Focus on people, their real needs and connecting them to the hope of Christ in a tangible way.

Our culture is fast-paced and competitive. As people interact with organizations or through technology, it's easy to feel like a number. The relationship or interaction can often feel and actually be impersonal, indifferent or cold.

Churches can offer something so different through the hope and love we have in Christ. Through an intentional approach to know and understand others, our communications and relationships with people can be very personal and life-giving. Here's how.

Our goal should be empathy.
As we strive to be Christ-like, we are reminded again and again how personal Christ is with us. He understands us completely and loves us unconditionally through the highs and lows of life. This should be our goal! To understand others in significant ways - which leads to rich and meaningful communications.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share in the feelings of others. In a church setting, we are striving to connect with the people who make up our congregations and communities. It's not enough to just talk about people in a general way. We want to understand their backgrounds. Their hurts. Their dreams, joys and sorrows. Personal and impactful communication starts with knowing each other. Really knowing each other.

Our focus should be learning.
As we're growing to understand others, this can become a way of life. We continually want to learn. We're thinking beyond ourselves and our own agendas. We are actively seeking to learn about others.

This can involve reviewing data about who is already at your church, who lives in your community and who is connecting with you online. Thanks to church management systems, community data and online analytics - there is a lot of information readily available to help us learn.

In addition, it's important to be learning as you're in relationship with others. You can't be connected with everyone - but it's so important to be regularly hearing stories from members of your staff, congregation and those in the community. Asking questions like: How are you? What is going well for you or bringing you joy? What is difficult for you right now? What are you learning? And what are you dreaming about? Then, listen to the answers. Really listen. This is empathy and learning. And this leads to stronger communicating.

Our communications should be about serving.

As we grow in empathy and knowledge, we can more easily put ourselves into the shoes of the people we are wanting to communicate with. We know that people are often stressed, struggling or need encouragement. So we know that our words can't afford to be empty. Instead, we craft a message that will bring value and serve people. What a difference this makes in our communication! 

Want a specific example?

Let's say you want to communicate about an upcoming sermon series on prayer.

You're thinking about how you can connect with your community through this series. Who is in your local community? What is their situation? What do they need? What value can you bring them? 

As you learn some answers to these questions, your communication about this upcoming sermon series can respond in very personal ways to their situations. And you can suggest next steps for them to experience meaningful content and be encouraged. 

Maybe you learn that many of the families in your community are struggling financially and many are unemployed or under-employed. You learn that these families are stressed out because they are constantly thinking about how to pay their bills and they rarely can have fun or peaceful times with their families. In your communication efforts, your church might specifically promote this sermon series by offering prayers/scripture for these families and financial needs in your community. As part of this prayer series - maybe you would host a free family night for the community where families could have fun together with an outdoor movie and popcorn. A simple, and special, prayer/blessing would be given for all the families of your community in a fun way at the event - maybe through prayers written using sidewalk chalk or by releasing bubbles or balloons. 

Empathy. Learning. Serving. This is communications that is personal.

It is focused on people, their real needs and connecting them to the hope of Christ in a tangible and real way.