Know Your Audience

7 Aug

I talked to a friend of mine today who lives out of state. She’s also a single Christian adult. She’s independent and has a career she enjoys. She told me a story I need to pass along to you guys.

Returning home to her apartment complex, she picked up her mail. One of the things she’d received was a postcard from a local church. The church wanted to reach out to the community of people living in apartments, and they were excited to invite apartment-dwellers to a six-week sermon series…

…on marriage.

Wait, what? Okay, I know a married couple who lives in an apartment. A married couple. As in, one.

Okay, sure, there are probably families living apartments. I’m sure the housing crisis has done a lot to move whole families into low-rent apartments. And maybe there are some newlyweds out there who are living in an apartment.

But for the most part, people who live in apartments are single, divorced, or widowed. All you have to do is look around at the people you see every day. And my friend sees only single people in her apartment complex.

I’m sure that church has great intentions. But if I got a postcard inviting me to a six-week sermon series on marriage, I would know what church not to attend for the next month and a half. For that matter, if they’re trying to reach people who don’t normally attend church, is marriage really the topic to start with? How about “Things the Church Believes” or even “Things the Church Doesn’t Believe”–you could get people in the doors and explain to them that Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell don’t represent all of us!

I have to think the people on the outreach committee were just so excited about this idea of reaching out to apartment-dwellers that they charged ahead with the idea before thinking it through all the way.

But maybe they should have thought about demographics before they sent out the postcards.

 

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3 Responses to “Know Your Audience”

  1. Dave August 11, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    This is one reason why I think topical series suck in general. If you’re preaching through Galatians or Hebrews and something applicable to marrieds comes up, then great! (And it’s usually a good idea to say to the singles, “Here’s how you can encourage your married brothers and sisters here to represent Christ well to their children…” etc.) But otherwise, topical series, by their nature, tend to exclude–series that focus on stage-of-life issues, anyway.

    • SWC August 12, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

      Hi Dave! I agree, my preference is for a series based on a book of the Bible. That way you have a better chance of speaking to everyone. A couple years ago my church did a series I really liked. It was called “From Stressed to Rest”, and was based on Jesus’ promise to give rest. It was topical, but applicable to everyone, since it was how to lower stress in your finances, your faith, your job, and yes, your relationships, but at least it did a better job of covering everyone. But in general, I am sort of burned out on the idea of a sermon series.

  2. Jennifer Decker August 19, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    Well, I assume you mean me and my hubby as the married apartment dwellers you know, and if not, you missed one! :p

    One thing I think you need to think about, though, is the demographics of those married couples you’re friends and family with and the demographics of the apartment your friend lives in… How many have college degrees? How many are minorities? Etc., etc… There may be a pattern in the demographics of the married folk you know that accounts for your perspective that married people tend not to live in apartments (a demographic that might fit in with where she lives). I don’t know the stats, so you could be right, but we’ve seen a lot of married couples in our complex, and a lot of families. And demographics-wise, I’ve noticed that, at least where I am, the majority of apartments housing full families are occupied by minorities.

    Just a thought.

    And yes… “you could get people in the doors and explain to them that Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell don’t represent all of us!” A hundred times yes!

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