Baptist church perception matters. What you’re known for is critical if you want people to pay attention to you, engage with you or believe what you say.
You can control church perception. It’s called marketing. No, it’s not evil or sinful. It’s not about getting profits or gaining power. Instead, it’s about influence, as you take a product to a market (in a way they’ll receive it). We, as Christians, should want to influence our congregation and community for Christ. But perception can become a barrier.
In John 13, Jesus taught the disciples about positive perception. “All people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (v. 35). How should people perceive Christ-followers? By love.
Contrarily, the community (those not following Christ) has a church perception, but it’s not about love. Instead, it’s about what we’re against. It’s always easier to be known for what we’re against than what we’re for.
Often, when “Baptist” is added to church perception, there’s heavy baggage attached: legalism, greed, politics and more. Being known for those could keep people away from our churches.
It’s one thing for the world to not desire spiritual matters, but let’s eliminate church perception barriers that would keep interested people from pursuing the gospel and our ministries.
Baptist church perception can and should be controlled, but here are 3 cautions:
- Baptist church perception usually starts from reality. Many believe marketing is getting someone to believe what isn’t true. Instead, start with Baptist church perception in your area, and understand how it started. Is there something you need to change to become more biblical? Do it. Now.
- Baptist church perception isn’t about dropping “Baptist.” Many believe dropping Baptist from their name will improve everything. I’m not convinced we’re fooling anyone by changing nomenclature. Most who pursue a local church want to know what they believe. A denominational name can actually answer those questions. Many nondenominational churches must overly explain doctrinal beliefs to establish who they are. If you believe “The Baptist Faith and Message,” are structured like a Baptist church and give to the Cooperative Program, you’re a Baptist church. Say it!
- Baptist church perception change starts with understanding your community. For most local churches, change the perception, not the name. Become known for something relevant and needed. Investigate nagging needs, concerns and goals in your audience. Because you’re known for love, become their experts by helping them discover solutions and paths to their goals. This will be perceived as love. And because you’re a church, build on that temporal engagement and point them to the transformational power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Be known for love.
Mark MacDonald is communication pastor, speaker, consultant, bestselling author, church branding strategist for BeKnownforSomething.com and executive director of the Center for Church Communication, empowering 10,000+ churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites and social media. His book, “Be Known for Something,” is available at BeKnownBook.com.