This has been an interesting exercise for me. As we’ve worked our way through the book I’ve had many scenarios I’ve thought about the application form. From a business setting, which StoryBrand is for, right through to church comms. Not only that, but it’s also made me think through how well we communicate Christ’s message. Particularly for people exploring the Christian faith. Thus, on the church front, chapter 9 made for an intriguing read for me.
Issues I Had With The Chapter
I didn’t manage to shake off the slight annoyance of not being able to follow some references. But that’s me. I’m sure it’s exciting for people who can follow. For each book, movie or story I didn’t know I suffered a great deal of FOMO.
That Helps Them Avoid Failure
This chapter is about connecting with the audience’s fear or anxieties. Miller says to communicate to our ‘customers’ the danger of not doing business with us. What do they stand to lose if they don’t buy into your product?
He cites how loss-aversion can be a greater motivator for action. Sometimes even more than the potential gains. Miller, says the consequences of not doing business must be clearly communicated. What do they lose if they don’t follow through with our call to action?
All this comes with two main warnings:
- If we’re not clear about what people stand to lose then there aren’t any stakes. There’s no reason for people to engage with our message or to act on our call. This has to do with why our product matters. That is, “Doing ___ or buying our product prevents you from suffering ____[insert specific ill-fate]”.
- Too many warnings about imminent doom will turn potential customers off. Just the right amount of fear is needed…
Miller advises, “Fear is salt in the recipe”. You must make sure you have the right amount. Too much and too little are both undesirable.
What This Means For Church And Communicators
I couldn’t read this chapter and reflect on it without specific application. My focus immediately went to communications and messaging, as churches. But first…
The Application For Churches In General
For churches, in general, the application is more internal than external. At least that’s my view. In part, I see application for chapter 9 means to mobilize congregants.
Why is important for us all to play our part? And, what are the consequences of not doing so?
A question every church (leadership) should be able to answer with this: How can I, as a member, play my part? Where is there space for me to contribute to the mission of the church?
While communicating, vision, mission, values and goals, what’s at stake if the audiences doesn’t engage.
I feel our disposition in the church is usually to communicate the benefits of something. That is why it is important for us to do something. We generally tie our call to action to the positive impact we want to make.
It’s rare for us to talk about the negative that might happen when we don’t do something. For example:
- What’s the negative consequence of your family not attending the church family camp?
- What happens if we don’t take part in the missions week?
Preachers and other (platform) communicators would you let me think aloud for a minute?
How are we communicating with those who aren’t Christ followers (yet)? In the past, it is possible that our messaging has been more fear-mongering than anything else. I can think of many examples where the entire ‘meal’ and not the seasoning was nothing but fear. As a result, the message got lost in “turn or burn” type sermons.
With that, people didn’t want to engage in our message. Having said that, today it is likely that we need to wrestle with this question:
To be faithful with Christ’s saving message, have we downplayed what He actually saves us from?
There are a few instances in the New Testament that come to mind where what we are/were “saved from” come to mind.
I’m uncomfortable with the thought of using fear as one of the motivators for action. Despite this, I don’t shy from trying to make sense of chapter 9 in the context of the church.
The worst is that can happen is that I (and my team) have had a conversation that can better help us. Help us to communicate clearly who we are as a church in our community. And, with the clarity, we are better at fulfilling the church’s mission.
How does fear or failure actually become salt in your church’s messages of God’s plan?