Last weekend was the 25th anniversary of the great baseball movie Bull Durham. I’ve been hoping for an opportunity, or perhaps an excuse, to post a clip from the film here on The Lead, and I think I’ve finally concocted one. My business partner, Rebecca Wilson, and I spent the weekend with Nina Nicholson and the good people of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark talking about using the tools of contemporary communications for the purposes of evangelism. One of our workshops focused on visibility, and explored ways to make your congregation more noticeable and more fully engaged in the life of your community.
To borrow a phrase form Ebby Calvin “Nuke” Laloosh, we think it’s important for you to announce your presence with authority. However, we’d like you to have greater success than Nuke does in the clip below.
As it happens, we devote a chapter of our book Speaking Faithfully to the issue of visibility, but you don’t have to buy the book or read the chapter to get a head start on this important work. Below is the questionnaire that we gave to four parishes in the dioceses interested in making a commitment to visibility work, and we offer it here to stimulate your own thinking.
Do people walk by your church or drive by?
Do you have property around the church that is visible from the street?
Do people congregate near your church at any time of the day or week? (For instance, is there a car pool line?)
Is your immediate neighborhood primarily residential, commercial, institutional (offices, etc) or a mix?
What are the most significant commercial establishments nearby?
At what other places do people gather? For what purpose? At what times?
What is the composition of your neighborhood? (Consider any factor that strikes you as significant. These may include composition of families—single, two parents with children, one parent with children, multi-generational families, empty nest, etc.—average age of residents, ethnicity, social and economic class.)
What is the mixture of long-term residents and recent arrivals? (An estimate is fine here.)
When are people at home?
Where do they go for shopping, recreation?
What do they do for fun?
What kinds of networks exist in your community? Are there business networks? Parent networks? Neighborhood watches? Youth sports networks?
How do these networks communicate internally? Do they communicate externally?
Do these networks meet? If so, where?
Who are the leaders of these networks? Are they accessible to you?
To what individuals or institutions do people in your community turn for information?
What kinds of opportunities to be publicly visible at low cost or no cost exist in your community?
Does your community have a parade? A clean-up or beautification day? A race (5k, marathon, etc.)?
Are there high profile community events in which you can participate?
Having answered or at least considered these questions, do you begin to get some ideas about who your community is well-positioned to reach, where and when it might reach them, and what sorts of networks, events and other opportunities might be helpful? One more question then: what kinds of things are happening at your church that might appeal to these people, and how would you go about bringing your church to their attention?