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Perception vs Reality

When I first started pastoring, I was youth pastor at a small community church. The church would run advertisements on TV in order to reach those searching for a church home. After almost a year of ads, the results were unimpressive to say the least. Why? One of the main reasons was due to the fact that the commercial was a template. (That's why it was fairly inexpensive) The commercial showed a traditional brick church building with a steeple. The surroundings did not even resemble the city in which we were located.

I spoke to one person who never came to the church but saw the ad and actually looked for the church one Sunday morning. He said he couldn't find us. He never did see the large brick building which was shown on TV. Our building was white and not as big as the one portrayed in the commercial. He couldn't reconcile the advertisement with reality even though our church name was clearly on the building.

The point is: what we put out there (perception) must match our reality. I recently saw a friends church do the same thing. They showed stock video of this concert type setting which may appeal to a younger crowd. The problem is their church is small and traditional in style. Imagine how people must have felt when they arrived and it turned out to be something other than what was "advertised."

My wife Tonya and I just spent a couple days at a resort which has the mission statement of "A place for rest and relaxation. A place to unwind and be pampered" That's why we were there.... but that's not what we found. I'm a church plant nerd and logistics kinda guy. I think there are lessons to learn every where. So with that being said, Tonya and I accessed the place and realized their mission statement (the perception they put out to the public) did not match reality. Here some lessons we learned on perception vs reality. Maybe this will help churches and/ or businesses to get more focused and live up to the preferred perception.

(Remember, this was a place that people go to unwind and get away from the stresses of life)

Over Communication is always preferred

  • Don’t assume guests / first timers know where everything is or the process in which they are supposed to follow.

  • Over communicate = more than words but also; signage / maps / fliers

Process / Systems Matter

  • Everyone on the team must be in the loop as to the process. If you ask a question and get 3 different answers, there is a problem. Think in terms of simplification. Make things easy - don’t over complicate the process

Staff / (can apply to church leaders / volunteers)

  • They should be equipped to handle all situations

  • Staff should always go above and beyond their job description. If you see something that needs to be done, do it.

  • If people see things that need improvement, they should be able to appeal to those who are decision makers within the organization. After all, this is for the betterment of the kingdom (church) or company.

Regarding Expansion / Growth

  • Don’t add any “extras” until u can manage what already is


  • Exemplify what you say you are: a person, company or church must have self awareness

  • Don’t just advertise the atmosphere in which you want people to perceive you must have follow through (action) to set the atmosphere

  • What you advertise and what is reality must match.

Maybe we can sum it up like this: Know who you are and live it out!

Nobody is perfect. No church or business is perfect. But we can endeavor to not mislead or confuse those we are trying to reach.

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