Does your church have an outward focus? Book review for church marketers and leaders.

by | Mar 15, 2019 | Reviews

A church with an outward focus and members saying, “I Will!” backs-up your message and communications efforts. That nurturing and encouragement comes through in reading “I Will” by Thom Rainer, highlighted in this book review. (And if you’re a TL;DR kind of person, let’s just say this is one you should pick up.)

Have your church ready to implement leadership’s vision.

Communications, at its best, aligns itself with leadership’s vision, and in turn how the organization implements that vision. When we here at Firm Foundations Marketing talk with church leaders, we often go into a line of questions about what the body of their church is like. How receptive are they to their surrounding community? Is there a healthy spirit of volunteering time and energies into ministries? Are the people joyful?

Thankfully, with many churches we speak with, this is certainly the case. It’s been rare, however, we have had heart-to-heart conversations around realistic expectations for a congregation that isn’t ready to fully welcome new people or make changes. When that’s the case, it can be difficult for marketing to be effective. The goal then isn’t to successfully promote the church but to first change hearts.

Fortunately, as believers, we know we serve a God willing and able to change hearts if we, as individuals, can say “I Will”. That’s my focus on this book review for both church marketers and church leaders.

A catalyst for change.

Recently read through I Will, a short yet impactful book by Thom Rainer. The book discusses how those attitudes affect ministries and how to address them. The focus is on how to address attitudes in ourselves and setting an example. Asking the reader to look at the plank in their own eye rather than the spec in the eyes of others. The book could easily be shared and read among your ministry team and beyond. A small book with just 109 pages, one can easily read a chapter a day and ponder over Rainer’s insights.

Drawing from his years as a church member, a pastor, CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, and now heavily focused on church revitalization, Rainer pairs scriptural truths with real-life examples of how attitudes can affect church growth. You’ll recognize the same themes run through each chapter. The resistance to change because what’s going on serves “me” well. The importance of connection among members to serve one another and their community. Examples of healthy connection from a biblical standpoint. The power of prayer in changing the heart of the reader, and in supporting church leaders and church members.

Nothing in these themes felt like light bulb moments as I read the book, and perhaps that’s the point. Readers who normally attend church have likely heard these points before. Yet they may not recognize the weak areas in themselves and need that gentle guidance to expose the truth. Which really, isn’t that what we are to do as Christ followers? To gently point out weak areas when we’ve been trusted and invited to do so?

Each short, actionable chapter is packed with truth and illustrations that drive the points home. Chapters also end with reflection questions – because what is knowledge unless you apply it! Allowing readers to examine their hearts and behaviors with an eye towards change was a genius stroke. I found as I read that either I at least recognized the behavior in the writing or saw areas in myself that needed strengthening.

“What am I supposed to do with this review as a church marketer or leader?”

As church communicators and leaders, we can easily get caught up in day-to-day tasks. I finished this book with a solid reminder that God doesn’t need us to grow His kingdom by having successful Facebook campaigns or outreach events. However, He lets us have a part in that so that every now and then we can get a glimpse of His goodness.

The first thing we can do is pray.

When things don’t go well, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6). When there are successes, remember that “All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.” (2 Cor. 4:15).

Second, read the book!

Invite anyone receptive to challenging themselves and changing their hearts to have a more outward focus. If you can get your leaders on board, that’s great! Leadership sets the tone, so inviting others who influence or make decisions for your church to read the book as a larger group can have a great ripple effect.

Finally, keep doing your best work.

If you’re reading this “I Will” book review, you likely strive to do your best and want to learn how to grow and refine your skills. You have knowledge and skillsets the early church couldn’t even IMAGINE! I wrote this review with church marketers and leaders in mind and the challenges you face. Keep doing the things, and making it awesome.