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Church from the outside

We can help you raise the bar of your church comms for the sake of the gospel, says Jo Swinney

St Botolph’s, in the centre of Boston, Lincolnshire, is open seven days a week. Boston is a diverse and multicultural town with large recent migrant populations from Eastern Europe. There have been clashes between communities and St Botolph’s sees its role as one of bringing people together and healing division.

Its vision is clear, but it struggles to communicate that vision: Our noticeboard and signage was badly damaged during a storm in 2017,” explains the vicar. Our current display is poor quality, broken and uninviting to visitors and passers-by. We urgently need a noticeboard to ensure those who may not feel they belong know that they are welcome in our church.” Any funds they might have had for this vital communication tool have been used up on repairing flood damage to the building.

The church is living and active in the UK but the reality is that effective communication can be a struggle. St Botolph’s is not the only church hindered in efforts to reach the local community by limited financial resources. Others lack technical skills, design know how, or people with time to give. Mark begins his gospel by explaining it is an account of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God” (1:1). Jesus, God-made-man, lived, died and was resurrected for the salvation of the world – to reconcile us to our holy Creator. He came announcing the kingdom of God, in which under a just and merciful ruler all of creation flourishes. He returned to heaven but is present in the Holy Spirit in every believer and active in His body, the church. Good news indeed, in a world desperate for good news.

Christian Publishing and Outreach (CPO) was founded with the purpose of supporting and enabling the local church to share the good news of Jesus effectively, and we still do that today. For some, the idea that eye-catching design, carefully chosen words, or a campaign with a strong visual identity might have anything to do with mission is hard to compute. But Jesus told His followers to go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them… and teaching them to obey everything [He] commanded” (Matthew 28:16 – 20). Our world is noisy and competition for a hearing is fierce. We do the gospel a disservice if we don’t deliver it clearly and engagingly.

Sponsored

At CPO we are privileged to be in regular contact with thousands of churches across the UK. We are inspired and encouraged every day by stories of bold, creative and impactful outreach – children’s holiday clubs, meals for the homeless, comedy events, parenting courses, meetings in libraries and pubs, church coffee shops and social events for the elderly, prison and hospital visiting. Last May we heard from All Saints in Christchurch which does an annual walk of witness’ through the town on Good Friday. We create five Stations of the Cross’ at strategic points, stopping to tell the Good Friday story, say a prayer and sing a hymn.

We also take copies of the booklet One Friday, which we distribute to many people along the sea front, and we give out Easter eggs to the children.” As a result of their efforts, last year several families who had never been to church before joined them on Easter Sunday. CPO had provided All Saints with posters and booklets for their Easter outreach. To support the church in its communication, CPO also creates customisable designs in multiple formats so there is consistency between the invitation card to a Christmas service someone receives through their door, the banner they walk past on their way to work, and the Facebook ad that appears in their feed.

We offer training in communication strategy, design basics, effective church websites and using social media for evangelism. We have a fund to support churches that can’t afford even the most basic communication tools – the Church Communications Improvement Project (www​.church​coms​.uk). To find out more about our work and ways we can support your church, please visit www​.cpo​.org​.uk We would love to partner with you as you communicate the good news of Jesus to your local community and beyond.

About the author

Jo Swinney is director of church communications at Christian Publishing and Outreach, which has been working to support the UK church in its communication for over 60 years.

See more from Jo Swinney

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