Archives For church

Have you thought much about how the church is presented in the media, particularly from the perspective of PR (Public Relations)?

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In this post I draw your attention to an interesting article over at PR Week website where David Benady looks at what “four major religions are doing to keep themselves relevant to an increasingly secular and critical society.” He looks at The Church of England, Catholicism, Islam, and Judaism and how they have set themselves up (in the UK) to respond to the media.

Below I highlight a few points of particular interest to me from the article and I ask two questions that you might like to ponder around this issue of how the church is represented in the media. If this interests you I suspect you’ll find the original article called Spreading the word worth a read.

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Over the years I’ve been part of church communities close to home, and others that I’ve had to get into my car and drive a decent distance to participate in. I define these as “local church” and “commuter church”. For me, at the present time I’m leaning more toward the value of being part of a church community that is near where I live because it adds value and connection to a place I already spend time in and care about: my neighbourhood.
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There are some good reasons behind the concept of commuter church, and others that seem more about consumer choice than anything else. In this post I’ve started a pros and cons list for both concepts of church expression, and I would love to add your input into the tables below.

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I’ve been living in Howick Village for two months. It’s referred to as a village because the main street is the historical centre of this now highly populated and affluent suburb on the eastern side of Auckland. I took the opportunity as a new person in the area to visit every local church. This post is a story of my experience as a first-timer to each of these church services.

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My comments here are to illustrate “first impressions” that might prompt some pondering about your own church context – so don’t think this is just about Howick Village. At the end I ponder some factors people might consider when choosing a church community to become part of. Continue Reading…

In my doctoral research I interviewed people outside the church who have never been Christianized. If you’ve read other things in this blog you’ll probably know that there wasn’t a lot of positives in the perceptions people outside the church have of the church. However, some amazing good had been noticed by these people outside the church, and in this post I explain this significant contrast.

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The interviewees noticed some Christians who were committed to the practice of their faith (rather than just belief), specifically: Continue Reading…

Last week my post Church music: a wicked sin? used a quote from Saint Augustine to support my discomfort with what seems like an over emphasis of singing songs in church services. In this post I continue that theme with a theory that explains why so many people are bored or disinterested in the singalong part of church services, which perhaps even gives reason to why some people leave the church, or why some never fully check-in.

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A theory I have about singing songs in church is that probably about one-fifth of people are actually “worshiping” through this activity we call “worship”. I wonder if this one-fifth are people for whom “Words of Affirmation” are their primary “Love Language”.

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I have surveyed 1079 people asking them to respond to thirteen statements about the church and Christians (in New Zealand). The statements are based on the results of my recent PhD research. There are striking differences between what Christian people think and those who are not Christian, but there are a couple of surprising results that break the usual comparison pattern between these two groups. I believe the information visually shown by the graphs below is of critical importance to 21st century missiology: how the church engages with society.

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In an earlier post I described one way to think of communication as being the establishment of common ground in terms of shared understanding. If there is no common ground, there is an inability to reach shared understanding, which means there will be an inability to communicate effectively. Continue Reading…

In 2012 a private members bill was put forward in New Zealand called the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill. This was passed in April 2013 allowing same-sex marriage. I believe the dominant church response to this bill in the public sphere was an example of bad communication.

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This is another post in a series where I give some real-life true stories of what I call cringe communication from the church. The first one was called Cringe communication #1: Student survey tricksters where I introduce this series and basically say I believe we can improve the communication of the church by eliminating cringe communication.

I want your feedback: do you agree that my example in this post about same-sex marriage is bad communication? Or communicates the church in a bad way to those outside the church. If not why not? Vote in the poll below and feel free to comment. Continue Reading…

You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. [Spoken by Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird“, by Harper Lee (1960)]

The quote above and the play on the saying in the heading are known for their attempt at getting us to consider understanding others: people not like me.

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If church people are serious about what some of us call “mission”, or evangelism, or simply any sensible, authentic and transparent connection with Christian spirituality and people not part of the church, we need to consider and apply the type of understand the above quote is getting us to think about. How do people outside your local church context understand the church? …understand your church? Continue Reading…

Recently, for the first time, I realised church cafes could be a good idea. By “church cafe” I mean a cafe on a church premises that is obviously part of a church complex/campus/property/institution. Until now my experience of church cafes have given me the impression that they are either cafes for church people, or church tourists, and I have never seen the appeal or point of that since there are so many good cafes around, why does a church need one?

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Three weeks ago I went to Host cafe in London. They’ve been running for a year, so it’s early days, but I think it’s the best church cafe I’ve been to. If I had a “third place” test, Host would pass it. This is why:

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I’m currently outside my usual routine, having spent a month away from New Zealand. Today I’m traveling home from China where I’ve spent the last ten days. In this post I’m recycling an idea I wrote about several years ago in another context, on the subject of language, based on a song from a New Zealand band called The Mutton Birds. Being an English-only speaker in China has reminded me of this song, as well as listening to a Mutton Birds live album at my kiwi friends’ place in Beijing yesterday. Listen to the track:

“The queens English was good enough for Jesus Christ and it’s good enough for me”

According to the song, this was the supporting argument of a US Congressman who was a guest on a talk show on the subject of “language”. Among other things, this guy is a xenophobe, and wants the whole world to speak his language. You could say he has an inexcusable naivety merged with arrogance and ignorance – and that makes for a really good song.

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