreat. We explored the way they messaged their ministry through announcements and through their weekly bulletin. As I read the bulletin, I was bored.

The announcements were focused on what the congregation did. I read about Lent worship times, a pancake supper, and a need for people to help with the food pantry. While those things are important parts of the church’s ministry, all that was shared was what they did or what they needed. I could never find anything about why they would gather for worship on a Wednesday night, why you wanted to come eat pancakes, or why someone would give up their Saturday morning to help at a food pantry.

Original Announcement

Calvary Food Pantry Needs Volunteers!

Consider joining the St. Mark’s crew on the first and second Saturday mornings of the month. To volunteer, sign up at the Welcome Desk or click the link in the e-news. Questions? Contact Heather… or Pastor Sarah.

We control the message that people hear. We need to spend time discerning what we want them to hear.

I want people to hear that the ministry we do is critical. I want them to hear that God is incredibly active in what we do. I don’t actually care about pancakes or giving up time on a Saturday morning. What I do care about is why people give up their Saturday morning to help at the pantry. I care about why kids need to experience a national youth gathering to grow in their faith which will be funded by a pancake supper. I care about why people need to take time in their life to worship to live a fuller life with God.

We focus on what we do because it is easy. We assume that people inherently know why these activities are important in their lives, then are disappointed when they don’t participate.

During the council retreat, when I asked why a certain activity announced in the bulletin was taking place, one of the leaders said, “I don’t even know why we are doing this, and I am leading the activity!” How will God work through activities that we don’t even know why we are doing them?

Revised Announcement

God calls us to feed the hungry.

We partner with the Calvary Food Pantry because we take this calling seriously. Mike, who volunteers at the Food Pantry, says this about the experience: “What I love about the Calvary Food Pantry is that in addition to helping people get the food they need, in a small way, we get to know the people in our community who are hungry. Therefore, I can put a face with the issue of hunger, and it changes the way in which I look at the issue.”

St. Mark’s is responsible for volunteers on the first and second Saturdays of the month. Sign up at the Welcome Desk or contact Heather… or Pastor Sarah…or just drop a note in the offering plate and we will contact you.

And why do we expect busy people to participate when we, ourselves, don’t understand the value these activities add?

We need to promote the “why” of our shared ministry. We need to share with people why we do the ministry we do. This is what people care about. This is what people give their money to support.

I’m tired of people saying that our culture doesn’t care about what we offer now. We need to line up what we offer with what people need in their life. Our ministry is not irrelevant in people’s lives unless we let it become irrelevant. If we connect why people need what we offer, they will flock to it.

Focus on the why. Nobody really cares what we offer. However, they need why we offer it.

Mike Ward, CFRE