Show, Not Just Tell

We live in a time and culture where information, noise, words, and “pitches” are coming at all us like water from a fire hose. We are over stimulated and over marketed.  So when we have the communication responsibility within the church, the stakes are high and the challenge immense. Add to that the fact we are not “selling” a product, but rather offering an experience and it leaves us with only one solution: story.

During our annual Reach global missions weekend each January we strategically roll out our engagement trips for the coming year. These are opportunities to travel and work alongside our partners in various places around the world. These trips are a heavy investment of both time and money from the participants. This is not a moment to twist arms or pitch guilt, but rather communicate the why and allow people to respond.

This year we approached it as “show”, rather than just “tell”.

Three Key Strategic things:

  1. A Story of the Why:
    1. We did a video interview of Ryan Benevente who traveled the prior year to Africa. Ryan did an incredible job sharing his experience and how the trip impacted him. He ended with a challenge. People’s story connect with others story and motivate. Here’s Ryan’s story:

  1. From Those Who are Most Passionate:
    1. We shot quick 10-20 second vignettes with all our trip leaders inviting individuals to join their efforts. This was interspersed between the song, “Kaleidoscope” and created a strong moment for people to be compelled to participate. Our plan was for them to hear directly from those who were leading these efforts, rather than just a stale announcement.
  2. 10000 tacos:
    1. To create buzz and provide a compelling environment, we invested locally with an amazing taco truck who agreed to provide the 10k tacos. This would take place after each service and not only hold people as they lingered waiting in line, but also just a key sense of buzz in our courtyard where trip leaders were strategically stationed to answer questions and register participants.

The result? Large amount of engagement in the service. Buzz and momentum present in the courtyard as people ate tacos and mingled with our trip leaders. And the final result? A huge upswing in applicants and interest in our 2017 trips. This is obviously the ultimate objective. We celebrate the strategy based upon the actual engagement. Strategy executed alone is not the win.


  • Position those who are most passionate and closest to the efforts to communicate the why. Don’t use a detached messenger.
  • Don’t overlook buzz and engagement. Give people a reason to stay, mingle and engage. With so much info and noise, find creative ways to communicate the “why” and the “ask” to your organization.
  • Remember: as we opening up space to reach people’s hearts and move them towards action, always show them.

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