Who Are You Talking To?

Who Are You Talking To?

In the last couple of posts we have been exploring what we can learn from the way people in television produce their programs.  We’ve seen that television is king in our culture; it is where people get their news, and how they form their ideas of right and wrong.  In this post we will begin to explore how television focuses its message on a particular audience.  Who are you talking to when you preach?

Television targets its audience

If you live in the United States and watch Monday Night Football, you will see a variety of advertisements for trucks, beer, tools, etc.  You will likely never see an ad for beauty aids, diet programs and the like.  Why? The target audience for football is men 18 and older.

In a similar way, if you watch American Idol, another show that has returned to popularity, you will see commercials that focus on teens and young adults from ages 12 to 24.  Why?  Because the program is developed to be attractive to that age group.

Before a program goes on television, the producers learn as much as they can about the targeted audience.  Who are you talking to is a question that they ask over and over again.  They research their target audience, getting as much information as they can, and then they design the entire show, from the set design to the cast and the script writing, to be attractive to that demographic.

Who are you talking to?

author of Stop Preaching and Start Communicating

Tony Gentilucci

I’ve mentioned  Tony Gentilucci’s book, Stop Preaching and Start Communicating in an earlier post.  He has observed that churches have a targeted audience, whether they realize it or not.  Here’s how he puts it:

“Whether you’re aware of it or not, your church is targeting someone.  From the design of the building to the decor and layout of the sanctuary, the music played during worship, the design and layout of the handouts, and the way everyone dresses–everything is targeting a specific audience.  Who are you targeting?”

A Church example of targeting

I have a friend in ministry in Southern California who accepted a call to a church that had been dying for many years.  Under his leadership they hired a consultant to help them figure out what went wrong, and what they could do about it to picture a brighter future.

The consultant helped them look at the membership decline.  The reason for it, he noted, was that the church had begun as an ethnic congregation, focused on families who have a history of generations of Christians.  When those people began moving out of the area, there were no new people who fit their demographic to attract.  So membership deterioration had begun.

What was the answer?  They began to target a different audience.  Specifically, they decided to focus on young families that were moving into the community in large numbers.  They changed the whole layout of the sanctuary, since they weren’t looking to attract people who had been Christians for generations anymore.  Padded chairs replaced the hard pews.

Music changed, too.  A band was developed, and the organ was now used only for special occasions.  Preaching became more conversational in nature.

The result?  The church began to grow.  Today, about 30 years later, it is a multi-ethnic congregation, with a ministry that is full of kids and young people.  It has a track record of evangelism effectiveness.  This happened because they decided to change the target of their ministry.

Who is your target?

So the question is on the table.  When you look at the church where you preach, who is your target?  What kind of people are attracted to your church?  Is this the way you want it to be?  Choosing to focus on a particular audience will define your preaching in many ways.

In the upcoming posts in this series we’re going to learn some things about how to figure out how to decide what audience to target, and then how to learn to preach to that audience.

Stay tuned.

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