Published: 7 years ago

Stop Muddying Your Messages

Yesterday afternoon I had the sublime privilege of spending a few minutes in the Wal-Mart. I call it the Wal-Mart because not only was it a specific retail location, but apparently I am 84 years old. And my own grandfather.

Anyway, I was in the electronics section of the Wal-Mart, trying to track down a replacement iPrecious case. But it was incredibly hard to concentrate on my quest because there were 452 flat screen TVs on display, all bolted to the wall, all playing the same display TV promo video stuff, but all were about .006 seconds off on their audio.

Think about that. Dozens of TVs – all playing the same message – but the message is incredibly distorted because not one single message was actually in alignment with the others. It wasn’t a sales pitch, it was noise. It wasn’t entertaining, it was an annoying echo. And it was enough to make me want to run screaming in the opposite direction.

In our churches, we’re guilty of distorting messages, as well. We give too many steps to people who aren’t ready to take them, we don’t make the steps clear enough for people who are, and many times our next steps simply don’t line up.

A few years ago some of our staff visited North Coast Church in California. One of the most remarkable things about our time there was the fact that every one of their staff team was 100% on point and in alignment with one another. Prior to the trip, I had read a couple of lead pastor Larry Osborne’s books. While we were there, I was struck by the homogeneity between Larry’s written phrases and the staff’s spoken ones. They were quite literally on the same page.

A unified message cuts through the clutter. A unified message reinforces what someone should do next. A unified message is outrageously simple to understand. We owe it to our people to cut the clutter and make the message clear.

What are some of the messages you’ve seen churches muddy up? Comment below.


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One Comment.
  1. Lee Beck says:


    This is a message that your anonymous Wal-mart does reasonably well. And the Summit (due to the efforts of our anonymous welcoming team) continues to prioritize.

    But since you seem to be looking for negative messages, I’ll provide one.

    Barbara and I were at the beach maybe 15 years ago on a Sunday morning. We don’t always attend worship services while away on vacation (shame on us) but on this particular Sunday we did. Maybe it was raining. The anonymous Baptist church that we attended was packed (so maybe it wasn’t raining). We arrived only a few minutes prior to the service, and there didn’t appear to be any available seats. I finally spotted space enough for the two of us at the end of a pew and I grabbed Barbara’s hand and walked the aisle, smiled at the lady that we would sit with, and got a sneer (maybe that was imagined) and a verbal “this seat is taken.” We stood at the back of the sanctuary for maybe 10 minutes. I did see that a gentleman who the lady was saving the seat for did ultimately arrive, and later he was one of the volunteers (probably a deacon in those days) who collected the offering. Maybe he was late because he was in a group praying for the Holy Spirit to move during the service.

    About 15 minutes into the service I saw a few folding chairs in an alcove and got them for Barbara and myself.

    I don’t recall the message that was delivered from the pulpit that morning, but as I’ve demonstrated with detail, I do remember the message of one individual and the absence of hospitality that was likely witnessed by others in the congregation with no attempt at repair.

    So if I’m asked to sit at the end of a pew to collect offering, and if I move to the center when someone tries to enter from the same side, please remind me that it’s more important to be friendly than to step on someone’s toes as I leave from the center.

    Sometimes when we attempt to do things right we miss the main right thing.

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