Every January we see people’s goals and resolutions for the next twelve months. We get an idea for what kind of life they want to live and a sense of what they see as their purpose for that life. Along with those resolutions, we see others coming alongside and giving wisdom about how each of those goals will take daily, unmitigated discipline to achieve.
Those coaches have realized something and want others to begin grasping it as well. That understanding is this: big goals and missions are accomplished with through a sequence of steps. Those don’t have to be enormous, but they have to be consistent and frequent.
The same is true as we pursue faithfulness to the Great Commission. If any mission is huge and beyond our own capacity to achieve, it’s this one. In fact, God has been using his Church over centuries to take steps toward making disciples of all nations. He’s always building his Church and won’t stop building it until He’s finished and comes for his Bride.
In the Old Testament, we see similar routines woven into the life of the Israelites. They had multiple feasts that the nation celebrated as a whole. These seasons of celebration and reflection served to establish rhythms of reminding the people of their God, his character and his covenant with them. The Israelites are also told to teach those truths to their children, to talk about them often, and to write them on their walls. Yahweh was creating a culture for his people where big truths were communicated incrementally and frequently.
“These seasons of celebration and reflection served to establish rhythms of reminding the people of their God, his character and his covenant with them.”
There’s a real aspect where we, as church leaders, inherently follow this iterative process. Our mission is to make disciples, so we move the ball forward every Sunday. We shed more and more light, pull back the veil a little bit more, on all that God has commanded us to teach. We take these small steps as an expression of a larger calling.
From Concept to Concrete
Here’s the principle we hope you see in these realities: we can help people see the big picture through small messages. Every Sunday is proof that we already operate with this in mind, but what if we made the messages smaller and shared them in more places? Our sermons are focused on the gospel, so what if we used social media and video to focus other messages that are essential to our local churches?
It’s easiest to start with this question: what is the local church supposed to be, and what will it take for us to be that? Just about every church has preaching and worship times established, but some neglect fellowship, others neglect evangelism, and others still neglect prayer.
We all know that preaching one sermon on each of those will do little in the long run of getting congregants committed to them. In fact, since the 1920s, there’s been the Rule of Seven. This anecdotal rule says that an individual must hear a marketing message seven times before they act on it. That rule ends up being a practical application of the mere-exposure effect, which says the more often we hear something, the more favorable we are to it. If we took this to heart, it would mean 35 sermons would be necessary for people to start getting familiar with the five functions of the Church.
Now, it would not be a waste to take 35 Sundays to preach through them, but there is a more effective way to align our congregations to what’s most important. A drip campaign takes core messages and presents them repeatedly over a long period of time. These serve the body as reminders of what the church is about and gives them opportunities to be involved in the life of the church in deeper ways.
This is exactly what the Old Testament rhythms and phylacteries were for, to keep the truth of covenant life in front of them. These feasts became physical and visual signs that pointed them to worship the living God. In their own Old Testament way, they preached the gospel to the people, reminding them of the heinousness of sin, the grace of God, and the holy joy they were called to.
First Things First
There is a myriad of ways to enact a drip campaign, especially in the age of social media. Social platforms give us the ability to share those key elements with our members outside of Sunday morning. The messages could be graphics or videos that we do share on Sunday morning. Like I said, there are dozens of ways to share them. The hardest part is actually clarifying what the big picture is.
Francis Bacon said, “Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.” We know that writing something down forces us to think clearly about it, and this is Bacon’s point. Writing makes us precise. Preachers don’t get to be loose with words and are called to accurately divide the Word of Truth, so why should we be sloppy with what we believe the local church should be and how it’s expressed?
Penning a mission statement could be as easy as writing “we make disciples,” but what does it mean to be a disciple? Be exact. How long does it take to make a disciple, and what does the church look like when that’s happening? Be exact. What are those key guiding principles that help define what a disciple or a church is? Be exact. What process will your church follow to make those disciples? Be exact.
Communicating well in a digital culture means you have to know what to communicate, how often to communicate it, and how best to communicate it. Taking time to solidify your church’s identity and the main messages will enable your leadership to repeatedly and consistently place the big picture of the Church before your congregants in small bites. This will engrave the essence of the mission into the culture and get them excited to be involved.
How exciting would it be for everyone in your church to be on the same page, on the same mission, and had a clear understanding of how they’re going to accomplish it?