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Interview with author of Less Clutter, Less Noise!

I've been reading Kem Meyer's blog for the last several years. Actually, I got inspired to start this blog after seeing how well she engaged people online. Kem Meyer is the Communications Director at Granger Community Church in IndianaRead more about her here. Kem has helped me realize a higher level of creativity, simplicity and how to de-clutter the life-changing message of the church.

Kem wrote  Less Clutter, Less Noise: Beyond Bulletins, Brochures and Bake Sales and I reviewed it back in April.

I’m very excited to host a Q&A with Kem today! Here we go…


JENNY: We’re finding our families are extremely busy and increasingly unable to get involved in church events. What are you best practices for communicating and engaging busy families?

KEM: Great question, Jenny. And, it’s one that a lot of people are looking for help with. I think the best practices for communicating and engaging busy families are the same practices for communicating and engaging anyone. The trick is to consider their schedule, concerns and interests and then look for ways to intersect with them.

Author Richard Reising tells a simple story that brilliantly demonstrates what this looks like in a practical way. 

A woman is driving down a pitch-dark road late at night and sees that she is almost out of gas. Her fear is somewhat relieved as she sees two gas stations up ahead. If these two gas stations are equally accessible, and the gas is equally priced, which will she choose?

Simple. She will choose the one with better lighting.

Why? At that moment, her primary need is safety. Better lighting makes her feel safer. Her response is natural—just as natural as the first conclusions that people commonly draw about churches.

Imagine the owner of the less-frequented store. He tries to solve the problem by dropping prices, hiring a new graphic designer, making a new sign and increasing inventory...but his sales do not increase. He is missing the connection. He doesn’t understand what drives people.

That’s the question we have to ask ourselves when we’re trying to communicate and engage any audience; “How strong is our connection?” Is our church providing the right light or are people headed to the other station? [To be clear, the “other station” isn’t “another church,” but “no church.” People go to the “other station” every day because the church doesn’t have the light on.]

•        Why would people want to spend their time and attention in church instead of the couch, the mall or the club? Consider what they’re looking for and rallying around. Look for ways to support their causes. Is it environmentalism? Better communication? Stronger families? Better education?

•        What unique value can people get from you that makes it worth the hassle of changing their schedules? Consider what they can find or experience at your church that they can’t anywhere else.

•        How does your programming fit into the grind of their lives? Consider the reality of their career demands, sports schedules, financial strain, relationship and family dynamics, etc. Look for ways to partner with the things they want to do, not compete with them. Create volunteer opportunities around service times. Offer events the whole family can attend, if not in the same room, at least bundle multiple events on the same night.

•        What is their comfort zone? Consider where they spend their free time and money. Do you know what they hate and love? Are you aware of the emotional triggers that could attract or repel? What schools are their kids in? What TV shows are they talking about? Does football, farming or hunting season affect their priorities?

If we don’t take the time to learn about our audience, we’ll never know. And, it’s not rocket science. A lot of the learning we have to do is “soft” and “emotive,” not scientific and absolute. It starts by trying to find answers to these questions to learn about people, or families, we’re trying to reach.

 

Thanks Kem for stopping by on your blog tour! You can buy the book here. Required reading for all who care breaking through the clutter and frantic pace to share a life-changing message.

Kem’s been nice enough to give me a copy of her book to give to one of you! Simply comment here with your name, email and one takeaway from her interview. How does this apply in your church? I’ll choose one and send the book your way! 



Comments

StepUpToTheCall said…
Excellent question! I love Kem's answer too. If it were me driving, I would have simply chosen the one on the right-hand side. The takeaway from the interview for me is that I really need to think about my target audience more, both in design of activities and in promotion and communications. - Larry
Rick DeVries (sircigar2000-lookup@yahoo.com) said…
Kem's thoughts here resonate in our context. Our church's biggest "competitor" isn't the megachurch down the street, it is people's time. Families are busy, and if we as church leaders don't find out and attempt to address the needs underlying the busy-ness (need for attention, need for community, need for meaning, need for ...) and become part of their weekly flow - as Kem puts it, "partner with the things they want to do, not compete with them" then we risk becoming irrelevant to their life - something Kary Oberbrunner addresses well in his book "The Fine Line". Thanks for the great question, Jennifer, and thanks Kem for the insightful response!
knotter said…
This is a great reminder for all of us to really get to know the people we are communicating with/to.
Leanne said…
we're actually having a meeting with some families this weekend. I printed out Kem's response to give to the discussion leader!

I already have Kem's book (almost finished reading it), so if I happened to win, I'd give my copy away to someone in my church, or send it over to my Mum's church in Australia.
Anonymous said…
This is a great perspective on how to think about the people we are reaching. Without being too consumerist, we have to realize that something other than family or societal obligations is what will motivate people to include God/church in their schedule. In my area, people are making choices to go the place with better lighting and our response is to attack the people acting on those values or to denigrate the quality of the other guy's gas. We don't want to answer those questions Kem posed. Stephanie - stephanie2880@gmail.com
Tommy Bowman said…
Jenny -
Nice to meet ya! Thanks for stopping by. I bought that rotating image thingy as a template from a site called themeforest.net

Great question for Kem and thanks for making the connection!

Tommy
jenny said…
Congrats Stephanie over at http://foolishwizdom.wordpress.com for winning a copy of Kem's book! To all of you, thanks for the great comments! I hope you'll get Kem's book and share your learnings in your context.
mike Oodarnik said…
I'm a little disturbed by the question AND the answer...
Why is it church's job to "get people to attend events"? I thought we were supposed to help people thrive? (Seems like we're trying to find ways for people to squeeze MORE activity into their lives)

Scary and sad?

Thanks for listening
jenny said…
Mike - Thanks for your perspective in this conversation. I personally think many church activities, classes and fellowship times help people grow in their faith and thrive as disciples of Christ. However, many do not. They clutter up our schedules and don't enable people to grow.

I'm always a fan of looking at church programming with a difficult eye and determining which is actually helpful for families and which just fills up space.

I don't want someone to attend an event just so the leadership can feel good about getting them there. It's only helpful if the event helps families deepen their faith in Christ.

That's where I was coming from. Thanks!
mike Oodarnik said…
Well said! - Thanks for taking time to reply

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