Please forgive a brief excursion into self-promotion. Daniel Schultz has reviewed Speaking Faithfully: Communications as Evangelism in a Noisy World, a book by me and my business partner Rebecca Wilson, for The Christian Century. Here is a bit of what he said:
How can churches and other religious institutions speak effectively to let the world know that something is happening with church people that they might want to be a part of?
Naughton and Wilson offer a simple answer: speak from the heart, do it creatively, and most of all, do it with humility and sensitivity to the needs of your audience. Or, as they put it, “Keep telling stories, keep making sacraments, keep inviting people to ‘come and see,’ keep making our communities appealing to those without and stimulating to those within.”
This book is not just another how-to manual to be ignored until the next time the church council gets interested in evangelism. Naughton and Wilson offer plenty of practical advice, with chapters on messaging and target audiences; on using online and print media, broadcasting and advertising; on crisis communications; and on making church facilities visible.
At its heart, however, Speaking Faithfully is theological, not technical: communication is proclamation. The way the church chooses to speak to the world reflects its faith. Naughton and Wilson remain upbeat throughout, and for the most part they avoid pointing out the failures they’ve seen. The implicit point is clear. Churches that do not figure out how to talk to those not already part of their community give a poor showing as disciples of Christ, a master communicator who used vivid, creative strategies to teach and bless the people he encountered.
That last sentence is one we hope that leaders around the church will take seriously.