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Preach Like It's Good News!

Early in my NBA Chaplain career, a seasoned pastor friend of mine who ministered to professional athletes for over 20 years gave me sound advice:  “Travis, behind every face there’s a drama unfolding—every face.” Those words seemed to relax me as the superstars would trickle into the chapel room and celebrity faces would look to me for guidance. I learned early on that he was right: “Behind every face there’s a drama unfolding.” 

My church and your church are no different. Behind every face there’s a drama, and THIS is what drives me. 

My goal for my life is this: More people leaving earth will be going to heaven, and fewer people living on earth will be going through hell. 

There are a lot of people going to heaven who are going through hell. Listen, the path to heaven isn’t through hell—it’s through Jesus.

When I became a Christian at 17 years old, my pastor used to tell me the famous Theodore Roosevelt quote, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” You’ve heard that saying before and probably even preached on it. Frankly, I’m convinced that nobody cares how much I know even though they do know how much I care! People want to know that you care. So care. Be available.

EVERY Sunday, before and after each church service, my staff and I are intentional about mingling around the lobby, shaking hands, hugging necks, listening to people, crying with people, drinking coffee and hanging out with our friends and family of Impact Church.  

It’s amazing what this communicates to our people before I have even communicated from the pulpit. And when my staff and I do it, everyone does it. And when everyone does it, nobody wants to leave church. It becomes the buzz! When church “service” is over, ministry has just begun. Our lobby becomes a place of fellowship, connection, prayer and relationship. It’s a powerful way to communicate before you communicate, to reach before you teach. 

Be available. When preaching the Good News, be fun, be you, be biblical and be available. 

Thought #5: Be Strategic. Don’t shoot your lips from the hips. Before you ever even open your mouth, be strategic in communicating the Good News before you communicate the Good News! 

If  you were to remove your sermon from your church’s “service,” what would your church be communicating? What’s the news you’re communicating? Does it feel like a God-sized party? Or a funeral? Is the building clean? Are there ministry workers in place? Does it feel alive with music playing? Are people having fun? Be strategic about communicating the Good News before you even say a word!

I thought I’d give you a few examples of ways that Impact Church communicates before I actually communicate with a sermon. You probably already use all of these as they’re nothing new—but if anything, they’ll be a fresh reminder. Here we go:   

1. Direct Mailers. We use high-gloss, full-color direct mailers that communicate the feel of Impact. We just dropped 120,000 last week—they work. We are extremely purposeful about “what” is communicated on these mailers.

2. Press Releases and Articles. We place these in anything and everything we can get our hands on that’s within our target. 

3. School Marketing. We kill two birds with one stone. We help area schools fundraise for their programs, and we communicate about Impact on gymnasium, football field and baseball field banners.   

4. TV Shows and Commercials. We use TV shows and commercials to communicate before I communicate.  

5. Sign Spinners. Yes, dudes who spin signs. We use eight bright, hot green sign spinners out every weekend that also double as “directional signs” for our church so people can actually find us. (Our current building is hidden with zero drive-by visibility.)  

6. Parking Lot Attendants. Friendly, knowledgeable parking lot attendants with smiling faces who double as parking lot greeters. (These guys are rockstars, because in the summer in Scottsdale, hell starts trying to manifest and it’s scorching hot!)

7. Golf Cart Drivers. Friendly, knowledgeable golf cart drivers who shuttle people from down the road up to the church doors and from the church doors back to their cars.

8. Door Greeters. Friendly, knowledgeable door greeters who hand out bulletins and can double as information guides and even prayer team members. 

9. Banners and Signage. If you were to pull up to our church today, you’d see Impact Church banners that say, “One of the fastest growing churches in America.” That’s on purpose, obviously. That communicates before I communicate. You’d also see banners outside directing people to the front doors and to the kids’ wing. As you walk into our lobby, we have signage that’s up high, big, clear and easy to read about where everything is located.

10. Free Coffee and Donuts. It’s amazing what these communicate and do for your church’s culture and atmosphere. People will arrive earlier and stay longer just because you offer coffee and donuts! Oh, and by the way, donuts are KID MAGNETS!

11. Bulletins. They’re a great way to communicate vision and up-and-coming events. People also take them with them and give them away as inviting tools. Side note: I’ve seen a lot of church bulletins that look like funeral programs.  

12. Sermon Outlines for people to follow along and fill in the blanks. These also help them engage and remember the content better.  

13. “You’ve Just Been Impacted” Cards. We’ve created business cards that say, “You’ve just been impacted.” Impact Church people take those into the community, secretly buy someone’s lunch, coffee, groceries or whatever—and leave one of these cards behind. They work! It truly does impact people and communicate the Good News!

I encourage you today to be strategic when preaching the Good News. In fact, do just that; preach like it’s GOOD NEWS: BE FUN, BE YOU, BE BIBLICAL, BE AVAILABLE and BE STRATEGIC.  

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Travis Hearn is the senior pastor of ImpactChurch.com located in Scottsdale, Arizona and is also the Team Pastor for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Impact Church has experienced explosive growth and was recognized as an Outreach 100 Fastest Growing Church in America in 2013, ranking #2 by percentage and #9 overall. Travis has served as Team Pastor for the Phoenix Suns since 2002 and also serves as the Oakland A’s Major League Baseball Team during Spring Training. Travis is married to Natalie and they have three kids: Kylie, Josiah and Jazzlyn. The newest member of the Hearn family is a five-pound full grown Toy Schnauzer named Rocco. Contact him on Twitter and Instagram @TravisHearn.