In a recent poll taken by the Barna Group, there were some interesting insights gained about the perceptions people in the community have about the local church. Here is a chart providing a recap of the data collection in the survey.
First, I find it quite interesting that among both Christians and non-Christians, there is the same exact 44% percent that state the local church is known most for the things they are against. Nearly half feel the local church is known more for what they are against than as what they are for. Second, the largest gap in responses between Christians and non-Christians is in the category of irrelevance. This makes sense that Christians would not be stating that the church is irrelevant to them since many are a part of the church. But isn’t it intriguing that indeed 21% of even Christians felt the church was irrelevant to them? The other negative perceptions besides irrelevance (59%) from non-Christians are judgmental (51%), hypocritical (45%), and detached from the real issues facing the community (38%).
While Christians could easily become frustrated or even angry with these results, what is a more positive way we could respond? How might local church leaders respond in a way that might begin to reverse these negative perceptions about the local church? How is your church interacting in the community that promotes a positive church image? How is your church demonstrating community relevance and involvement in the “real issues” facing your local community? How would your local community respond specifically to the issues in this poll about your specific church? If you don’t know, you might ask. You might be surprised as to what your church is known for in the community. Begin to take intentional steps in communicating a positive message in the community through your website and social media about your church and its support and relevance to the local community. Without an intentional, positive message from the local church, your church may be swept into some of the largest national news stories of churches with a negative perception. Be intentional with your communication we well as your community ministries with its positive message and intent!