Book: Less Clutter, Less Noise

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Let me recommend “Less Clutter, Less Noise,” by Kem Meyer. It deals with local church communication, but probably not in a way you would expect. There is some strategy, some technique, some do’s and don’ts, some philosophy. But more than anything, I came away with an attitude. An attitude toward everything we do in communicating in the local church. 

Kem Meyer is the Communications Director at Granger Community Church near South Bend, Ind. It’s a fast-growing church with a laser focus on reaching lost people. A very innovative place. And Kem Meyer is a very innovative person who enjoys the cutting edge. She is doing some original (at least it seems that way) thinking about how we communicate in the church. 

I’ve been familiar with Kem for several years now. I attended her seminar at MinistryCOM 2006, heard her keynote address at MinistryCOM 2007, and attended a full-day seminar by her at Granger. And I’ve been reading her blog for several years. 

The book resembles her blog in ways–a bunch of short pieces, most of which can stand on their own. In fact, I recognized some of the content from her blog. 

In 1995, I wrote “A Plain and Simple Guide to Church Promotion” as my project in completing a Masters in Public Relations at Ball State U. I gathered absolutely everything I could find about any aspect of local church promotion–newsletters, advertising, branding, design, printing, Powerpoint, font usage, and much more. In all, over 100 individual topics. Each topic filled a single page, and I mostly just gave bullet points–simple tips, do’s and don’ts. 

Kem’s book is similar. She doesn’t go in-depth into anything, but hits a lot of different areas. If you want direction, she gives you more than enough to work with, but she doesn’t overload you. Which is part of the book’s point–that we need to make life easier for people by lessening the clutter and noise.

People today are barraged with information and choices. Kem writes, “People who live in today’s world respond in one of three ways: they become overwhelmed and shut down, they labor over whether they’re making the right decisions, or they just ignore you and move on.”

So that’s important to keep in mind as we communicate in the local church–between ourselves, and with outsiders (or, in PR-speak, with our internal and external constituencies). She emphasizes keeping it simple. Don’t complicate people’s lives. Help them sort through the clutter. And don’t add to the clutter with stuff you think is important, but which they couldn’t care less about.

That’s an overview of the book. Follow the link below for some quotes.

It’s easy to judge people who are not like me. 

Good communication is not so much about sending the right message as it is releasing the right response….A person’s worldview shows up before you do, and that is the reality of the message you send. It’s not what you say; it’s what people hear. And, while you might not be able to control what people see or hear, you can do a better job trying to anticipate it.

More isn’t what people are looking for; relief from the pressure of more is what they’re looking for. 

Does your announcement (bulletin or verbal) apply to everyone or just a handful of people?…Don’t punish the crowd to keep a few people happy. 

A person’s journey away from God does not happen in one step, but rather in a series of steps and decisions that seemed otherwise perfectly rational at the time. One day, he wakes up and realizes just how far he’s traveled as a result of the sum total of steps in the wrong direction. And, what about when he’s ready to start taking steps back? How hard are we making it for him? 

If you have ever said, “I just don’t get computers” or “I’m not into all that online stuff,” then you have announced to the world that you are out of touch. Even if you’re not ready to start interacting online, you have a responsiblity at least to go online to watch others interact.

Generations of people are developing the habit of not concentrating. 

There is simply too much out there and not enough time to take it all in….The last thing they’re looking for is unsolicited information or someone to tell them to change their ways.

We all have insiders that get in the way of outsiders experiencing Jesus. 

It’s easy for people to miss what they’re not looking for.

How do you see the world–as it IS or the WAY YOU ARE? What are you willing to do to learn about people who don’t see things the way you do? 

A person needs to be reachable before they’re teachable. 

Before you create that mass mailing, hand out that prochure, or send that email, ask yourself, “Will this information I intend to be helpful just add to the clutter?”

Is there any way to simplify what my audience sees to make their epxerience with the church easier and more rewarding? 

Churches always seem to have “this is who we are” and “this is what we do” print materials. When was the last time I saw these same types of material at the post office, the doctor’s office, Starbucks, or Wal-Mart?

Don’t assume poeple wake up in the morning and check the church web site. They don’t….Don’t assume the parents don’t read the student ministry blog. They do, whether you’re talking to them or not. 

It’s hard to be yourself if you’re trying to be somebody else. Be inspired, but don’t imitate. 

On occasion, the appropriate thing to do is bend a rule rather than sacrifice a relationship.

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