No matter how many times I meet with a group, most problems rise and fall on not knowing the intended audience. In order to have relevance or to influence someone, you have to understand that "someone." If something is failing in your church, go back to this critical foundation. Know your audience!
Your Primary Audience: The Community Where You're Located
Wouldn't it be great if you could step on the world's stage and instantly be known for something? Many of us call this fame or instant success. But it's so rare that anyone does this. The path to the top is often becoming known for something at many plateaus.
Success arrives from being prepared through much practice for the moment when an opportunity arises. I'm glad I wasn't given an opportunity to stand on a national stage initially until I had many smaller stages on which to practice.
Many big failures happen because people haven't been given smaller opportunities that would have refined them through smaller failures. That's how we get better. Don't try to capture a large audience until you've captivated a small audience's attention first. Tackling a smaller audience is also wise because it's costly to reach a large audience.
We've had clients share with us that they have a product that the entire United States needs. Yes, for a fortune, we could reach every American. It can be done. But it's better to reach success and the cashflow that comes with it by targeting a smaller, defined audience first and then using that tested momentum to reach beyond.
My first branding and advertising agency was called PinPoint Creative (Be Known For Something was developed from PinPoint's positioning). Naming the agency was excruciating and required brainstorming with another talented branding guru. Pinpointing an audience is critical for all marketing communication. That's why we agreed to the name after many rounds of discussion.
And the smaller the audience that can be pinpointed, the easier it is to influence that audience.
For your church on a corporate level, I'd recommend identifying your smaller reach audience. This is the reasonable, local area that your church can reach for Christ.
Here are the steps to identifying that area:
1. Plot on a map where your current congregational families live.
2. Start looking for trends and clusters.
3. Identify a radius from your church where most live (ignore outliers as anomalies) or create a polygon shape that runs along major highways or geographic divides (e.g. rivers, mountain ranges, interstates, large subdivisions, or highways).
This is your church's reach area.
On a personal level as a ministry leader, I would suggest identifying this immediate audience before attempting to influence a larger community.
These people already know you quite well and understand what you have to offer them.
You live around them, interact with them, and can communicate to them without too much effort.
Thanks to social media, we all have this small audience within our arms' length. But they also represent the people with whom you work, play sports, and run into around the community.
This is your smaller, personal reach area, which is a subset of the church's overall reach area. You need to identify the smallest group that is your sphere of influence and then, in concentric circles, identify the next larger group and the next larger group beyond that.
In Acts 1:8, Jesus tells His disciples to go to Jerusalem (the inner circle), Judea and Samaria (the next larger region), and the uttermost parts of the world (your ultimate goal). It's easier to start in your smallest area and move outward, building on your successes.
Mark MacDonald is a Bible Teacher, speaker, best-selling author of Be Known For Something, and communication strategist for BeKnownForSomething.com. He empowers churches to become known for something relevant (a communication thread) throughout their ministries, websites, and social media. His book is available at BeKnownBook.com and amazon.com.